Nigella’s Cream Cheese Brownies

I love reading Nigella Lawson’s cookbooks. Yes, I said “reading” – for whatever reason her writing just delights me and I can curl up with the cookbooks quite happily and slip into a contented state.

I just had never bothered making any of her recipes before, but finally decided that I had to give some a try. Brownies are a real favorite of mine and I’m always on the hunt for another great brownie recipe, so I thought I’d try with that. She had a few options, but I settled on the cream cheese brownies – the sliced layer of cream cheese in the middle of the brownie won me over.

Unfortunately the brownies themselves didn’t do much for me. Dense and somewhat greasy, the cream cheese layer didn’t provide the promised contrast and instead had an unpleasant rubbery texture to go along with its disagreeable tang. Perhaps the light cream cheese I used wasn’t a good choice, but it couldn’t have affected the brownie layer itself which still suffered from the already mentioned density and greasiness.

Sorry Nigella, I still love you and will try another recipe but so far I’m not a fan of the recipes themselves.

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Peanut Butter Brownies

I don’t know where I found this recipe. I’ve got it written out so I obviously copied it from somewhere or someone, but the exact origin is shrouded in mystery. Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it’s forgotten in the dusty corners of my brain at the very least.

What I do know is that I did modify it somewhat from what I’d written. The original recipe didn’t call for any chocolate so I added the chocolate topping part. I mean, what goes better with peanut butter than chocolate?

5 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup peanut butter
12-ounce bag chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 8×8-inch baking pan.

In a 3-quart pan over low heat, heat butter until melted. Remove from heat and stir in sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour, baking powder, and peanut butter until smoothly blended.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan.

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Bake until edges set and brownies are slightly darker, around 30-35 minutes.

Immediately after removing pan from oven, sprinkle entire bag of chocolate chips evenly over the top of brownies.

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Allow a few minutes for the chocolate to begin melting, then spread chocolate smoothly over the top.

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Allow to cool, cut into squares and enjoy with a big glass of milk. Or, if you’re like me, wait until it’s no longer scorching, cut out a single piece, and enjoy it as soon as possible.

Real Simple Brownies

Real Simple as in the name of the magazine where the recipe was published, as well as how the brownies are to make.

1 stick unsalted butter
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or substitute 3/4 c. cocoa, 1/4 c. oil and 1/4 c. sugar)
2 lg. eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. flour
4 lg. peanut butter cups, cut into pieces

Heat oven to 400F. Grease an 8×8 baking pan.

Melt butter and chocolate. Stir all ingredients together except peanut butter cups. Fold peanut butter cups in last.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake about 35 minutes.

The verdict?
I thought they were very disappointing. They were easy, but not tasty enough to justify the calories. And I had been so convinced that I’d love them (chocolate & peanut butter, how could I not?) that I doubled the recipe. Unfortunate that, from my perspective.

What else could I do with a bunch of brownies that I didn’t really care for other than give them to those who would appreciate them? Of course, I’m talking about my coworkers. I brought in a container of brownies and they were gone in no time. One coworker in particular even stopped by my desk to rave about the brownies, so perhaps my standards are too high.

They were kinda pretty though, even if the top is slightly cracked from me poking at it.

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