I am not a very patient person, and it's come back to bite me more than a few times lately. When a recipe tells you to let something "cool completely," you probably shouldn't view it as an optional suggestion, but that's exactly what I've done on not one or two occasions, but three or four (or more)... You'd think I might have learned by now, but you'd be wrong :) When I see a pan of brownies on the counter, waiting 2+ hours to sample one is just plain torture. So, yes, I cut into these before they were completely cool, and as a result, the edges are kind of jagged and nowhere near as neat as the perfectionist in me would like them to be. You can avoid the same fate if you have more patience than me, but I'll warn you now - it's not easy when the smell of chocolate, peanut butter and toasted marshmallows is wafting through your kitchen! The good news is that regardless of how your brownies look, they'll still taste pretty fantastic.
This batch of brownies resulted from my inability to make a decision about whether I wanted s'mores or something with peanut butter. I realized I didn't have to choose, I could have both! What I came up with satisfied all of my cravings and was probably better than either variation alone would have been. At the base of the brownies is a graham cracker crust. The crust is topped with a rich chocolate brownie, which was dolloped and swirled with lots of peanut butter before baking. When the brownies emerge from the oven, they're sprinkled with a layer of mini marshmallows that are then toasted to golden perfection (or burnt, if you get a little overzealous with the kitchen torch, as I did). They're gooey and rich, but not so rich I wasn't tempted to go back for seconds. I sent them to the office with Shane to save myself the trouble of trying to resist. If you've ever swapped peanut butter cups for the chocolate bar in your campfire s'mores, these brownies will be right up your alley :)
Peanut Butter S'mores Brownies
adapted from The Cook's Country Cookbook
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 6 whole graham crackers)
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural)
2 cups mini marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on opposing sides so you can lift the brownies out afterward.
To make the crust: Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl - stir with a fork to combine. Drizzle the melted butter over the top, then mix until all of the crumbs are evenly moistened. Transfer to the prepared pan and use your fingertips to press the crumbs into an even layer over the bottom of the pan (it will be a fairly thin layer). Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until firm and golden brown. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let the crust cool as you prepare the brownie batter.
To make the brownies: Add the butter and chocolate to a heatproof bowl. Microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring in between each, until both the chocolate and butter are completely melted, and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. In a second medium bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla extract until combined. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the sugar/eggs, and whisk to combine. Use a rubber spatula to fold the flour mixture into the batter, mixing only until the flour is just incorporated.
Transfer the batter to the baking pan and gently spread into an even layer on top of the graham cracker crust. Drop small dollops of the peanut butter over the batter. Carefully use the tip of a knife to swirl the peanut butter and brownie batter together - you don't want to go too deep with the knife or you'll disturb the crust. Bake for 22-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Remove the pan to a wire rack and set the oven to broil.
Top the brownies with the mini marshmallows. Return them to the oven and broil just until the marshmallows have puffed and browned slightly, about 1-2 minutes. (You could also do this with your kitchen torch if you prefer.) Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the brownies cool completely, at least 2 hours.
Use the foil handles to lift the brownies out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into squares for serving - you can spray your knife with nonstick cooking spray to keep the marshmallows from sticking to it.