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!
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Brookies with Pretzels and Potato Chips

You know how some people have a sweet tooth, and others prefer salty snacks? I am a sweet tooth girl, through and through. Usually, “salty snacks” like chips and pretzels don’t interest me much. But when you combine salty snacks with dessert? Now we’re talking.

The salty-sweet combo is a perpetual winner with my friends. And it’s been gaining popularity in the American dessert landscape overall, thanks to the popularity of ingredients like salted caramel and sea salt. Last year, I sprinkled so many cookies with sea salt, I actually started getting sick of it! Of course, my friends loved every single sea salt-sprinkled cookie, so I’ll keep sprinkling that salt away.

DSC07937Today’s recipe takes the idea of salty-sweet to new levels. These “brookies” start with dual layers of brownie batter and cookie dough. Pretzels and chips are both mixed into the batter, and sprinkled right on top. Each bite gives you a bit of cookie, a bit of brownie, and a salty crunch. The ratio of snacks to batter is just right, too, so it isn’t overwhelming in any way.

This recipe hit my radar in February and I loved the story behind it. Irvin of Eat The Love needed to bring something to a Super Bowl Party. Since he tends to bring baked goods to social events, he wanted to do that- but he needed a recipe that seemed fitting to a Super Bowl Party.You can see why I related! I’m that person who brings baked goods everywhere, and I too always debate what’s right for a particular event.

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Mixing potato chips into the cookie dough

Since this recipe was posted after 2016’s Super Bowl, it became part of my birthday party menu instead. My birthday was at a bar, and dessert studded with pretzels and chips seemed very fitting to the locale. These were a surefire hit. They were on a table with 6 other baked goods, and kept catching everyone’s eye. My friends would notice the pan of brownies, take stock of what was on top of them, and decide to cut a piece, even before they noticed these were brookies and not merely brownies. Of course, seeing that the treat included cookie dough, too, only made these more desirable.

I baked these as part of a massive race to prep for my birthday and ended up baking them the day of my party. However, Irvin says you can make them a day early, as long as you store the final dessert in an airtight container to make sure the pretzels and chips don’t go stale.

Brookies with Pretzels and Potato Chips

Original recipe:  Eat the Love. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 24 bars (or more if you cut them smaller!)

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: 1.5 hours 

Cook Time: 40-45 minutes 

Ingredients

Note: make sure to keep the dough and batter measurements separate! They’re listed here as separate recipes to make sure you use the right amount per step, but make sure you add it all up as you do your grocery shopping so you don’t fall short on any ingredient 

Cookie dough 

9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspooon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 2 cups lightly crushed potato chips

Brownie batter

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups lightly broken mini pretzels (you’ll use these in two steps)
  • 1/2 cup lightly crushed potato chips
  • 2 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons milk chocolate chips

Step by Step Directions

Make your cookie dough 

  1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF and grease a 9×13 pan. You should also line it with parchment, letting a bit hang over the edge so it will be easy to pick up the treats later
  2. Use your mixer to cream the butter, brown sugar and vanilla. They should be well blended before you move on
  3. Add each egg, one at a time, fully incorporating the first egg before you add in the second egg
  4. Beat the mixture well
  5. Add flour, baking powder and salt, and then beat until all ingredients are incorporated
  6. Pour in the chocolate chips and potato chips and mix by hand until the add-ins are distributed evenly throughout the door
  7. Put your cookie dough into the prepared pan. You may need to wet your hands a bit to help you spread the dough- I didn’t need to, but the original recipe suggests this
  8. Make sure the dough is spread evenly in the pan

Make your brownies

  1. Use the same bowl you used to make the cookie dough- no need to even clean it out!
  2. Put your brownie batter butter, oil, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl, and then mix until well-blended
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing the first egg in entirely before moving onto the second egg
  4. Beat the mixture until well-blended
  5. Add the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, then beat until everything is mixed together
  6. Add 1.5 cups of pretzel pieces to the batter and mix them in gently
  7. Pour your brownie batter over the prepared cookie dough, and spread evenly

Finish and bake 

  1. Sprinkle the rest of your pretzel pieces, your broken potato chips and your chocolate chips over the top of the brownie batter
  2. Press down lightly on the toppings to make sure they’re “set” in the batter
  3. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. You might need to test a couple spots with the toothpick to make sure you’re not just hitting a melted chocolate chip and getting a false positive
  4. Let the brookies cool in the pan completely before you lift them out and slice