I have said it before and I will say it again - I am not much of a baker. I feel much more comfortable with the flow of cooking, than the rigidity of baking. But I want to get better, and a large part of that is experience. So my friend Melissa, an excellent baker and author of Smells Like Brownies, is helping me learn.
We decided to start with some peanut butter swirl brownies, with the knowledge that we wanted there to be plenty of saltiness to contrast the sweetness. So we made sure that the peanut butter layer was salted, then finished the brownies with flaky sea salt - yum.
The first step is to butter an 8x8 pan. You may need a tiny helper, and he may want to lick the butter off of his hands afterwards. Then place two sheets of parchment paper into the pan.
Next, make the two batters. For the peanut butter batter (which you should make first so that it thickens a bit), simply combine melted butter, powdered sugar, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla extract.
For the brownie batter, first you need to melt butter and chocolate together in the microwave. Do not be like me and think that microwaving it more will help it melt more and get thinner - this is the opposite of true. These are the kinds of things that I am learning! So only microwave it for two 30-second bursts and then stir, stir, stir. Then add the remaining ingredients.
Spread the brownie batter into the prepared pan, then dollop the peanut butter mixture over the top but don't spread it out.
To create the swirl, use a rubber spatula to slice through and bring the brownie batter to the top. Don't go over the top or you will end up mixing everything together.
Ooo - so pretty! Bake at 325 for 45 minutes.
Let cool for about 15 minutes in the pan, then lift the whole thing out using the parchment and set onto a wire rack. Let cool completely on the rack before cutting into squares.
Top with flaky sea salt before serving for extra salty/crunchy awesomeness (think salted caramel). And yes, I totally took a bite out of that one before taking a photo - don't judge me!
Salty Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies
adapted from Martha Stewart
For the Peanut Butter layer:
4 tbsp salted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (the fatty, sugary American kind - like Jif)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
For the Brownie layer:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 oz unsweetened Baker’s chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 oz semisweet chocolate chips (2/3 cup)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
flaky sea salt (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 deg F. Butter an 8x8 square baking dish and line with 2 sheets of parchment.
Make the peanut butter swirl: stir together the melted butter, confectioner’s sugar, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth.
Make the brownie batter: put butter and chocolates in a heatproof medium bowl and microwave a little at a time (no longer than a minute), stirring until melted. Let cool slightly.
Whisk sugar into the chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk until the batter is smooth. Stir in vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, and salt to the batter and stir until just incorporated.
Pour the brownie batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Drop large dollops of the peanut butter mixture over the batter.
Gently swirl the chocolate and peanut butter together with a spatula, using a scooping motion to bring some of the brownie batter to the top of the pan.
Bake until a toothpick inserted near the middle of the pan comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 40–45 minutes.
Let cool slightly in pan, about 15 minutes, or until set in the center. Lift out; let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.
If desired, sprinkle the brownies with flaky sea salt before serving. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.
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