Triple Layer Peanut Butter Brownies
A few weeks ago Tony and I went to a BBQ with a handful of our friends from CrossFit and I took it upon myself to make all the desserts for the outing. I have been pretty inactive in terms of baking and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to dust off the old Zia Francesca (the name I’m given my Italian KitchenAid, for those of you who don’t know). Although it was a week before Fourth of July weekend, I figured it would be the closest thing to a Fourth of July party we would be attending in Italy so I made it my mission to make all my desserts in true American fashion.
I made Banana Cake, mostly because I really wanted to try my hand at making a Naked Cake again, Peach Brown Butter Buckle, because what’s more American than peaches and a crumble, and Triple Layer Peanut Butter Brownies, made with Skippy Peanut Butter, because what else would I use? I don’t want to toot my own horn, but they loved EVERYTHING… Specifically these Triple Layer Peanut Butter Brownies.
I hadn’t even finished slicing the cake before these brownies disappeared. Literally, seconds! Thank goodness I had already eaten a few “ugly” brownies while packing them in the Tupperware or else we would have had a real problem on our hands. I must admit, it was a cruel trick, introducing all of these Italians to the beautiful combination of peanut butter and chocolate… But don’t be alarmed, you can find Skippy in a few grocery stores throughout Florence! It costs an arm and a leg for a measly jar of 12 ounces, but I’m not about to use their version of canned peanut butter– especially when baking.
Unfortunately, I was too occupied with assembling cakes, heating up cast iron skillets, keeping gelato cool, and transporting desserts that I didn’t get a final product of ANY of the desserts. Fortunately, I made way too much ganache and I had the perfect excuse to whip these bad boys up again three days later!
I found this recipe on Not Without Salt and I was smitten. The brownie is pretty much the exact same recipe I posted a few weeks back with the exception of a ¼ cup sugar to counterbalance the sweetness for the peanut butter frosting… But then I added a dark chocolate ganache for an extra touch… It’s a winner.
Triple Layer Peanut Butter Brownies slightly adapted from Not Without Salt:
10 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
½ cup all-purpose flour
Peanut Butter Frosting:
6 tablespoons (¾ stick) softened butter
¾ cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon Maldon
1 cup high quality dark chocolate chips
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
- To make the brownies, 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.
- Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot. (It looks fairly gritty at this point, but don’t fret — it smooths out once the eggs and flour are added.)
- Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. 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. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
- Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes is Medrich’s suggestion but it took me at least 10 minutes longer to get them set. Let cool completely on a rack. Once cool, frost with peanut butter frosting and sprinkle with flake salt (Maldon) or Fleur De Sel.
- To make the peanut butter frosting, cream the butter and the peanut butter until combined. Slowly stir in the powdered sugar until completely incorporated. Spread over cooled brownies. Sprinkle the Maldon all over.
- To make the ganache, place chocolate morsels in a large non-reactive bowl and in a medium saucepan, heat cream until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Let chocolate and cream mixture sit for 3 minutes. With a wooden spoon, begin stirring small circles in the middle of the bowl. As the smooth mixture begins to form in the middle, slowly expand the size of the circle until the cream and chocolate is fully incorporated. Let ganache cool for 5 minutes and then gently spread over the top of the pie and decorate as desired. Cover with foil and let ganache set in the freezer for an additional two hours.