the chocolate peanut butter gallery

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Being Thankful

November 29, 2008

Thank You

It’s a pretty obvious fact that our country is a bit unstable at the moment. But letting the sinking economy affect your holiday cheer isn’t going to do any good.

Instead, we should all be thankful that even though there are so many awful things going on in the world, many of us including myself are privileged to partake in a delicious and plentiful meal with the families we love. So I hope everyone took a breather from the argument over whether or not sweet potatoes are meant to have marshmallows and thought about what they are thankful for. Aside from the big important things like family, health and home, I of course am thankful for dessert! Here are some of the creations that were part of our Thanksgiving spread:

First up is my standby apple pie, the continuously awesome Classic Apple Pie from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook (p. 228):

Classic Apple Pie

I’ve made this pie many times, but this is probably my prettiest one so far. I hand-cut leaves and rolled the little balls of dough for decoration. The juice managed to bubble out on top even when the crust didn’t really have any tears. I still haven’t figured out the trick to preventing that with pies, but it was delicious which is really what matters.

Martha’s crust is super buttery and I tried a new combo of apples that was real good. The filling included Jonagold, Macoun and Granny Smith. Get the recipe at Martha Stewart and don’t forget the vanilla ice cream!

Classic Apple Pie

I also whipped up a batch of these Chocolate Crinkle Cookies from Martha Stewart’s Cookies. These. Were. Awesome.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

I made them with some super awesome Askinosie Cocoa Powder and added chopped walnuts to half the batch on my Mom’s request. These taste like a soft chewy brownie on the inside (if you take them out of the oven when they’re still pretty soft to the touch) and have a sweet crunchy spotted sugar coating on the outside. It’s a great balance of textures and flavors with the bittersweet chocolate batter and very sweet sugar on the outside.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookie

I think I’ll be baking another batch of them again very soon. All four dozen are already gone and are greatly missed! Get the recipe at What Geeks Eat.

Those two recipes are great, but this blog isn’t called “The Chocolate and Apple Pie Gallery”. What would a holiday for me be without some Chocolate and Peanut Butter? I flew out to Chicago the weekend before Thanksgiving to celebrate the holiday early with Taste Tester’s family. They got a batch of Magnolia Bakery’s Chocolate Brownies with Caramel, Peanut Butter and Peanuts (More From Magnolia, p. 46).

Chocolate Brownies with Caramel Peanut Butter and Peanuts

I’m always a little afraid to use something other than my standby Brownie recipe which makes a really moist, dense brownie. However Magnolia’s book had proven it’s worth thus far and the title of this recipe is pretty hard to resist, so I went for it. Taking the risk was well rewarded - these are a keeper! And they miraculously lasted for a few days after they were baked so I’d say they’d make a perfect gift for the upcoming holidays. The adjusted recipe is below.

The real question is: could you resist being a Scrooge and eating them all yourself?

Chocolate Brownie

Before I go, one more thank you needs to be extended: Thanks of course to you readers who keep checking up on my blog even when I’m slow to write over the holidays. I hope these recipes make up for lost time and that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy!!

Chocolate Brownies with Caramel, Peanut Butter, and Peanuts
Yields 4 dozen cookies
Modified from More from Magnolia, p. 46

2-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

Caramel Filling
14 oz vanilla caramels
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup coarsely chopped lightly salted peanuts*
3/4 cup peanut butter chips

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1-1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. To make the crust: In a medium-size bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press firmly into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan layered with parchment paper. Set aside.

3. To make the caramel filling: In a medium-size saucepan over low heat, melt the caramels with the cream, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Remove from the heat and pour over the graham cracker crust quickly and evenly (it hardens fast and if you try to spread it with a spatula, you might mess up the crust. Covering the crust as you pour is much easier). Sprinkle the peanuts and peanut butter chips over the caramel. Set aside.

4. To make the brownie: In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a medium-size saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally until smooth. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large bowl and allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes. Add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla and beat well. Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour the batter over the peanuts and peanut butter chips to completely cover the caramel layer. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the pan comes out with moist crumbs attached. Do not over bake (mine took about 36 minutes).

5. Cool to room temperature, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and allow to set overnight before cutting and serving (I couldn't allow mine to set before slicing since I had to hop a plane to Chicago, which is why the edges are messy).

Chocolate Brownie

*The original recipe calls for toasted pecans.

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