In spite of V-Day and all the baking opportunities it brings, I was too busy making cake for the many non-Valentines-related baking opportunities this week. So today’s Decadent Dessert actually dates back a few weeks – when it still felt like summer in Christchurch!
I seem to be making a habit of mutilating recipe names for my own purposes.
The victim of this post is CenterCutCook’s Peanut Butter Brownie Dream. Being a sucker for anything to do with brownie and peanut butter (separate AND combined!), I was doubly sucked in by this treat. And I think I spent five minutes looking at that fluffy-yet-decadent peanut butter mousse, trying to work out if I would ever – in my wildest dreams – be able to replicate it. If ever there was an appropriate time to add the word ‘loaded’ to something, surely this baby is deserving…
By the time I was looking at the ingredients list, there was no turning back. But a disappointment awaited me – in the form of Cool Whip. ‘What on earth is that?!’ I (and any other Kiwi readers) thought. Well, I’m still not entirely sure. Some sort of stabilised cream, ‘loaded’ with corn syrup? I was downcast and hopeless, thinking this dessert and I could never be together in the absence of this magical Cool Whip.
But where there’s a will there’s a… (Cool) Whip? Anyhow, I found that others in the world of blogging have needed to find a replacement for Cool Whip also. The most helpful recipes I found used stabilised cream in place of Cool Whip for desserts like this one.
|Home-made Cool Whip gives the topping dizzying height and delicious fluffiness|
Taking multi-step a bit too far? Maybe, but I believe it’s worth it for the unique texture and firmness of that dreamy topping, loaded onto delectable brownie. If it feel like too many steps then you could use a boxed brownie or cake mix for the base instead. Just remember that decadence often benefits from a little more time… hopefully this series of multi-stage recipes convinces you (if you aren’t already) that time is a worthwhile investment when baking! And time does not mean complicated, as this recipe is not hard to follow so don’t be deceived by the look of the instructions – you can do this!!!
Here are the components and assembly details for making this masterpiece yourself. The brownie base and topping/assemblage recipes are slightly adapted from CenterCutCook – you can check out other great recipe ideas by multi-talented blogger Ashley here.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownie Base
Recipe adapted from CenterCutCook.
1/3 cup good quality dark cocoa powder
1/2 cup boiling water
60 g dark chocolate, finely chopped (if you are using a regular cocoa powder you could use milk chocolate instead – make sure it’s chopped really small because it will need to melt when mixed with the boiling water)
4 tablespoons (approx. 30 g) unsalted butter, melted (heat the butter, chopped in a heat-proof bowl and covered, for 1 minute in the microwave)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 & 1/2 cups sugar
1 & 3/4 cups plain flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
80 g chocolate chips
80 g peanut butter candy melts, roughly chopped (Wilton makes them and in NZ you can get them from some Living & Giving stores or online at Sweet Pea Parties and Cake & Kitchen). If you can’t/won’t get these melts, just use more chocolate chips or any peanut butter sweets that you can find, like M&Ms or Reeses Pieces).
In a large bowl, combine the boiling water and the cocoa powder. Use a whisk to stir the mixture until the cocoa powder is dissolved. Add in the finely chopped chocolate, and whisk until all of the chocolate is melted (you may need to cover and leave the mixture for a few minutes to help the chocolate melt – but don’t worry if not all the chocolate melts, since there will be choc chips also going into it!). Stir oil and melted butter into the chocolate mixture.
Place eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla in a small bowl and whisk together for a few seconds to break up the yolks. Whisk the egg and vanilla mixture into the chocolate mixture. Stir in sugar, then sieve in the flour and add the salt. Stir until all ingredients are combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and roughly chopped peanut butter melts, if using.
|Any other peanut butter nutters out there?! 😉|
Scrape the batter into the lined baking pan. Gently tap the full pan on the bench top a couple of times to make sure the brownie is spread evenly in the pan.
Bake on the bottom rack of the oven until a toothpick inserted into the brownie pulls out moist crumbs, not quite clean, which should take around 30 minutes depending on your oven. Remove the brownie from the oven and transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool until pan is ok to touch without burning yourself (an hour or so). Lift brownie out of the pan and cool on wire rack for another hour, at room temperature or in refrigerator.
I really like this brownie recipe for several reasons. Because of the seriously dairy-in-ated topping the loaded brownie must be kept in the fridge. This brownie is a good density without too much butter content, which means that it doesn’t solidify to rock-solid in the fridge. Also, it leaves you with leftover egg whites, which are always useful if you’re stockpiling meringue buttercream icing in your freezer for your next caking occasion…!
Peanut Butter Dream Topping
Recipe adapted from CenterCutCook.
1 cup peanut butter
250 g package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1 x 8 ounce tub Cool Whip, or 250 g home-made Cool Whip (recipe follows).
In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl if using a hand mixer, place the softened cream cheese and beat until light and fluffy. Add in peanut butter and mix at medium speed for a minute to combine. Slowly add in the icing sugar on low speed – mixture will be very thick. Beat in the Cool Whip at low speed until the filling is light and fluffy again.
|Final consistency of peanut butter topping|
Refrigerate topping until needed.
Or just eat it now…on its own!
Home-made Cool Whip
Recipe adapted from Something Swanky. Makes enough for one quantity of Peanut Butter Dream Topping plus a little left over which could be frozen or served alongside the loaded brownie.
30 mL (2 tablespoons) cold water
1/2 teaspoon unflavoured gelatine
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
220 mL whipping cream
1 & 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Pour the water into a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatine over the water. Let it sit for a couple of minutes then place the pan over medium-low heat and stir until gelatine dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Place one tablespoon of the whipping cream and the cream of tartar in a small zip-lock bag. Seal the bag and shake it until cream of tartar has dissolved completely and there are no lumps. If there are lumps, use your fingers to work them out.
Pour the cream of tartar mixture into a large bowl (the bowl of your mixer if using a stand mixer) along with the rest of the whipping cream and the sugar. Beat with a hand beater or the whisk attachment on a stand mixer on medium speed for about two minutes. Once the cream mixture begins to slightly thicken, slowly pour in the cooled gelatine mixture while continually mixing. Add the vanilla. Continue to mix until the cream is thick and smooth.
|Home-made ‘cool whip’ a.k.a. stabilised cream|
If desired, use store-bought chocolate sauce or use the following instructions:
Combine equal cup quantities of finely chopped chocolate and simmering hot cream (half a cup of each should be sufficient). Cover for a couple of minutes and stir to combine. Leave to cool a bit before using on loaded brownie so as not to melt the topping.
Spread the peanut butter topping over the cooled brownie layer and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Just before serving, cut the dessert into small pieces and drizzle with chocolate topping. Store leftovers (if there are any!) covered tightly in the refrigerator.