Monday, March 9, 2015

Healthier Dark Chocolate Brownies-Peanut Butter & Co. #MysteryIngredient Challenge

Healthier Dark Chocolate Brownies
Did you know that March in National Peanut Month? Well-IT IS! To celebrate, Peanut Butter & Co. wanted to showcase the versatility of peanut butter by providing a mystery ingredient {to those of us who accepted the challenge} to be paired with peanut butter in a recipe. ((And, also to celebrate, we're having a PB & Co giveaway! Scroll past the recipe to find out how to enter))

My mystery ingredient? Espresso powder.
Healthier Dark Chocolate Brownies
Truthfully, I'm not a fan of coffee. I don't like the flavor (although I ADORE the scent). However I have heard multiple times how adding coffee/espresso to certain chocolate desserts just intensifies the chocolate flavor. LOVE chocolate. The more deep, dark, and intense the chocolate flavor the better! So I knew that I would be pairing the espresso with my favorite PB & Co peanut butter: Dark Chocolate Dreams.
Healthier Dark Chocolate Brownies
In case you haven't read any of my previous posts about Peanut Butter & Co, here's why I love them (aside from the sole fact that they make a dark chocolate peanut butter...which is pretty epic on its own): their peanut butters are natural (hooray-a short and pronounceable ingredient list) and no-stir and they contain no cholesterol, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, or high fructose corn syrup (and they're also certified gluten-free, vegan, and kosher!) If I'm not making homemade nut butters, PB & Co is pretty much the only peanut butter brand I use.
Healthier Dark Chocolate Brownies
Back to these brownies. I knew I wanted to use the espresso to really amp up the chocolate flavor of whatever I would make, and that Dark Chocolate Dreams would help me do that. I'm also still trying to make healthier treats since I'm pre-wedding. So I decided to adapt a recipe that I found for whole wheat brownies (which already called for instant espresso) and replace ALL the butter in said recipe with the Dark Chocolate Dreams. Oh yeah. I also significantly decreased the amount of flour (the peanut butter is much thicker than regular butter, so this worked out nicely) and slightly decreased the sugar and...well...I was pretty nervous about how they would turn out.

But omigosh these brownies came out PERFECTLY! Even Michael (Mr."I don't like when you healthify my desserts I just want brownies that taste like my mom's") adored them-especially the texture! They're dense but feel like just a classic, comforting brownie. And, as desired, the chocolate really shines. So much so that you can actually barely taste the peanut butter (it's just a little hint of that tasty peanutty specialness). The espresso really does add some smoky nuance and just lets you taste the chocolate to its fullest potential. Dark chocolate chips are studded throughout and help add to the experience even more.

To sum up: this challenge was a success! The brownies are soft, gooey, chewy, and intensely chocolatey.

And they happen to also be low-fat, whole grain, and dairy-free ((I mean...aside from the choc chips))

*happy dance*

Healthier Dark Chocolate Brownies

Author: Kayle, "The Cooking Actress"

Healthier Dark Chocolate Brownies
Makes approx. 2 dozen brownies.
  • 1 cup Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter (or any chocolate peanut butter)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups dark brown sugar (light brown sugar is fine, too)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. espresso powder (also called instant espresso coffee)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups dark (or semi-sweet) chocolate chips
  • Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray a 9"x13" pan with nonstick cooking spray and line the pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil leaving an overhang on opposing sides for easy removal. Spray the parchment paper or foil with more cooking spray.
  • Mix together the peanut butter and sugar in a small saucepan and place over medium heat on your stovetop, stirring as it heats and combines thoroughly-the sugar should be mostly dissolved (but do not let it burn!). Pour into a large, heatproof, bowl.
  • Add cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, espresso, and vanilla extract. Stir until combined.
  • Stir in the eggs, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
  • Mix in the flour and then the chocolate chips.
  • Transfer to prepared pan. Bake 28-30 minutes, until the edges are set and a toothpick inserted into the center reveals wet crumbs (not raw batter).
  • Move to a wire rack and cool completely. Once cooled, cut into even squares and serve! Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Healthier Dark Chocolate Brownies


A winner has been chosen-thank you all for entering!

One Cooking Actress reader will win 2 (16 oz.) jars of whatever variety of Peanut Butter & Co. peanut butter that you wish! You can have 2 jars of the same variety or 2 different flavors. Up to you!

Giveaway closes March 15, 2015, 11:59PM EST.  After the contest is over, I will send the winner an email (so please make sure you provide an email address or some other way to get in touch with you), and get you your prize package. The winner will have 3 days to respond or another winner will be chosen, all prizes will be awarded. The winner will be chosen via a random number generator. Open to U.S. residents over the age of 18. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.

Leave a comment telling me what flavor(s) of peanut butter you will choose if you win? OR what would you have made with the mystery ingredient of espresso?

Additional (optional) entries: (you will receive one additional entry for each of the following--so if you leave a comment for all of them, you can have a total of up to 9 entries/chances to win!) MAKE SURE TO LEAVE A SEPARATE COMMENT FOR EACH ENTRY-these entries are optional, not required.
**If you already like/follow any of these, it still counts. Just let me know you already follow each in separate comments**

Disclaimer: Peanut Butter & Co. provided me with a some peanut butter (and instant espresso) to facilitate my participation in this challenge. They are also providing the products to be won for this giveaway, and I was under no obligation to review if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or host a product giveaway in return for the free product. My opinions, as always, are all my own. We are not liable for technical failures or typographical errors, or resolving identity disputes related to the winner.VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. 
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