Guys, I promise that I’ll stop talking about the bar exam soon. But for now, hear me out on one more thing. During my month of bar leave, I spent a lot of time studying at cafes so that I wouldn’t go crazy cooped up in my apartment, and so that I could have a tiny bit of human interaction even if it was just in the form of ordering a latte. With my laptop in front of me and my bright orange Barbri books spread out on the table, I felt a lot less cool than the aspiring screenwriters around me, but at least I got to eavesdrop on their conversations.
One of my regular haunts was the Literati Cafe, with which I have a love-hate relationship. I hate them because they turn off the free wi-fi during busy hours to encourage table turnover, which is annoying and which kind of goes against their stated purpose of “nourish[ing] the bodies, minds, and spirits of creative writers, artists and thinkers.” But I love them because they make excellent lattes, a solid tuna melt, and most importantly, delicious peanut butter blondies.
Usually I’d tell myself that I would only get a latte to help me power through whatever horrendous outline or practice essay I was in the middle of, but inevitably I would almost always be up at the counter saying, “A large nonfat latte, please…and a peanut butter blondie.” You see, these little bars are just too good to resist. They’re comprised of a peanut butter blondie base studded with chopped peanuts and chocolate chips, topped with a slightly gooey layer of chocolate ganache sprinkled with peanut butter chips. Seriously, can you blame me for succumbing to their power?
I knew that once the exam was over, I’d be going to Literati a lot less frequently. Therefore, I also knew that I had to find a way to make the peanut butter blondies myself. Thankfully, I remembered that Smitten Kitchen had a recipe in the archives for peanut butter brownies that were really more like a blondie. The recipe even called for a layer of chocolate ganache on top. So with a bit of tweaking, I was able to recreate the sinfully rich little bars that kept me going during the month of February. Which is not to say, however, that I didn’t stop by Literati before writing this post just to make sure that my homemade version tasted like the original. It’s all in the name of quality control, you know?
Peanut Butter Blondies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
As I mentioned, Literati’s peanut butter blondies contain chopped peanuts. I omitted them because I usually don’t care for nuts in my desserts, but if you are so inclined you could add 1 cup of unsalted peanuts (chopped roughly into halves) into the batter at the same time as the chocolate chips.
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter (don’t use all-natural peanut butter)
2 large eggs plus 1 large yolk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (9 ounces)
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
Position rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 13- by 9- by 2-inch baking pan, then line bottom of pan with parchment paper and butter parchment.
Beat together butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until mixture is light and fluffy, then add peanut butter and beat until incorporated. Beat in whole eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low, then mix in flour until just combined.
Mix in chocolate chips.
Spread batter in baking pan, smoothing top. (The batter will be very thick – use a spatula or knife to help with this.)
Bake until brownies are deep golden, puffed on top and a toothpick inserted in center come out with some crumbs adhering to it, 40 to 45 minutes.
Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 hours. Alternatively, if you want to speed up the process, put the pan in the fridge or freezer.
Spread ganache over cooled blondies. Sprinkle with peanut butter chips.
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (9 ounces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
Put chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl.
Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan, then pour over chocolate chips and let mixture stand for one minute.
Gently whisk in butter until it is incorporated, chocolate is melted, and a smooth mixture forms. Make sure there are no lumps.
Spread ganache on cooled brownies and let stand until set, about 15 minutes.
*Note: These blondies are easiest to slice when chilled or frozen.