Baking & cooking with an enthusiastic amateur
One of my favorite things about holidays is all the seasonal candy that goes on sale right after they end. Peeps still taste as good two weeks after Easter as they do on Easter, and, if you can still find them, by then they’ve been marked down to half or less of their original price. Back in the first week of November, I snagged a cheap bag of “fun-sized” bags of peanut M&Ms, figuring I’d throw them in the freezer and bake with them later that month.
Months went by and they sat there in the freezer, unused. Knowing that even candy doesn’t freeze well forever, I finally resolved to bake with them and get them out of there!
Happily, I saw a recipe for peanut butter brownies on Bakerella last week, which looked absolutely delicious. To be fair, everything on Bakerella looks absolutely delicious; her photography and artistic abilities with food are impressive. Many of her recipes seem a bit too intimidating for me, so I seized on the opportunity to try one that seemed within my skill set.
The recipe that follows is a modified version of Bakerella’s. I roughly thirded the ingredients, as I only wanted a few brownies, enough to last my roommate and I for a couple of days, nothing more. I substituted peanut M&Ms for chocolate chips, and skipped the frosting entirely. Instead, to give it a bit more chocolate I melted two tablespoons of chocolate chips, poured them on top, and swirled the chocolate into the dough with a toothpick..
Given how tasty my results were, I may attempt another Bakerella creation again soon. Of course, my peanut butter bars were nowhere near as pretty as hers, in part because I lined my pan with aluminum foil for easy clean-up (and didn’t patiently smooth out the sides as I should have).
My roommate did express surprise at the consistency of the bars prior to breaking, as the Bakerella recipe called them brownies, but they were more of a dough than a batter. The final product was somewhere between a cookie and a brownie in my reckoning, but the terminology matters a lot less than the winning result: The taste!
Peanut Butter Bars
Adapted from Bakerella
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tablespoons peanut butter (I used Smart Balance brand)
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup peanut M&Ms, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a square 6-1/2” baking dish and line it with aluminum foil.
Combine flour and baking powder; set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream together peanut butter and butter, using a hand-mixer if you have one. Add both types of sugar; mix together thoroughly. Add egg and vanilla, mixing until thoroughly combined.
Scrape off the hand-mixer, saving as much of the batter as possible. Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, mix in the flour mixture. Mix in peanut M&Ms.
Put dough into pan, spreading out evenly. To add the chocolate swirl, melt chocolate chips in the microwave. Pour on top of the dough, and use a toothpick to swirl it in.
Bake for 30-35 minutes.
Makes six bars.
Cost per bar: $0.36
Calories per bar: 267