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Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

  I'm winding down fast, folks.  I love school, learning, and all that fun stuff--but the tail end of this semester is absolutely relentless with all of its decisions, expectations, and unpredictable happenings.  Caught in these situations, I tend to overeat and feel very numb.  Class notes are a thing of the past, and even scrolling through happy Pinterest things doesn't appeal to me.  I have projects on projects and I'm not doing anything.  Whoops.  Enter Spotted Cow and Gilmore Girls, and lots of sweet potato fries.

  But between these bouts I'm generally pretty productive.  Sunday night, for example, I spent on the 3rd floor of the library, and I mean literally cross-legged on the floor, studying until I couldn't physically see and the place was closing.  

  Balance, balance.

  It's been difficult finding baking inspiration, particularly in my teeny apartment kitchen that's generally full of friends and roommates and a whole lot of garlic action.  I find myself sort of automatically telling people that baking is what I do for fun and to relax, even though I haven't actually frosted a cupcake in a solid 6 months.

  Finallyyy one day I got out of lecture, the sun was shining, and I had to make my why over to the following scheduled class discussion.  I started walking, turned to my classmate and said I was out, and then caught the next bus home.  I was so sick of calculating participation points, talking about all these different "-isms" and how they relate, that I just up and bailed.

  Whoops.  But not.  Cuz these brownies were the result.

  And in the spirit of such rebellion, here I am writing this blog post instead of doing the other 8 million things I should be doing before I go and work the rest of my Friday away, thanks to the apartment showing that stood me up and effectively wasted my morning.  These brownies were born out of desperation, you could say.  I was an improvising whirlwind the afternoon I made these, and I even used my roommate's Nutribullet to make a rough powdered sugar.  Fun fact, you can do that with granulated sugar in a pinch.

  And now we go back to real life, with a brownie.

  Here's to more goods coming your way soon <3

Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
Yield: about 12 brownies

Ingredients for the brownie:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder (optional)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • coarse sea salt, for topping

Ingredients for the peanut butter topping:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease an 8x8 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper, grease the parchment as well.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Boil two inches of water in a medium saucepan.  Combine butter, chocolate, and coffee powder in a heat proof glass or metal bowl and place over the simmering water.  Stir constantly until the chocolate and butter are melted.  Remove the bowl from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly.  Stir in the vanilla (or, in my case, some spiced rum I had on hand...).

Whisk granulated sugar into the chocolate and butter mixture.  Then, fully ensuring that the chocolate mixture isn't too warm still, begin to whisk in the eggs one at a time.  Fold in the flour mixture and spoon into prepared pan.

To make the peanut butter mixture, whisk together peanut butter, melted butter, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla until smooth. From here you can either pour the mixture on top of the brownie batter and use a butter knife to swirl the two together, or you can pour it into a large ziploc bag to and pipe it on top of the brownie batter before swirling.  Sprinkle the top with coarse sea salt before popping into the oven.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a skewer/toothpick inserted comes out with just a few moist crumbs (but not straight up liquid-y batter).  Let cool for about 30 minutes before noshing.

Sources: adapted from Joy the Baker (aka queen)