Archive for August, 2010


PB&C, or peanut butter and chocolate, is probably my favorite flavor profile.  There is just something perfect about the flavors of a reeses peanut butter cup that I love to recreate in baked goods.  So what better dessert to make for my birthday than peanut butter brownies with chocolate ganache?

I previously have made this recipe from Smitten Kitchen without changing a thing.  This time, I decided I really wanted a traditional peanut butter cup flavor and switched over to milk chocolate for the chips and ganache.  How could these not make for a good birthday dessert?

My recipe is slightly modified from Deb’s.

To make the brownies you will need:

1/2 pound unsalted butter (2 sticks) at room temperature or a little soft

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used old school Jif- I actually think I prefer Skippy but Jif was on sale)

2 large eggs and 1 large egg yolk

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpous flour

1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

pinch of salt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×13 baking pan.

Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy with an electric mixer on medium speed.

Beat in the peanut butter on high.

Add the eggs, yolk, salt, and vanilla and beat on high.  I recommend cracking the eggs into a separate bowl first.  That way if you drop some shell in the bowl, you can remove it before it ends up in the batter.

Reduce the mixer to low speed and slowly add in your flour.  Pause to scrape sides of bowl and continue to mix until all flour is incorporated.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spread batter into pan, it will be thick.

Bake for 30-40 minutes. My brownies were done at 28 minutes.  When you use a dark baking pan your baked goods may cook faster. Brownies are done when edges are browned and a knife or toothpick comes out clean.

Once the brownies are cooled (about 2 hours later), it is time to make the ganache!  I used the recipe for Milk Chocolate Ganache from this cookbook I received as a wedding shower gift:

Usually I find ganache to be very easy to make.  However, you need to be focused enough so that when you are mixing the chocolate with hot cream, your temperature is right and the ingredients blend well.  If you don’t do this, you may end up with little fat droplets in your ganache (not so appetizing).  After hearing the sad news on Friday, I was rushed and unfocussed so my ganache did not come out as well as I’d normally like.  Retrospectively, I should have decided to start over once the ganache wasn’t right, but I was too impatient and went ahead with the batch I was making.

Ingredients for the Ganache:

10 ounces of milk chocolate chips or milk chocolate chopped (this is the type of thing where I would highly recommend weighing your ingredient)

1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons butter, softened


As I said above, this is pretty straightforward, but requires patience.

Put chocolate into a heatproof bowl.

Heat cream in stove just until boiling.

Pour boiled cream over chocolate and whisk together until smooth. **

Stir in butter until completely mixed.  Your final product should be smooth.

Now if you have a problem with your ganache like I did, you can try to fix it without starting over.  The Lindt cookbook recommends chilling half of the ganache, heating the other half over a double boiler, and then combining.  Since I wasn’t in a very patient mood I tried to just fix it by mixing the entire batch over a double boiler.  It worked a little bit but I still had to pick out some leftover fat droplets.

Now, hopefully you have a nice and silky smooth ganache!  Spread ganache over brownies.

Once you finish, chill the brownies in fridge for 2 hours or overnight.  Ganache should harden.

Cut and enjoy!  I recommend cutting off the edges before serving.


**This is where I made my mistake.  I thought that the lumps in my my melted chocolate were just air bubbles.  They were actually fat droplets and were not going to get whisked away.  At this point I should have started over with fresh ingredients!

I think next time I’d use chocolate chunks instead of chips in the batter, just seems like a better fit.

These are very similar to blondies in texture.  They’d go well with a glass of milk!

If you use this ganache recipe, you will probably have extra.  I bet you didn’t know that ganache is the base of making truffles!  Just refrigerate excess for a couple of hours or overnight.  Once chilled, scoop teaspoons worth of ganache and roll into balls.  Now you have truffles!

You could even roll these in cocoa powder, jimmies (yes, I call them jimmies) or chopped almonds to dress them up.

Have you ever made a baking mistake because you were in a rush?

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So today is a slightly mixed up birthday.  Unfortunately, last night we had a loss in the family.  I am so sad, but reminded once again how valuable each day is.  I am also reminded that life is too short, and because of that, we should never stop eating dessert:-)  I have a birthday-related baking post for later this weekend, but here are a few celebratory snapshots.

Gorgeous flowers sent by the Husband’s Grandma Estelle!

This is why I love my husband!

I woke up and was greeted with some very perfect presents.  Yes, I’d prefer food to jewelry sometimes;-)

Part of his gift turned into this:

And then this…

Kodiak Cakes topped with cinnamon, Nuttzo and a few drops of  sugar free syrup (don’t hurt me, I like it).

Details on this coming soon!!

I’ll spend the rest of the day with the Husband and try to stay distracted.  We have a wedding tonight so I think I’ll treat myself to some mani/pedi pampering later!

What is your favorite way to celebrate your birthday?

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Can you guess the secret ingredient???



I bet that if you tasted these brownies, you still couldn’t figure it out;-)

From the Happy Herbivore, I bring you Low Fat Vegan Black Bean Brownies!

I found this recipe on Lindsay’s blog a while back and have been wanting to try it ever since.  Actually, I have heard of adding beans to desserts in many different recipes, but this one peaked my interest the most because it is 1) EASY 2) HEALTHY and 3) VEGAN.  Now, I am not Vegan, nor am I Vegetarian, but I do think that for many reasons it is a good idea for me to eat within the different guidelines from time to time.  Don’t expect me to start baking everything without butter or eggs, but sometimes, Vegan baked goods can be tasty!

To make these brownies you will need:

15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed

2 bananas (preferable very ripe)

1/3 cup agave nectar

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 TB cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup raw sugar (optional- I did not use this additional sugar; I tasted the batter and decided they were sweet enough)

1/4 cup instant oats (if you don’t have instant, grind rolled oats in the food processor for a minute)

Once you have all of your ingredients ready, the process is extremely easy.


Spray 8×8 pan with cooking spray.  I used a slightly larger pan so I cooked my brownies for a shorter period of time.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend all of ingredients, except for oats, in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Scrape the sides with a spatula and blend some more.

Stir in oats.

Pour into pan and bake for 20-30 minutes.

Brownies are done when  a knife or toothpick comes out clean.  I had the brownies in for 20 minutes but they could take longer in an 8×8 pan.

The recipe is supposed to serve 9.  If you are like me, it might serve closer to 4 or 5;-)  I love healthified desserts!

The verdict:

While I wouldn’t pass these off as “real brownies”, they certainly taste good!  They are fudgey and moist.  I could not detect the black beans at all and would recommend them as a healthier dessert alternative when you are craving something sweet.  The Executive Taster will have to let me know what he thinks…

What is the strangest ingredient you have ever baked with?

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