After muffins, brownies are probably my favorite treat. I can find a million different things to do with them. Rocky Road brownies with marshmallows, peanuts, and chocolate drizzle; S'More brownies with graham cracker crumbles; Caramel brownies; Chocolate Cherry brownies; Mochaccino brownies; even the classic Cocoa brownies. My mother would certainly add brownies with pecans to this list as well. Or brownies with almonds, maybe even some coconut. A few years ago, Taste of Home did a whole recipe contest devoted to brownies; just thinking about those 16 recipe cards makes me smile. But I digress.
These brownies are the result of a Sunday afternoon in need of filling, while also remembering my impending trip to the beach. Of course I searched out One Smart Cookie, a book of absolutely amazing low fat cookie recipes. My favorite brownies (that taste just like a Duncan Hines mix) are from a recipe in this book, so I figured I couldn't go wrong. I've been craving peanut butter lately and knew, just knew, that if there was a good peanut butter brownie recipe to be found, it would be here. (I will say, Ina Garten also has a great one on foodnetwork.com, but I only had a few sticks of butter in the fridge--not even close to enough to complete this recipe). These brownies, while not health food per se, are lower in fat than typical brownies and the peanut butter has protein, right? I'll just keep telling myself that. One thing I do love about this recipe is that instead of simply swirling peanut butter through the top, which can work well but creates sticky, sometimes soggy brownies, this recipe combines the peanut butter with some flour and egg white so that it actually puffs up and creates a crust, making the brownies look even richer and they are still stackable, for that "platter of plenty" look. If you love Reese's as much as I do, give these a try!
Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies
(adapted from One Smart Cookie)
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. instant coffee granules, dissolved in 1 tsp. water
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (light peanut butter if you like)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg white
2 T milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 T flour
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9x9 inch square baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter and sugar until well-combined. Add egg, egg white, coffee, and vanilla. Whisk well.
3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Add to the egg mixture, and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. (The mixture will be very thick.) Spread the batter into the prepared pan. You may need to spray the spatula with cooking spray to spread the thick batter.
4. In the same medium bowl you used for the flour (to avoid more dirty dishes), combine peanut butter, brown sugar, egg white, milk, vanilla, and flour. Stir well with a whisk. Dollop in large spoonfuls over the top of the batter, then swirl or drag through both batters with the tip of a knife to create a marbled effect.
5. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or until the brownies begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Do not overbake. (If you are using an 8x8 inch pan, it will probably take 40-45 minutes.)
6. Cool completely on pan in wire rack.
Makes 16 brownies. GREAT with a tall glass of milk.