[vegan, gluten-free available]
Oh yes! Peanut butter + chocolate brownies = perfection! If this isn’t your first time around my blog, you’re familiar with my infinite love for chocolate and peanuts. And the love continues. I will never get tired of the combination and I sure hope you, my dear reader, won’t either. I’m back with a bang, and these are my perfect peanut butter-stuffed brownies!
Brownies Need a Twist
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with regular chocolate brownies. They are super easy to make, and usually dearly loved by kids and adults alike. They are pretty much the perfect dessert to make, when you’re having over guests whose particular tastes you’re not completely sure of. So no, nothing wrong with plain brownies, but if the choice is mine, I tend to go for something bigger. For me, the difference is in some sort of a twist, be it nut butter, frosting, or decoration.
In the perfect peanut butter-stuffed brownies the twist is in the middle layer. It adds some peanutty saltiness to the otherwise sweet brownies, as well as chewy, texture that has your mouth working for the enjoyment. It’s like you’re eating peanut butter cups in brownie form.
Peanut Butter-Stuffed Brownie Perfection
It’s a bold statement but yes, they really are perfect. Even for a high achiever like myself, I’m not afraid to say it as it is.
The texture of the layer brownies is exactly what I was going for. After the chocolate ganache has set, they are still deliciously fluffy. But they are more chewy than gooey. When you’ve kept them in the fridge overnight, they thicken into amazingly chocolatey goodness.
My previous attempts have suffered from an overly liquid peanut butter layer. In some cases, the filling has been too soft to begin with, even prior to baking in the oven. This has happened when sweetening peanut butter with maple syrup, for example. In other cases, the layer has softened too much in the oven, resulting in too gooey, almost mushy brownies.
This time around, the perfect peanut butter brownies turned out perfect. The key was a sufficient amount of confectioner’s sugar, which gave the peanut butter a cookie dough-like texture.
Any Peanut Butter Will Work
American baking blogs tend to recommend using conventional commercial peanut butter in recipes like this instead of the natural kind. I don’t fully agree with this. Store-bought peanut butters, like Jif Creamy Peanut Butter work beautifully, of course, but they aren’t your only option.
In my opinion, the deciding factor is taste rather than texture. I would recommend going for your favorite peanut butter for this recipe.
I tend to prefer using natural, homemade peanut butter. I usually make it from shelled peanuts that I either peel myself (while watching my favorite TV shows) or preshelled peanuts. I typically throw in a handful or two of unshelled peanuts that add a smokiness to the peanut butter.
The point is: make your peanut butter thick enough. The way to go is keep adding confectioner’s sugar. If your natural peanut butter makes for a liquid layer, add more confectioner’s sugar and your brownies will be perfect, too!
Peanut Butter-Stuffed Brownies
- 115 g vegan butter
- 225 g dark chocolate
- ½ cup + 1 tbsp aquafaba or chickpea brine
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
Peanut Butter Layer
- 1 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 2 tbsp unsweetened almond drink
- 1 ½ cup dark chocolate or chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp unsweetened almond drink
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line an 8-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil, extending the foil over the edges.
- Prepare the peanut butter layer. Add the peanut butter in a small bowl and stir in the other ingredients. If the filling appears too brittle, add more almond drink. If the filling is too liquid, add some more confectioner's sugar. Press the layer onto a square, parchment paper-lined dish that is slightly smaller than the baking dish. Transfer to the fridge to set.
- Prepare the brownies. Add the vegan butter and dark chocolate in a small saucepan and let them melt fully over low heat. Whisk in the aquafaba, followed y the sugar, vanilla, and salt. Sift in the flour and cocoa powder and use a wooden fork to combine. The batter is meant to be quite thick.
- Assemble the brownies. Spread half of the brownie batter in the bottom of the prepared pan. Remove the peanut butter filling from the fridge, slide it off the parchment paper onto the batter, and press gently into an even layer. Spread the rest of the brownie batter over the peanut butter layer.
- Bake the brownies on the center rack for 35–40 minutes, or checking the doneness with a toothpick. Let cool while you prepare the chocolate ganache.
- Prepare the chocolate ganache. Melt the dark chocolate (chips) over low heat in a small saucepan. When fully melted, remove from heat. Stir in the almond drink, which will thicken the chocolate. Immediately spread the ganache over the brownies. Be prompt so the ganache will not harden prior to spreading. Even out the chocolate ganache with a spatula and transfer the brownies to the freezer for 20–30 minutes to set.
- Remove from the freezer and cut into 16 brownies. Enjoy right away!