Thursday, February 21, 2013

Peanut Butter Caramel Brownies

When I was home sick a few weeks ago I watched several hours of cooking shows, making a mental list of all the things to make when I got back in the kitchen. Of course, these Bobby Flay peanut butter brownies were on the top of my list and one of the first things I made once I was back on my feet. I knew they would be perfect for Mini Me and Boy Mimi's Valentine packages, and it just so  happens that the ingredient for the February Improv challenge were  Hearts and Flours, which meant that anything made with flour and shaped like a heart would work.
  After reading the reviews, many of  which said the peanut butter got a little lost in all the chocolate, I decided to double the peanut butter caramel. I used about 2/3 of it to spread into a thin layer between layers of brownie batter, rather than dropping clumps to be swirled. The remaining caramel I did dollop on top and swirl into the top layer of batter. These brownies were super chocolaty and fudgy and with the double amount of peanut butter, we didn't have to guess what was accompanying the chocolate.

 Of course, Mr. Mimi couldn't resist sneaking a little peanut butter caramel to pour on his ice cream, and since that was everyone's favorite part of this recipe, I can see many more jars of peanut butter caramel making their way through our kitchen as we get ready for warmer weather and tubs of homemade ice cream!

Peanut Butter Caramel Brownies
via Bobby Flay  Food network
 Peanut Butter Caramel

* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 1/4 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup water
* 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
* 1 tablespoon corn syrup
* Pinch sea salt
* 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract 
* 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
* 6 ounces high-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
* 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, plus 4 ounces
* 1 teaspoon espresso powder
* 4 large eggs
* 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
* 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
* 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour


Bring the cream to a simmer over low heat in a small saucepan. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat and cook, without stirring until amber brown. Slowly whisk in the warm cream until smooth and let cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter, corn syrup, sea salt and 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and let cool until thickened at room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9 by 13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving an overhang on the narrow ends. Spray the foil and pan with nonstick spray.

Combine the butter, unsweetened chocolate, 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate and espresso powder in a medium bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Let the chocolate melt over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, both sugars, vanilla and salt until smooth. Whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the flour in 2 additions (the batter will be thick). Stir in the remaining 4 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate.

Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Using a tablespoon, drop dollops of half of the peanut butter caramel every 2 inches over the top of the batter. Carefully add the remaining batter and smooth over the caramel. Smooth the top and dollop the remaining caramel over the top. Use a butter knife to swirl through the batter to get a marbleized effect.

Bake until the top is set but still soft and the edges are puffed and just beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 23 to 25 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out still gooey (be brave!--underbaking the brownies is one of the secrets to their fudgy texture). Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the neatest cuts, refrigerate the pan for about 20 minutes before cutting the brownies. Using the foil, lift the brownie slab out of the pan. Carefully peel off the foil and put the brownie on a large cutting board. With a large sharp knife, cut the brownies into 48 squares. (The brownies can be stored in an airtight container, at room temperature, for up to 3 days; they can also be frozen, well wrapped, for up to 2 weeks.
printable recipe

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


With a family of 5, including 3 kids each doing something different almost every night of the week, we often ate dinner late and it had to be on the table fast. Although we have several fast favorites, breakfast for dinner was something we were always up for. Now that it is just Mr. Mimi and me at home, breakfast for dinner is something we enjoy often when we just want a light no fuss meal. When I got the opportunity to review the new cookbook "Breakfast For Dinner" by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth of Love & Olive Oil,  I jumped at the chance to get some fresh ideas for breakfast dinners.

The book is full of tempting recipes that go way beyond the standard pancakes or scramble. Bacon fried rice, chocolate brownie waffles, grapefruit herb soda, habanero-chedder bread pudding, and Earl Grey panna cotta were some of the things that caught my eye, but because we have plenty of fresh eggs from our girls, we settled on Shakshuka, which is simply eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce.

This was a great quick, delicious dinner that we would gladly eat for breakfast as well. The sauce was flavorful and thick, and the extra was really good over some pasta.  

 Shakshuka- Eggs poached in tomato sauce
via Breakfast for Dinner by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 mild peppers (such as Anaheim), seeded and chopped
1 Jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 medium or large eggs
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Warm pita bread or baguette for serving

1. In a large deep skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, peppers and jalapeno, and cook until softened and beginning to brown, about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juices, vegetable broth, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, salt and pepper; lower heat and simmer for 20-22 minutes or until thickened. (I did use my immersion blender in the sauce to get the texture a little smoother, which is the way we prefer it)

2. Crack eggs on top of sauce; cover and cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until whites are set and yolks are thick but runny (if you like firmer yolks, cook 1 to 2 minutes more). Sprinkle parsley and feta cheese over top and serve with warm bread. (I didn't have any feta on hand so I used Parmesan, which was delicious)

printable recipe

  I just might surprise the kids with Loco Moco for dinner when they are home for spring break.
 You can find this well written and beautifully photographed book at