9 November 2015

Peanut Butter Jelly Time Brownies!

Is there any baked good better than a brownie? I spent the whole weekend baking (watching films/gossiping/playing card games with my friend Alex) and I'd say a good 50% of the time I was thinking about brownies, the other 50% of me was thinking about Christmas and pine spiced candles (because I want the smell of pine but don't want to wait till we get a Christmas tree), and the rest of me was running on autopilot. Running on autopilot is scary, one moment you're commuting home on the train and the next second you're opening your front door, I mean how did I get there?! This happens to me a lot, especially when I switch it on when I'm walking to the shops and then the next thing you know I've got several bags of ice cream and tortilla chips. That's the more positive side of autopilot.

Anyway while I was running on autopilot baking something else Christmassy related, my mind kept jumping back to brownies. Fast forward two days later and I am still thinking about brownies, and seeing how I can't get them off my mind there's only one thing to do: embrace the brownies, and share my recipe for my PBJ (peanut butter jelly to those in the know) version with you. Lord knows I have enough Lindt chocolate to make a truckload of brownies (thanks Lindt!).

Let's be honest, this is my basic brownie recipe with additional peanut butter and jam, including extra chocolate chunks because I was having a bad day and I needed extra chocolate chunks (courtesy of Lindt). There's no shame in that, it's a decent brownie recipe; fudgy, plenty chocolaty with a good crust. The best thing about my brownie recipe (apart from the fact that it's a recipe for brownies) is that it's so versatile. Any combination of things that you would actually want to eat in a brownie (no sardines please) would work. My blueberry cheesecake brownies are still some of my favourites (you can grab the recipe here) but I've also made several different versions which I'm sure I'll share with you in due course seeing as brownies are taking up my full attention span right now.
PBJ and Brownies are classics. American classics. But still classics. I have always been a big fan of both, but together, now that blows my mind. When we were in Iceland (dropping it in again just in case you didn't know that we went, loved it and now I want to move there; blog post detailing this in full to follow) we went to the Lebowski Bar to among other things (watch the football) eat burgers and drink milkshakes. My main man Dan couldn't finish his strawberry milkshake so to save time I decided to finish his milkshake alongside my own peanut butter chocolate combo. Berries, peanut butter and chocolate! It's fair to say the experience was life changing and led me to the development of PBJ brownies. Classic lovers everywhere, it's time to welcome a new classic into your halls because PBJ brownies are here to stay, and not just in my house. I've been taking my brownies across the country (from London to Broadstairs), it's only a matter of time before they go global. 

 Plus did I mention these brownies are the perfect Winter cure? Especially when served with a big old mug of hot chocolate, which is how I'm spending most of my evenings at the moment. The big bay windows in our flat which I love during the Summer when they let in lots of glorious natural light have become my Winter nemesis. In a word they are drafty, so I'm currently snuggled up on the sofa under copious amounts of blankets in a den of cushions with a hot water bottle. Yep that's me right now. Super cool blogger that I am (literally, someone send emergency hot chocolate). 

I took some of these brownies home the weekend before last when Alex, Dan and I went to see my family and chill out.  It was a pretty perfect weekend, for me anyway. In truth, Dan was sick all weekend and had to recover in my brother's room. But my mum did her best to keep him fighting fit by cooking us fondue, which as always (in true Swiss fashion) was overly alcoholic and we all ate way too much cheese. My PBJ brownies were the source of constant desserts/breakfasts/much needed snacks after Alex and I took the dog for walks on the beach and went shell collecting. It was just a  lazy weekend, but I'm sure the doctor would have recommended it for everyone as Dan's sickness got us all in the end and kept me from going into work and posting on schedule last week (there's a schedule?!).

Anyway brownies, an iv of rooibos tea and enough cold and flu tabs to take down a small elephant  and I feel so much better this week. Like I can accomplish anything starting with eating another PBJ brownie...

Peanut Butter Jelly Brownies
(makes 14 large brownies)

250g Caster sugar
150g Salted butter
150g Plain flour
3 Eggs
150g 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate (I used Lindt Excellence)
200g Milk Chocolate (I used Lindt Excellence Extra Creamy)
175g Raspberry Jam
100g Crunchy Peanut Butter
50g Condensed Milk
2 tbsps Water

Step 1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with parchment (tray should be at least 2cm deep). On a low heat, melt the butter. While the butter is melting, whisk together the three eggs with 250g sieved caster sugar until light and combined.

Step 2. Break the 70% dark chocolate and the milk chocolate into chunky chunks aka not too small but easily eaten pieces (make sure to keep the different types of chocolate separate). When the butter is almost entirely melted, add the 70% chocolate and stir with a metal spoon until it's one buttery, chocolatey smooth concoction, then take it off the heat and leave to cool slightly. 

Step 3. While the chocolate butter is cooling, make the peanut butter topping. Mix the peanut butter, with the condensed milk and a couple of tablespoons of water till the mix is combined but loose enough to swirl into your batter later.

Step 4. When the chocolate butter has cooled slightly, give it a stir then slowly pour it into the sugary eggs whisking the eggs as you go. Once its all mixed in fold in the sieved flour, and finally add the chunks of milk chocolate and give it on final stir. Then pour the brownie mix into the lined tray and evenly spread it around.

Step 5. Working quickly, place spoonfuls of the peanut butter mix on top of the brownie at spaced intervals I like to go for the whole 5 or 6 rows of 3 large dollops per tray, but it's your call. Then add spoonfuls of the raspberry jam slightly overlapping the peanut butter. Using a chopstick, swirl the peanut butter and jam together into the brownie being careful not to go too deep. Once you're happy with your swirling, bake the brownie in the oven for 20 minutes.

Step 6. Brownies done and fudgy, leave them to cool, then pop them in the fridge for 30 minutes, before taking it out and cutting them into squares. If you're feeling ambitious, you can squash two brownies together for a proper PBJ sandwich.

I am never going to get bored of brownies. I can't believe it took me so long to make them! I'm possibly addicted to making them but you know we don't measure things in how many brownies have you eaten, more like how many you haven't. If you've got a favourite brownie recipe definitely drop it below in the comments, I'm always on the look out for new tips and tricks. Also if anyone knows where to get some pine scented tea lights, hit me up with that link. I'm off to browse the internet for more cosy homeware, how many blankets is enough? But seriously I am loving the marble/copper trend right now, our flat is looking like it came out of H&M catalogue right now #notashamed. Is there any homeware you're coveting right now? 

Thanks to Sally from The Cat CafĂ© who used to work (sad times for food bloggers everywhere) for Lindt and the chocolate gurus themselves (Lindt, that's you!) for sending me a box of the finest dark chocolate around. All opinions are from yours truly!

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