Brownies are always a good idea. Brownies with a peanut butter dulce de leche frosting sprinkled with a bit of sea salt are always an even better idea.
Trust me on this.
I started with a super-simple, near perfect brownie, adapted just barely from the “Best Brownies Recipe” on Leite’s Culinaria. I love this version, primarily because it’s a one-bowl endeavor with just a handful of ingredients. (ok, if you don’t count the frosting.) The result is a perfect balance of chocolate and coffee, with a slightly chewy center. They are completely delicious without embellishment.
But I like to embellish, so then we add the frosting. You can’t go wrong with the dream-team combo of dulce de leche and peanut butter (remember that pie from last summer?) So, when I discovered a drool-worthy recipe for a peanut butter frosting in the darling cookbook Date Night In, I dreamed of swirling in a bit of thick gooey caramel awesomeness into the mix.
It totally works, just ask my book club. I cut the batch I made tonight into 36 little bites. My thinking was this: These dear friends tend to be quite dainty dessert eaters… and each would indulge in a little bite, leaving tons of leftovers to take to school tomorrow.
It didn’t work out according to my plan. They’re mostly gone. High praise from the not-so-dainty eaters, let me assure you.
I’ll have to make another batch for my teacher friends.
You may want to make a batch for your friends too.
A few other random thoughts:
You know you have one of the greatest friends on the planet when she serves only items from your blog for dinner … My friend Denise served up Arugula Salad with Walnuts and Parmesan, Beet, Tangerine and Blood Orange Salad with Goat Cheese, Pomegranate Seeds and Pistachios, and the (crowd favorite) Spring Salad of Israeli Couscous, Peas, Pancetta, and Lemon. So sweet! But wow, I need to shorten the titles of my recipes.
We discussed The Invention of Wings. Honestly, one of my favorite book club selections ever. Most, but not everyone, agreed, so we had an interesting discussion.
Oh how I love bars… if you like these, you might like a few of my other faves: Salted Alfajores Bars, Malted Milk Ball Blondies, Raspberry-Cherry Crumble Bars or Chocolate-Bottomed Bourbon Maple Pecan Bars.
Peanut Butter Dulce de Leche Brownies
Serves: 16-36 brownies, depending on how big you would like to cut them
- 6 tablespoons salted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan
- 1 cup good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon instant coffee crystals
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup chocolate chunks
- 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cups creamy natural peanut butter
- ¼ cup dulce de leche
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar
- a generous sprinkle of sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Line an 9-inch square pan with parchment paper. Lightly butter the parchment.
- Add the chocolate and butter to a large glass (or otherwise microwave-proof) bowl. Each microwave will be a bit different, but I melted the butter and chocolate using the defrost mode for about three minutes. Add the coffee crystals and mix until combined.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla until combined. Beat in the eggs by hand, one at a time.
- Add the flour and stir energetically for 1 full minute — time yourself — until the batter loses its graininess, becomes smooth and glossy, and pulls away a bit from the sides of the bowl.
- Add the additional chocolate chunks and stir to combine.
- Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the center feels almost set, about 30 minutes. Do not overbake.
- Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Peanut Butter Dulce de Leche Frosting:
- Combine the butter, peanut butter, dulce de leche, and powdered sugar in a bowl. Using a hand mixer, mix on high speed until smooth.
- Frost the brownies, then cut into squares.