There's A Reason Peanut Butter Is The Go-To Brownie Addition

Chocolate and peanut butter is one of the most iconic dessert duos, inspiring the likes of peanut butter patty Girl Scout cookies, Reese's peanut butter cups, Butterfingers, and countless homemade bars, cakes, pies, and cookies. It's no surprise, then, that peanut butter is a go-to add-in for brownies.

Peanut butter is thick and creamy with a nice balance of sweet and savory while brownies are ultra-rich with slightly bitter notes from the chocolate and a fudgy, chewy texture. The reason the two go together so well is because they're equally robust, making for a well-balanced texture and flavor complement. Peanut butter is thick enough to hold its shape in brownie batter, but it's also malleable enough for you to swirl or distribute it evenly throughout the batter.

You can use all-natural peanut butter or sweetened, no-stir peanut butter in brownie batter, depending on your taste preferences. If you like the classic sweet, fudginess of a brownie, go for a smooth, sweet peanut butter like Jiff or Skippy that will melt and create a beautiful marble. If you want a more pronounced and sophisticated flavor and texture contrast, a pasty, savory, chunky all-natural peanut butter is ideal. Bits of whole peanuts in chunky peanut butter, whether all-natural or not, will break up the gooey, fudginess of brownies with a satisfying crunch.

Ways to add peanut butter to brownies

Peanut butter takes on different forms and lends varying degrees of contrast depending on how you add it to brownie batter. The most visually appealing way to incorporate peanut butter into brownie batter is marbling. To create that beautiful peanut butter swirl, you'll need to heat peanut butter to thin it out so that it's easier to spread over the batter. Once you've heated peanut butter in the microwave in five to 10-second increments until it's ultra soft, then you can add half-tablespoon mounds to the top of your batter. Taking a knife or toothpick, run the tip through the dollops of peanut butter to create those swirly tails. While this is a visually appealing and delicious method, it's a more subtle flavor and texture contrast.

If you want a more intense result, you can use a piping method or drop more solid dollops of peanut butter into the batter. For this method, use room-temperature peanut butter that'll hold its shape and sink into the batter. You can add room-temperature peanut butter to a piping bag or ziplock bag with a corner cut off to create chunks spaced evenly over the brownie tin.

Another more complicated method is making peanut butter-stuffed brownies by melting peanut butter, molding it to fit the brownie tin, then freezing it. Then, place it over half the brownie batter, pour the other half of the batter over top, and bake.