Saturday, February 20, 2010

Peanut Butter and Nutella Brownies

I originally made a version of this recipe when I was craving chocolate and peanut butter.  I had found the original peanut butter brownie recipe on epicurious, but didn't feel like making a pan of brownies.  Then I saw that Love and Olive Oil had turned them into cupcakes and that seemed inspired.  After making them, I wasn't too impressed by the brownie part or the chocolate layer on top, but the peanut butter layer was divine (I used creamy peanut butter because I've never been big on crunchy things in brownies).  I resolved to try again, but this time using a different brownie recipe and nutella instead of the top chocolate layer.

I made the mistake of not trying these (long story!) after experimenting, but I heard later that they were good, so I'll go ahead and post it.  The directions for the nutella layer are VERY approximate as I wasn't measuring anything at that point (why do I bake late at night?) and I'm fairly sure my hand slipped.

You might want to double or increase slightly the peanut butter and nutella layers as they didn't cover the brownie plate very well.

Peanut Butter and Nutella Brownies
a combination from Smitten Kitchen and Love and Olive Oil

Brownie Layer
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Peanut Butter Layer
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/8 cup powdered sugar
pinch salt
pinch ground nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon whole milk (I think I used heavy cream because I didn't have whole milk, but I'm really not sure)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Nutella Layer
1/2 cup nutella
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar (VERY approximate, I just kinda poured some in, I figured nutella was already sweeter than peanut butter, but the sugar helps spread the layers better)
pinch salt
1/2 tablespoon whole milk (I think I used heavy cream because I didn't have whole milk, but I'm really not sure)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract  (I'm fairly sure my hand slipped here and I accidentally ended up with more vanilla!)

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
2. Melt the butter in the microwave.  Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl.  Stir.  It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added. [Note, the original calls for simmering it all together, but I was in a hurry.]  Let the mixture cool slightly so you don't cook the eggs!
3. Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one.
4. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.
5. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
6. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes [It took closer to 30 for mine.].  Allow brownies to cool.
7. Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter and butter in medium bowl to blend. Beat in powdered sugar, salt, and nutmeg, then milk and vanilla.  Spread over cooled brownies.
8. Using electric mixer, beat nutella and butter in medium bowl to blend.  Beat in sugar and salt, then milk and vanilla.  Spread over peanut butter layer.  [I suspect if you waited and gave the peanut butter layer time to set by refrigerating, you might end up with distinct layers, but I didn't have that kind of time, so my top two layers were more of a swirl of peanut butter and nutella.  I don't think anyone minded!]

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