The ultimate brownie. 

I’ve had my fair share of brownies over time. There have been fudgy, cakey, black bean, pumpkin swirl, homemade, and boxed. I’ve enjoyed a number of them and will likely continue experimenting with brownies over time. However, moving forward, it’ll be very difficult to match up to these magnificent ones I recently came across by Ashley Rodriguez of Not Without Salt. While there are a great deal of brownie recipes floating around the Internet, in cookbooks, and passed down among generations, I think this particular one is worth sharing, and I have received many requests to do so. I do not think there can be too many brownie recipes. I feel like brownies are a childhood staple and great addition to any potluck or outing. They travel well and are pretty easy to prepare without butchering the recipe.  I always love a good brownie, especially with a scoop of high quality vanilla ice cream on the side.

While this recipe is absolutely delicious as written, I’ve made some modifications to make it gluten-free and a bit more fudgy. I also adjusted  the frosting a bit to match my desired taste. I’ve made this recipe several times in the last few weeks and plan to utilize it frequently this summer for get-togethers with friends and family.

Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting – adapted from Date Night In: More than 120 Recipes to Nourish Your Relationship

Makes 12 to 15 brownies.

3/4 cup unsalted butter, plus more for the pan (or Earth Balance to make vegan)
7 oz unsweetened chocolate bar, broken into small pieces
1 1/2 cups organic cane sugar
1 tbsp organic vanilla extract
2 eggs
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
1/2 cup gluten-free flour blend (I used Trader Joes brand)

6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature (again, Earth Balance works here)
1/3-1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp flaky sea salt

Heat oven to 325°. Line an 8×8 square baking pan with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper with butter.

Heat a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the butter (or Earth Balance). Let the butter melt and come to a boil. Watch carefully for 3-5 minutes, swirling the pot every few moments to ensure the butter does not burn. Continue boiling until the solid bits on the butter start to turn a golden brown and the butter emits a nutty smell. Take the butter off the heat at this time and pour into a large mixing bowl.

Add the chocolate to the brown butter. Let the mixture sit for a minute and then whisk together. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla while the butter is still warm, stirring until combined. Stir in the eggs, one at a time, and then the salt. Sift the cocoa powder and flour together (I often just whisk it together to get out the clumps), and then add to the batter. Fold in with a rubber spatula until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. With 2 eggs, I’ve found the batter is still a bit jiggly when it’s done and leaves some residue on the toothpick. This is fine – it’ll come together after it sits for a little while. If preparing for the day of, I put the brownies into the refrigerator to cool more quickly. If preparing a day in advance, let the brownies cool to room temperature overnight.

To make the frosting, put the butter (or Earth Balance), peanut butter, and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip together on the medium setting until you have a light and fluffy frosting. This can be done a day ahead of time.

Frost the cooled brownies and add 1 teaspoon or so of the flaky salt on top. Cut and serve with a small scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream on the side, if desired. I’ve also cut the brownies up into bit sized pieces for a party, which went over well. Lastly, I’d like to note if the brownies are difficult to cut, put them in the refrigerator for a bit which helps get a cleaner cut.

My only regret is not taking enough photos of these beauties…

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