Peanut butter and fudge brownies

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RECIPE: I don’t make recipes with chocolate very often because my husband doesn’t enjoy it, so when I do make something with chocolate it’s a bit of a treat for me. It just means I have to give away most of it to stop myself trying to eat the whole thing before it goes stale! I used unsalted peanuts, as that’s what I had in stock, and added a pinch of salt to each stage of the recipe.

PREPARATION: The chocolate and butter mix needs stirring regularly while it’s melting to help it melt evenly and prevent burning. If you’re unsure, melt the combination in a double saucepan, a bain-marie, or in a glass bowl over a saucepan with boiling water in it, as this will control the heat and prevent disasters. Because the mixture is hot and the eggs are cold, it’s very important to be beating the mixture as you add the egg and beat it in well before adding the next. By the time you get to the last egg the mixture will have cooled a fair bit and there’s less chance of the egg ‘cooking’ as it hits the mix. Overmixing the brownies will remove too much air and make them dense and hard, so only fold the mix until the flour and nuts are just combined. I sifted in the confectioners’ sugar for the frosting to avoid lumps, but otherwise there are no difficult elements. To avoid over-cooking the chocolate glaze, it’s not a bad idea to take the glaze off the heat just before the chocolate finishes melting and then stirring it to remove the last lumps. The slice will cut cleanly while it’s cold.

IMPRESSION: I love chocolate and peanut butter together (check out my Peanut butter chocolate cake), so this was always going to be a winning combination. It’s fairly rich when you’re eating it, but then you want more!

Recipe from Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan

Peanut butter and fudge brownies

170g unsalted butter, cut into chunks
283g bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
300g sugar
1.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
4 cold large eggs
136g plain flour
146g roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

256g chunky peanut butter (not natural or old-fashioned)
112g unsalted butter, at room temperature, split into two portions
80g confectioners’ (icing) sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3 tsp milk (whole or skim)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
200g semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celcius. Line a 23 x 33cm pan with foil. To get good coverage and an overhang on each side to lift it with, use two pieces of foil, placing one the long way and one the short. Butter the foil.

Put the butter in a small heavy saucepan and add the chopped chocolate. Cook the butter and chocolate over very low heat, stirring often, until they are melted and the mixture is smooth; be careful not to overheat the ingredients. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the sugar, followed by the vanilla and salt. One by one, beat in the cold eggs, whisking vigorously after each one. By the time the fourth egg is in, the batter should be thick and glossy. Switch to a flexible spatula and gently fold in the flour, then the nuts, mixing only until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Scrape the batter into the pan, making sure to get it into the corners; smooth the top. Bake the brownies for 28-30 minutes, or until the top is dull all over and a tester inserted into the centre comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached to it. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to room temperature before frosting.

Working in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat the peanut butter and half the butter (56g) on medium speed until well blended. Beat in the confectioners’ sugar, salt and nutmeg, then the milk and vanilla. Using an offset spatula or a table knife, spread the frosting evenly over the top of the brownies. Cut the remaining butter into eight pieces and toss them into a small heavy saucepan. Add the chopped chocolate and cook, stirring constantly, over very low heat until the butter and chocolate are melted and you have a thick, smooth, shiny glaze. Spoon the glaze over the frosting and, using an offset spatula or table knife, cover the surface evenly. Refrigerate the brownies until the frosting and ganache are set, about 90 minutes.

Remove from the fridge, and while chilled, use the foil overhang to lift the brownies carefully out of the pan. Place the brownies on a cutting board and, using a long chef’s knife, cut into 32 pieces. While you can eat the brownies straight out of the fridge, they’re most flavorful and have the best texture at room temperature.

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