Sticky PJ brownies

“I always eat so many spoonfuls of peanut butter making these that I almost always make sure I buy an extra jar”

As a kid I remember my mum making me peanut butter sandwiches for my school lunchbox, lashings of butter as a base and loads of peanut butter on top – but not crunchy, no, just smooth, Sorry! I don’t remember liking it a huge amount then, it’d stick to my teeth and it wasn’t sweet, more salty.

As my tastebuds have evolved and my diet has too, my choice to switch over to a plant based diet had me rediscover this sticky paste I always saw as a sandwich filling – and I fell in love, to the point where I can only really have any in the house when I know I’m going to be baking – it’s my cryptonite!

Which is why when I saw this recipe from my absolute fave food Vloggers Bosh! I just had to try it out.

Want to skip to the recipe?

Sweet, salty and sticky for the win!

It may sound strange to some, or not, (can’t say it’s ever something I’ve really discussed) but as a kid I used to always eat my chocolate bar first and then crisps after – which is why I know I went crazy when I discovered chocolate covered pretzels.

It’s also why I went crazy when I saw the Bosh recipe pop up. Peanut butter and jam aren’t really a solid combo in the UK, but I guess neither are chocolate and crisps but they just work. And when you combine the gooey-ness of the sticky chocolate it’s like magic for your tastebuds.

My own version of Goldilocks & the 3 bears

I’ve made these brownies plenty of times, and trust me the first batch – dry, the second – too wet and the third – just right, which is why I started to document the edits I made to the original recipe, which is where my own version comes in – you may find you might want to tweak mine too, whether to tastes or texture preferences.

I don’t know about you but I like my brownies gooey, and something I learnt while making these, is that brownies actually continue to cook when they come out of the oven, so timing is everything!

Don’t worry, I was a seriously bad baker a few years ago, you learn where your weaknesses are in the kitchen pretty quickly and timing was the first one to crop up – among messiness, poor measures, reading recipes wrong…the list goes on. I’m a perfectionist most of the time, which is why I find baking often tests me a lot. I can’t have control of everything – which is why it’s great for my anxiety.

But I’d suggest, if you’re going to give these a shot you make sure you’re around to keep popping in the kitchen and having a peek through the oven window (assuming you have one) – they don’t take long to cook, so maybe pour a glass of wine, stick on a podcast, or read a chapter of that book you’ve been meaning to pick up? (Story of my life by the way)

Can we talk about palm oil, yet?

It’s not the most gripping of subjects to speak of but it’s worth noting that this stuff is pretty damn bad for you in terms of saturated fat and is in a huge chunk of products without many of us even realising. LiveStrong explain it pretty well. Also, if you’re following a plant-based diet the question of whether palm oil is vegan isn’t a simple one to answer. While plant-based in it’s origins it has contributed to deforestation and biodiversity.

The reason I touch upon this is because as one of the key ingredients in this recipe, many brands of peanut butter actually contain it, and the ones that don’t in my eyes are really trying to capitalise on this fantastic increase in plant-based followers through their marketing and, ahem… their prices.

When walking around a local supermarket I actually found one brand of peanut butter had advertised the absence of palm oil in their product but of course that lent to an extra £2.50 being added to the price tag – but that’s another post!

Unless you have the time and extra pennies to spend making your own, which is almost always the best but not most convenient option, there are some great ones out there for peanut butter in which the ratio of peanuts is < 90%. Mother Africa peanut butter

One of my absolute greatest, and most inexpensive finds though, can be found in the World foods aisle of my local Asda or Morrisons.

For just slightly more than £1.50, Mother Africa’s Peanut Butter 1kg tub is a sweet deal, although could be savoury depending on how you look at it.

With a 99.20% peanut content I put it down as one of my cupboard staples (when I can exercise some self control).

Gimme some sugar…

Ok, so you got me, this recipe is actually fairly high in sugar content too which in high doses isn’t the best for you, but a little bit of what you like isn’t bad for you, and exercised in moderation I give myself such treats.

Peanut butter and jelly brownies

You may find you wish to substitute the sugar in this recipe for fructose, coconut sugar or even date sugar – I’m eager to try these combinations on the quest to let my body know I love it from time to time, so when I do I’ll be sure to let you know how I get on.

The Recipe

PREP TIME: 10 MINS

COOKING TIME: 45 MINS

COST: < £5

Ingredients:

  • 680g of plain flour
  • 350g of light brown sugar
  • 2 x tablespoons of 100% maple syrup
  • 90g of cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
  • ½ a teaspoon of salt
  • 300g of peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
  • 220ml of water (an extra 100ml should you prefer a wetter texture)
  • 117ml of coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract
  • 200g of dark chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons of strawberry or raspberry jam
  • 85g of frozen berries
  • A handful of broken peanuts if crunchiness is your thing

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 160°C and line a large, deep baking tray with a pinch of the coconut oil and some baking paper ensuring that it overhangs the sides. I found it a good idea to double layer (one vertical and the other horizontal)
  • Combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl – the Bosh recpe suggests a food processor but for me this left too much washing up – and mix thoroughly until well combined.
  • Melt the coconut oil until liquid, and in a separate mixing bowl combine the water, oil, vanilla maple syrup, vanilla and 3 tablespoons of the peanut butter and mix well.
  • Create a centre cavern in the flour mixture and pour in your liquid mixture being careful to mix with a wooden or plastic spoon as you’re adding it. This is best done when you add it in fragments rather than all at once  and avoids lumps. You could use a whisk, but in my experience this is a bad idea as it gets far too gloopy too quickly!
  • Break up 100 grams of the dark chocolate into chunks or squares and add into the well combined brownie mixture. Mix well.
  • Using your spoon, pour your brownie mixture into your baking tray and smooth it to it’s edges until even, it should be wobbly
  • Drop spoons of the remaining peanut butter randomly on top of the mixture
  • Do the same with your chosen jam – I found it best to drop it between my spoons of peanut butter
  • Grab a toothpick or fork and very gently create swirls to combine the peanut putter and jelly – it should look like a scrummy mess!
  • This is the time to sprinkle on your frozen berries and peanuts for the finishing touch
  • Break the remaining 100g of dark chocolate into chunks or squares and push randomly into the mix with your fingers – but not completely
  • Place the baking tray into the centre of the oven and cook for 30 minutes being mindful to peer into the oven window after half the time has passed
  • Once 30 minutes has passed, you should be smelling all kinds of wonderful smells and if you open the oven (naughty I know),  your mixture should still be slightly wobbly when moved – this is the point where I find it best to turn the baking tray around – but that’s just because I know my oven doesn’t cook very evenly
  • Leave in the oven for another 15 minutes and check – if the top is starting to look drier, it’s time to take it out – if not check in 5 minute increments – you don’t want it too browned (this means burnt and you can usually smell it) – this is the point where you may need to take it out sooner than you think!
  • Once out of the oven, place on a cooling rack – the middle should be soft and still wobbly
  • After 5 minutes use the overhang of the baking paper to remove the brownie out of the tray and onto a cutting board – this will ensure that it doesn’t continue to over cook – seek assistance if you’re worried about it breaking – trust me on this one, I’ve had a few crumble in the middle.
  • Serve warm with an ice cream of your choice (vanilla usually goes down well) as a delicious dessert or leave to cool to enjoy as a snack

If you’ve made your own mods to the original Bosh recipe, or have tried this one and have some hints, tips or comments, get in touch.