Intro

Cocoa brownies with salted peanut butter frosting.
In one more sleep my baby turns 5. Five. . . I don’t even know what to say. In my head I’m still a squirrley little teenager trying to figure this life out, all that it has to offer and how I’m suppose to navigate my way through. The reality is I have an almost five year old and an almost 3 year old and an almost 8 month old. And I’m almost 30 (well,10 months). I thought I would feel more qualified for this mothering position by now.
People try to prepare you for life after children. Strangers in the grocery store will urge you to cherish these days as they speed by. Parents of grown children will encourage you to lighten up. And sweet old ladies with perfectly wrinkled skin that marks the years of wisdom like the rings on a tree stump, will stop you in order to gaze into your young children’s eyes so they can, if just for a moment, be reminded of these precious days.
I try to keep that perspective. That this season of constant need and incessant screams of wants and whining is merely a phase and there will be days where I will lovingly long for the sweet snuggle of a pudgey little kidlet. I just know I will miss these days of always being needed as I help my son pack up his belongings as he prepares to start life on his own, never looking back, forgetting to call his mama…  and now I’m crying.
What I wasn’t prepared for was what my children teach me. It was my intention to mold them, instruct them and guide them but I had no idea they would be doing that very thing to me.
These lessons are akin to a dental visit. They are annoying, at times painful, marked with relentless shrills like a dental drill, uncomfortable and revealing but through the process you walk away glad you did it. You’re shinier and rid of a lot of gunk that was causing cavities and pain Sometimes you even get a little prize for all your hard work. Floss, perhaps, or maybe even a sticker.
My oldest, Baron, teaches me the most. He is the most like me of the three, so far, so he will often reveal to me the things that often drive me crazy about myself. He tends to view the world with gray goggles. Walking around his life with a chip on his shoulder and feeling as if the world is against him. He reminds me of my need to simply change my attitude which is a mantra that I repeat to him often.
But my Baron is also the sweetest little almost-five-year-old I have ever met. He still shrieks with delight at the sight of sister baby. Running to give her hugs and kisses if she even thinks to let out a less-than-happy moan. He is impossibly creative. Dreaming up new ideas, inventions and characters with the naive passion that it can be done, it will be done and we must do it right now.
Baron longs to lead. Insisting that he will be the teacher of our school and I am the one who will sit up straight and listen. He will tell me how the day will go down and passionately revolts when I remind him who is in charge. Baron is opinionated and an artist in every sense of the word. He is strong, relentless and compassionate. And just like his mama, he loves chocolate.
So Baron, I made you cocoa brownies with a salted peanut butter frosting. And yes, I will carefully scrape the frosting off because for some reason, although you love peanut butter sandwiches, you want your brownies frosting-less.
I adore you Baron and treasure each of the one thousand, eight hundred and twenty-five days I have had the pleasure of knowing you. I look forward to thousands more. Happy 5 years.
Cocoa Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting
adapted from Alice Medrich
Makes 16 brownies
Alice Medrich is pure brilliance. Her recipes have always worked for me. I only tweaked this one slightly. I decreased the amount of sugar knowing that I was going to top these rich brownies with a sweet frosting. I didn’t miss the sugar one bit.
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cold large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Prepare an 8 inch square pan by spraying with pan spray. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Spray the foil or parchment with pan spray.
Preheat your oven to 325*.
Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a heat-proof bowl and place over a large pot of simmering water. The bottom of the bowl should rest in the pot but not touch the water.
Stir occasionally. When the butter is just about melted, remove the bowl and let the residual heat continue to melt the butter. Stir until smooth. Carefully touch the cocoa mixture. It should feel warm, not hot. If hot, wait until warm to add the eggs.
Once the cocoa mixture is warm you can stir in the eggs, one at a time. Wait until each egg is completely incorporated before you add the next. Stir in the vanilla. Once the mixture looks cohesive and shiny stir in the flour. Alice says to stir 40 times after the flour has been completely incorporated. I listen to her. :)
Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes up with a few moist crumbs. This will take about 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
Once cool, frost with peanut butter frosting and sprinkle with flake salt (Maldon) or Fleur de Sel.
Peanut Butter Frosting
Dahlia Bakery, in Seattle, is the home of my favorite cookie. It’s peanut butter cookie sandwich. The center is a creamy peanut butter filling that reminds me of the peanut butter and butter sandwiches my mom used to make me. Peanut butter and butter are the perfect pair.
Lately I can’t get enough of this frosting. I’ve mixed it into ice cream and filled donuts with it. These brownies are my current favorite application.
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) softened butter
¾ cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
pinch salt – (I love the added saltiness mixed into the frosting as well as on top. For this I use kosher salt)
1 teaspoon Maldon (This is my favorite. It is a lovely flake salt with a smooth saltiness not the harshness you find if when you taste table salt straight up).
Cream the butter and the peanut butter until combined. Slowly stir in the powdered sugar until completely incorporated. Spread over cooled brownies. Sprinkle the Maldon
all over.
5685527058_8b88002e0e_b

In one more sleep my baby turns 5. Five. . . I don’t even know what to say. In my head I’m still a squirrley little teenager trying to figure this life out, all that it has to offer and how I’m suppose to navigate my way through. The reality is I have an almost five year old and an almost 3 year old and an almost 8 month old. And I’m almost 30 (well,10 months). I thought I would feel more qualified for this mothering position by now.

201235_10150116782698107_500708106_6705108_1712657_o

People try to prepare you for life after children. Strangers in the grocery store will urge you to cherish these days as they speed by. Parents of grown children will encourage you to lighten up. And sweet old ladies with perfectly wrinkled skin that marks the years of wisdom like the rings on a tree stump, will stop you in order to gaze into your young children’s eyes so they can, if just for a moment, be reminded of these precious days.

5685516588_3dfd09657c_b

I try to keep that perspective. That this season of constant need and incessant screams of wants and whining is merely a phase and there will be days where I will lovingly long for the sweet snuggle of a pudgey little kidlet. I just know I will miss these days of always being needed as I help my son pack up his belongings as he prepares to start life on his own, never looking back, forgetting to call his mama…  and now I’m crying.

18337_244476018106_500708106_3454676_3733674_n

Baron, 3 years old

What I wasn’t prepared for was what my children teach me. It was my intention to mold them, instruct them and guide them but I had no idea they would be doing that very thing to me.

5684946725_2f083122e0_b (1)

These lessons are akin to a dental visit. They are annoying, at times painful, marked with relentless shrills like a dental drill, uncomfortable and revealing but through the process you walk away glad you did it. You’re shinier and rid of a lot of gunk that was causing cavities and pain Sometimes you even get a little prize for all your hard work. Floss, perhaps, or maybe even a sticker.

67477_445984328106_500708106_5583187_6790084_n (1)

My oldest, Baron, teaches me the most. He is the most like me of the three, so far, so he will often reveal to me the things that often drive me crazy about myself. He tends to view the world with gray goggles. Walking around his life with a chip on his shoulder and feeling as if the world is against him. He reminds me of my need to simply change my attitude which is a mantra that I repeat to him often.

5684946657_969ae7d78c_b

But my Baron is also the sweetest little almost-five-year-old I have ever met. He still shrieks with delight at the sight of sister baby. Running to give her hugs and kisses if she even thinks to let out a less-than-happy moan. He is impossibly creative. Dreaming up new ideas, inventions and characters with the naive passion that it can be done, it will be done and we must do it right now.

5684946303_eb98f8bfe6_b

Baron longs to lead. Insisting that he will be the teacher of our school and I am the one who will sit up straight and listen. He will tell me how the day will go down and passionately revolts when I remind him who is in charge. Baron is opinionated and an artist in every sense of the word. He is strong, relentless and compassionate. And just like his mama, he loves chocolate.

5685516468_185f6fd21c_b

So Baron, I made you cocoa brownies with a salted peanut butter frosting. And yes, I will carefully scrape the frosting off because for some reason, although you love peanut butter sandwiches, you want your brownies frosting-less.

I adore you Baron and treasure each of the one thousand, eight hundred and twenty-five days I have had the pleasure of knowing you. I look forward to thousands more. Happy 5 years.

continue for the recipe…

Cocoa Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

adapted from Alice Medrich

Makes 16 brownies

Alice Medrich is pure brilliance. Her recipes have always worked for me. I only tweaked this one slightly. I decreased the amount of sugar knowing that I was going to top these rich brownies with a sweet frosting. I didn’t miss the sugar one bit.

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch-process)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cold large eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Prepare an 8 inch square pan by spraying with pan spray. Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides. Spray the foil or parchment with pan spray.

Preheat your oven to 325*.

Combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a heat-proof bowl and place over a large pot of simmering water. The bottom of the bowl should rest in the pot but not touch the water.

Stir occasionally. When the butter is just about melted, remove the bowl and let the residual heat continue to melt the butter. Stir until smooth. Carefully touch the cocoa mixture. It should feel warm, not hot. If hot, wait until warm to add the eggs.

Once the cocoa mixture is warm you can stir in the eggs, one at a time. Wait until each egg is completely incorporated before you add the next. Stir in the vanilla. Once the mixture looks cohesive and shiny stir in the flour. Alice says to stir 40 times after the flour has been completely incorporated. I listen to her. :)

Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes up with a few moist crumbs. This will take about 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cool, frost with peanut butter frosting and sprinkle with flake salt (Maldon) or Fleur De Sel.

5684946163_7599cc8d56_b

Peanut Butter Frosting

Dahlia Bakery, in Seattle, is the home of my favorite cookie. It’s peanut butter cookie sandwich. The center is a creamy peanut butter filling that reminds me of the peanut butter and butter sandwiches my mom used to make me. Peanut butter and butter are the perfect pair.

Lately I can’t get enough of this frosting. I’ve mixed it into ice cream and filled donuts with it. These brownies are my current favorite application.

6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) softened butter

¾ cup peanut butter

1 cup powdered sugar

pinch salt – (I love the added saltiness mixed into the frosting as well as on top. For this I use kosher salt)

1 teaspoon Maldon (This is my favorite. It is a lovely flake salt with a smooth saltiness not the harshness you find if when you taste table salt straight up).

Cream the butter and the peanut butter until combined. Slowly stir in the powdered sugar until completely incorporated. Spread over cooled brownies. Sprinkle the Maldon all over.

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92 Responses to “cocoa brownie with salted peanut butter frosting”

  1. kate

    these brownies were amazing. i really was shocked how good they were, mostly because I dont even like brownies. but i made them for our guests and i was so happy with the results. thanks!

    Reply
  2. Cheryl Keckeisen

    Brin, please send me your Email address…I bought a apron from you and want to share a picture with you

    Reply
  3. christell

    Your pictures are amazing as usual, I don’t have children yet but I’m sure that what you said is completely true. Children change our lives.

    Reply
  4. The Cilantropist

    This was a lovely post to read, and extremely touching as well as soul-baring… not to mention delicious. :) These brownies look seriously amazing, though nothing beats that adorable pouty face from your son. Too precious for words.

    Reply
  5. Chelsea

    I just made these and they are not only beautiful, but they are also the BEST brownies I have ever made!! Thanks so much for the great recipe and beautiful pictures!

    Reply
  6. SBN

    I halved this recipe and made it with a wooden spoon and a pyrex bowl. So easy and ridiculously rich; I couldn’t manage much more than a small square! I topped it with some pb frosting out my freezer.

    Reply
  7. sara

    Wow, these brownies look SO GOOD! I want to gobble one up right now. :) I love sweet + salty together, yum!

    Reply
  8. sheena

    love love love this post. it’s crazy (and terrifying) how fast it all goes by. My baby is almost four, and I’m trying to savor every moment with my “littles” while they are small. thanks for sharing:)

    I made these today (I browned the butter in the brownies). that frosting is my new favorite!

    Reply
  9. Marena

    I am participating in the Ski to Sea relay race in Bellingham this weekend. We had a team meeting at my house- I had 7 men to feed. I made these cocoa brownies, your spring greens with creme fraiche vinaigrette along with a bean bake, (a family favorite) and it was all a hit! Thank you for the delicious recipes and for introducing me to Maldon salt! :)

    Reply
  10. Meredith.

    Reading that made me cry, and I’m not even a mother. It was just really sweet.

    Reply
  11. Linda

    Your babies are so adorable. I just found your blog and I’m sure I will come back. I love the herbal remedies. I am just getting in to using essential oils for some healing of my own. Thanks.

    Reply
  12. Melissa

    Hi! I made your peanut butter frosting for my brownies last night and it was amazing! I can image it would be wonderful in all sorts of things.

    Reply
  13. Louise

    Our boys are grown-up now but your post (stumbled on today from a link on loveandoliveoil) brought back their childhoods – so clearly, so endearingly, so warm. You are a good mom — and, oh, what a cook! Memories are made of this.

    Reply
  14. 2 For 1 Pizza Co.

    I wish we lived closer to each other! No one in my fam likes cauliflower soup except me so I’d love to come over and share this soup with you and your cauliflower-loving clan!

    Reply
  15. Kiran

    Hi Ashley
    Its a great recipe. However I was wondering if It could be made egg-free like one of you chocolate cakes with sour cream frosting. If yes, what needs to be added as a replacement. Please let me know

    thank you
    Kiran

    Reply
  16. Laura

    I can wait to make them, they look delicious!
    But what I really wanted to say is that I loved the way you write about your children, it was very moving and that they are beautiful too.

    Reply
  17. Sierra

    I have made these several times and love them. I’m not a real big fan of frosting (most is just too sweet for my taste), but I can eat this frosting by the spoonful! The brownies themselves are pretty amazing too.

    I’m making a batch as we speak to take to dinner with the in-laws, hopefully they’ll love them as much as I do.

    Reply

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