seasonless: bittersweet brownies with salted peanut butter frosting


The culinary traditions that follow the holidays are so predictable. And kind of crazy.

Christmas is the season for feasting. That I get and agree with. However, what follows confuses me. 

Eat yourself silly over the holidays, detox yourself to a "new you" in January and then get your sugar high on with February's Valentine's chocolate. 

Even though I like green juice as much as the next gal, I need more than juice in January. It's cold! There's snow! 

This is all to say, that there are some foods that I think shouldn't be bound to seasons. They make sense year round. Green juice is one of them (some times of year it makes more sense as a meal, other times only as a beverage, you know, a glass of juice). Brownies are another.

A good brownie recipe just doesn't go out of style. It is something that will always spark chocolate-covered smiles and attract complements.

So if you're celebrating Valentine's Day or not, make some brownies. There is never a wrong time. 


And if I think that brownies are generally a good idea, then I think that bittersweet brownies with salted peanut butter frosting are a very good idea. 
 
When I first came across this recipe on the Wednesday Chef I had barberry-fennel scones on my counter and bits and pieces of an Icelandic Christmas cake in my fridge. So the idea of baking brownies and adding them to the kitchen seemed both indulgent and irresponsible. So I did the next best thing: grocery shopping. I went and bought everything that I needed to make these brownies, so as soon as a bit of pantry real-estate became available I could start melting butter immediately. Which is exactly what I did.  

The recipe calls for unsweetened chocolate, which is a rarity in Germany. So Luisa uses 70% chocolate and reduces the amount of sugar. I did the same, except I used brown sugar instead of white.

If you use salted butter for the frosting, make sure you taste it before you add any salt. You can also use unsalted butter, which is what I did, and add flaky sea salt to taste, plus a bit more for sprinkling.


Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

Adapted from 'Date Night In' via the Wednesday Chef

makes 16 square brownies 

ingredients

Brownies

3/4 cup (170 grams) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
3 ounces (90 grams) bittersweet chocolate (70%), chopped
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (170 grams) unrefined, brown sugar (or granulated)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup (40 grams) cocoa powder
1/2 cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour 

Frosting

6 tbsp (85 grams) salted butter (or add a generous pinch of salt, to taste, to unsalted butter), at room temperature
3/4 cup (100 grams) smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup (40 grams) confections' sugar
flaky sea salt for sprinkling 

Preheat the oven to 325 F / 160 C / gas mark 3. 

Grease an 8-inch square pan (or a rectangular pan with a similar size) with butter. Line the pan with a sheet of parchment paper, so that a couple of inches hang over the edge, and then grease the parchment paper with some butter too. 

Place the butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium-high heat. Let the butter cook until the milk solids bubble up and then settle in the pan and caramelize. Cook until the milks solids are golden and the butter smells nutty, about 3-5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. 

While the butter browns, chop the chocolate and place in a heat-proof, medium bowl. Once the butter is ready, pour the hot butter over the chopped chocolate. Let stand for one minute to melt. and then whisk together. While the butter mixture is still warm, whisk in the sugar and vanilla extract. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, and salt until well blended. Sift in the cocoa powder and flour. Use a spatula to fold together the ingredients until just combined. 

Pour the batter into the parchment-lined pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the edges are set. Don't over-bake! Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

For the frosting, use an electric mixer, or a whisk and a sporty hand, to whip together the butter, peanut butter and confectioners' sugar in a large bowl. Mix until well combined and the frosting has lightened in color. 

Frost the cooled brownies. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if you wish. Cut into squares and serve.

The brownies can be made 1 to 3 days in advance and the frosting can be made up to 1 week in advance.

Guten!

* * * * * 
For those who read German, I'm thrilled to announce that I confronted my fear of the writing in the language by penning an article about food in it. A good appetite conquers all - grammar included. In issue 16 of the charming publication the Weekender, I write about Canadian food and share three Canadian recipes. You can find out more about the issue here.

Another good idea, beyond baking brownies, is to book a last-minute trip (or relatively last-minute when visa applications and irregularly sized passport photos are included). After baking the former, I booked the latter and in a few days I'm flying to India. When I get back, I look forward to sharing more tales of chai

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