Still baking for the bake sale for Japan on Sunday. I've committed to donating at least several dozen brownies which I figured meant making a couple of different kinds of brownies in 9 x 13 pans. Except I forgot my idea of a brownie is smaller than perhaps what people would want to buy at a bake sale. Meaning I had to cut the brownies into larger pieces because, let's face it, if I were a customer, I'd want a big brownie to make it worth my while. Not something small, wimpy and just meant to be a taste test piece. So each 9 x 13 pan was only yielding me 9-12 (good-sized) brownies. Not to mention I apparently suck at cutting each piece the same size so rather than having very obviously different sizes (why pay the same price for something smaller when someone else got a bigger piece??), I had to trim some of the behemoth pieces down to large. Not that I wasted the smaller pieces since they're going into care packages and possibly towards the dessert gathering I'm hosting at my house on Sunday. In any case, that still meant I had to make more brownies. And since I have recipe ADD, I had to make different brownies than the ones I've already baked so far.
Sticking to what I think would sell and what seems to be a favorite with adults and kids alike (except those with peanut allergies), I settled on another chocolate & peanut butter combo only this time I upped the ante to peanut butter cream cheese to go with the chocolate. This brownie has peanut butter both in the cream cheese batter and in the chocolate batter itself. I left off the part about garnishing with chopped peanuts and instead sprinkled with chunks of Reese's peanut butter cups after the brownie had baked and while it was still warm so the peanut butter cups would melt slightly into the top. It just seemed a little more visually appealing and I figured anyone who likes peanut butter and chocolate together wouldn't mind some peanut butter cups either. You could even add peanut butter chips to the chocolate batter if you wanted to go all out.
This baked up into a nicely thick brownie. I didn't time it exactly but I don't think I baked it for as long as the recipe called for, maybe 40-45 minutes instead? Bake only until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs, not completely clean. When I marbleized the batter to swirl the peanut butter cream cheese and the chocolate batters, I deliberately didn't smooth the top and left them craggy from the marbleizing. I thought the top would smooth out in baking but it actually remained a bit craggy. I decided I liked that rougher look better and it made for better nooks and crannies for the peanut butter cups to adhere and melt into.
If you like peanut butter cups, you'd like this brownie - it essentially is the brownie version of a peanut butter cup. The peanut butter cream cheese layer is slightly more dense than the brownie layer but both are moist and the flavors complement each other nicely. I don't really taste the cream cheese, just the peanut butter. Although, given the thickness, maybe this is more like a dense peanut butter chocolate cake rather than a brownie. Either way, chocolate & peanut butter lovers, here you go.
Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Fusion
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1-ounce pieces
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup sour cream
Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½-ounce pieces
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
¾ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup sour cream
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Make the peanut butter cream cheese fusion
1. Place the peanut butter, cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds; then increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute until combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Add the egg yolk and beat on medium for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Add the sour cream and beat on medium for 30 seconds until combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Set the mixture aside at room temperature until needed.
Make the chocolate peanut butter brownie
2. Preheat the oven to 325⁰F.
3. Lightly coat the insides of a 9 x 13 x 2-inch nonstick rectangular baking pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper or foil then lightly coat the paper or foil with more cooking spray. Set aside.
4. In a sifter combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda. Sift onto a large piece of parchment paper and set aside.
5. Melt the 4 ounces of butter, the semisweet chocolate, and the unsweetened chocolate in the top half of a double boiler; stir until smooth. Set aside.
6. Place the sugar and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle. Beat on medium-high speed for 4 minutes until slightly thickened and a pale ivory color. Add the chocolate and butter mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds to combine. Operate the mixer on the lowest speed while gradually adding the dry ingredients; mix until incorporated, about 35 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the peanut butter, sour cream, and vanilla extract and mix on low to combine, about 15 seconds. Now beat on medium for 20 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the batter until thoroughly combined.
7. Immediately pour about half (about 2 ¾ cups) of the brownie batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly to the edges of the pan. Pour the Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Fusion over the top of the brownie batter and use an offset spatula to spread evenly to the edges of the pan. Now pour the remaining brownie batter over the fusion layer and again spread evenly to the edges of the pan.
8. Marbleize the brownie by dipping the flat blade of a dinner knife into the batter to the bottom of the pan, then lifting the blade of the knife out of the batter in a folding motion like the roll of a wave, repeating about 12 times throughout the batter in the pan. Smooth any air pockets on the surface of the batter with a spatula. Sprinkle the peanuts evenly over the batter. Bake on the center rack in the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the brownie comes out clean (I prefer when the toothpick comes out with moist crumbs, not raw batter), 53 to 55 minutes. Remove the brownie from the oven and cool in the pan at room temperature for 30 minutes.