While cooking, listen to this: You Look Good by Lady Antebellum
Back in college, most members of the Michigan Jewish community committed themselves to the boxed Duncan Hines brownie mix. For one thing, it didn't have any dairy ingredients (suspicious, I know), so if you kept kosher, you could get away with having both your Shabbat dinner chicken and your sweet tooth. But, I'm pretty sure those boxed mixes were laced with something kind of addictive artificial chemicals because we made our way through a tin brownies in the matter of a few hours, especially if said brownies were undercooked. It was a dangerous addiction I knew I had to put an end to.
College is never a time of food connoisseurship for anyone, naturally. I think most people spend their college years shuffling in and out of the kitchen, trying not to burn their popcorn and avoiding the dishes piling up in the sink. After three years of the above, I finally discovered my love for baking senior year. Once I realized a boxed brownie mix wouldn't cut it, I started experimenting with other non-dairy dessert options for my more religious friends. But the truth was, there was nothing like a real, dairy-filled dessert - especially one swirled with stuff.
If there was one brownie I could be abandoned with on a desert island (or dessert island, take your pick), it would be this peanut butter, white chocolate swirled pan of heaven. They're everything you'd ever want in a brownie, cooked to perfection and best served sliced into heaping pieces. I'm all for brownie sundaes, but might dare say that these delectable treats need no accompaniment. Everything melds together perfectly, and even though the swirl didn't show up once it was baked, like many things in life, it's what's on the inside that counts - even though the outside is pretty marvelous to look at.
Something else to note is that marbling isn't nearly as intimidating as it looks. We basically drizzled the peanut butter and white chocolate randomly and swirled it around until it resembled something out of a Pinterest post. I highly recommend you give it a whirl - drizzle to your hearts content, then swirl using a knife, making long "s" shaped lines along the long edge of your pan. Don't forget to take a picture! And, of course, tag us on Instagram - we love to see what you're up to.
This particular brownie saga ended with my friend Hannah texting me "The brownies are to die for." You know it's an extra-good day when you've made a friend happy with help from the majestic being that is chocolate. It doesn't hurt that Hannah's a chocoholic. And this addiction, I completely support.
PEANUT BUTTER + WHITE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
Yield: 20-28 brownies, depending on size preference
Prep Time: 30m | Cook Time: 30m | Total Cook Time: 1h
Category: Sweet, Brownies + Bars
Source: adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped or in chip form
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder*
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
5 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup peanut butter, melted
6 ounces white chocolate, melted
Preheat the oven: 350 F, and butter the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 glass or light-colored baking dish.
Prepare a double-boiler: add the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder to a large bowl and place it over a saucepan filled with water. Make sure the water isn't touching the bottom of the bowl. Bring the water to a simmer, and stir the mixture until it melts completely. Turn of the flame but keep the bowl above the water, and add in the white and brown sugars. Stir to incorporate, and leave aside until it cools to room temperature.
Combine the dry ingredients: while the chocolate is cooling, whisk together the flour salt and cocoa powder.
Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture: when the chocolate mixture is at room temperature (so that you don't get scrambled eggs), add three of the eggs into the chocolate and whisk to combine. Add the other two eggs and vanilla and stir until just combined. Overbeating will result in cakey, not fudgy, brownies.
Add the dry ingredients: sprinkle the dry ingredients over the chocolate mixture, and using a rubber spatula stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and spread evenly.
Decorate with the peanut butter and white chocolate: pour the white chocolate and peanut butter onto the brownies in whatever style you like. We went for a marbled look, but do what your heart tells you.
Bake the brownies: bake for 30 minutes on a middle rack, rotating halfway through. The brownies are done when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
To serve: let the brownies cool completely in the pan, and then cut into squares and serve.
To keep: in a tightly sealed container or plastic-zippered bag, the brownies can be kept for a few days.
*if you can't get a hold of the espresso powder you can omit it, but espresso really brings out the flavor of chocolate and makes it extra intense.