What makes a home comforting and appealing? A fresh batch of Fudgy Peanut Butter Brownies!
I haven’t mentioned the debacle, but I’ve been living in a bit of a war-zone this past month. You see, I left the cold and empty Upper East Side in January and relocated to a more downtown area. Besides living with people who are actually nice and not completely awful, the new apartment boasts a better living area and a quick ten-minute commute to work. It was all fine and dandy until the ceiling fell. I’m not kidding you, the ceiling in our bathroom caved in, spewing dirt and dust into our bathroom. This was 5 days into my new living situation. To say I was freaked and on edge would be an understatement After a month of fighting, tears and arguing that SAID hole just got fixed. Not only was our management company completely wretched about fixing the hole, they are now in the process of evicting us.
When it rains, it pours.
Because of this ridiculous limbo, I’ve been operating at a highly panicked state. You could say that two steps away from calling this whole New York adventure off and heading back to the friendly skies of California. But New York has snuck its way into my heart. Slowly, I’ve developed a strong fondness for this ole city and broke down into tears at the thought of leaving. That’s a pretty big change-of-tune for this girl! However, I’ve found myself at a major crossroad. I have the opportunity to get out now before anything more awful happens and I’m inclined to do it. On the other hand, I’m not ready to give up.
What’s a girl to do? Bake. And consume massive amounts of wine. Which is exactly what I did. I threw open the windows, welcomed the warm spring breeze, turned on the oven, and prepped my kitchen for a chocolate explosion. I needed comfort and I needed it fast. Sticking with my favorite baking queen Alice Medrich, I used her tested and true recipe for chocolate brownies but added in a massive dose of peanut butter, just to really soothe my aching heart and overly-stressed brain. Moist and rich, these brownies didn’t disappoint. While I couldn’t resist to eat one almost immediately after baking (I said I was stressed!) I did manage to tightly store most of them up for the next day. And it was worth it. On the second day, the brownies became fudgier, darker and ten times more flavorful. I highly suggest wrapping them tightly and serving them on the following day.
Even amidst all the turmoil and anxiety, for those ten minutes, I sat in my new kitchen and felt at ease. Sure, it was short-lived, but that moment of peace was worth millions and I owe it to these divine brownies. Finding and building a new home is extremely stressful but at least I can count on the small things to make me a little happier. Even for a moment.
Fudgy Peanut Butter Brownies
Adapted from: BitterSweet by Alice Medrich
Yields: Makes 16 large or 25 smaller brownies
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup creamy peanut butter
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a wide skillet of barely simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the skillet and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.
Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.
Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares. When wrapped tightly, the brownies will last for 4 days.