Today is a special day.
It’s my husband’s birthday!!! And while I’m away on a business trip in Chicago and not with him, I’m celebrating him big time with today’s brownies.
Marriage is a funny thing. A wonderful thing! But funny. I find that, despite my knowing Dan for almost 10 years now, there are so many little things I still have to learn about him. I JUST learned within the past two weeks, for instance, that brownies trump almost all other desserts for him. We did a game where I would ask “brownies or _______?” and he picked brownies every time. Over ice cream. Cake. Cookies. Pie. Brownies were the winner.
I realize that this is not news that needs to be shouted from the rooftops (can you imagine?! “My husband loves brownies!!!”), and who DOESN’T love brownies, but it still surprised me. And I love that he can still do that after so much time [Insert the classic “maawwidge” quote from Martin Short’s character from “Father of the Bride” here. Dan and I say it to each other all the time]. The brownies conversation was all I needed to come up with his birthday dessert.
I have talked at length many times before about Dan’s favorite sweet flavor combo: chocolate and peanut butter. Again, not news worthy, but still…he’s kind of a faah-reak about the combo. Obsessed doesn’t even begin to describe it. Every birthday, I try to come up with a new chocolate peanut butter dessert for him. This year’s may take the cake (or, er, brownies).
It starts with my go-to brownie batter that I have been using for years and years. It’s fool proof and comes out perfectly every single time. Fudgy, chewy, deeply chocolatey, and only a touch cakey, which is exactly how I like my brownies. I made the batter with one teensy tweak: I added a few tablespoons of creamy peanut butter. And then I sampled it with a clean finger, oh, I don’t know…like, four times. It tasted incredible.
Oh, and then I sandwiched whole Reeses peanut butter cups in between two layers of the luscious brownie batter.
Oh, and then I topped it with the best peanut butter frosting ever. And more peanut butter cups.
Because it’s my honey’s birthday! And he gets what he wants.
And I think if he could choose, he would want these brownies every day for the rest of his life. He pretty much lost his darn mind when he tasted one. And I don’t blame him one bit.
I made these with very strategic timing. Two adults don’t need an entire pan of these sitting around. They’re like dessert crack. And our over-3o metabolisms don’t need any dessert crack tempting us in large quantities. We had a family birthday party to attend a couple weekends ago, and I was asked to bring a dessert. It was knew the perfect time to test out these brownies.
Turns out, Dan isn’t the only one who can lose his mind over chocolate peanut butter cup brownies. It might be the next phenomenon. Make these and share them with people. You’ll witness it for yourself.
Happy birthday, love! Can’t wait to see you tomorrow! Xoxo.
1½ oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1½ oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1⅓ cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons instant coffee or espresso powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
16 peanut butter cups
½ stick unsalted butter, softened
½ cup creamy peanut butter
1-2 tablespoons of milk
Pinch of fine salt
2-2½ cups powdered sugar
Additional peanut butter cups or chocolate chips, as optional garnish
Preheat oven to 325°F and butter an 8 x 8-inch baking pan. I also lined mine with a sheet of parchment paper overhanging the sides – this is totally optional but makes getting the brownies out of the pan much easier.
Place the chocolates and butter in a large microwave save bowl. Microwave in 20-second increments, stirring after each session, until the chocolate is mostly melted. Stir to completely melt the chocolate.
Whisk in the sugar, instant espresso, salt, and peanut butter until smooth.
Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla until smooth.
Gently mix in the flour and stir until it is just combined and the batter is smooth.
Pour roughly half the batter into the prepared baking pan. Top with a layer of the peanut butter cups. Top the peanut butter cups with the remaining batter, smoothing out the top as much as possible.
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the brownies are cooked through. Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan before frosting.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and peanut butter together until creamy and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add in a tablespoon of milk and whisk to combine.
Add in the salt and powdered sugar and mix on low to incorporate the sugar. Increase the speed and beat for another couple minutes or until the frosting is fluffy and smooth. If the frosting is too thick, beat in another tablespoon of milk until desired consistency is achieved.
Frost the brownies generously with the frosting. If desired, garnish with additional chopped peanut butter cups or chocolate chips.