23 October 2011

Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Brownie

Last year for Thanksgiving I unintentionally stiffed my aunt's sweet tooth when I didn't bake anything with chocolate. I wanted to make amends this year with something a little special. Milk chocolate brownie base with a peanut butter swirl. How could it possibly go wrong? As made painfully clear in Jurassic Park, "nature found a way". And just like in Jurassic Park, it was human (read: my) meddling that created the problem.

I have had this milk chocolate brownie recipe bookmarked since Anna first posted it on Cookie Madness. It may have been the first time I had ever seen a recipe for a milk chocolate brownie. And though I do love all things milk chocolate (especially in candy bar form) I, as with most people, usually prefer my brownies on the semi-sweet to bitter-sweet side. Then again, I had never tried a milk chocolate brownie and this would finally be my opportunity to change that (for the most part). Not to mention that I would be using Lindt milk chocolate. It was a special occasion after all:). As for my thought process regarding the peanut butter it was literally to ask myself if anything went better with milk chocolate than peanut butter. When I didn't get an answer, I knew I was on the right track.

The milk chocolate brownie base, like all good brownies, comes together quick and easy. Because I prefer my brownies as fudgy as possible I did away with the leavening but also reduced the sugar and switched it to granulated. Everything was moving along smoothly until I realized that only half of the chocolate would end up in the brownie the rest being reserved as an add-in. This would effectively halve the amount of batter I would end up with. Mistake number one.

For some reason I believed I could approach the swirl the same as in my cream cheese brownies. Using similar ingredients but instead of cream cheese I would use peanut butter. This was mistake number two (in my defence no one tried to stop me :)). Besides this obvious change I also reduced the sugar and in an attempt to make the mix less viscous I used a full egg. It wasn't enough. The peanut butter mixture was still too thick and would be impossible to swirl in the brownie. My solution? Add milk. Seriously, milk?! What was I thinking? Why didn't I just heat it up like a brownie? Its consistency ended up a little more manageable, but not by much. Needless to say, this combined with the thinner than typical brownie base made swirling the two less swirl and more stir.

I was quite nervous as the brownie baked. The pb swirl had pretty much melted making it more of a pb layer and for the first time ever (I think) I witnessed a brownie bubbling. I hoped for the best because I didn't have a backup.

The next morning I prepared my dessert platter and began to slice the brownies. I closed my eyes, cringed, and took a taste. Hey! It's actually pretty good! There wasn't much swirl and I thought it was a bit greasy, a result of all that peanut butter goodness I assume. Yet that's where my complaints end. The brownie base was pretty fudgy as was the peanut butter layer. And with every bite you were treated to a nice chunk of creamy Lindt milk chocolate. This gave some needed variance in texture as well as an extra punch of chocolate. The peanut butter was never overpowering and with the reduced sugar served to balance out the sweetness of the chocolate. Overall it was rich but not too rich. Not bad. Whew.

In the end I suppose these brownies aren't the diaster I made them out to be (I guess I have a flair for the dramatic). Everyone really seemed to enjoy these, my aunt especially, so I was quite happy about that. However, I can't say that I am happy about this as a recipe. I'm not even sure that I could recreate it. It had good flavour, but it was Lindt milk chocolate and peanut butter after all. The recipe is here in case you want to give it a try or your own spin. Next time I think I will use the full eight ounces of chocolate in the brownie as well as chunks. And I will definitely treat the pb swirl differently. Perhaps using the same process as a brownie and melting it with butter. The brownie part alone is excellent and overall the flavours are terrific (did I mention it was milk chocolate and peanut butter?) but I don't know if I can recommend the recipe. Kind of like a Michael Bay movie.


Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Brownies

Inspired by Cookie Madness

Brownie Layer:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour (98g)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 ounces good quality milk chocolate, broken up into pieces (227g) -- I used Lindt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (113g)
1/2 cup sugar (100g)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla

Peanut Butter Layer:
1 cup smooth peanut butter, not natural (240g)
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg, room temperature
2 tbsp sugar (25g)

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9" square pan with foil and lightly grease.

Brownie Layer:
In a small bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and salt.

Place a medium heat proof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Add half the chocolate and butter and heat until completely melted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

When the chocolate is luke warm, add sugar and stir until completely combined. Add eggs one at a time, stirring until combined. Add vanilla and stir until combined.

Add dry ingredients to chocolate mixture and stir until no streaks of flour remain.

Fold in remaining chocolate chunks.

Spread evenly in prepared pan.

Peanut Butter Layer:
In a medium bowl add peanut butter, milk, egg and sugar and stir until completely combined and smooth.

Drop eight roughly even spoonfuls of the peanut butter mixture evenly across the brownie layer.

With the tip of a knife (try to) swirl layers together, but being careful not to swirl too much.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool completely before slicing and serving.

Alternatively: Use full 8 oz of chocolate in brownie base and add another 4 oz of chocolate chunks. As well, melt together peanut butter and 2 to 4 tbsp of butter, allow to cool before stirring in the rest of the ingredients and swirling with brownie layer. -- I will be trying both when I attempt these again

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