Several weeks ago, I received a fun email request from Christina of She Runs, She Eats. She and her friend Cindy of Once Upon a Loaf had dreamed up an awesome contest, complete with prizes, recognition, and glory of epic proportions. Well, perhaps not recognition and glory of epic proportions, but you get my drift. The competition is in honor of National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, as well as Cindy’s birthday, on April 2. So what exactly was this contest, you may ask? Well, to create the most magnificent peanut butter and jelly creation imaginable, of course! In sandwich or baked good form, please. With any kind of nut butter and any jelly or jelly-like food [preserves, spreads, fresh/dried fruit, etc.]. Sign me up right away, I said! And just like that, I was dreaming up ideas for Project PB&J.
Though I do love me a good PB&J, something sweet and chewy was calling my name. Since our recipes were supposed to be original, I didn’t want to go a-copying the PB&J bars that were popular over the past year or so. So what else went with peanut butter and fruit? Well, chocolate of course!
A little experimentation later and PB&J Brownies were born. These, my friends, are nothing short of amazing. I mean… do you see what I see?!?!
See that rich, fudgy, chewy brownie. Then see that little bit ‘o peanut butter action. But notjustpeanut butter all alone, or even anything reminiscent peanut butter cookie. More like peanut buttercheesecake. Mhmm… now that’s the good stuff! Where the brownie layer is rich and decadent, the peanut butter layer is sweet–but not too sweet. Creamy, but definitely baked. Fantastic.
Can you deny it? Please say no.
But of course, we have to take these brownies over the top just a little more [and qualify for the contest, duh!]… To put the cherry on the sundae… or the topping on the brownie :)… let’s swirl some raspberry preserves into the peanut butter layer. The preserves fold into the peanut butter as the brownies bake, leaving that perfect mix of peanut butter-jelly action that we know and love. If raspberry isn’t your thing, feel free to sub any other all-fruit preserves. I happen to love the subtle-sweet raspberry with peanut butter [and didn’t want to finish the last of 2011’s strawberry freezer jam… just saying :)], but do what suits you. And it would suit me to enjoy another brownie right now… but sadly, they all disappeared! Bummer. I better get busy baking again!
PB&J Brownies [brownie layer inspired by/compared with the recipes here, here, here, and here; PB&J layers are TPC originals!]
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- 3/4 cup salted butter
- 4 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 cups + 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder [sifted if lumpy]
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 eggs, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
- 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter [not the “natural” kind]
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened [I used Neufchâtel]
- 1/3 cup sour cream [I used light]
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- scant 1/3 cup raspberry preserves
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper.
In a small saucepan, melt butter and chocolate on low, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
Whisk together 2 cups sugar, flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder. Break 3 eggs in a separate bowl and whisk to break yolks, then stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Pour egg mixture and chocolate mixture [once cool–don’t cook the eggs] into dry ingredients, then stir together until just combined. Spoon into prepared pan. Mixture will be fudgy.
In the bowl of stand mixer, beat together peanut butter, cream cheese, sour cream, cinnamon, and remaining 1 egg, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Spread in pan on top of chocolate layer, using a spatula and [clean!] hands to press down.
Lastly, spoon preserves over peanut butter layer and use a knife to swirl preserves into peanut butter layer.
Bake for 60 minutes, covered, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting. Store in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days–if they last that long!
Time: 80 minutes [20 minutes active].