22 November 2009

Comfort & Restoration: Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies

Stress eating.
If stress eating were a military rank, I'd be the Commander-In-Chief.
If stress-eating were a popstar thing, I'd have a fragrance, cookware set and shoes baring my signature.
If stress eating were an Olympic sport (a real Olympic sport--not one of those namby-pamby ones where artistic merit marks are bought/sold), I'd be a platinum medallist.
Yeah. I'm *that* good.
Stressors come in all forms. Some of them are environmental like the street urchins' thumpathumpa music at 2:30am. Some of them are situational like the final throes of a relationship where you know you need out, but haven't admitted it. Some of them are imposed like the wall of lava-like deliverables and deadlines emitted from volcanoes of projects. Some of them are biological, caused by rampaging hormones of puberty, PMT, pregnancy or menopause. Some of them are accepted like knowing the lectures you're in for from well-meaning elderly relatives about how the the way you're living you're life is just plain wrong (but you put up with it because they are well-meaning elderly relatives).

Yes. I know some stressors are actually good for you, but really, if you're in the thick of it, stress is just...stressful.
I also know there are some who espouse exercise or meditation as means of dealing with the emotional nasties of life.
There are few things that will keep me on a somewhat even keel when life overuns life. Long drives, preferably on the 401. Loud music--lately The Cult and QOTSA. A thorough toothbrush to the grout type of cleaning. Food.
My foodish comforts come in two categories. The first are the foods whose processes lean towards stress release. Kneading bread doughs and tenderising meat with a mallet offer an obvious outlet through pushing and pulling, smacking and pounding.
The second are the foods I gravitate to for sheer physical comfort. Sweet hot milky tea. Steaks with a trickle of blood. Greasy cheeseburgers with rashers of bacon. Poutine, weighed by thick, salty gravy and gooey-from-the-heat cheese curds. Chocolate so dark the cocoa content is in the high 80s and 90s.
Sweet, fatty, salty and deeply flavoured.
Sounds like a gosh-darned good brownie to me.
Normally I'd go for a chocolate brownie, perhaps flavoured with mint or espresso, but I've not fully regained a reliable chocolate tooth. Right now, for me to enjoy it, my chocolate needs a bit of a crutch, and lately that crutch of choice is peanut butter.
I've never had luck baking with peanut butter--the cakes always come out very dry. My Google-fu turned up this well-rated peanut butter brownie recipe, which is the peanut butter component of this swirly brownie. The chocolate component is a combination of a few recipes, but with a bit of chilli pepper in for a bit of interest. Chocolate, peanuts and chillies...lovely stuff.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Brownies
Peanut Butter Batter
140g ap flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
110g peanut butter, softened
75g butter, softened
125g sugar
85g brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate batter
110g butter
55g Dutch processed cocoa powder
100g sugar
85g brown sugar
1/4tsp salt
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
100g flour

Butter a 23cm x 33cm (9"x13") baking dish. Preheat oven to 170C (350F).

Prepare the peanut butter batter by sifting together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Cream together the butter and peanut butter. Add the sugars and continue creaming until light and fluffy.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down between each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
Blend in the flour mixture in two batches and incorporate well. Set aside.

For the chocolate batter, brown the butter until it has a nutty fragrance. Stir in the cocoa, sugars, salt and pepper. Stir until smooth. Turn off the heat and remove the pot from the hob.
Beat the eggs and vanilla until foamy. Temper the eggs by beating in a couple of spoons of the hot cocoa mixture. Incorporate the flour mixture and the rest of the cocoa mixture in alternate additions (dry-wet-dry-wet-dry).

Dollop in the batters in a checkerboard pattern in the buttered dish and marble them together.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until dense crumbs cling to an inserted skewer. Let cool thoroughly in pan before turning it out to cut into as many pieces as you see fit.


I'm a quill for hire!

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Valérie said...

Love the swirls! Indeed, when you're so eaten up with stress that you've lost the energy to knead bread into submission, there's nothing like an easy, decadent treat to soothe the soul! I hope your stressload lightens soon!

Brownie Pan said...

ah my, thank you, thank you, these were perfect. Peanut butter and Chocolate are my favorite mixture and these brownies were top dog:)

Sweet Kitchen said...

I am a huge fan of peanut butter and chocolate and these look phenomenal (as usual)! I could go for some right now, right after I have some poutine!

breadchick said...

Yum. That's all that needs to be said about that.

NKP said...

Come to me comfort brownies! I could use a brownie or two, and a hug. :)

Lauren said...

Oh my! These look fantastic! Such delicious flavours and a great combo =D.

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

Oh my, magnifique brownies.

Jennifer said...

Delicious! Thanks Jasmine :)

Andrea said...

Very nicely expressed description of stress. Who can't relate to this? And the brownies look delicious.