These brownies were last nights project. I had leftover Reeses Pieces from a movie that were just begging to be apart of a baking creation. I hope this information doesn't offend but I've never been a huge fan of peanut butter; being that I never ate it when I was growing up, not even the coveted kid sandwich, PB & J. As I get older, my palette is becoming more and more diverse; The more I try, the more I like! I think my like for nut butters began when I was vegan and I used to go to my favorite natural food store, Lifethyme, complete with an amazing vegan bakery. They had the dreamiest cakes, combinations I would have never thought of; my favorite was the blueberry lemon cake with the creamiest, not too sweet, cashew butter frosting. Those cakes are still some of the best I've ever had, vegan or not.
Back to the brownies. I was originally going to go for an uninspired butter cookie mixed with the Reese Pieces but my boyfriend expressed interest in the combination chocolate and peanut butter. I was re-browsing my holiday baking magazines and found a brownie article in Better Homes and Gardens: Holiday Baking featuring different brownie combinations. This one called for just plain PB chips in the brownie batter portion so I substituted my Reeses pieces.
The reviews concluded that they were overall too sweet for my household members taste; I have to agree. The brownie portion was like fudge and peanut butter frosting did them in. I liked them but I definitely agree there could have been a better balance. I'm not sure how others would feel about them; I probably won't make them again but it was an easy recipe to prepare and came out very nice.
Reese Pieces Brownies with Peanut Butter Frosting
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens: Holiday Baking Magazine
1 1/4 cups crushed graham crackers (approx. 8 full cracker sheets)
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped lightly salted peanuts
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, cut up
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Reeses' Pieces
Peanut Butter Frosting
1/4 cup butter
2 tbsp peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Preheat oven to 350. For crust: combine graham crackers, 1/4 cup of the sugar and chopped peanuts. Stir in half cup melted butter. Press mixture evenly into an ungreased 9X6X 1 1/4- inch pan (I had to buy a weird sized foil pan because I didn't have the specified 11X7X1 1/2-inch pan so something around these measurements would be fine). Bake for 5 minutes; cool.
For filling: In heavy saucepan, combine the 1/2 cup butter and the chocolate; heat and stir over low heat until melted. Remove from heat. Add the remaining 1 cup sugar, eggs, and vanilla; stir just until combined. Stir in flour and Reeses' Pieces. Spread evenly over crust. Bake for 20 minutes.
Cool in pan on a wire rack - do not cut brownies will they are warm, moisture will escape as steam and they may be dry when cooled. Spread with PB Frosting. Cut into bars - Makes 20 brownies.
For frosting: In bowl combine butter and peanut butter and beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating well. Beat in milk and the vanilla. As you beat in the powdered sugar if it's too thick add enough milk to make a frosting that spreads easily.
You can cover and chill these for up to two days. They cut more evenly after being chilled. If your preparing ahead do not cut the bars until serving.
I ordered 2 new cookbooks from amazon that are on the way: The Bread Bakers Apprentice and Macrina Bakery Cookbook... they shipped today, yay! I am hopefully going to make some soup today and bread to follow. We'll see how the day goes.