Monday, June 13, 2011

Peanut Butter Caramel Brownies

Cheap Eat Challenge: Watch as our family of 6 eats, or tries to, on $6/day.

This month I've had the happy privilege of participating in The Secret Recipe Club, hosted by Amanda's Cookin'. Each participant is assigned another participant's blog. We secretly make one of his/her recipes and then--surprise--post it on a certain date. If you've got a food blog and you're interested, you should join up.

I got plenty lucky as I was assigned The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honey Bunch for the month of June. Besides being, like, the best name ever for a blog, Shelby Mae (also the best name ever) had plenty of recipes I was eager to try. Of course there was one with my family's name on it: Peanut Butter Caramel Swirl Brownies. So I made that one first. And it did not disappoint.

You begin by making the peanut butter caramel, then plop it onto a brownie, then swirl it in and bake.

I realize caramel can be a little frightening. It always makes me a wee bit nervous too. I've burned my share. And crystalized my share. I've cried over caramel and wasted a lot of sugar and almost given up. And then I discovered a full-proof method for making it, compliments of The New Best Recipe. And sure enough it hasn't failed me yet. It is that method I describe below. (In fact, I plan to give it its very own post tomorrow.) So, fear not, caramel lovers. May you never go back to the nasty stuff in a jar at the grocery store again.

Peanut Butter Caramel Swirl Brownies
from grumpyshoneybunch
Makes 9x13 inch pan
Prep time: 20-25 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Cost: Let's not talk about it, okay: $3.95
(cream: .50, sugar: .05, PB: .45; butter: 1.15, sugar: .50, flour: .15, eggs: .40, cocoa:  .30, chocolate bar: 2.00, though if you use the equivalent of dark chocolate chips, it's only about .45)

Caramel Sauce:
1/2 C heavy cream
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C water
1/2 C creamy peanut butter (probably not a natural kind as you don't want things separating out--I'm not sure they would, but don't take the chance)
1 Tbsp corn syrup
pinch sea salt
1/8 tsp vanilla

Bring the cream to a simmer. (I just warmed mine.)

Put sugar in a mound in a saucepan. Pour water in pan and cover pan with lid. Turn heat to medium and just let it boil along until the bubbles just start changing to a darker color. Remove lid to pan and reduce heat somewhat. Don't touch it. Don't stir it. Just let it keep boiling until it gets to an amber color. (Note: If your oven is a wee bit un-level like mine is, turn the pot occasionally by quarter turns so that the sugar caramelizes at a fairly even rate). This method takes several minutes.

While the sugar is boiling, you might want to measure out your other ingredients and have them ready as the next step moves kind of fast.

Take amber sugar off the heat. Pour your cream in, whisking as you pour. It'll bubble up a lot. Don't worry, just keep whisking. After the cream is incorporated whisk in peanut butter, corn syrup, sea salt, and the vanilla until all is smooth. Transfer to a bowl and let it cool until thickened at room temperature, about 30 minutes. (I may have cheated on mine and not waited quite that long.)

Brownie Batter:
1 C butter, melted
3 C white sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 C cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 3.5 oz Lindt Dark Chocolate Bar with Sea Salt, broken into pieces (I subbed some dark chocolate discs and threw in a pinch of sea salt, but I wished I'd used the Lindt Bar as I think it would have had a better flavor)

Preheat oven to 350. You can line your9x13 inch pan with parchment paper, tinfoil, or just lightly spray with cooking spray.

In a bowl, stir sugar into melted butter. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated. add vanilla.

In separate bowl combine remaining dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate pieces. Fold this into the wet ingredients. Pour into prepared pan.

Drop 8 spoonfulls of peanut butter caramel on top of brownie batter. Drag a knife through the batter and the caramel to swirl. I have the swirling skills of a penguin. I don't know why. It's sort of an issue I have. Mine always comes out kind of just on top instead of swirled interestingly. It tasted good anyway, but wasn't as pretty as Shelby Mae's.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (mine took 37 minutes).

Cool completely before cutting.

Note: If you don't like peanut butter or you're allergic, I'd bet you can use 1/2 C butter and make a regular caramel to swirl in. I'm actually itching to try this myself and plan to do so next time I try brownies.


This and all the sweet recipes I managed to make this week will be posted to Sweets for a Saturday and Something Swanky


  1. You had me at peanut butter. One of the easy ways to get me to a table :-)

  2. Saving this! Caramel... Peanut Butter... Heaven! Found this through the The Secret Recipe Club blog hop :)

  3. Oh wow, peanut butter PLUS caramel in brownies! Sounds so delicious! Yum yum yum. :)

  4. Whew! You are truly an inspiration in frugality if you are able to feed a family of 6 on $6 per day! Those brownies look so good! I'm your newest follower. I look forward to hearing your frugal tips.
    PS- I host a recipe swap every Wednesday and I'd love for you to come and share something :)

  5. Love your blog! I thought I was good, feeding a family of 4 on $7/day (in my defense, we have food sensitivities and allergies here, so have to buy some specialty foods, which REALLY throws a wrench in my budgeting!). I'm following you now, and look forward to getting to know you and your blog better!

  6. Wow, your brownies have it all going on. They must have some incredible flavor.

  7. If you're new to the blog, welcome. And, for the record, we don't always hit it at $6/day either, although we try. We tend to average around $7.

  8. Peanut butter and caramel, it doesn't get any better than that! I love your blog, a family of four on 6.00 or 7.00 a day! Amazing!

  9. These brownies sound like sweet sweet heaven...yum!

  10. I am drooling just imagining how good peanut butter and caramel would be with a brownie. Delicious!

  11. So glad you liked these! I love that peanut butter caramel sauce so much that it is dangerous to have around me because I would eat it from a spoon and forget swirling in in the brownies. ;) Sorry it took me so long to get here - I've been slowly making my way through the list of blogs to visit! Time has not been my friend lately!

  12. You got assigned a great blog. Great choice with the brownies too, chocolate + caramel are my two most favorite things ever :)

  13. These look so great! I just can't imagine going wrong with that flavor combo though! I'd love for you to link up to my sweet treats party this weekend! Hope to see you there :)

  14. Peanut butter caramel? Sign me up! They look fantastic!

  15. I wish I could take more credit for these--thanks for a great recipe Shelby.

  16. Peanut butter, caramel AND brownies??!! Holy smokes! I need one right now! Sounds amazing!!!

  17. OMG! These look so amazing!!! I want a brownie right now!!!



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