Well hello there! You look like you’ve spent a lot of time working on those abs. Just enough time, in fact, that you might be a little bitter, and spend most of your time thinking about brownies. Well YOU, my friend, are in luck! These devious little spare-tire inflaters are coming your way just in time for the fast approaching chilly weather. n.b.: If you don’t like peanut butter, these are not for you. The batter smells like peanut butter, as does the finished product, and your entire apartment once you’ve made them. For those of you who do like peanut butter—you’re welcome.
Now, then. If you read my Peach-Rhubarb-Raspberry Pie recipe, you will not be surprised to know that I have never made a scratch brownie recipe before. Brownie mixes don’t make the best brownies in the world, especially using the box directions, but they are a fine place to start from if you’re serving brownies as a chocolate-y afterthought, not a special, attention-deserving dessert. (Hint: replace the suggested oil with butter. Mmmmm.)
I must also use this moment to give a brief shout-out to Smitten Kitchen (link on the right). While the assembly of the ingredients below only faintly resembles any of the recipes I used as measurement references, this recipe was the one that inspired me to add peanut butter which, as I mentioned, plays a prominent flavor role. So here it is, folks. My first attempt at brownies (although “Glory” is an equally appropriate name):
1 C unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 C sugar
1 C powdered sugar
dash of sea salt
12 oz smooth peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 C cocoa powder
1.5 C flour (plus extra if needed)
1.5 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
As can be gathered from the above recipe, a rare occurrence took place in my kitchen yesterday: I actually used measuring implements AND I even wrote down the amounts I used! This makes these brownies ridiculously easy to make. And fun, if you follow the fork-and-bowl directions:
Step 1: Cube butter (doesn’t really have to be softened, as you’ll find out momentarily) into your bowl and add both sugars. Get powdered sugar everywhere trying to mash it into the butter. Or skip that step and go straight to what I did, which is lose the fork. That’s right, first step of the recipe and I’m already smooshing things together with my hands. (Which means it is important to WASH your hands! Germs, people!) After well mashed, revive into a light-and-fluffy mixture by beating with your fork as fast as you can, about two minutes. Once this has been achieved, preheat your oven to 350.
Step 2: Fold peanut butter into mixture, then add eggs and vanilla all at once, and beat in with fork. I will admit that I did NOT use a measuring cup for the peanut butter because that is much more effort than it’s worth. Instead, I took a full 18-ounce jar, removed approximately 65% of it with a spatula (this tool will be useful later), and transferred directly into my bowl.
Step 3: Add cocoa powder and mix in. This is another opportunity to get something powdery all over yourself. If I had shown you a picture of my socks after baking these brownies, you might think I had aimed at them, rather than the bowl. Now add the flour, and mix until completely incorporated. The most helpful phrase of the entire aforementioned SK recipe was that the expected dough was “almost like cookie dough.” I chose to make my dough of a similar consistency in hopes that I would come out with something less cake-y and more, well, brownie-y. This dough shouldn’t necessarily all stick together in a big ball like cookie dough, but it is quite thick. If you can stir it without much resistance, add a little extra flour.
Step 4: Fold in chocolate chips. Taste the dough. Smile. Taste it again. Now, stop it! You’re going to eat the whole thing and have nothing left to bake!
Step 5: Butter a 13″x9″ (or similarly proportioned) pan. Use the previous spatula to scoop mix into pan and spread evenly. This dough is thick enough that I was tempted to make brownies with mini mohawks but, alas, I didn’t. There’s always next time, though! Bake 38-45 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean—or shortly before, if you’re into extra-moist brownies).
Cut these guys small, because they are RICH. And because then you can share them with your friends and still have plenty left over for you! Sprinkle with powdered sugar if that serving style of brownie suits you (see above). As usual, any modifications you come up with are welcome in the comments. Now go share your creation with the class!