Monday, January 10, 2011

Nutella Peanut Butter Brownies

Yes.  You read that correctly.  Nutella.  Peanut butter.  Brownies.  Together.  FINALLY.  And what's that on top?  Why yes, that is a dark chocolate ganache.
I made a batch of these last week and took them to three (!) three separate occasions.  A New Year's Eve game night party (this is our new favorite game), the office, and a fabulous friend's birthday party.  

Why three places, you ask?  Well, it's nothing to do with them not tasting good.  In fact, it's quite the opposite.  It just happens to be one of the richest treats I've made in a long time.  And people, a 9 x 13 dish of these brownies?  Well, look at the photo.  A little goes a looooooong way.

I first made this a few years ago, adapted from the great Deb.  Over time I've perfected my own tweaks and additions.  Such as, um, the Nutella.***  And the sprinkling of sea salt.  And all the dark chocolate.  Good lord I'm hungry again.

PS: J Fierce is in San Francisco, eating at Chez Panisse, finding the origins of Sriracha, and visiting friends.  I'm sure she is going to come back with lots of stories.  I miss my sister!

***Ask me sometime about the origins of Nutella.  I will use my best Italian accent and tell you the story of the only good thing Mussolini ever did, thanks to my best friend Francesca.  Hey Francesca when are you guest-posting, caccolina?!
Nutella Peanut Butter Brownies

adapted wildly from Gourmet via Smitten Kitchen

For brownies:
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup Nutella
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter (look, don't use that natural crap here. We want the real deal, Jiffy, Choosy Moms Choose It, okay?)
2 large eggs plus one large egg yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon salt

For ganache:
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate, chopped (I use Scharffenberger, freeze the bar, then chop it up with a serrated knife)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon sea salt, good stuff, like Maldon or something fancy

Make brownies: Preheat oven to 350 F with rack in the middle.  Butter a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan, then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper (or foil), and butter parchment.  (I like to make a sling: one piece of parchment down the short side, hanging over the edges.  Then take a longer piece and put it over the long side, down the middle.  Then when you need to take the brownies out of the pan to slice, you grab the short sides and voila!  Perfecto!)

Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, then add in Nutella and 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.  Do not overmix!

Mix in chocolate chips, then spread batter in baking pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula.  The batter will be really thick, like a cookie batter.  Don't even try to resist the urge to eat it.  It is freaking delicious.  You know cookie dough ice cream?  Yeah.  It's like that.  But better: NUTELLA.  Okay, back to the recipe.

Bake until brownies are deeply golden, puffed on top, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs adhering, 40-45 minutes.  Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.  (Remove the brownies using the Sling Method described above to hasten the cooling.)

Make ganache: Put chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Bring the cream to boil in a small saucepan.  DON'T TAKE YOUR EYES OFF OF IT OR IT WILL BOIL OVER.  Once it boils, remove immediately from the heat and pour over the chocolate.  Let stand one minute.

Gently whisk in the softened butter until it is incorporated, the chocolate is melted, and a smooth mixture forms.  (Ganache: it sounds so fancy, right?  Yeah um you just made it.  You're practically French now.  Quick, find something to strike about.)

Spread ganache on cooled brownies.  Using an offset spatula, smooth it out to the edges.  The edges of your brownies might be higher than the middle, depending on the type of baking pan you used (glass vs metal).  Just spread the ganache so you get a smooth topping all over.  Then, sprinkle the sea salt all over the ganache.  Trust me this is deeeeeeeeeelicious.  Let stand until set, at least 15 minutes.  Refrigerate if you have time.

Slice brownies into 1 x 1 inch squares, using a pizza cutter.  Eat as many as you can when no one is looking.  Every time someone eats one they will become your new best friend.

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