I give snaps to all the boxed brownie and cake mixes like Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, and Duncan Hines. They are delicious. There are some things I don’t want to buy pre-mixed in a box, but I’m all for brownie mixes. And they’ve gotten creative, with cheesecake brownies and turtle brownies, etc. I’m very happy to support them.
Because of these miracle boxes, I very rarely had to make my own, homemade brownies, and if I did it was only a few times following a recipe from my kids cookbook that came with large, colorful, plastic measuring spoons. Well I left that book at home and there ain’t no boxed brownie mixes in Spain (there is however, already-ready cake batter in a bag in the refrigerated section, ready-to-pour into a pan and bake. I don’t think I’m going to go that far). So, when the craving for brownies hit, I had to make my own and I’ve found a new standby. It might even replace boxed brownies one day…
I do love epicurious.com and that’s where I found this recipe. It’s actually a recipe for brownies with peanut butter frosting and then a chocolate layer. I made it to the peanut butter frosting (I had some so-so peanut butter that was going to get eaten on it’s own), but I couldn’t wait for the cooling of a top chocolate layer. These turned out great: the brownie itself was totally dense and rich but very smooth and moist, almost like a fudge. And the peanut butter frosting had a bit of nutmeg in it, so it was a bit spicy, a nice variation, but I’m holding onto this recipe especially for the brownies.
One last thing should be noted: in Spain there’s no word for brownie. When I told my roommate it was a thick chocolate cake, he took a piece and took one bite and said “esto no es pastel, es una bomba!” And then proceeded to claim it was too rich to eat a whole piece (I, of course, thought this was rather a moderate, regular-sized piece, easy to get down).
Peanut Butter Brownies
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (170g)
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (about 175g)
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (75g)
1 1/2 cups sugar (300g)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup all purpose flour (125g)
1 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (57g)
3/4 cup powdered sugar (90g)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
First, melt the butter and chocolate together, over the stove or in the microwave. Then add the sugar, vanilla and salt and stir well. Now crack in the eggs and mix in, and finally add the flour, mixing in until well combined. Now it's ready to bake, easy enough, huh? Now pour into a big baking pan (something like 13x9x2, but doesn't have to be) and bake in a 325 F (about 170 C) oven for about 30 minutes, but start checking around 15 to be safe, remember, you (or at least I do) want them a little underdone because then they stay moist.
While they’re cooking you can make the peanut butter frosting, but you have to wait until the brownies cool off a bit so it doesn't melt the icing completely. But the icing might be even easier than the brownies: mix everything together. First the peanut butter and butter, then add in the other stuff. Now remember, you can play around with all the ingredients; if you want, throw in some peanuts, if you like it really spicy, add more freshly ground nutmeg. It's your call. So when the brownies are cool enough, frost them, and eat immediately. Come to think of it, they might be even a little better slightly warm, I would put mine in the microwave to soften them up a bit, even though it was messier. So I say, throw on the icing when they're still a little warm inside and enjoy with a big glass of milk.
And p.s., remember to store in the refrigerator.