Chocolate Swirled Peanut Butter Brownies

From the same book as the Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Brownies, I bring you Marbled Peanut Butter Brownies. These have more of a bar cookie or traditional brownie texture. I didn’t have the nuts called for in the recipe and used some unsalted roasted peanuts. I think it would have been better to have salted nuts. The peanut taste in these is stronger than the chocolate taste.

Marbled Peanut Butter Brownies (from Chocolate Lover’s Cookies & Brownies)

1/2 c. butter, softened
1/4 c. peanut butter

1 c. packed light brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar

3 eggs
1 t. vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/8 t. salt

1 c. chocolate syrup
1/2 c. coarsely chopped salted nut mix

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9×13 inch pan.

Cream butter and peanut butter in large bowl until blended; stir in sugars.

Beat in eggs, one at a time until batter is light. Blend in vanilla.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Stir into creamed mixture.

Spread half of the batter evenly in prepared pan. Spread syrup over the top. Spoon remaining batter over syrup. Swirl with knife or spatula to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle chopped nuts over the top.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool in pan on wire rack.

A Housewarming Gift

Back when I first started my blog, it was mostly a different form of communication with some church friends and I’d post a recipe here and there. And then I started getting a lot more page views, particularly for recipes, than people I could account for, unless someone’s cat was sleeping on the keyboard or batting the mouse on ‘refresh’. When I first dipped my toes into the larger pool of food blogs, I was thrilled and amazed by the world out there. One of the first food blogs I started reading regularly was Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. Her posts are so fun and her food so beautiful, I couldn’t wait to see what she might make next. She totally had me with this post and now if I only have time to read a few blogs, hers is one of the ones I check.

The exciting news for Peabody (and Husband and dog) is a new house, which looks especially cute in the snow and has a larger kitchen, so we can only anticipate all the yummy goodness to come! She invited us to join her for a housewarming party.

When I think of a housewarming gift, or nearly any gift really, I think in part it should reflect the unique tastes of the recipient as well as something of the giver’s. In my mind, a gift should have layers of meaning, not just grabbing the first thing you see on the shelf with a ‘that ought to do’ sigh of relief. With that in mind, I made Peabody a chocolate peanut butter tart. You really need to read this post about Jif to understand part of it, but Peabody has mentioned many times the love she and her husband have for peanut butter and chocolate. It had to be a tart because it’s coming from me! πŸ˜‰

Peabody & household — I wish all happiness in your new home!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart

Crust:
1 1/3 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. butter

Preheat oven to 400 F. Blend together until crumbly. Press into the bottom of tart pan. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese
1 c. Jif peanut butter
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp. milk
1 t. vanilla

Beat together cream cheese and peanut butter. Add powdered sugar, milk and vanilla and beat until thick and smooth. Adjust consistency with milk or powdered sugar if needed. Spread onto crust.

Topping:
1 c. chocolate chips
1/4 c. sour cream

Melt chocolate chips in a heavy pan over low heat. Add room temperature sour cream and stir until smooth. Pour over the filling.

Chill.

Craving Chocolate — SHF #32

Domestic Goddess is again hosting Sugar High Friday and this time the theme is the dessert you crave. I was beginning to think I was going to miss out on Sugar High Friday this time due to the oven failure, but when you crave chocolate there’s always a way — even if you just eat the chocolate chips straight from the bag! πŸ˜€

I don’t have *THE* dessert that I love most; I like almost anything with chocolate, apple pie, cakes, my MIL’s gingersnap cookies, bakalava, and pretty soon the list gets so long you start to think that as long as it has sugar in it, Fruittart probably likes it! πŸ˜‰ The Husband, on the other hand, used to be the sort of person that if you offered him a banana or chocolate cake, he would take the banana. I’ve corrupted him. He quite happily eats pretty much anything I make and sometimes he claims that whatever dessert I’ve made is ‘his favorite’. But when it comes down to it, there are only a few desserts he will ever request — fruit tarts and truffle tarts, strawberry rhubarb pie, chocolate flowers, and Nanaimo bars.

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The person who gave me the original recipe says that Nanaimo bars are a strictly Canadian treat and named for Nanaimo, British Columbia and there are even Nanaimo Bar contests in Canada, which also would have made this the perfect entry if the SHF theme had been all-Canadian as I believe was the initial plan. Perhaps one of the Canadian readers will chime in on this. In the 1963 Betty Crocker Cooky Book, there is a recipe nearly identical to this called a ‘Fudge Meltaway’ but it doesn’t have the custard powder in the middle layer. You can make it w/o the custard powder, and even make a cream cheese sort of filling, but I’m going to tell you that it is absolutely THE BEST *with* the custard powder. Locally, in IL, we used not to be able to get this stuff and I would ‘import’ it from WA when we would visit, but now it can be found at both World Market and Meijer. I almost always make these at Christmas and because they are no-bake bars, they are nice for summer desserts if refrigeration won’t be a problem.

Sometimes when I score the chocolate before cutting through I can get most of the tops to be in one piece, but often the tops look like ‘earthquake bars’. I added a little too much milk to the middle layer today so it is a little too runny in the picture. There are several versions of my own making listed below. I was told that the only ‘official’ ones are plain and mint but that many families make their own versions. My favorites are the original/plain and orange. The ones pictured are orange.

I took some to the Husband’s office and took a few to the NAPA store today when I went to pick up the trailer hitch. Joe at NAPA particularly liked them and was quite appreciative of the gift. He was pretty funny eating them — Man, those are so good, I think I’m going to have to have another one! πŸ˜€

Nanaimo Bars
1st Layer:
Β½ c. butter, melted
1/4 c. granulated sugar
5 Tbsp. cocoa
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg

1 3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs (one packet of crackers)
1 c. dessicated coconut
1 c. chopped walnuts (I prefer pecans, almonds or hazelnuts)

Combine first 5 ingredients in a double boiler and cook until like custard. Remove from heat and add next 3 ingredients; mix well. Pa ck HARD (like cement) into buttered 9-inch square pan.

2nd Layer:
1/4 c. butter, softened
3 Tbsp. milk or cream
3 Tbsp. Harry Horner’s custard powder (or Bird’s brand, one packet)
2 c. powdered sugar

Cream first 3 ingredients. Blend in sugar. Spread on 1st layer. Put in fridge to chill (not necessary but makes the next step a little easier).

3rd Layer:
3 squares unsweetened chocolate (I prefer 4 squares and sometimes use semi-sweet but bitter is best!)
1 tsp. butter

Melt together in double boiler. Pour over 2nd layer and spread quickly. Store in fridge to chill before cutting into squares. Best kept refrigerated.

Tip: Line a 9-inch pan with foil and butter the foil, then you can lift it out of the pan and cut the bars on a cutting board. If you do not like coconut, just add more nuts and vice versa.
Variations:
Mint Nanaimos: Add a teaspoon of mint extract to the middle layer and, if desired, a few drops of green food coloring.

Mint Nanaimos II: Make middle layer as for plain version; melt Andes candies bits for the top layer and sprinkle with additional Andes candies bits. See below.

Orange or Raspberry Nanaimos: Add a teaspoon of orange or raspberry extract to the middle layer. This is particularly good with hazelnuts in the bottom layer. You can also add orange or raspberry liqueur to the bottom layer after it has been removed from the heat.

Cherry Nanaimos: Add a teaspoon of cherry extract to the middle layer and, if desired, a few drops of red food coloring. This is particularly good with almonds in the bottom layer and you can replace the vanilla extract with almond.

Peanut Butter Nanaimos: For the bottom layer, use peanuts and do not add coconut. Replace the middle layer with the following:
1 Tbsp. butter
3-4 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 pkg Bird’s custard powder
2-4 Tbsp. milk
2 c. powdered sugar

Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars

Sorry, I had to close the comments on this post because of the spam I was getting. πŸ˜›

You Picked A Fine Time To Leave Me, Gas Oven

Eight hungry people and a baby shower to bake for. Kenny Rogers’ version no doubt had broader appeal, but I was quite frustrated when my gas oven decided it was time to go on holiday when I had *plans* for it. I was making a trial run of a new recipe for a baby shower when it decided it was not going to light. We could smell gas strongly when I turned it on, but even lying on the floor holding the flame thrower (propane torch) inside the oven, the Husband couldn’t get it to light so we turned it off before we were all gassed. I already had my cake mixed and fortunately the In-Laws were here with the motorhome and we were able to bake it in the motorhome oven, even if we ended up overbaking it.

flourless-cake.jpg

This was a recipe I lifted off the internet and then modified slightly to completely remove the sugar for gestational diabetes. It was good enough that Crystal picked up supplies from me and baked one in her oven and hers turned out 100 times better. Hers was puffier, moister, and just overall better — Food Science people can be trusted to do that sort of thing. So if you make this, make it like she did! πŸ˜‰

Flourless Cake

8 oz. good dark chocolate (we used 60% Ghirardelli the second time)
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter

6 egg yolks
2/3 c. Splenda

6 egg whites, beaten to firm peaks

Preheat oven to 375 F. Prepare a 9-inch springform pan with non-stick spray and set aside.

Melt together chocolate and butter in a double boiler.

Stir together the egg yolks with the Splenda. Add the egg mixture to the chocolate, stirring until well mixed.

Stir in 1/3 of the well beaten egg whites. Fold in the remaining 2/3 until there are no streaks.

Spoon into springform pan and smooth the top. Bake for 20 minutes.

Garnish with whipping cream and raspberries, if desired.

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With the oven not working, I decided that I ought to come up with a no-bake option in case it wasn’t possible to make the cake. So I made some ‘fake fudge’. It’s not as dark as the fudge I usually make and I think Splenda has an awful aftertaste so I’m not thrilled with it. But if I had gestational diabetes and I wanted a treat, this would be great b/c there’s supposed to be less than 1 g of carb in each square.

fudge.jpg

Sugar Free “Fudge”
16 oz cream cheese
4 oz dark chocolate, melted
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 c. Splenda
1/2 – 1 c. chopped nuts, if desired

Whip cream cheese. Add the chocolate, vanilla, and Splenda and beat until well mixed. Stir in nuts, if desired. Spread into a foil lined 8-inch pan. Chill several hours or overnight. Cut into squares. Keep refrigerated.

Another version with peanut butter:
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. cocoa
2-4 Tbsp peanut butter
1/4 c. whipping cream
1 t. vanilla

Soften cream cheese and butter and beat together. Add cocoa, peanut butter, whipping cream and vanilla and beat until smooth. Spread into a foil lined 8-inch pan. Chill several hours or overnight. Cut into squares. Keep refrigerated.

Banana Cake

I made this cake for the Worship and Theology Night for our student group. I’m thankful I can bake for students, rather than having just our family (mostly me) eating all the stuff I bake! πŸ˜‰

This is a recipe that I adapted from Betty Crocker. Have you ever noticed that Betty is the only one who measures in 1/3 c increments??

banana-cake.jpg

Banana Cake

2 1/2 c. flour

1 1/2 c. sugar

3 medium bananas

2/3 c. shortening (it’s best with a little Crisco but this time I used all margarine)

1/2 c. finely chopped nuts

2/3 c. buttermilk (or soured milk)

1/2 t. vanilla

1 1/4 t. baking powder

1 1/4 t. baking soda

3/4 t. salt

3 eggs

1/2 1 c. mini chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour 9 x 13 pan or two 9-inch round pans.

Beat all ingredients (except chocolate chips) on low speed 30 seconds, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into pan(s).

Bake 35-50 minutes, depending on size of pan used or until tester comes out clean.

Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely. Frost.

I prefer my own concoction of chocolate peanut butter frosting but it’s also good with plain chocolate or plain peanut butter frosting or even cream cheese frosting.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

1/2 c. creamy peanut butter

1/4 c. cocoa (more, if desired)

3 c. powdered sugar

1 t. vanilla

1/4 c. milk (or more as needed to attain proper texture)

Beat until smooth and spreading consistency.

Peanut Butter Bars

Here’s another recipe that I modified to have no wheat. The recipe originally called for graham cracker crumbs but I substituted a mixture of ground flax, brown rice flour and whole grain spelt flour. Originally I was thinking that a 1:1 ratio of flax to rice or spelt would be perfect but I ended up with a 1:3 and it was just the right amount of flax fiber, I think. I doubled the recipe to make an 11.5 x 17 inch pan so I used 1 c. flax meal (almost, it was the end of the package and nearly a full cup), 1 c. brown rice flour, and 2 c. whole grain spelt flour. I debated about adding the full amount of margarine — that’s a LOT of margarine. In the end I did put it all in, but I think it might turn out fine with only 3/4 the amount. Here’s the original recipe:

peanut-butter-bars.jpg

Peanut Butter Bars

1 c. margarine, melted

2 c. graham cracker crumbs

2 c. powdered sugar

1 c. peanut butter

1.5 c. chocolate chips

4 Tbsp. peanut butter

Blend together first four ingredients until well mixed. Spread into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.

Melt together chocolate chips and peanut butter. Spread on top of peanut butter mixture. Refrigerate at least one hour before cutting into bars.

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When I made mine in the 11.5 x 17 pan, I think I cut them into 10 dozen bars.

Crystal says she uses pecan meal in place of the graham cracker crumbs so hopefully she’ll chime in with her version of this recipe. πŸ˜€ *hint, hint*

Recipe of the Day — Peanut Butter Balls

Before the Husband fixed the oven over the weekend, I was making holiday treats that required no oven time like fudge and these peanut butter balls.

I have tried many recipes for peanut butter balls and some are too soft and must be frozen to maintain a good texture (which isn’t all bad) but these are just right. Just don’t add extra sugar or they will be too dry to shape into balls.

The kids LOVE these and the neighbor girl asks for them when she visits and asked if I could please tell her mom the recipe. It’s easy enough that kids can make it themselves too! Although I realize that peanut allergies are quite common now, it’s a recipe that works for anyone allergic to dairy, wheat and eggs. πŸ˜‰

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Peanut Butter Balls
1 Β½ c. creamy peanut butter
Β½ c. butter, softened (or margarine)

1 t. vanilla extract
4 c. confectioner’s sugar

Line a baking sheet with waxed paper; set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients with hands (I usually use the KitchenAid mixer) to form a smooth stiff dough. Shape into balls using 2 teaspoons of dough for each ball. Place on prepared pan and refrigerate.

To make buckeye balls:

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 Tablespoons shortening

Melt shortening and chocolate together in a metal bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth. Remove from heat.

Remove peanut butter balls from refrigerator. Insert a wooden toothpick into a ball and dip into melted chocolate. Return to wax paper, chocolate side down, and remove toothpick. Repeat with remaining balls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set.

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Many people prefer the flavor of milk chocolate to semi-sweet with peanut butter.