May 24, 2010

First day of work...and peanut butter brownies

Without a doubt, I can say that my two biggest cravings are chocolate and peanut butter. I mean, who can resist the creamy (or crunchy) texture and the salty sensation of peanut butter as it rolls and glides over your taste buds or the rich, silkiness of dark chocolate as it melts in your mouth with all it's glory. Standing alone, chocolate and peanut butter are already heaven; but when combined, it's a whole different masterpiece.
Back at school whenever I got sick of the dining hall, which was almost daily towards the end of the year, peanut butter was always my go to not only for its taste but it's nutritional value (aka, my excuse for downing a tub of natural peanut butter in three weeks...but that's beside the point) but now that I'm at home, I love to be able to put my peanut butter back up on it's trophy stand and really use it to it's full potential in some fantastic desserts, like these peanut butter brownies (but just wait until you see what I have planned for my dad's birthday in July), so easy to make and even so much easier to devour a whole row of them from the pan.
The base is almost like a peanut butter blondie with a smooth, buttery and sweet texture that melts in your mouth; the bites accompanied by the semi-sweet chocolate chunks are even more delicious...if that's even possible. I mean, an innocent taster can see the dark chocolate ganache on top, and they are fully aware of the peanut butter brownie below, but they might be taken by surprise after landing upon a chocolate chunk, and boy is that a good surprise to land on...
After my first day of work at my first real job at Eileen's Bakery & Cafe in Downtown Fredericksburg, I couldn't wait to come home and sit down with a peanut butter brownie and an ice cold glass of milk. The perfect job, the perfect dessert to satisfy my craving; basically the perfect end to a perfect day- who could ask for more?

Peanut Butter Brownies:
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For brownies
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups granulated white sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used natural, but make sure it’s the kind you don’t need to stir)
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon salt

For ganache
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

Make brownies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan.

Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, then add peanut butter and beat until incorporated. Beat in whole eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Reduce mixer speed down to low and slowly mix in flour in two or three batches until just combined.

Mix in chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) then spread batter in baking pan, smoothing the top but not pressing down as it will make the brownies tough.

Bake until brownies are deep golden, puffed on top and a wooden pick inserted in center come out with some crumbs adhering, 40 to 45 minutes then cool completely in pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Make ganache: Put chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) in a heatproof bowl.

Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan, then pour over chocolate chips and let mixture stand for one minute.

Gently whisk in butter until it is incorporated, chocolate is melted, and a smooth mixture forms.

Spread the ganache on cooled brownies and let stand until set, about 15 minutes.

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