We’re friends, right? Good, because I need to share a secret. My famous brownies, the ones friends go wild for, the ones that are requested at parties, the ones that cause eyes to roll back in peoples’ heads…are from a mix. Can we still be friends? They’re just so perfect. I use a very specific mix- Ghiradelli Double Chocolate- and they are impeccable every. single. time. I just can’t see the point in spending the extra time and energy to make brownies from scratch. Don’t get me wrong, I have tried many scratch-made brownie recipes and while some are really, really good, they’re still being measured against my (brownie) gold standard. And frankly, who among us can’t use a reliable shortcut?
The only shortcoming to my tried-and-true brownie solution is that there is not a whole lot of variation. And, for someone who loves to cook and bake, it can feel like kind of a cop-out to serve box-mix brownies with no further embellishment. At the same time, if I’m making box-mix brownies instead of a complicated dessert, I do not want to get out the mixer and I do NOT want to wash a thousand dishes. This recipe strikes a perfect balance. I get to take credit for a spectacular dessert and a doctored up brownie mix does all the work. Two bowls and a baking dish are all it takes. Yes, please.
When I started testing this recipe, I made a traditional peanut butter cookie dough and pressed it into the top of the prepared brownie mix. But by the time the brownies were cooked through the peanut butter cookie part was dry and crumbly. Plus, in order to cream together peanut butter, butter, sugar, flour, etc., I really needed to use my stand mixer. And at that point I’d may as well make something way more high maintenance. I almost gave up on the idea. But then I remembered my Ohio roots and thought…buckeyes! Not OSU, not the tree nut, but the cookie! The center of a buckeye cookie is nothing more than powdered sugar and peanut butter. Crazy delicious and totally low maintenance. I warmed the peanut butter in the microwave for a quick 30 seconds to make sure the powdered sugar would incorporate with no problems. Bingo! The brownies are chocolaty, chewy and decadent and the peanut butter cookie portion is soft, sweet and peanut buttery. Keep a box of brownie mix and jar of peanut butter in the pantry and you’ve always got a show stopping dessert on hand. #winning!
Peanut Butter Cookie Brownies
- Brownie mix sufficient to make a 9×13 pan of brownies (I use Ghiradelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix, which requires 2 boxes to fill a 9×13 pan. Some other brands will make a 9×13 pan with one box.)
- 1 cup smooth peanut butter
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
Prepare a 9×13 baking dish by spraying with baking spray. Preheat oven to temperature specified by directions on box. Prepare brownies per directions on box and transfer batter to pan.
Heat peanut butter in medium bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Add powdered sugar to peanut butter and mix until thoroughly combined. Using your hands, place dollops of peanut butter mixture throughout brownie batter, pressing slightly so that peanut butter sinks into brownie batter. Bake brownies per directions on box. Once done, allow to cool before cutting into squares.
Makes about 24 brownies