Thursday, May 13, 2010
I once heard a motivational speaker who was a former beauty pageant queen and she was from the deep South. Every word she said had honey-coated twang. It might just have been that accent that made such an impression, but I can still hear her saying, "Y'all talk death too much!" (Phonetically, that would be, "Yahl tahk dayeth tew muuch.")
You hear death all the time in every day expressions. "These shoes are killing me." "I was so embarrassed I wanted to die." "She was dressed to kill." "I was worried to death." "I could have died laughing." Why are we so obsessed with death? Why not celebrate life?
With that bit of background, you can understand that I approached a new cookbook a bit tentatively. Brownies to Die For . Really? Would you trade the rest of your life for a brownie? I doubt it unless your life was unbelievably horrific or the brownie was astonishingly good. Even then, I doubt it.
But the brownies I made from this book were really good. Really, really good. So, if you like peanut butter and chocolate together, give them a try. And if you feel like your life is a scene from a horror movie, try the brownies. They might give you something to live for and help you to hang in there one more day.
Brownies Worth Living For
(aka Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies)
adapted from Brownies to Die For - Bev Shaffer
Yield: 2-1/2 dozen
---- Brownie Base ----
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour, all-purpose
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
4-5 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
---- Peanut Butter Marble Base -----
3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter*
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
3 tbsp. unbleached white flour, all-purpose
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp. milk, whole or 2 percent
2 large egg, lightly beaten
---- Chocolate Frosting ----
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 tsbsp milk, whole or 2 percent
(* I didn't have crunchy peanut butter, so I chopped about 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, put them in a 3/4 cup measure, and filled the rest of the measuring cup with smooth peanut butter)
1) Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 13x9 baking pan
2) For the Brownie Base: In a med saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring to blend. Remove pan from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Gently stir in chocolate pieces. Spread half of the Brownie Base into prepared pan.
3) For the Peanut Butter Marble Base: In a medium bowl with an electric mixer, combine peanut butter and butter. Add sugar and flour, blending well. Mix in vanilla, milk, and eggs—blending until smooth. Spread Peanut Butter Marble Base over Brownie Base. Spoon remaining Brownie Base evenly over Peanut Butter Marble Base. Pull a knife through the layers in a zigzag motion to create marbling. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted near the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Cool pan completely on a wire rack.
4) For the Chocolate Frosting: Melt chocolates and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often until mixture is combined. remove saucepan from heat. Whisk in sugar, salt, vanilla, and enough milk to make a soft, spreadable frosting.
Frost cooled brownies. Cut into bars. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.