CG: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Brownies

There is probably nothing quite so glorious as the combination of chocolate and peanut butter.  Which is why I had to put them together in a brownie.  My previous attempt at making brownies (without peanut butter) had been rather disastrous.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly and it was quite obvious that I had screwed things up.  They had tasted dry and almost sugarless.

Afterwards I vowed to redeem myself and make a batch of brownies that actually tasted like brownies.  This meant getting a bag of chocolate chips (for the first version I only used cocoa powder, which was why they were so dry).  Sitting among the chocolate chips on that grocery store aisle were also bags of peanut butter chips.  When I was younger I use to get these peanut butter chips and eat them straight from the bag.  Now that I’m older and can actually cook (mostly), I decided they were the perfect addition to my brownies.  Now I had even more incentive to not screw up my brownies.  I couldn’t dare waste those precious peanut butter chips.

Today peanut butter is everywhere and peanuts have been around for millennia.  But how did peanut butter come about?  According to the National Peanut Board, peanuts themselves are said to have originated in Peru or Brazil.  South American pottery shaped like peanuts and decorated with them has been found dating back as far as 3,500 years ago.  As early as 1500 BC, Incas in Peru used peanuts in sacrificial offerings and placed them with mummies.  Peanuts were also used in drinks by tribes in Central America who ground them up with maize.  Peanuts were found as far north as Mexico.  Explorers from Spain took the peanuts back home with them and traders and other explorers spread them to Asia and Africa.  Africans were the first people to bring peanuts to North America in the early 1700s.

Commercial production of peanuts though didn’t begin until the 1800s. Virginia was the first to grow them, using peanuts for oil, food and as a cocoa substitute.  At the time peanuts were regarded as a food for livestock and the poor because of the difficulty to grow and harvest them.  Their popularity grew though as production rose throughout the first half of the 19th century and after Union soldiers found that they liked them (thanks in part to the high protein provided) peanut prominence grew.  After that in the late 1800s, one could find vendors at circuses, street carts and baseball games selling hot roasted peanuts.  Because of the need to harvest by hand though peanut production was still not high in demand.  Stems and trash would be found in the peanuts, thus giving it the appearance of being a low quality food.

All this changed in the 1900s though when labor-saving equipment was invented, making the entire process of planting, harvesting and shelling easier.  The peanut’s popularity then grew enormously with high demand for oil, roasted peanuts, peanut butter and candy.  There are several different stories for how peanut butter itself was invented.  There is evidence that the Incas were the first to grind peanuts into a type of peanut butter.  Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (owner of the cereal brand) is also said to have invented a version of it in 1895.  A Saint Louis doctor might have made a type of peanut butter for his patients, who couldn’t eat meat, as a protein substitute.  The Saint Louis World’s Fair in 1904 though is where peanut butter was first introduced to a wider public.  As for the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich, it is said that WWI and WWII soldiers may have been the ones to popularize it thanks to its protein value.

Today peanuts are the 12th most valuable cash crop in the US with a farm value of over $1 billion.  This makes peanuts, peanut butter and peanut candy some of the most popular food products in the US.  Americans eat more than six pounds of peanut products a year, which retails for about $2 billion a year.  Peanut butter alone accounts for half of the edible peanut consumption, which retails at about $850 million a year.  The other half of American peanut consumption is divided equally between peanut snacks and candy.  Peanuts are most commonly paired with chocolate (for obvious reasons) and peanut oil is considered a high quality cooking oil due to its higher cooking temperature and its ability to not retain the peanut flavor in food cooked with it.

Now that you know all about the greatness of peanuts and peanut butter, let’s get cooking!

The main portion of this recipe comes from Sally’s Baking Addiction.  While I still made a few alterations to this recipe, I had learned my lesson and stayed as close to it as I could.

Ingredients (My Version)

1/2 cup salted butter

1 bag of chocolate chips (10 0z)

1 cup brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp flour

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1/4 tsp salt

Preparation

Melt butter and chocolate chips together for about 5 minutes.  Place liquid into large mixing bowl and cool for about 10 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375 F and line a pan with parchment paper.

Cooking

Whisk the sugar with the chocolate/butter mix and then add eggs, vanilla, flour, cocoa powder and salt.  Add peanut butter chips and mix again.  Pour the batter into the pan and bake for about 35 minutes or until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.  Done!

This batch of brownies came out perfect for me.  They were soft and moist as well as sweet and delicious.  I hope you enjoy making them and enjoy eating them even more.

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