Today’s lesson: how to take something already delicious and make it, oh, maybe a million times better.
Where do you fall in the great brownie debate? Fudge-y or cakey? I’m firmly in the fudge-y camp. If I want cake, I’ll have a piece of cake. (In fact I have some of this cake in my freezer. Still. Feel free to stop by and help me out!)
But when I want a brownie I want a decadent, fudgy brownie. And these are fudgy to the extreme.
I adapted a Cook’s Illustrated recipe because I know from experience just how perfect their brownies are. They’re simple to make, require no special equipment, and they have that crackly top that brownie connoisseurs go crazy for. So we’re off to a good start.
But to make this brownie truly something special, we’re going to stuff it with cream cheese, peanut butter, and peanut butter chips.
Can you even handle it? I know. It’s delicious overload. I actually think I blacked out for a few seconds after my first bite.
All I know is that one minute I was taking pictures of brownies and the next I was sitting on the couch and Cookie was licking brownie crumbs off of my jeans.
I have zero idea what happened in the intervening time; either it was a legit chocolate blackout or Cookie drugged me so she could eat all the brownies herself. Since she’s not racing around the house on a chocolate high I’ll go with the former.
Side note: should I be worried that this is the sign of a real chocolate addiction? Please tell me no.
If you love fudgy brownies and you love peanut butter (and cheesecake!) you owe it to yourself to try these peanut butter cream cheese brownies soon. I just know you’ll love them!
Adapted from The New Best Recipe
- 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup peanut butter chips
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into chunks
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate finely chopped
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, allowing several inches of excess to hang over the sides. Spray the foil with cooking spray and set pan aside.
Place the cream cheese, sugar, egg yolk, and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor and process until very smooth. Set aside.
Place the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
Combine the butter and chopped chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes, then stir in the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder (if using). Stir in the dry ingredients until just incorporated.
Warm the peanut butter in the microwave until it is liquid-y. Pour half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan. Drop dollops of filling over the batter and gently spread into an even layer; sprinkle the peanut butter chips over the top. Dollop the peanut butter over the filling mixture and use a knife to swirl the peanut butter into the filling. (Take care not to swirl it into the brownie batter.) Use an offset spatula to (gently) spread the remaining batter over the top of the filling.
Bake 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with just a few crumbs. Cool brownies in the pan set on a wire rack for at least 2 hours. Remove brownies from the pan using the excess foil, then slice into bars and serve.