The Ultimate Brownie

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies!

I think that I can safely say that – in addition to Martha Stewart’s homemade macaroni and cheese – I have made the recipe I am about to share with you so many times I could probably recite it in my sleep.  Seriously.  It’s that good.  It’s also a little bit decadent and a little bit pricey, ingredient-wise, so get ready to splurge.  That fact aside, once you make it, you will make it over and over and over again – especially if you bake to make people happy.  Very, very happy.

It should be no surprise to you that the richness and decadence that is these Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies comes from none other than Ina Garten – yes, of Barefoot Contessa fame.  The recipe for her brownies originally appears in her first cookbook, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, as “the ultimate brownie”.  This name is not a misnomer – after my first attempt with this recipe, I decided they were, indeed, pretty ultimate indeed.  The only other brownies on par with this recipe would be Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito’s brownie recipe from Baked.  Those are pretty darn good too.

The peanut butter touch was added by Ina a little bit later in one of her shows for her Food Network TV series.  While the original, unadorned recipe is perfect in itself, since I made the peanut butter version, I’ve basically had threats that I should make this brownie NO. OTHER. WAY. EVER. AGAIN!

Give them a whirl.  I promise you that if you love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, this may just be your favorite brownie recipe.  And for you coffee naysayers out there, don’t cut out the instant coffee.  It’s really there to heighten the taste of the chocolate – seriously.  And give you perhaps even more of a buzz than all the sugar will already give you!

INA’S PEANUT BUTTER SWIRL ULTIMATE BROWNIES

  • 1 pound unsalted butter (yes, you read that right – 1 POUND)
  • 1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided (yes, you read that right again – a pound plus 12 ounces of chocolate… I know, right?)
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate (and even more chocolate… how can you lose, right?)
  • 6 extra-large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (Ina uses Skippy, but I say go for the better, all-natural stuff.  Make sure you stir in the oils good first before using.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 12 by 18 by 1 1/2-inch sheet pan (a large jelly roll pan works terrific here).

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining 12 ounces of chocolate chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the prepared sheet pan. Spoon the peanut butter over the top of the chocolate mixture and using a knife, swirl it through the chocolate mixture.

Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes more or until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into large squares.

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