It’s safe to say that Averie Sunshine loves peanut butter. She comes up with recipes for homemade peanut butter, peanut butter cookies, peanut butter cake, chocolate peanut butter, peanut butter Twix bars…you name it. She even wrote a book about it. So when she agreed to share her recipe for the best peanut butter brownies, I jumped at the chance to hear it. Here goes…

The Best Peanut Butter Brownies You’ll Ever Have
By Averie Sunshine, author of the blog Averie Cooks and the new cookbook Peanut Butter Comfort

These are the fudgiest, densest and richest brownies you’ll ever bite into, and they’re so easy to make. No mixer is required and only one bowl is needed. The edges have a bit of chewiness and the center is tender, soft, and the perfect fudgy texture for leaving teeth marks. They’re as easy as a boxed mix, but the taste infinitely better. I like to add a couple tablespoons of brewed coffee because it enhances the flavor of the chocolate, and I promise it doesn’t make the finished brownies taste like coffee.

Chocolate and peanut butter is one of the best flavor combinations on earth. I never tire of it. The peanut butter buttercream on these brownies takes an already good thing and makes it even better—it’s sweet, the way all frosting should be, but the natural saltiness of the peanut butter cuts some of the sweetness. It’s the perfect pairing for an intensely chocolate-y brownie that’s all about fudginess, with zero cakiness. Sprinkles are optional, but not—not for me, anyway (I use Trader Joe’s cocoa beads).

Recipe: Peanut Butter Brownies
Makes one 9-by-9-inch pan, or 16 generous squares

You’ll need:

6 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate or dark chocolate, coarsely chopped (such as Baker’s brand semi-sweet chocolate—I use a 72% Pound Plus Bar from Trader Joe’s)

3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp. espresso or brewed coffee, any temperature; optional but recommended
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt to taste, optional

For the peanut butter buttercream:
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I recommend Jif or Skippy—not a fancy, high-end or natural peanut butter, since they separate, and your frosting results could be compromised)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Pinch of salt to taste, optional
Sprinkles, optional

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-by-9-inch pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray; set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl, add the butter and chocolate and heat on high power to melt, about 60 to 90 seconds. Stop to stir, and heat in 10-second bursts until the mixture has melted and can be stirred smooth. Add the sugars and whisk to combine; batter will seem granular. Add the coffee (if using) and vanilla, and whisk to incorporate. Add the eggs and whisk vigorously to combine. Then, add the flour and optional salt, stirring until just incorporated; don’t overmix. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about 25 to 35 minutes, or until center is just set and not jiggly, and edges have pulled away slightly from sides of pan. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out mostly clean. (My perfect baking time is about 28 minutes based on my oven and the dry climate I live in.) Keep these gooey and don’t overbake; the brownies will continue to firm up as they cool. Allow to cool for at least 1 hour before frosting them, or before slicing and serving.

For the peanut butter buttercream:
Combine peanut butter and butter in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed to soften and blend, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, and optional salt (which cuts some of the sweetness), and beat to incorporate until frosting is smooth and fluffy. Add more confectioner’s sugar based on desired thickness. (I use 2 cups so frosting is thicker and more paste-like.) Frost the brownies, add optional sprinkles, slice, and serve.

NOTE: Brownies may be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for a few hours (or longer, depending on your comfort level with buttercream frosting at room temp), but I prefer them chilled and like to store them in the refrigerator (brownies will keep for up to 5 days refrigerated in an airtight container). I’ve also successfully made them, frosted them, frozen them, and thawed them, up to 3 months later.

DELICIOUS! Thank you so much, Averie!

P.S. More best recipes, including salted caramel brownies and chocolate chip cookies. Plus, 11 Nutella recipes!

(Photos and recipe by Averie Sunshine of Averie Cooks. Thanks to Shoko for helping with this series.)