Today is a splendid day for brownies.
Maybe because it is Tuesday and the weekend seems too far away.
Maybe because that warm weather was simply a tease, and it is now snowing again.
Maybe because my fuzzy socks are so warm and the walk to studio seems so long.
Maybe just because chocolate is delicious.
Maybe just because.

I think homemade brownies are tricky.
Sometimes they are too caky.
Sometimes they are too thin.
Sometimes they are too chewy (the super, plastic-like chewy).
Sometimes they are just not chocolaty enough.

Boxed brownies are simple and quick (although waiting for them to bake always seems to take forever – anyway)
Boxed brownies also seem to get the balance just right.

The challenge: a brownie that is just the right chew, with a crusty top, and a rich chocolaty flavor.  Butter makes things cakey.  Most homemade brownies call for just butter.  Boxed brownies call for oil.  A recipe with both butter and oil might get the balance just right.  Here’s my attempt:

1/3 Cup cocoa
1/2  Cup hot coffee
1/4  Cup unsweetened chocolate (chop into 1” pieces, or use morsels)
1/2  Cup oil
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs + 1 yolk (using just the yolk will contribute to our chew factor)
2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
2 – 1/2 Cups sugar
1 – 3/4  Cups all-purpose flour
3/4  Teaspoon salt
3/4  Cup bittersweet chocolate chips/chunks/bits
1/2  Cup chopped pecans
5 heaping Tablespoons peanut butter + 1 Tablespoon dark brown sugar

what TO DO
in a small bowl . . .
sift together flour & salt

in a large bowl . . .
add  cocoa and pour hot coffee over (I used a coffee flavor called Mocha-Nut Fudge!)
whisk well until fully incorporated
immediately add unsweetened chocolate, again whisking until fully incorporated
add oil and butter, whisking just until incorporated
add eggs, one at a time, whisking just until incorporated
(*trick: to separate the yolk from the white: carefully crack the egg, keeping the yolk in one half of the shell.  Using the two shell halves, transfer the yolk back and forth between the halves over a separate bowl; the whites should fall into the bowl.)
add vanilla, stir
add sugar, stir
add flour mixture in two parts, fully incorporate, but be careful not to over stir!
with a rubber spatula fold in chocolate chips/chucks/bits and pecans

in a small bowl . . .
stir together peanut butter and dark brown sugar

in a pan (approximately 13 X 9”) . . .
prepare pan by: buttering/flouring or line with parchment paper
(*parchment paper allows for clean & easy removal from pan. )
pour batter into prepared pan, lightly smooth over with rubber spatula
spoon and spread 5 heaping tablespoons of peanut butter evenly spaced lengthwise (evenly spaced left – right)
using a fork spread the peanut butter widthwise (top – bottom)
run the fork lengthwise (left – right) to create a mixed pattern of the peanut butter & batter

in the oven . . . 
adjust the rack to the lowest position
preheat to 350 F
bake for 30- 35 minutes 
eat warm

conclusion: my attempt was a success!  The brownies were definitely heavy – more like a rich dessert bar than a slice of cake.  I used extra virgin olive oil (of course).  I maybe should have used lighter oil.  Maybe next time. 

- Coco

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