On Football & Brownies

August 28, 2008

What is it about brownies and football that seem to go together? They’re both quintessentially American? They’re both often consumed in excess? People go downright mad for both of them? Sure, there are these commonalities. But I think there was something else that had me in the mood to make brownies to bring to a fantasy football draft last night.

For me, football season ushers in a spike in my weekend cooking and baking. As Kevin arms himself with the remote control, his Bears jersey (cough, Rex Grossman jersey, cough) and his laptop computer (to check his stats for the aforementioned fantasy football league and the several other leagues he’s in; again, cough), I happily head into the kitchen. The length of a football game affords me a window of time ripe for making a slowly-simmered chicken stock or a freezer-bound pan of lasagna. Or a baked good that promises to flood our house with dreamy scents, which is where the brownies come in.

(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)

Okay. I know this is an eye-rolling, slightly nauseating vision of gender-divided married life: grunting husband hunkered in his easy chair; little wife pattering around the kitchen. But, you know what? These Sundays (and Saturdays, when you throw in college games, and Mondays, for Monday Night Football, and then aren’t there even Thursday games too? Yeesh.) are the best. We both get to do something we love and it’s nice to be doing them within a first down of each other. (Um, I’m pretty sure that’s by far the best football reference I’ve ever made. I should hang it up for the season, which hasn’t even begun yet.)

Speaking of things that pair well (I mean football and brownies, not Kevin and me, though we’re pretty great together too—and here’s hoping we’ll be good together as co-owners, which is what we are for the fantasy team we drafted last night), these brownies are a showcase of perhaps one of the happiest marriages in all of American baking: chocolate and peanut butter. [Pause for mmmmm-ing, drooling and grumbling stomachs.]

These brownies are decidedly not the plain Jane variety (though, if you’re looking for a classic brownie, I highly recommend these). But they’re not quite as complicated as another peanut butter-chocolate combination I’ve baked. Today’s brownies are essentially this: a simple brownie base, spun through with a ribbon of enriched (and quite rich) peanut butter filling. The marbling is created by plopping mounds of a peanut butter filling on top of the brownie base and then gently sweeping a butter knife or bamboo skewer through the whole thing, blazing a swirly trail of peanut butter though the brownies.

The result is a bar that alternates between tender, rich brownie and patches of decadent, creamy peanut butter filling. Cut into small squares, they made a perfect football draft treat: there was just enough time between rounds to get in a bite or two.

Peanut Butter-Swirled Brownies
Martha Stewart

Yield: 16 small brownies

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
2 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a buttered 8-inch square baking pan with foil or parchment paper, allowing 2 inches to hang over sides. Butter lining (excluding overhang); set pan aside.

Make batter: Put butter and chocolates in a heatproof medium bowl set over a pan of simmering water; stir until melted. Let cool slightly.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl, and set aside.

Whisk granulated sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs, and whisk until mixture is smooth. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture; stir until well incorporated.

Make filling: Stir together butter, confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, salt, and vanilla in a bowl until smooth.

Pour one-third of batter into prepared pan, and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Place dollops of filling (about 1 tablespoon each) about 1 inch apart on top of batter. Drizzle remaining batter on top, and gently spread to fill pan. Place dollops of remaining filling on top.

With a butter knife [note: I used a bamboo skewer], gently swirl filling into batter, running knife lengthwise and crosswise through layers. Bake until a cake tester inserted into brownies (avoid center and edges) comes out with a few crumbs but is not wet, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly in pan, about 15minutes. Lift out brownies; let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting into squares.

19 Responses to “On Football & Brownies”

  1. Heidi Says:

    your husband sounds just like my boyfriend, and since this is the first football season that we’re both living under the same roof, i have a feeling that i’ll be doing pretty much the same thing as you.

    those brownies look awesome.

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    Hey, I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now- the food photography is what drew me in! Beautiful images! I love to shoot food I make but they don’t look anywhere near as good as yours.
    Thanks for sharing your stories, pictures and recipes- I have saved a few to try! Especially this one…. 🙂

  3. Monica h Says:

    Delurking to say these look scrumptious! I’m visiting a friend tomorrrow and these would be a perfect treat to take along with me- thanks 🙂

  4. patty Says:

    within a first down….I love it.

    And loved the brownies too! So delicious, and the peanut butter helps to make them not too sweet.

  5. Monica h Says:

    I was just thinking…if she doesn’t like peanut butter, could I substitute cream cheese?

  6. Dawn Says:

    Oh MY… I’m going to have to make these this weekend. Your photography is just beautiful, by the way. What kind of camera do you use? (apologies if that info is somewhere on the site — couldn’t find it…) 🙂

  7. Paula Says:

    haha sounds pretty familiar!!! I’ve made these brownies before and the are awesome!!! Great photos too!!

  8. ash Says:

    these look gorgeous!

  9. amylouwho Says:

    I’m in trouble.

    I’m totally impressed by your beautiful swirling technique!

  10. I’m not the biggest fan of sweets, but if my husband found out that I saw this recipe and didn’t bookmark it, I’d be in big trouble LOL!

  11. Zoe Francois Says:

    These look fantastic! I much prefer to be baking than watching football, unless my kids are playing!

  12. Heidi: Sounds like I’ve added a recipe to your football schedule!

    Elizabeth: Thanks for your kind words! I hope you give these a try.

    Monica h: A lucky friend you have. If you want to go the cream cheese route instead, I’d look for a cheesecake-swirled brownie recipe. I think Martha Stewart has one of those too. You could also try this recipe, which was great.

    patty: Glad you liked the brownies! I should probably insert some sort of fantasy football smack talk here, but, well, I’ve got nothin.

    Dawn: Thanks! I use a Canon Digital Rebel XTi and a 50mm lens for the blog photos.

    Paula: They’re so good, aren’t they?

    ash: Thanks!

    amylouwho: Why, thank you. I drag a skewer through once in an up-and-down vertical pattern and then once in a side-to-side horizontal pattern. Seems to work.

    Untypically Jia: Ha!

    Zoe Francois: Thanks! And, if family is on the field, I can understand. : )

  13. Ali Says:

    9:43am…. and I feel like I just committed a crime after eating that brownie. You can’t be serious with how good that was!!!

  14. Susan Says:

    Those are beautiful and delicious looking brownies!

  15. JEP Says:

    I am making this ASAP…so delicious looking & I’m a huge pb & choc combo girl…yum!

  16. Megan Says:

    your photos always manage to make me smile 🙂 and these look absolutely divine!

  17. Carrie Says:

    These look so delicious!! I think my mom had a recipe similar to this, we called them Fudge Jumbles, but I think the peanut butter part had oatmeal in it, once you had everything in the pan to bake, the pan was heavy. I cannot wait to try these. I love your pictures too, they are so clear. What kind of camera are you using?

  18. ronnissweettooth Says:

    These are very, very good! I advise not using natural peanut butter, though. It was all I had and while still good, they are a little more crumbly than they should be.

  19. Ali: Don’t worry … I won’t tell.

    Susan: Thanks!

    JEP: Yum, indeed!

    Megan: Thank you!

    Carrie: Oh, your mom’s bars sound delicious! Do you have the recipe? If so, I’d love to take a peek (email is thekitchensinkblog (at) gmail (dot) com). And I use a Canon Digital Rebel XTi.

    ronnissweettooth: I’m so glad you liked them! I used natural PB, but a brand (Whole Foods 365) that is pretty creamy/cohesive—similar in consistency to Skippy/Jif.

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