Pretty Much the Best Brownies Ever

One of my first posts on this blog featured some brownies I made.  They were pretty good. But why stick with “pretty good” when you can have “pretty much the best brownies ever”. Caveat – if you don’t like peanut butter, you may not agree.  But not many people I know can resist the chocolate/peanut-butter combo.

I first saw the link to this recipe on a cooking blog I enjoy, Cookie Madness.  From there I followed the link to the recipe on Epicurious.  I decided to give them a try.  They were sooooo good that I made them again for a friend’s birthday, and then again a few months later for a party.  They take some time but if you plan ahead you can prepare them in stages.  They are worth the effort.

Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies with Salted Peanuts

Peanut Butter and Fudge Brownies with Salted Peanut - from Epicurious.com

Since my kid doesn’t like nuts in brownies, I omitted the peanuts from the brownie batter, and I also used smooth peanut butter instead of chunky.  Believe me, nobody complained. But some day I’ll try them with the chunky peanut butter in the frosting.

A few tips:

1. Read through the recipe thoroughly before you start. The way the recipe is written is a bit confusing.  The ingredients for the frosting and the ganache are listed together, and it would have been helpful if they were listed separately. You’ll use 1/2 stick of butter in the frosting, and 1/2 stick of butter in the ganache.

2. Use good chocolate and use the correct amount.  I used Baker’s for the unsweetened and Ghirardelli baking bars for the rest.  I like a mix of semisweet and bittersweet. Be careful when breaking off the squares of Ghirardelli – each square is a 1/2 ounce of chocolate.  The second time I made these, I didn’t use the correct amount because in my head I counted one square as one ounce.  Then I wondered why I had so much leftover!  You’ll need 10 ounces of chocolate for the brownies (3 unsweetened, 7 semi- or bittersweet) and 7 ounces for the ganache.  Buy 4 bars of Ghirardelli.  You’ll have a few little squares leftover for snacking.

3. Cool brownies completely before frosting and refrigerate between adding layers. While the brownies are in the oven, you can make the peanut butter frosting. Once the brownies are out of the oven, let them cool completely, at least one hour.  Then spread with the frosting. Put them in the fridge. I usually leave them in overnight and finish up the next day.  Take the brownies out of the fridge, make the ganache, pour it over and smooth it out.  Put the pan back into the fridge.

4. Cut cold but serve at room temperature.  Once the ganache topping has set, remove from the fridge, lift out of the pan and peel the foil off the bottom.  I like to trim the sides off for a cleaner presentation (that’s the control-freak in me speaking).  Then cut into squares using a big chef’s knife. You can make them small because they are pretty rich. Put back in the fridge until ready to serve but take them out about 1/2 hour before you serve them. (Not that I’m saying I haven’t eaten them straight out of the fridge or even the freezer for that matter).  Speaking of the freezer, they do freeze well.

If you make them let me know how you like them!

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