Saturday, August 12, 2017

Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies

Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies - made July 23, 2017 from Dorie's Cookies by Dorie Greenspan
This is a simple brownie recipe you can easily accommodate for peanut butter lovers or non peanut butter lovers. For the first group, include the peanut butter layer over the brownie and under the ganache. For the second, simply omit that layer. Either way, you’re going to have a fudgy brownie with a rich chocolate topping.
Brownie base

Peanut butter layer
I’m not sure why I keep making peanut butter desserts when I feel obliged to point out with every peanut-butter-related post how indifferent I am to peanut butter. In this case, I made this brownie, partly because I’ve been sitting on this recipe for awhile and partly because, due to poor planning and perusal of my pantry, I had somehow ended up with three jars of peanut butter, two of which had a scoop of peanut butter in them. Don’t you hate that? So I had to make something with peanut butter just to clean out those two jars and open the third and final one. Thankfully they were not Costco-sized jars; I finally learned to stop buying those two-packs when – ahem – I’m indifferent to peanut butter.
Shiny ganache glaze

Because it essentially has three layers, this is one of the rare times I wouldn't make a thick brownie base. Otherwise the whole thing put together would be a little too awkward to consume. I was almost surprised at how shiny my chocolate ganache glaze turned out to be. I had just watched an episode of The Great British Baking Show on PBS where the contestants were challenged to make a cake that had a "mirror glaze". Mirror as in shiny surface rather than mirror where you can see your face reflected back at you when you gaze at the top of the cake. Whaddaya know, I made a shiny glaze. Which I then proceeded to cover with toffee bits. They're optional but add them if you want a little more decadence and crunch.
And, fortunately for me, the people around me are not as “meh” about peanut butter as I am and gladly received my baking experiment. The brownie part was good, the peanut butter part was fine (for peanut butter lovers) and the ganache topping was rich (if you use the good chocolate). So overall, I think this was a decent brownie. If you really want to punch up the peanut butter flavor and cut some of the richness of the ganache, top it with chopped toasted peanuts for a little extra crunch and flavor.

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, cold
1 cup (136 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped, optional

Frosting and Glaze
1 cup chunky peanut butter (not natural or old-fashioned)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
2/3 cup (80 grams) confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I left it out)
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13" pan with foil and lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Brownies: Melt the butter and chocolate in the top half of a double boiler over hot, barely simmering water. Whisk until melted and smooth.
  3. Remove pan from the heat and whisk in the sugar, followed by the vanilla and salt. Beat in cold eggs, one at a time, whisking vigorously until each is incorporated.
  4. Fold in the flour and peanuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top with metal spatula. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool to room temperature.
  5. Frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the peanut butter and 4 tablespoons of butter on medium speed until well blended and smooth.  Beat in the confectioners' sugar, salt and nutmeg then milk and vanilla. 
  6. Using an offset metal spatula, spread the frosting evenly over the top of the brownies.
  7. Glaze: Cut the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter into 8 pieces and melt with chocolate in the top half of a double boiler set over hot, barely simmering water. Heat, stirring constantly until butter and chocolate have melted into a smooth, shiny glaze.
  8. Spoon the glaze evenly over the frosting and, using an offset spatula, cover the surface evenly. Refrigerate the brownies until the frosting and glaze have set, about 90 minutes. Use the foil overhang to lift the brownies out of the pan and cut into squares on a cutting board.

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