There are some days that only a concentrated dose of chocolate will fix. Ask virtually any female. It's a proven fact.
Anticipating a difficult end to the work week, my coworkers were actually dreading the arrival of Friday afternoon last week. Determined to decrease the stress level for everyone, I decided that a sweet treat was most definitely in order. Enter: these brownies. Or, shall we simply call them fudge? So incredibly rich and dense, they could easily fall into either category. And that's just fine by me. Add a middle layer of sweet peanut butter filling, and these babies are the perfect de-stresser for just about any situation.
Full disclosure: I actually wasn't crazy about this recipe at first. A little too eager to try the finished product, my still-warm-from-the-oven sample had a texture that was just too soft for my liking. But, after (im)patiently waiting for them to cool to room temperature, they finally won me over. And if my coworkers' opinions mean anything (one of them admitted to eating four), I wasn't the only one to fall under their spell. Moral of the story: these are best eaten at room temperature or colder.
Buckeye Fudge Brownies
1 1/4 cup unsalted butter (2 1/2 sticks)
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, cold
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a 9x13 inch baking dish with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
In a large bowl whisk together the peanut butter and sweetened condensed milk. Set aside.
In a second large, heatproof bowl, set over a pan of barely simmering water, combine the butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and hot enough that you want to remove your finger fairly quickly after dipping it in to test. Remove the bowl from the pan and set aside briefly until the mixture is only warm, not hot.
Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer, then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula.
Spread half of the mixture evenly in the lined pan. Top with the peanut butter mixture, distributing it evenly over the brownie layer. Top with the remaining brownie batter and spread it into a smooth surface.
Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, 30-35 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack then place the pan in the freezer until the bars are firm. (This will allow for the smoothest, cleanest lines when cutting the brownies into squares.)
Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner, and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into squares.
Brownies adapted from Smitten Kitchen; Peanut butter filling from Cookies and Cups