Sunday, November 6, 2011

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Remember that post I wrote over the summer about growing up not liking peanut butter except for in my pb&j, and then one day having a craving for sweet, creamy, peanut butter in dessert-like fashion? Well that love of sweet things with peanut butter has waxed and waned since I first made peanut butter gelato, and then it was dormant. Until today, this afternoon.
I decided to decrease the amount of sweets I eat per week. I could never quit cold turkey, but I just think I need to be a bit more conscious of what I'm eating. So I'm going to try this new policy of eating sweets and buttery treats only on Sunday evenings, unless I'm invited out and force-fed something like apple pie or birthday cake.
In preparation for the first sweet Sunday, I thought I should choose a really good snack. What would be good enough for the once a week sweet? I decided on Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies, made the chewy way! I guess that peanut butter craving is back.

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies
Inspired by Fine Cooking, Martha, and my own stubbornness and refusal to follow anyone's recipe
1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1-2 oz semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 c sugar
1 t salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 c flour
2 T cocoa

Prehead oven to 350. Line 8x8 pan with parchment paper and grease well with butter. In microwave safe bowl and in the microwave on high for 2 min, or over pot of simmering water, double boiler style, melt butter and chocolate together, stirring occasionally (once every 30 seconds?).  Mix in sugar, eggs one at a time, and then salt and vanilla. Once combined, add flour and cocoa. Batter will be thick. Spread half of the batter into the pan. Dot peanut butter mixture (recipe below) over layer of brownie dough. Dump and spread the rest of the brownie batter on top, and then dot the top with peanut butter mixture again. Starting at one end, plunge butter knife into the pan and drag it around, swirling the peanut butter into the brownie pan. Bake at 350 for 25-35 min, or until toothpick comes out slightly gooey. Don't overbake!

Peanut Butter Swirl
1/2 c soft peanut butter - does not have to be creamy or fake (like Jif or Skippy) - can be any smooth kind
2 T softened butter
1/2 c confectioners sugar

In food processor, blend ingredients. Taste. Add sugar if necessary. If too thick, add more softened butter and process further.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I'm on the bandwagon, too.

The first time I made this recipe, I wanted to write about it. But then I didn't because I was distracted and the draft of the post I wrote ended up sounding too much like a love letter to Jim Lahey. And now it's 3 weeks later and I've made the recipe, tweaking it each time a bit, twice more. 3 loaves of bread in 3 weeks. Pretty sweet - I'm not just tooting Jim's horn; his No-Knead Bread recipe has revolutionized the way I bake, buy, and eat bread.

Jim's recipe calls for white flour, yeast, salt, and water. Pretty darn simple. If you like your bread like that, do it that way. I've been making it at least 1/3 whole wheat, just because why not. I also choose to dust it in wheat bran for the final rise, instead of flour, because I just love the crunch this gives the crust.

I know this is my first time writing about this bread, but I've already boasted about it and encouraged friends to make it. Now I turn to you, readers. If you want to fool guests into thinking you're an expert baker or if you don't and you want to convince someone you just made a trip to your local boulangerie, this bread is for you! Crusty, tasty, great big holey inside... mmmm. Just. Make. It.

Here's the recipe. I'm not sure how long it will do on the counter after it's cut, so I cut the round loaf in half and cut one of the halves into slices which go into a plastic freezer bag and get frozen to toast and eat as the week goes on.

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread, tweaked by me:

2 c unbleached flour
1 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 t salt
1/2 t yeast
1 1/2 c water

Mix ingredients in large bowl. Stir till just combined - "dough" will be raggedy and maybe dry in some spots, wet in others, or look fine. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12-18 hours. The longer the better. Unwrap and dump onto floured surface. Fold dough over once or twice. Let sit 15 min, then shape into a simple ball. Place ball of dough on kitchen towel that has been dusted with wheat bran or flour. Sprinkle dough with more bran or flour, and cover with second towel. Let rise 2 hours. With 1/2 hr left to rise, put heavy pot or dutch oven uncovered in the oven. Heat to 450 degrees. When dough is ready, place seam-side up in very hot pot. Cover and bake for 30 min. Remove cover and bake for another 15-30 min. Remove dough to cool on wire rack.
*As tempting as it is, don't cut it before it's cool because the bread will dry out!!!