Brownie Bit Cookies

Can’t decide whether you want a cookie or a brownie? Have I got a treat for you!

img_0453These chewy cookies boast more than chocolate chips: there are also chewy brownie bits. Start with a cooled batch of brownies. Then you whip up a batch of cookie dough, crumble the brownies into bits, and fold those bits right into the dough.

This recipe takes longer than most, since you have to bake brownies all the way through and then bake a batch of cookies too. But you can totally save time by making semi-homemade brownies, or even buying some at the store. You could definitely use store-bought cookie dough, too. Makes no matter: you’ll end up with great cookies regardless. Every bite into these beauties rewards you with buttery dough, chocolate chips and fudgy brownie. Plus, you should have extra brownies left over…so that’s a win, right?

Brownie Bit Cookies

Original recipe: Two Peas and Their Pod. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~30 cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~2 hours

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

Brownies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

Cookies

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt (regular salt is fine if you don’t have sea salt)
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups brownie chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
  • Extra sea salt to sprinkle on the cookies

Directions

Make your brownies

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Use a medium, microwave-safe bowl to melt the butter. Use 30-second increments until the butter is fully melted
  3. Add your sugar and stir to combine
  4. Microwave the mixture until it’s hot, but not bubbling. Keep an eye on it, and stop microwaving once it’s shiny
  5. Stir in your cocoa, baking powder, salt, espresso powder and vanilla
  6. Whisk the eggs into the batter, stirring until it’s totally smooth
  7. Line a 9×13 pan with foil, and spray with nonstick spray
  8. Pour your batter into the pan. Bake about 28-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs. Your edges will look set, but the center will still look pretty moist
  9. Let the brownies cool completely, then chop them into bite sized bits so they’re ready to go for your cookies. Measure as you go, because you’ll have leftover brownies and can just keep the rest in the pan for later. You only need 1.5 cups of chunks for the cookies!

Make your cookies

  1.  Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk your flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
  3. Use your mixer to cream butter, sugar and brown sugar for about 3 minutes
  4. Add your eggs and vanilla, then mix again until it’s fully combined
  5. Set the mixer to low, and slowly mix in your dry ingredients. Only mix until it’s combined—the dough is a little runny so you might be tempted to keep going, but don’t overmix the dough!
  6. Add your chocolate chips and brownie chunks, and stir one more time. I like to do this part by hand so I can keep an eye on mix-in distribution and size!
  7. Line baking sheets with parchment
  8. Use about two tablespoons of dough per cookie, and place onto the baking sheet. You can sprinkle the tops with sea salt if you want (definitely recommend this!)
  9. Bake about 10-12 minutes, until the edges are turning a golden brown
  10. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely
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Mint M&M Brownies

I debated saving this recipe for another day since my last post was also a chocolate mint recipe. But, thanks to St. Patrick’s Day, I kept seeing minty green treats pop up all over my feeds. And every time I did, I started thinking about these brownies again. So, I think it’s only fair I share these brownies today, while mint and shades of green are on your brain.

IMG_3308Mint M&Ms are pretty incredible. They taste a bit like Andes Mints, and a bit like those pastel mint candies some restaurants keep in a dish at the hostess table. They have a nice crunchy shell, and then a deliciously smooth, chocolate mint center. Plus, they come in a variety of green hues, so they add a fun bit of color when you bake with them.

I bought these M&Ms a while ago without a real plan, and decided they’d taste great mixed into brownies. I turned to a trusty brownie recipes from Sally’s Baking Addiction and simply mixed in my M&Ms instead of chocolate chips. These are very fudgy, dense brownies, with a rich chocolate base. They were the perfect base for Mint M&Ms!

These are a one bowl recipe and pretty quick to whip up, so they’re a great “brownies on a whim” recipe too. And if you don’t happen to have Mint M&Ms on hand, you could just use chocolate chips or swap in any other baking bits you like. I bet you Reese’s Pieces would be awesome–or caramel bits!

Mint M&M Brownies

Original recipe:  Sally’s Baking Addiction. I’ve made some swaps and rewritten things a bit. 

Yield: 30 brownies

Total Time: ~50 minutes 

Cook Time: ~30-36 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 oz of a semi sweet chocolate bar, coarsely chopped (you need 4 ounces total, but add the chocolate in two increments at two different points!)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup unsweetened natural or dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 oz of a semi sweet chocolate bar, coarsely chopped
  • 1 and 1/4 cups Mint M&Ms, chocolate chips or any other mix-in!

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Grease a 9×13 pan with foil or parchment paper, leaving a little hanging over the sides so it’s easier to pull them out later
  3. Use a microwave safe bowl to melt your butter and 2 ounces of chopped chocolate. Melt in 30 second increments, whisking after each increment to make sure the ingredients to make sure the ingredients are mixed together. Do this until your mixture is smooth but be careful not to go too far–chocolate can burn!
  4. Whisk in your sugar until the mixture is completely combined
  5. Whisk in your eggs and vanilla. At this point the batter will be light brown
  6. Add in your cocoa powder, flour, salt and the other 2 ounces of chopped chocolate. Fold it all together with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula
  7. Mix in your M&Ms or other baking bits. Do this gently with your spoon or spatula, and be careful not to overmix the batter
  8. Pour your batter into the prepared pan. It will be super thick so you’ll need to use your spatula to spread it around and even it out
  9. Bake your brownies for about 30-36 minutes. Check on them as soon as you smell that telltale smell of brownies float through your kitchen, even if it hasn’t been 30 minutes yet. Use a toothpick in the center to check if they’re done. You’re looking for a few moist crumbs on the toothpick. If there is still wet batter on the toothpick, keep the brownies in the oven a bit longer. Mine took 35 minutes altogether
  10. Let the brownies cool completely on a wire rack before you cut them. If you try to cut brownies before they’re cool, they tend to crumble all over the place!

These will keep in an airtight container for about a week. Or, freeze them!

 

 

Gingerbread Brownies

Looking for something a little different for your holiday dessert tray? Have I got the treat for you!

These Gingerbread Brownies combine the best parts of their namesake baked goods. You get the molasses depth of gingerbread, and the richness of chocolate. This is basically a brownie recipe, with molasses and brown sugar in there to create a new take on gingerbread. It’s a simple recipe, too: you just use a single saucepan to create these beauties.

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Remember how I waxed poetic about the spicy dough in last week’s gingersnap recipe? This recipe is pretty much the opposite take on gingerbread: molasses is now the star. The molasses flavor is pretty intense, so be warned if you don’t actually like how molasses tastes! You can use light brown sugar instead of dark to tone it down a bit, if you want… but I didn’t. Mine turned out super chewy and dense with an amazing chocolate start, and a deep, molasses finish.

I made these the night before a holiday event, and they kept just fine in an airtight container. The flavor got more intense over time. I didn’t mind that, but you might want to make these the same day you plan to serve them (or freeze them ’til you’re ready to enjoy!). While these aren’t cookies, you could probably get away with bringing them to a cookie exchange with some sort of logic about how gingerbread often IS a cookie. I don’t think people will reject your logic once they take a bite!

Gingerbread Brownies

Original recipe:  I heart eating. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 16-25 depending on how you cut your brownies

Total Time: ~55 minutes

Cook Time: 30-35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • 1/3 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed (dark brown for more intensity, light brown if you want to dial down the flavor a bit) 
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Use a large saucepan to melt your butter and chocolate together. Use low heat for this, and stir the mixture frequently so it’s properly mixed
  3. Once it’s fully melted together, remove the saucepan from the heat
  4. Add in your molasses, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Try to use a whisk, but be careful not to scratch your pan! I used a rubber whisk to play it safe and you’d probably be fine with a wooden spoon, too
  5. Whisk in your eggs until fully combined
  6. Add your flour, salt, cinnamon and ginger, then whisk again until the dry ingredients are just incorporated
  7. Grab a 9-inch square pan and grease it so your brownies don’t stick
  8. Pour your batter into the pan
  9. Bake for 30-35 minutes, depending on your oven
  10. Let cool fully in the pan
  11. Dust with powdered sugar right before you serve the brownies. If you do it too early, the sugar will dissolve and you won’t even see it!*

*I literally carried around a bag of powdered sugar all day so I’d have it to dust my brownies right before putting them out at an afternoon party. The things I do for baked goods…

 

Halloween Oreo Brownies

When I was a kid I was convinced Halloween Oreos tasted better than regular Oreos. There isn’t supposed to be a flavor difference, but I always thought that the Halloween edition’s orange creme was superior to the standard-issue white creme we get most the year. Maybe it’s psychological, and I just liked the orange color more?

I don’t know, but turns out, I still think this today. I bought a package recently for baking plans, but naturally had to eat a couple cookies on their own. I still like the orange creme more! I’m an Oreo fan year-round, but maybe I should stock up on the orange Oreos while I can since they make me so happy!

img_1993Know what else makes me happy? This totally awesome orange and black Halloween treat. These stuffed brownies make it easy to add Halloween flair to your dessert. Just whip up your favorite brownie batter and throw some Oreos in as a middle layer. How simple is that? I used my favorite brownie recipe here, but you could use another one… or even a mix! You can play around with pan dimensions too. You can even make these in muffin tins for “brownie cupcakes.” (Which I did… but more on that later)

When you cut the brownies, there’s such a funk peek of orange in every piece. The Oreo cookie sort of melts a little as the brownie bakes, but not entirely. So when you bite into one of these, you get a distinct Oreo taste to complement the rich chocolatey brownie. I prefer these cooled, because the Oreo hardens back a bit. If you eat them straight out of the oven, the Oreo layer is a little less distinct.

These are a fun and simple Halloween treat! And if you don’t have a go-to for brownies, I highly recommend the brownie recipe below. It’s quite rich, thanks to browned butter and a lotttt of cocoa. It’s the same recipe I used for Peanut Butter Cup Brownies earlier this year. You should try those, too!

And of course, you could do this with any sort of Oreo. I bet you Mint Oreos would be perfect in here!

Halloween Oreo Brownies

Original recipe: The brownie batter comes from The Food Charlatan. I’ve changed things up a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 9×13 pan. You should strategize your cuts to get a bit of Oreo in every bite! If you want 1 Oreo per brownie, you’ll only get 12 out of this… but I was ok with smaller pieces and got 30 brownies. 

Suggested equipment: Mixer, though you could definitely do this by hand

Total Time: ~55 minutes 

Cook Time: 30 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups butter
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon water (just at a normal temp, not hot and not too cold) 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 Halloween Oreos (or any other kind of Oreo, of course!) 

Step by Step Directions

Brown your butter 

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and let it cook until it’s browned. You should stir the butter occasionally and keep a very close eye on it- butter burns fast. It will foam up as it cooks and then will start turning a bit more golden in color, with small brown bits popping up as the cooking continues. When it starts to smell a bit nutty, that means it’s done
  2. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl so it can cool off a little before you use it. Don’t leave it in the same pan to cool because it will keep cooking as it sits there

Make your brownies

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Line your baking dish with foil, then spray the foil with a light coat of nonstick spray
  3. Combine sugar, cocoa and salt in a large bowl or mixer
  4. Add your browned butter, then beat the mixture until it’s smooth and almost creamy
  5. Add water and vanilla, then mix it all together
  6. Add your eggs one at a time, mixing the batter in between each egg
  7. Add the flour and mix until it is just incorporated into the batter. Your batter should look really thick at this point
  8. Pour half your batter into your prepared pan. You’ll need a spatula here, since the batter is so thick
  9. Space 12 Oreos evenly across your batter. Push each Oreo down a little so it’s “rooted” in the batter a bit
  10. Pour the remaining batter over your Oreos, and use a spatula to spread it around. Make sure each Oreo is entirely covered by batter so the Oreos don’t poke thru the top of the brownies
  11. Bake for ~25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out batter-free. The center of the pan should be mostly set
  12. Let these cool all the way before you slice your brownies so the Oreos harden back up a bit

 

S’Mores Brownies

I have a confession to make: I didn’t know today was National S’Mores Day until my mom texted me about it (thanks Mom!). But, I’ve been on a s’more-inspired baking kick recently, so I already had the perfect recipe ready to share and commemorate this very special “holiday.”

S’Mores have long been one of my favorite treats. I have fond memories of sitting around the beach fire pits near my high school, making s’more after s’more and memory after memory. My friends and I would play around with the ratio of graham-to-marshmallow-to-chocolate, stacking layer after layer to see how high we could go.

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In recent years, I’ve experimented a lot with s’more-inspired baked goods. Last year I whipped up some S’Mores Cupcakes with Marshmallow Crispies. The year before that, it was these wonderful S’More Cookie Bars. This year I decided to try more than 1 over the course of “S’More Season” – so the brownies you’ll see today are only the first in a series! If you want a sneak peek of other S’Mores treats that may show up on the blog, check out the Pinterest board where I store all my S’Mores-inspired ideas.

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We ate these in a park. It was glorious.

Now: about these brownies. There is a graham cracker layer all the way at the bottom, pre-baked a bit to get it nice and firmed up. You cover the cracker layer with a rich, brownie layer that bakes up into delicious, rich brownies. And then you sprinkle a generous topping of mini marshmallows, graham cracker bits and chocolate pieces on top to create a “s’more” effect in every single bite. I made these for a friend’s going away party and subbed in dark chocolate everywhere possible, since that’s her favorite type of chocolate. Since we ate these outside, the chocolate on top melted a little – which ended up being an awesome touch and amplified the “s’mores” effect.

These brownies are rich, and the recipe makes a full 9×13 pan so these are great for a party. Make sure to allow time for this recipe’s phased baking process: you’ll throw the pan into the oven 3 separate times at different points in the recipe.

S’Mores Brownies

Original recipe: Chef in Training. I’ve made some modifications and added my own commentary. 

Yield: ~20 brownies

Suggested equipment: Mixer 

Total Time: ~1 hour

Cook Time: ~35 minutes 

Ingredients

Crust 

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs (I put my graham crackers in a plastic bag and smashed them until I had crumbs. You could also use a food processor)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted

Brownies 

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup dark cocoa (You can sub in another kind if you’d prefer but I loved the rich chocolate flavor from the dark cocoa. I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 1⅓ cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt

Topping 

  • Roughly 1½ cups mini marshmallows (you’ll want to eyeball it for the right ratio)
  • 3.5 graham crackers, broken into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 dark chocolate bars, broken into bite-sized pieces (you can swap in another type of chocolate, of course)

Step by Step Directions

Make your crust (use the crust ingredient list) 

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375F.
  2. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.
  3. Combine graham crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a medium bowl and use a spoon to combine them together.
  4. Press the mixture into your pan and make sure it is evenly spread out.
  5. Bake for 7 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and set aside.
  6. Reduce your oven to 350F for the next steps.

Make your brownies (use the brownie ingredient list)  

  1. Cream butter and sugar together.
  2. Add your eggs and vanilla, and mix until it is well-combined.
  3. Add in the cocoa, flour and salt. Use a spoon to stir the mixture together until it is completely mixed.
  4. Pour your brownie batter over the graham cracker crust.
  5. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. The brownies won’t be fully set yet so don’t worry!

Add your topping (use the topping ingredient list) 

  1. Sprinkle your topping ingredients evenly over the semi-baked brownie. You’ll want to eyeball to get the perfect ratio of marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers.
  2. Bake the pan again for roughly 10-15 more minutes. Keep an eye on your brownies to know when they’re done; mine took the full 15 minutes. The brownies are done when a toothpick comes out clean with a couple crumbs. Make sure you’re sticking the pick into the brownies themselves and not getting melty chocolate on the toothpick – that can lead you astray!

Eat warm if you want melty chocolate on top; cool if you prefer little chunks of chocolate to bite into. These kept nicely for 2 days beyond the bake date. Make sure to store them in an airtight container if you want to keep them around.

 

Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

One of my dearest friends visited San Francisco last week. Hila was one of my first SF pals, and one of my best friends in town until work moved her to LA. She frequently benefitted from my baking experiments when she lived nearby, but now she’s usually relegated to reading about my baking rather than tasting it. So when she booked her flight to visit over the 4th, I promised I’d bake something delicious to celebrate her arrival. A few days before she got here, I asked her favorite flavors so I could bring a treat to brunch. Her list back? “Dark chocolate, peanut butter and almonds.”

And so I started digging through my Pinterest boards and recipe lists. I sent Hila and our other friend Netta an email with some options to choose from. Hila picked these delectable Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting, Netta confirmed it sounded like a good plan – and off I went to find bittersweet chocolate!

IMG_0276These brownies are truly decadent. The combo of bittersweet chocolate, baking cocoa and espresso powder makes the base super chocolatey, with a bigger punch than many other brownie recipes. Espresso adds intensity to chocolate recipes, so it’s a good add when you want to dial up your chocolate flavor. Browning your butter is also always a good choice, and adds a little nuttiness to this brownie’s base.

Once you’ve made your brownies, you whip up a rather simple peanut butter frosting. The “salted” part is actually from a salt sprinkle, and not salt in the frosting itself. Adding salt on top of these brownies results in the ultimate salty-sweet treat. I didn’t have time to let my brownies cool before frosting them, which made the frosting melt a little and thin out. My fine sea salt sprinkle sort of melted into the frosting, too. The result tasted great, but if you want thicker frosting and chunks of salt, you should wait for the brownies to cool entirely before icing them. This also makes it easier to cut the brownies, since warm brownies fall apart if you try to move or cut them. (see photos below for evidence!)

IMG_0282Hila and Netta loved these brownies, and I’m sure you will too! We started eating them while in line for brunch… and then again right after we left brunch. This picture to the right is what it looks like when you pull containers of brownies out of your bag and hand them over to friends while walking around town. Nothing like strolling around San Francisco, catching up with good friends – and enjoying brownies while you’re at it!

Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

Original recipe: The KitchnI’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 16 brownies

Suggested equipment: Mixer makes the frosting easier 

Total Time: ~ 1 hour 45 minutes, including time for the brownies to cool 

Cook Time: 30-35 minutes depending on your oven

Ingredients

Brownies: 

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate (You can use chopped chocolate or chocolate chips as long as you add it up to 3 oz)
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (You can omit this if you don’t have it, but it does add a lot of chocolatey depth!)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Frosting: 

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (You want to buy something like Jif Regular PB. PB with separated oil just don’t work as well for frosting!)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon flake or fine sea salt (The original recipe suggested flake but I only had fine and it was just fine! Heh.)

Step by Step Directions

Brown your butter

  1. Preheat your oven to 325F.
  2. Grease an 8×8 square metal pan, and line it with parchment paper that hangs a couple inches over the edge. Once it’s lined, lightly grease the parchment, too. I use Pam spray for this but you could use butter instead.
  3. Put your butter in a medium saucepan and melt it over medium-high heat. Keep a really close eye on the butter as it cooks – butter can go from nicely browned to sadly charred quite quickly. You want to see the solids bubble up, then settle into the and turn a caramel brown. You’ll know it’s done when the solids are golden and the butter gives off a nutty aroma. It usually takes about 3-5 minutes to brown butter like this.

Make your brownies

  1. Pour the browned butter into a medium bowl, and add your 3 oz of chocolate.Make sure to do this when the butter is still warm – these next few steps depend on warm butter! (Unlike many recipes where you let the butter cool before using it)
  2. Let it stand for 1 minute so the chocolate begins to melt into the butter.
  3. Then, whisk the chocolate mixture until it is blended together.
  4. Add in your sugar and vanilla, and whisk it all together until it’s smooth.
  5. Stir in your eggs, salt and espresso powder. Mix it with a wooden spoon until the entire mixture is well-blended.
  6. Add in your cocoa powder and flour. Use a spatula or spoon to fold the ingredients together until they’re just combined. You shouldn’t see any specks of dry ingredients but also want to be careful that you don’t overmix – overmixing leads to tough brownies!
  7. Pour the batter into your pan and bake until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean. Start checking around 25 minutes to see how your brownies look. Mine took 35 minutes to fully bake, but my oven was acting up a bit.
  8. Let the brownies cool all the way before you start frosting and slicing.

Frost your brownies

  1. Once the brownies are cool, get to work on the frosting!
  2. Use your mixer to combine the butter, peanut butter and powdered sugar. You’ll know you’re done when the frosting is a light brown color, and the ingredients are fully smoothed together.
  3. Frost your cooled brownies with an offset spatula to get a smooth and even frosting.
  4. Once you’ve finished frosting, sprinkle sea salt on the top of your brownies.

Additional tips: 

  • The original recipe notes that you can make the frosting up to 1 week in advance, and the brownies up to 3 days in advance.
  • If your brownies are too dense to cut right away, you can refrigerate them for 30 minutes and then try again.
  • Like I mentioned above: if you want thicker frosting, don’t start frosting the brownies until they are 100% cooled. Otherwise your frosting will melt a bit and thin out, and the salt will melt into the frosting too. It’s totally awesome either way, so it’s just up to your textural preferences!

 

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

DSC07974I have a new favorite brownie. And I think you could have a new favorite brownie too, if you gave these Peanut Butter Cup Brownies a try.

Assuming that is, that you like peanut butter. If you don’t – try these instead. But if you DO like peanut butter, please stay tuned.

These brownies are rich, chocolate-y, and they have an entire Reese’s peanut butter cup stuffed in side. As you’ve probably noticed, I am a huge fan of fillings and stuffings in my baked goods. I love the dash of intrigue and the pump of flavor. These stuffed brownies were truly out of this world, with such a nice ratio of chocolate to peanut butter. It also doesn’t hurt that you brown the butter before mixing it in, or that the recipe includes a full 1.5 cups of cocoa. So chocolatey, so peanut-buttery, so wonderful.

I made these brownies for a friend’s birthday. I felt like baking with peanut butter or caramel for some reason, so I asked which flavor she preferred. She picked peanut butter, this brownie recipe won the round, and off I went to procure peanut butter cups. I actually ended up making something with caramel too, because I just couldn’t resist the urge… but more on that another time.

I took the brownies to my friend’s birthday party at Ocean Beach on an atypically sunny San Francisco Sunday. What’s better than eating brownies and hanging with friends on the beach? Not much, I’d say.

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Adding PB cups

These brownies were a huge hit, and I think it has a lot to do with the texture. Peanut butter and chocolate is a rather common flavor duo in the U.S., but it’s not usually with this combination of textures. Most chocolate/PB recipes either use peanut butter from a jar, or peanut butter chips. Using peanut butter cups adds more depth to the peanut butter flavor because it is thicker, and a bit grainier. But it’s not like eating a straight peanut butter cup, either, because there’s no chocolate shell crunch. In fact, the peanut butter cup’s shell sort of melts into the brownie as it bakes. So you’re getting a straight bite of fudgey brownie right with the thick peanut butter.

This recipe makes a full 9×13 pan of brownies. Since I baked two pans of 9×13 treats that day, I only took 2/3 of the brownies to the beach, and froze the rest.

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Original recipe: The Food Charlatan. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 9×13 pan, mine cut into ~30 brownies 

Suggested equipment: Mixer, though you could definitely do this by hand

Total Time: ~55 minutes 

Cook Time: 30 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups butter (2 and 1/2  standard sticks. The original recipe called for salted and honestly I didn’t even notice, so I used unsalted and it worked out just fine) 
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon water (just at a normal temp, not hot and not too cold) 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 large Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or another brand, but make sure they’re the size of regular Reese’s and not minis. Minis would work too but the peanut butter ratio would be different per bite and the large cups help make these brownies so tasty)

Step by Step Directions

Brown your butter 

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and let it cook until it’s browned. You should stir the butter occasionally and keep a very close eye on it- butter burns fast. It will foam up as it cooks and then will start turning a bit more golden in color, with small brown bits popping up as the cooking continues. When it starts to smell a bit nutty, that means it’s done
  2. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl so it can cool off a little before you use it in the recipe, and doesn’t keep cooking in the hot saucepan

Make your brownies

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Line a baking dish with parchment or foil, and then spray that with nonstick cooking spray. I prefer using foil for this sort of thing but you can use what you have
  3. Combine sugar, cocoa and salt in your bowl or stand mixer
  4. Add the butter, and then beat the mixture until it is smooth and almost creamy
  5. Add water and vanilla, then mix it together
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in between each egg addition
  7. Add the flour and mix until it is just incorporated into the batter. The batter will be thick
  8. Pour your batter into the pan. You’ll need a spatula to help move it along since the batter is so thick
  9. Now comes the exciting part! Place your 12 large peanut butter cups in a layer on top of the brownie batter
  10. Push each peanut butter cup slightly INTO the batter so they’re no longer just on the surface of the batter
  11. Use your spatula sort of like a paintbrush to swirl brownie batter over the cups. You want the cups to be entirely covered by brownie batter (see pics below)
  12. Bake for ~25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out batter-free. The center of the pan should be mostly set. Mine baked for exactly 30 minutes
  13. Let them cool all the way before you slice into squares. I was time-constrained so I sliced a bit too soon and they weren’t quite ready for it and I got a bunch of brownie crumbles in the process. Which I totally threw into my carry container and brought with me to the party anyway, because brownie crumbles are delicious, too!