Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

It was inevitable, really. I've been interested in cooking and baking since I was four and I have never made brownies from scratch before this recipe. Really. Never.

Well, folks, it has finally happened. I took the plunge and deviated from my usual Ghiradelli Triple Chocolate brownies for some homemade chocolate-y goodness. I used an extremely basic brownie recipe, and added a ton of chocolate chips and a peanut butter swirl. Let me tell you, this one is a winner. I gave literally all of them away so they wouldn't sit in my kitchen. All my friends were texting me telling me how amazing these were. Trust me, totally worth the effort.

You will need:
 -8 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate
 -1/4 cup of unsalted butter
 -1 cup of dark brown sugar, packed
 -1 tsp vanilla extract
 -1/2 cup all-purpose flour
 -1 tsp baking powder
 -1/2 tsp salt
 -2 large eggs, room temperature
 -3/4 cup of chocolate chips
 -1/3 cup of smooth peanut butter

Oven temp: 325˚F.

Start by taking your chocolate and breaking it into smaller pieces. I thought I was going to use the knife and then I realized that Baker's chocolate is meant to snap easily, so the knife was for decoration. Looks legit though, so I suppose that's all that counts?

Melt your chocolate and butter in a bain marie.

Disregarding the French name, it's actually a super easy way of melting sensitive ingredients without any danger of water contamination or burning. You'll set up the bain marie by filling a saucepan with a few inches of water, then heating to a nice simmer. Place a heatproof bowl snugly over the top, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the surface of the water. Boom! That's it! Place your chocolate and butter in the bowl and stir constantly until everything's fully melted and combined, about five minutes. Once it's done, set aside for another five minutes to cool.

Add the sugar to the cooled chocolate mix. Stir it up really well, because you do not want any lumps!

It will look very grainy once all the sugar has been incorporated. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl as you mix so that you don't miss mixing anything in.

Add eggs one at a time to the mixture. Crack one in, then mix like crazy. The batter will get much more liquid-y as you mix, but make sure that all of the first egg is incorporated before you add the second egg! You want no bits of raw egg visible in the mix.

In a separate small bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder. It's that straightforward!

Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture. You can just throw it on in there...

...and stir it up! Again, make sure that you are completely combining the two mixtures. Scrape the sides and the bottom of the bowl in order to confirm that you're not missing out on anything.

Hey, this looks familiar, right? This is when I started to breathe easier because it looked a heck of a lot like the premade brownie mixtures of my past. The batter should be completely smooth and reasonably runny. Make double sure that there are no clumps of flour left in the batter!

Now, add your chocolate chips. I added 3/4 of a cup, but feel free to scale down or up as needed. I found that these made the brownies extremely chocolate chip-y, but that's really how I like them. They would still be delicious without, I'm sure! You could also add peanut butter chips or nuts if you so desire. Just chuck 'em in and mix it all up.

Pour/dollop the batter into a greased baking ban. My apartment only has a 13x9 pan so I used that... honestly, sometimes I think my blog could be accurately titled "Janky Kitchen Adventures" but I don't think it's super catchy.

For the peanut butter swirl: Microwave the peanut butter in ten second increments until it's very runny... obviously a scientific term. Once it's sufficiently liquified, pour it on top of the brownie batter and run your knife through it a few times. I tried to get it sort of evenly distributed, but it's not a huge deal. Think of it as avant-garde baking.

Here you can see the method to the madness in greater detail. It's really that easy--stick your knife in the mix and drag it around.

Now, stick the brownies in the oven. I kept mine in for 27 minutes and they were a little gooey for my taste, so I would recommend keeping them in for thirty minutes. Check for doneness when a toothpick (or in my case, a knife) comes out clean.

For smaller pans (8x8, 9x9) I would guess that they would take closer to forty minutes. However, check for doneness regularly by the toothpick test and noticing if the brownies are pulling away from the edges of the pan.

Since these were pretty thin brownies, I gave my friends huge pieces. And dang, were they a hit. Rich chocolate flavor, with molten chocolate chips, and that delicious peanut butter undercurrent... yum. I'm insanely proud of my first foray into brownies from scratch!

These took about an hour to make, start-to-finish. While I will never discourage the use of Ghiradelli mixes (let's be real, they're dang good), I have to say that homemade brownies are simply incomparable. They are gooey, rich, and absolutely delicious. I highly recommend these for an easy recipe that produces some show-stopping brownies.

Also, in humble-brag news, my amazing friend Natasha interviewed me for part of an article on O2 Max Fitness about how to eat healthily in college! I'm so honored and flattered that people besides my parents (love ya, mum and dad) read this little blog. You can find the article here.

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