To this day, peanut butter holds a special place in my heart. The fragrant nuttiness that comes from unscrewing a jar of peanut butter always evokes some nostalgic memories. When I was young, there was a period of time when I insisted on only peanut butter sandwiches with bananas and honey. To me, it was my power and brain food- – a snack before every cross country race and track meet. Soon, my shaky nerves would be converted into running energy and I would strategically fly through the course– bolting at lighting speed to the finish line before my other competitors. So, when I saw a recipe for a rich, chewy, and creamy peanut butter blondie, I jumped at the opportunity to make it. It would be the perfect end to our homemade pulled pork sandwiches that day.
However, I notice a trend where the peanut butter gets slightly muted when you convert it into a bar dessert (although, not so much for a traditional cookie). In this case, it is probably because of the dark brown sugar that is used and the omission of the granulated variety. The molasses in the dark sugar dominates the flavour profile of the dessert. But here is the caveat, you need the brown sugar to get that chewiness in the bar. Also, no matter what you do, some of the dry heat from the oven will cook out that peanut butter flavour. Fortunately, this recipe tells you to bake the bars at a lower temperature and for a shorter period of time. I call that smart. Must be that peanut butter brain power again.
Onto the recipe which I adapted from Joy the Baker. Again my suggestions are italicized.
Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Streaks
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar (I used 3/4 cup)
1/2 cup +2 tbsp smooth or crunchy peanut butter (I use Maranatha Smooth Organic Peanut butter which I prefer over other brands that use hydrogenated oils in them. Whatever brand you choose, do not use the natural peanut butter that has just peanuts in it. Your bars will not have the same texture)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup all- purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of cayenne
5-6 tablespoons semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted (I used Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips with 60% cocoa)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch pan, line with parchment paper and grease it. If you don’t have parchment paper, grease pan and dust it with flour.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and sugar together until the butter is just melted. Remove from the burner and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then add the peanut butter. Stir until incorporated. Allow to cool for 5 minutes more, then whisk in the eggs and vanilla extract. You want the sugar, butter and peanut butter mixture to be cool enough that the eggs won’t begin to cook when they’re added in.
Whisk together salt, flour and baking powder. Add dry ingredients all at once to the wet ingredients. Stir until just incorporated. Pour the thick batter into the prepared pan and smooth out. Drizzle 4 vertical lines of chocolate over the square and using a blunt knife or butter knife, run the blade through the horizontal axis of each line to create a chevron effect. Alternatively, you could just swirl the chocolate into the batter; whatever you decide, just make sure you don’t over-swirl or the effect will be lost. But, don’t worry if it turns out messy the first time you do it, the bottom line is that it’s supposed to be fun!
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the blondies comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Eat till your heart’s content.
Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Yield: 9 generous squares.