When did I start baking? I can trace it back to my junior year of college.
I’ll get into why in a minute, but I was pretty much hooked from the start. What could be more amazing than dreaming of a dessert and then creating it? Sure, back then I needed recipes (I was very reliant on them), but it was still a lot of fun to cook in my crappy dorm kitchen.
These brownies are the first ones I ever baked from scratch, and the first baked good I ever added my own spin to. I used to call them “candy bar brownies” because they are very much like that. Rich, fudgy brownies are filled with peanut butter and milk chocolate chips, with a thick layer of the same on top. They’re crazy addictive!
When I was in college, I had a boyfriend who was sort of local to the area. He’d invite me to his mom’s house on weekends, and I always wanted to bring a hostess gift of some kind. The problem? I didn’t have much money, and whatever money I did have I would spend on veggie burgers to make it through the week.
That’s when I started learning how to bake. I went to the college bookstore and bought a Pillsbury baking book (still one of my favorites) in the reduced-price bin. If I couldn’t bring expensive chocolates or bottles of wine (um, wasn’t 21 yet) as a present, I could at least bring baked goods.
At first, it was something of a struggle. I had no mixer, didn’t know what any of the directions meant (creaming? straining? whaaat?), and didn’t own more than one or two pans. Luckily, these brownies fit into the one kind of pan I did have: the ever-useful 9 x 13.
One day, I was in the baking aisle at the only grocery store I could walk to, and I found a box of Baker’s unsweetened chocolate. On the back was a recipe for one-bowl brownies, and there was no mixer needed. I could just melt the butter and chocolate in a microwave, mix stuff together, and be done with it. Instantly, that became my go-to brownie recipe of the 90s.
When Reese’s peanut butter chips burst onto the baking scene, I found them at the grocery store, too. They got a lot of use in my kitchen then, and they still do. I think they always will!
These brownies are full of both milk chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. When the brownies come out of the oven, I sprinkle the same mixture over the top, let it melt, and spread the chocolate over the surface. When it hardens, it’s like a brownie and candy bar in one!
I might not be in college anymore (not by a long shot), but I can still enjoy these brownies to the utmost. I hope you do, too!
3/4 cup butter
4 squares unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup peanut butter chips, divided
1 cup milk chocolate chips, divided
- Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 9 x 13 pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave for one minute. Stir, and then heat in 30-second intervals (stirring each time) until melted and combined.
- Add the sugar and mix well. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Finally, add the flour and mix until just combined. Fold in 1/2 cup each of the peanut butter and milk chocolate chips.
- Spread in the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, turn it off, and sprinkle on the other 1/2 cup of both the peanut butter and milk chocolate chips.
- Return the pan to the oven for 2 minutes. Take it out and use a knife to spread the melted peanut butter and chocolate chips together in a vague marbled pattern.
- Cool completely until the chocolate is set, about 2 hours. Cut into squares and store in an airtight container.