Peanut Swirl Brownies

***Warning*** If you really like the chocolate/peanut butter combination, I feel duty bound to warn anyone who is on a diet or trying to get into a bathing suit to stop reading right here!  If you know what’s good for you, you’ll Google a salad recipe instead!!

OK, now that we’ve got that out of the way, on to Ina Garten’s (the Barefoot Contessa’s) recipe for peanut swirl brownies.  If you’re familiar with her outrageous brownies, they are the base for this recipe minus the walnuts.  The outrageousness starts with a pound of butter, and it’s downhill for anyone on a diet from there!  To my fellow chocoholics, this will put a smile on your face (not to mention smears of chocolate and peanut butter).  It is yet another incredibly moist and chocolatey confection with peanut butter thrown in for good measure.

I had this recipe bookmarked for a while and decided it was perfect to make for a colleague who is going to be working in Switzerland for a year for our company.  Jo absolutely loves chocolate and peanut butter, and she is one of those lucky people who never gains an ounce.  Jo is as nice as she is petite, being about 5 feet tall, and looks like she doesn’t weigh 99 lbs. soaking wet.  I’m not kidding.  One day when Roger was dropping me off at work, Jo walked by us in the parking lot.  I pointed her out to Roger with the comment, “There’s Jo—she’s no bigger than a minute.”  Roger replied, “So, what does that make you—no bigger than a week?” !!!  He obviously hadn’t learned anything from my reaction to the time he told me I reminded him of a brontosaurus when I was nine months pregnant with our twin girls.  Thankfully, he was smart enough to wait until the girls were three years old and my hormones were back to normal before he told me that.  Had Roger mentioned it at the time, our children would have grown up fatherless with their mother in prison for killing him.  Although in that scenario, with a jury of my peers (12 females), all I would have had to do is testify that I went through the 3rd trimester of a twin pregnancy during the summer (the girls were born the 2nd week of September), and I probably would have gotten off as it would have been considered justifiable homicide!

This recipe makes a huge quantity of brownies which isn’t a problem in our house with the kids home for the summer.  If you halve the recipe and bake it in a 9×13 pan, make sure you adjust the baking time.  For half the recipe baked in a 9×13 pan, the brownies will be slightly thinner and, presumably, will be done a little sooner.

Jo, we’ll miss you and look forward to your return next year—enjoy the brownies!

Peanut Swirl Brownies

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  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 pound plus 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbl. instant espresso
  • 2 tbl. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 tbl. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 12 by 18 by 1½-inch sheet pan.

Melt together the butter, 1 pound of chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a 4-quart saucepan over low heat.  Allow to cool slightly.  In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, instant espresso, vanilla, and sugar.  Stir the warm chocolate mixture a little bit at a time  into the egg mixture (this will prevent the egg from curdling) 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.  (I had to use a second knife in order to get the peanut butter to initially swirl.  I used it to provide an opposing force to the peanut butter which just wanted to follow the first knife around without breaking down into a swirl.)

Ina’s notes:  Flouring the chips and keeps them from sinking to the bottom.  It is very important to allow the batter to cool well before adding the chips, or the chips will melt and ruin the brownies.

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 12 minutes more or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Do not overbake! Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into large squares.

Source: Slightly adapted from an Ina Garten recipe

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