Friday, October 16, 2009

Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Brownies

Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Brownies - first made July 3, 2007 from Fearless Baking by Elinor Klivans

This brownie has been described as an inside out peanut butter cup. I think it’s even better than that. You make the peanut butter brownie batter, spread half in the bottom of the baking pan, sprinkle a layer of milk chocolate over it then top that with the remaining batter to cover the milk chocolate completely. When it’s baked, you literally have a layer of chocolate between two peanut butter layers. The original recipe calls for chopped up milk chocolate to be sprinkled over the bottom layer and that's what I did with my first attempt, pictured here. Now I buy the plain Hershey chocolate bars (the regular size, not the minis or the thick, king-size bars) and fit them like puzzle pieces over the bottom peanut butter brownie layer to make a near-solid layer of chocolate. Once you bake them, cool and cut them, you have a nice even milk chocolate layer in the middle as opposed to the erratic chunks of chopped up chocolate. Plus, it’s less time-consuming to go with the whole chocolate bars.

When I first made this recipe, I had a taste test piece like I always do. Usually when I try a new recipe, I’ll have one piece, judge it, make notes about how the recipe turned out and whether I would change anything then I don’t eat anymore and instead take the rest into work. With this recipe, I enjoyed it so much, I’m sorry to say I think I ate 3 pieces. Oink.

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ pound (1 stick) soft unsalted butter
1 cup smooth peanut butter, room temperature
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces milk chocolate, such as Lindt or Dove Bar, broken into about ½” pieces

9” square baking pan

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 9 x 2” or 11 x 7 x 2” baking pan.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt onto a piece of wax paper or into a small bowl and set aside.
3. Put the butter and peanut butter in a large bowl and stir with a large spoon until they are blended together. You may see a few specks of butter. Stir in the brown sugar and granulated sugar, mixing until they are incorporated and there is no loose sugar. Stirring vigorously, beat in the eggs and vanilla until the mixture looks smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir just until it is incorporated and there is no loose flour. Spread about two thirds of the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly with a thin metal spatula or a nonsharp table knife. Scatter the milk chocolate pieces evenly over the batter. Drop spoonfuls of the remaining batter over the milk chocolate, using a rubber spatula to scrape all of the batter from the bowl. Use a thin metal spatula or the table knife to spread the batter evenly over the chocolate. The chocolate will be covered, but may show through the batter.
4. Bake for about 35 minutes until the top feels firm when gently touched and the edges are light brown. Inserting a toothpick as a test doesn’t work because the warm milk chocolate clings to the toothpick. Cool the brownies thoroughly in the pan for about 1 hour. Cut the brownies into pieces and use a thin metal spatula to remove them from the pan. Wrap individual brownies in plastic wrap and store at room temperature up to 3 days. Wrapped brownies are ready to pack in lunch boxes or picnic baskets. These brownies can be served with a scoop of chocolate or peanut butter fudge ice cream.
5. Individual brownies can be wrapped in plastic wrap then heavy aluminum foil and stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost the wrapped brownies as needed.

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