One of the great things about my relationship with B is that we both love food and we both love dessert. One of the not-so-great things about our relationship is that we both love food and dessert... which means the indecisiveness runs rampant in this household. Don't give us unlimited options because it will always end in us rolling our eyes uncontrollably at one another, a few growls here and there, and very loud sighs of frustration. As you can imagine, me trying to decide what kind of treat to make for B's birthday was infuriating. I had so many good ideas, but really I wanted to make him something that he would be excited to have and want to share with everyone. Yes, sometimes his birthday is also about me. :)
I finally resigned to just asking him what he wanted. His response, "Something chocolate-y, salty, peanut butter-y, caramel-y, and maybe, like coffee-y?" Oh yeah. Cool. No problem. Let me just whip something up real quick. I heard, "I want a pony, and a unicorn, and glitter, and sparkles, and candles, and fireworks, and to swim in a pool of M&Ms and Reese's, and I don't want any calories, and I no stomachaches. Ok?"
I really wanted to meet all of his requests, but I didn't want it to be so sickeningly sweet that we immediately regretted our indulgence. I also couldn't decide what vehicle would be best to carry all the flavors. I finally decided on a bar-type dessert. I thought blondies at first but then decided that a more brownie-like cake would be perfect. I use molasses and brown sugar to mimic the caramel flavor, peanut butter chips and a little extra sprinkle of sea salt for his salty, nutty component, and a sprinkle of espresso powder to make the chocolate flavor more rich and vibrant. Personally I think I nailed his request. He was greeted at 7:00am with a plate of these on his birthday and didn't seem to upset about it.
Molasses Peanut Butter Brownies
The Bits and Bobs:
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups brown sugar
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp molasses
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp instant espresso powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
10 oz peanut butter chips
Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease a 9x9-inch brownie pan and set aside
In a large bowl, mix together the melted butter and the brown sugar until well combined and smooth. Mix in the eggs and egg yolks, the molasses, vanilla, and espresso powder until just incorporated.
Stir in the flour, the cocoa powder, and the salt until combined. Mix in half of the peanut butter chips into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and then sprinkle the remaining peanut butter chips over the top.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning the pan once halfway through bake time. The edges should be set and pulling away from the pan and the center should be set. A toothpick inserted in the middle will come out with slightly dirty, but not with goopy batter.