So the name for these might be a little awkward. The original name was Chocolate Peanut Butter Surprise Brownies and I used the base of that recipe for these because it’s one of my favorite brownie recipes ever. You know how I love my brownies so that’s saying a lot.
But instead of peanut butter cups, I went with these cookie butter cups, another product extension I found when I was at Trader Joe’s. You’d think they’d run out of ideas of what to do with cookie butter but they keep proving me wrong. The funny part is, when I’m at Trader Joe’s, it isn’t like I go wandering the aisles looking for stuff I might like to buy. No, normally I know what I want, I have a list, I go in, grab what I need and check out. I don’t even make eye contact with people, for heaven’s sake, as I tend to shop like I’m on a mission and I’m being timed. But it’s like my eye is honed like a finely trained, eagle-eyed, well, eagle, pouncing on (cookie butter) prey, grasping it unerringly in my claws. Plus they were nestled right by the big blocks of “Pound Plus” milk chocolate I like to buy and chop into chunks for chocolate chip cookies so it isn’t like I could miss them. Once again, those Trader Joe’s people know what they’re doing.
I did pause before I put this in my basket though when I saw it was cookie butter cups covered in dark chocolate. Remember I don’t like chocolate and cookie butter together and I particularly don’t care for dark chocolate. But once those two seconds had passed, into my basket it went anyway. I immediately thought of testing these out with this brownie recipe to see if I might like cookie butter and chocolate together that way.
The original recipe for these brownies calls for aligning the candy cups in 3 rows of 4 or 4 rows of 3, it doesn’t matter. If you want to have one candy cup in the center of each piece, that actually makes for rather big pieces. I try to do at least 4 rows of 4 or, if you want decently small brownie squares just a little bigger than the candy cup, 5 x 5 works as well. The tricky part is cutting them so that each candy cup is at the center of each square. This is the stage I often mess up. Especially if I’m not doing 4 x 4 or 5 x 5 arrangements.
To increase your chances of cutting these correctly, use slightly more than half the batter as the bottom layer, arrange the candy cups evenly spaced then cover with the remaining batter. However, don’t cover it so thickly that you can’t see the indentations or “lumps” where the candy cups are. When done properly, after the brownie has baked, you should see enough of an indentation from most of the candy cups that you know exactly where to slice the brownie. If you cover them too much and the batter smooths into an even top, it isn’t the end of the world though. It just won’t be a “surprise” that there’s a candy cup inside the brownie because you’ll be able to see it from the cut edge.
As you can see, I didn’t follow my own advice in not covering the candy cups completely. Yup, messed up the cuts. Oops. I can’t say taste-wise that this experiment with the cookie butter cups was a success either, at least not to my taste buds. The brownie itself I still loved because it has the best fudgy texture and rich decadent chocolate taste. The cookie butter flavor, so beloved when I’m eating it with flavors more on the vanilla side of the spectrum, didn’t work for me in a dark chocolate brownie. Turns out I’m rather consistent that cookie butter and chocolate don’t go together for me. It’s time for them to break up. But, still, it was worth trying and I got an excuse to make one of my favorite brownies again.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
16 miniature peanut butter cups
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325˚F. Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil so that the foil extends 2 inches beyond 2 opposite sides of the pan. Lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place the butter and chocolate in the top of a double boiler over simmering water and heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and cool the chocolate mixture until tepid.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Stir until blended.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the eggs at medium speed until blended. Gradually beat in both sugars, mixing just until blended. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the chocolate mixture and vanilla extract. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until blended.
- Scrape half of the brownie batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Arrange the peanut butter cups evenly over the batter, in four rows of four cups each. Press down lightly on each cup. Scrape the remaining batter over the cups and carefully spread it into an even layer, without moving the cups. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool the brownies completely in the pan on a wire rack.
- Using the ends of the foil as handles, lift the brownies out of the pan. Cool completely before cutting into squares.