To create the ultimate chocolate peanut butter brownies, we use creamy peanut butter and three kinds of chocolate to give them a deep, rich chocolate flavor and chewy texture.
Our goal with this simple peanut butter brownie recipe was to create a dish so easy the ingredients could be kept on hand and a batch made any time anyone in your house started to crave chocolate – which in our house is pretty much every day, all the time.
The peanut butter and chocolate flavor in these brownies are balanced with a melt-in-your-mouth texture that comes from creaming the peanut butter and using two types of chips.
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How to Make Rich Peanut Butter Brownies
There are many different ways to make peanut butter brownies. Some recipes deep freeze a thick layer of peanut butter filling before baking it in between layers of brownie batter; others mix swirls of peanut butter through the chocolate mixture, while some people take plain old chocolate brownie mix and add a creamy layer of peanut butter frosting that’s gilded with a thin layer of ganache.
We took a simple approach to our recipe for chocolate peanut butter brownies by focusing on ingredients that are easy to keep in the pantry and using techniques focused on infusing the peanut butter into the brownies so every bite is filled with a wonderful combination of peanut butter and chocolate.
We also wanted to ensure that ours tasted better than store-bought mixes and weren’t much more complicated to make.
To make sure the flavors in every bite are balanced, start by creaming the peanut butter with the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. This can be done by hand or using a mixer. Using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer creates a light, fluffy base that keeps the brownies from becoming too dense.
This technique, along with the baking powder, helps the brownies develop a texture in the sweet spot between dense fudge and light and cakey.
To create a playground of flavors and textures, the recipe uses peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, high-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, and peanut butter.
This recipe uses a 9-by-13-inch cake pan rather than the small square pan used in lots of other brownie recipes. We’ve never been able to figure out why someone would want to make a small batch of brownies.
A challenge with brownies is baking them all the way through but not so long that they are overcooked or become cakey. What worked during testing was taking them out of the oven a couple of minutes before they looked like they were done.
In our test oven, 28 minutes with a temperature of 350℉ (177℃) delivered perfect medium-rare brownies that were still gooey in the middle without being dense like fudge or light and fluffy like a cake.
A tip if you prefer your brownies a little on the rare side, shave a couple of minutes off the baking time, and if you prefer brownies closer to medium or well done, add a couple of minutes.
Ingredients for Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies
This recipe uses ingredients that can be kept in the pantry or fridge to make it easy to bake a batch of brownies any time the mood hits.
For some reason, we felt compelled to test this recipe over and over again, which helped keep us in brownies, and to find some subtle changes where the addition or subtraction of certain ingredients made a big difference in the overall quality.
For most of the ingredients: all-purpose flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, unsalted butter, etc., the types and brands kept in your pantry will work just fine. The following are some recommendations for specific ingredients.
Peanut Butter – This recipe works better with conventional peanut butter from Jiff, Skippy, etc. Natural peanut butter has a tendency to separate. Crunchy will work while adding some complexity to the texture, but creamy worked better during testing.
Peanut butter chips – These chips are an easy way to add more peanut butter flavor to a dish. The chips have the advantage of not completely melting during the baking process, leaving bursts of flavor. They can be found in the baking aisle of most large grocery stores.
Chocolate Chips – During testing, we tried chocolate chunks, dark chocolate chips, tiny chocolate chips, and a few others and found that the chocolate chips that worked best were standard-sized semi-sweet or milk-chocolate chips.
Chocolate Syrup – Adding a couple of tablespoons of chocolate syrup darkens the brownies’ color, helping to offset the lighter color that comes from whipping the peanut butter with the butter and sugar. It also deepens the overall chocolate flavor.
Baking Powder – Adding baking powder helps to leaven the brownies and can be decreased for fudgier brownies or increased for a lighter cakier texture. We recommend increasing or decreasing in 1/4 teaspoon increments to find your ideal texture.
There were a couple of things that didn’t work during our testing. Adding a dash or two of cinnamon masked the peanut butter’s flavor.
Using mini-chocolate chips created a weird textural component that made it feel like you were biting into something that hadn’t been thoroughly mixed. On the other end, chocolate chunks were so large they overwhelmed the other flavors.
Tips for Better Brownies
Here are a few tips we found during our research and testing for better brownies:
- Use high-quality chocolate, especially when it comes to unprocessed cocoa powder.
- The consensus among food writers is to use a light-colored metal cake pan for baking brownies versus a glass, ceramic, or darker pan, which can hold more heat and dry out the edges.
- A simple way to tell when the brownies are done is to insert a toothpick into the center. It should come out streaked in chocolate for medium rare, slightly fudgy brownies. If the toothpick pulls out chunks of batter, they need more time; if it comes out clean, they are slightly overdone and will be cakier.
- For brownies trying to win a beauty contest – aka clean cuts, use a sharp knife that is wiped with a damp cloth or run under warm water between cuts.
The brownies can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge or at room temperature on the counter for 4 to 5 days. They can also be wrapped in wax paper and stored in a freezer-safe container for a couple of months in the freezer.
A few other easy-to-make dessert recipes include a decadent Better Than Sex Cake, which is all about rich chocolate flavors, buttery Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chunk Cookies, and tart Rhubarb Bars with a flakey shortbread crust.
- 12 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup peanut butter, creamy
- 1 ¼ cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, approximately 1 1/2 oz
- 2 tbsp chocolate syrup
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp Kosher salt
- 1 cup peanut butter chips, aproximately 4 oz
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, approximately 4 oz
- Preheat oven to 350℉ (177℃) and lightly grease a 9- by-13-inch cake pan with baking spray.
- Cream the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and peanut butter together until smooth. This usually takes 1 to 2 minutes using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer.12 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 cup peanut butter, 1 ¼ cup white sugar, ½ cup brown sugar
- Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla, mixing until combined. Stir in the cocoa and the chocolate syrup until the mixture is smooth and no streaks remain.4 large eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tbsp chocolate syrup
- Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the batter, and mix until thoroughly combined. The batter for these brownies should be thick.1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 tsp baking powder, ¼ tsp Kosher salt
- Fold in the peanut butter and chocolate chips using a spatula to distribute the chips evenly.1 cup peanut butter chips, 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Spread the batter in the cake pan, using a spatula, to make sure there is a consistent depth.
- Bake for 26 to 28 minutes. The brownies are done a couple of minutes before they look done. A simple way to tell when they're done is to insert a toothpick into the center. It should come out streaked in chocolate for medium rare, slightly fudgy brownies.
- Let the brownies cool for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.