Peanut Butter Blondies with Chocolate Chips and a Chocolate Ganache
Source: Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Oh, ganache. How you perplex me. I just don’t know how to feel about you. By all means, you should tantalize me. Chocolate, cream, and butter — what’s not to like? But you are wily, and I expect you to harden and then you don’t, and you add an awful lot of richness to an already delectable treat… I don’t know. You are good, I suppose, but perhaps we are not meant to be best friends. (Especially since I’m nowhere near ready to bump ice cream from the top spot of my adoration.)
I’ve had my eye on these peanut butter blondies (called brownies on Smitten Kitchen, but, um, they’re blond) for ages, but I was deterred because of two reasons: 1) I didn’t want a whole 9×13 pan of these sitting around my kitchen, and the original recipe didn’t halve easily, and 2) I never have heavy cream on hand, and I didn’t feel like making a special trip to the store just to get cream for the ganache.
But one morning, I was ready to give it a shot. I would forgo the ganache, I decided, and I would figure out how to halve one egg yolk. The end result was thick, very good-looking pb blondies in an 8×8 pan, with kind of dry edges that made me think they needed the ganache after all. So after dinner, I made the special trip to the market for cream and high-quality semisweet chocolate (I used Scharffen Berger, which… wow. Damn good chocolate, that).
Again, I halved the recipe to make a smaller amount of ganache, and it tasted good, sure, but I just couldn’t decide how I felt about it on the blondie. It was very thickly slicked on there, and it wouldn’t firm up, which I expected it to do at least somewhat quickly. But it just sat there, shiny and gooey and kind of excessive. So I put one bar in the fridge, where the ganache firmed up quite nicely (“uh, duh,” you are probably thinking), and a taste of that bar proved that colder is better when it comes to these puppies. But… I still ended up scraping ganache off of the rest of the blondies until I was left with just a thin layer. And… I’m still not sure I like these all that much. Is there something wrong with me? Chocolate, peanut butter, blondies… I love all these things! I suppose, if I had to put my finger on it, I would determine that it’s just a little much, a little too rich and decadent for a bar cookie. I like decadence in a cheesecake or a piece of pie or cake. But from something I can cut from my dinged up little 8×8 pan? I guess I’m looking for something a little less intense.
So, sorry, pb blondies and ganache — you really are delicious, and you deserve to be eaten by people who will fully appreciate you. Here is the recipe; I’m sure someone else will find you to be irresistible.
These are the measurements for a half-recipe. Yes, I measured out the egg yolk and halved it, so I did the gross work for you.*
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 c. plus 2 T. sugar (I used white, and then brown sugar for the 2 T.)
1/2 c. creamy peanut butter
1 large egg, plus 1 & 1/2 tsps. egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
For the ganache:
3/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips (or 4.5 ounces chopped chocolate)
1/4 c. heavy cream
1/2 T. unsalted butter
Make the blondies:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour an 8×8 (or 9×9) pan. Mix together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add peanut butter and mix until smooth. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Stir in vanilla, and then (if using a mixer reduce speed to low) stir in flour and salt. Mix just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread batter in prepared pan — batter will be thick. Bake for 40 – 45** minutes, until golden brown and puffed in the middle and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs still clinging to it. Cool on a rack for 1 & 1/2 hours before topping with ganache.
Make the ganache:
Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a boil over medium-high heat. Pour cream over chocolate and let it sit for one minute. Add butter and stir (and stir and stir) until smooth. (If you have any chocolate chunks remaining, place the bowl over simmering water and stir until smooth.)
Spread the ganache over the cooled blondies. Decide if you like that much ganache. Scrape some off if you’re like me and you need a thinner topping. Save leftover ganache in a bowl in the fridge, because that chocolate was expensive and damn if you’re going to just throw it away, even if that’s what your husband will end up doing after you’ve left the ganache in the fridge for two months.
*I am slightly horrified by raw eggs. This does not deter me, however, from eating raw dough, batter, etc. Now you know.
**I took these out at the 40 minute mark, and the cake tester was clean. I might check start checking these at 35 minutes.