Thursday, February 23, 2012

Peanut Butter Brownies

Up until this past weekend, I honestly thought I would go a whole winter without seeing snow. It was a sad thought, especially after such huge winter storms we had the past two years. There was talk of snow on Sunday, but I didn't see how that was possible when it was warm and sunny the days before. Boy, was I wrong! Roanoke got at least 8 inches (maybe even more!). I obsessively checked the school closings the night before and finally around 8 p.m., I received the good news: SNOW DAY! And on my snow day, this is what I did:

DIY Lightbox!

I'm taking baby steps to improve this blog and the first thing I tackled was the photography. Pictures are always what attract me to a blog or a cookbook, so I need to make mine better. I saw this a while ago and set out to make the exact lightbox seen in that entry. I'll have to learn more about how to take good pictures, but for now, I'm just happy with the better lighting :)

Aside from the DIY project, I also baked brownies on my snow day. After finishing the lightbox, I found out that we were having a two-hour delay the next day, so I was even more ecstatic! I had to celebrate.

Peanut Butter Brownies

A student claimed that he'd kill for these brownies. These are definitely wonderful, but I would leave out the chocolate chips in the brownie batter and keep the ganache. Or leave out the ganache and keep the chocolate chips in the batter. One or the other because it was chocolate overload for me.

Peanut Butter Brownies

After the nice "break," the rest of the week has been going by slowly. I am so ready for the weekend!

Peanut Butter Brownies
From Smitten Kitchen

For brownies
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (9 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 tsp salt (if using all-natural peanut butter and not commercial brand)

For ganache
1 1/2 cups (9 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350F with rack in middle. Butter a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan, then line bottom of pan with parchment paper and butter parchment.

Beat together butter and sugar until mixture is light and fluffy, then add peanut butter and beat until incorporated. Beat in whole eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low, then mix in flour until just combined.

Mix in chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) then spread batter in baking pan, smoothing top. (It will be thick, almost like cookie batter.)

Bake until brownies are deep golden, puffed on top and a wooden pick inserted in center come out with some crumbs adhering, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours.

Make ganache: Put chocolate chips (1 1/2 cups) in a heatproof bowl.

Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan, then pour over chocolate chips and let mixture stand for one minute. Gently whisk in butter until it is incorporated, chocolate is melted, and a smooth mixture forms.

Spread ganache on cooled brownies and let stand until set, about 15 minutes.

Brownies keep in one layer in an airtight container three days, and we hope much longer if hidden waaay in the back of the freezer.

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