Where do you fall on the “richness meter?” You know, the scale of how you feel about a dessert? Are you one who throws their hand across their forehead and exclaims: “too rich for my blood” or are you more in the camp of: “no such thing as too rich; bring it on.”
I happen to be one of those lucky souls that has never, and I promise a double decker pinky swear on it, met a dessert too rich for my blood. In fact, I’m usually the one offering kindly to finish Brian’s dessert for him when his richness meter has been overloaded. Sadly that doesn’t happen as often as I would like since he and I are very compatible when it comes to our love of rich desserts. Clearly we were meant for each other. I firmly believe my ability to tolerate sweetsie richness very well is a talent and I’m adding it to my resume.
These brownies? Oh, baby, they are rich. They come from a favorite brownie recipe of mine that is decadent and fudgy and ultra-chocolatey. The brownies themselves would be a glorious treat, but because I love you and your might-not-be-able-to-handle-richness-like-my-blood, I threw some salty pretzels, nutty toffee and creamy peanut butter on top. You know, to cut the richness. The combination is spectacular.
But I do have to confess that even with the toppings, these brownies are still pretty darn rich. All in a good way, of course. And if the thought scares you a bit, you can always cut them smaller or just eat them moderately, of which I know nothing about, of course, based on how I described my richness meter. I could easily eat 12 of these and still want more. Don’t worry. Of course I didn’t really eat that many. Jeez. I called it good after about 9 1/2.
I doubled the recipe for the delicious fudgy brownie recipe on my site but you could really use any brownie recipe you love for the base. I didn't add any extra sweetness to the peanut butter and I really liked the contrast of sweet brownies and not-too-sweet peanut butter; however, if you think you'd like less contrast, add about 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar to the peanut butter after melting.
- 2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) butter
- 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 1 cup coarsely crushed pretzels
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup toffee bits (not chocolate covered)
- Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 9X13-inch square baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Lightly grease with cooking spray and set aside.
- Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium microwave-wafe bowl (you can do this on the stovetop also). Microwave for one minute intervals, stirring in between, until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Set the mixture aside until it cools slightly (is warm to the touch not hot). It will look gritty but it will become smooth once the other ingredients are added.
- Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
- Melt the peanut butter in a small bowl on low heat in the microwave until pourable, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Drizzle the peanut butter over the brownies and lightly swirl with a butter knife. It's alright if you don't get awesome drizzle action going on; the peanut butter in my brownies formed almost a separate layer and it was fantastic. Sprinkle the pretzels, chocolate chips and toffee over the top.
- Bake the brownies for about 22-25 minutes until set but still slightly sticky in the center when a toothpick is inserted. Let cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack.