There is a peanut butter monster that lives in my house. That peanut butter loving monster is my husband. For every French pastry that I create there is a request for something to made with peanut butter. The man loves it. He is known to spread thick peanut butter over his waffles in the morning, he will happily eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, and just the mention of a peanut butter dessert has him practically jumping for joy. Sometimes, I’m suspicious that he’s been eating straight from the peanut butter jar with a spoon (at least I hope he uses a spoon). That’s how I knew he’d love these Salted Peanut Butter Caramel Brownies. It’s satisfying to see that brilliant grin cross his face when he takes the first bite.
Freshly baked, these swirled brownies are a happy medium between fudgy and cakey in texture. The next day, they become more fudgy, richer, and more intense. Instead of adding a heavy peanut butter to these already rich brownies, a light salted peanut butter caramel is made first. Swirled into the top of the thick brownie batter and liberally sprinkled with course fleur de sel flakes. The salt perfectly balances the sweetness of the brownies. The peanut butter aroma from the caramel wafts into your face just as you are about to take a bite. Every. Time. The caramel is smooth and silky. Can you tell how much we love these brownies? It’s a lot. Poor brownies don’t stand a chance.
Makes 24 brownies
Salted Peanut Butter Caramel
3.75 oz sugar
1 oz water
7 oz heavy cream
1/4 tsp fleur de sel
3 oz creamy peanut butter
In a small pot, combine the heavy cream and fine sea salt. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and keep warm.
Combine the sugar and water in a medium-sized pot. Over medium-high heat and without stirring, cook the sugar until it begins to caramelize and reaches a deep amber color. Immediately, remove the caramel from the heat and steadily whisk in the warm cream. It will bubble up, so take care to add slowly and carefully. Whisk in the peanut butter until thoroughly combined.
Pour peanut butter caramel into a clean bowl and allow it to cool and thicken for at least 1 hour. You can prepare the caramel up to three days before hand and keep stored in an airtight container until ready to use. Any left over caramel can be reheated and used for topping desserts or allowed to cool and used as a filling.
5 oz all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa powder
12 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate (62% – 70%), melted
8 oz unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp espresso powder or fresh finely ground coffee
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3.5oz brown sugar, lightly packed
5 large eggs, room temperature
4 oz peanut butter caramel
pinch fine sea salt, such as fleur de sel
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 9×13-baking pan with parchment paper or spray the bottom and sides of the pan with oil.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa powder.
In a large bowl, whisk together the still warm melted chocolate, butter, espresso powder, and vanilla extract. Whisk in both of the sugars until combined. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the eggs. Add the eggs to the chocolate mixture and gently whisk them together in until just combined. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the surface. With a spatula, fold in the flour mixture until no streaks are visible.
Pour the brownie batter into the prepared 9×13 baking pan. With an offset spatula or spatula, smooth the surface of the batter evenly. Using a spoon, drizzle on the peanut butter caramel in wave-like motions across the surface of the brownie batter. If the caramel is too thick, reheat slightly in order for it to flow more easily. Next, using a butter knife or skewer, drag the point of the knife through the top of the batter surface in a similar wave-like motion. Do this in the opposite direction of the caramel waves, so it will produce a nice marbleized/swirl effect. If using, sprinkle the fine sea salt all over the surface of the batter.
Place in the oven and bake for 28 minute or until a toothpick inserted, in the center, comes out with only a few crumbs. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling wrack to cool completely. When ready, cut into squares and enjoy. Brownies can be kept in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 5 days.
*I’ve also shared these Salted Peanut Butter Caramel Brownies on Food52. Take a peek, at food52.com, for other recipes that I’m sharing with them there. Food52 is a fantastic food community site, full of great recipes, kitchen & home products, and cooking contests. You’ll love it!