This weekend I went to the ballet with the sweetest almost-5-year-old in the world.

In paler news, I also washed {i.e. let a machine wash} my car and made brownies.

Eh, brownies?  I know what your thinking: the car wash sounds more exciting.

Well, what if I told you these brownies had a gooey and impossibly delicious from-scratch peanut butter caramel swirled through every bite?

What about two types of chocolate and some coffee-ish love thrown in?

How about adding more chocolate, you know, just for good measure?  And don’t forget about a double layer swirl of that half-eaten-straight-from-the-pot-by-now caramel!

Have you been convinced??

You don’t have to admit it, your drivel is confirmatory.  It’s ok to be excited: BROWNIES!!

Make these at least 12 hours before you plan to serve them.  Being a tad underbaked is the secret to their addictive dense and fudgy texture: without time to come to room temp then spend a few hours in the fridge, you will likely end up arriving to a dessert party empty handed because your brownies are the consistency of jelly.

…not that I know from experience or anything.

Really.  Try these.

Peanut Butter Caramel Swirl Brownies

for the peanut butter caramel
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 Tablespoon corn syrup
- 1 pinch salt
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

for the brownies
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, + 4 ounces
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
- 4 large eggs
- 1½ cups sugar
- ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup all-purpose flour

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over low heat. In another medium saucepan, combine sugar and water and heat over high heat without stirring until amber brown (about 7 minutes). Once the sugar mixture has reached the amber color, slowly whisk in the heavy cream and cook for 1 additional minute. (This mixture will bubble and boil, so make sure to add the cream slowly). Remove from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter, corn syrup, salt, and vanilla extract.  Transfer caramel to a small bowl and let cool until thickened and room temperature, 30 minutes or so.

While the caramel is cooling, prepare the brownie batter.  Preheat oven to 325°.  Line a 9×13 baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing the foil to overhang on the short sides.  Spray well with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine the unsweetened chocolate, 2 ounces of the bittersweet chocolate, butter, and coffee granules.  Stir the mixture over low heat until the chocolate is melted and smooth.  Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Whisk in the chocolate mixture, scraping down the sides to incorporate evenly.  In 2 additions beat in the flour using a wooden spoon (the batter will be very thick at this point).  Stir in the remaining 4 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate.

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan.  Using a spoon, drop half the caramel over the batter spacing scoops approximately 2 inches apart.  Gently spread the remaining batter over the top.  Again using a spoon, drop the remaining caramel over the brownie batter (for the photos above, the caramel was placed in a ziploc bag and drizzled over the batter) and use a knife to gently swirl the batter.

Bake the brownies for 45 to 50 minutes, or the top is just set and the edges are pulling away from the sides of the sides of the pan.  The middle will still be “wobbly” and an inserted toothpick will not come out clean.  Slight underbaking is a secret of these brownies- be brave!

Transfer brownies to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.  Before serving, place brownies in the fridge for at least an hour.  When ready to cut, lift the tin foil from the pan and carefully peel away the sides.  With a large knife, slice the brownies into 48 squares. (I like the remove a small margin from the edges to make all the brownies uniform).  Store the brownies at room temp or in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

{makes 48 bite-sized or 24 regular-sized brownies}

Source: adapted from Bobby Flay via Food Network

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