Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies


peanut butter swirl brownie

Did anyone see Ina Garten make these on Food Network last week? I knew the minute I saw them that I had to try them.

platter of brownies

This recipe could feed an army. Or a band of hungry ten-year-olds. Or a couple of really lucky friends.

It makes a sheet pan’s worth of brownies. If you have a strong sense of self preservation, cut the recipe in half and make it in a smaller baking dish.

These brownies are dark, fudgy, shot through with ribbons of smooth peanut butter—and dotted with bits of molten chocolate. The batter includes semisweet and unsweetened chocolate, which means that they’re sweet, but not overly so.

corner of brownies

These brownies also have a hint of espresso in them. The espresso deepens the chocolate flavor. You can definitely taste coffee notes in the brownies, though, so if you’re not crazy about espresso flavor, use half the recommended amount.

peanut butter swirl

I don’t have a sweet tooth, and I loved them. I need to work on my swirling technique (I was overzealous and some of the peanut butter disappeared into the batter).

I guess I’ll have to buckle down and make another pan. Practice makes perfect, right? (What a burden, I know.)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Based on Ina Garten’s original recipe

1 lb. butter, cut into hunks
1 lb. semisweet regular sized chocolate chips
12 oz. semisweet mini chocolate chips (substitute regular size if you like)
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 extra-large eggs
3 Tbls. instant espresso powder
2 Tbls. pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbls. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup smooth peanut butter

Yields 20 large brownies, or a LOT more smaller ones (makes a 12 x 18 inch pan)

Melt the chocolate and butter

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Put about an inch of water in a medium-sized pot and set it on the stove over high heat so it comes to a simmer.

Put 1 lb. of regular-sized chocolate chips in a large, heatproof bowl.

chocolate chips and butter

Toss in the butter and the unsweetened chocolate.

butter and chopped chocolate

When your water is simmering, set the bowl on top of the pot. Drop the heat to low.

set the butter and chocolate over a pot of simmering water

(The bowl will cover the pot, which will be enough to keep the water simmering.)

melt the butter and chocolate over a pot of simmering water

It will take maybe 15 minutes for the whole bowl to melt (there’s a lot of stuff in there!). Stir occasionally.

stir the butter and chocolate together to melt

(Stir, stir, stir.)

molten chocolate

Keep the bowl on the pot until the butter and chocolate have melted completely.

bowl of melted butter and chocolate

Pull the bowl off the pot (carefully!) and set it aside while you deal with the eggs.

Mix the eggs, espresso, and sugar

Crack the eggs into a large bowl.

eggs and shells

Toss in the espresso powder. (Use half the amount if you don’t want to taste it in the brownies.)

best instant espresso

Add the sugar. Stir to combine.

eggs sugar and espresso

You’ll wind up with a kind of slimy, coffee-colored mess. That’s just fine. (You’re stirring here, not beating, because you don’t want to mix a lot of air into the batter. More air = less dense brownies.)

making brownie batter

Combine the chocolate and eggs

Pour the melted chocolate/butter into the eggs. Since it was sitting over simmering water, not direct heat, it shouldn’t be so hot that it scrambles the eggs. (If you do wind up with a few bits of cooked egg, just strain them out and keep going.)

pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture

Stir to combine…

stir the chocolate into the egg mixture

…until the mixture is uniform.

wet ingredients for brownies

Be sure the mixture is well combined at this point—and that there aren’t little pockets of egg, etc. Stir as much as you want now. Once you add the flour in a minute or two, you don’t want to stir the batter much at all. (Stirring will start to develop the gluten in the flour, which can make your brownies tough.)

Set it aside for a minute while you deal with the dry ingredients.

Combine the dry ingredients and mini chocolate chips

There’s a scant amount of flour holding these brownies together. Put the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together to combine.

combine the dry ingredients

Toss in the mini chocolate chips.

chocolate chips and flour

Mix them around to coat them with flour. This light coating of flour helps suspend the chips in the batter, so they don’t all sink to the bottom and glom together.

coat the chocolate chips in flour

Finish the brownie batter

Pour the flour mixture into the chocolate batter.

add the dry ingredients to the wet

Stir until just combined—i.e. all the white from the flour has disappeared. (You know how in old-fashioned recipes they say things like “beat 40 strokes?” That was to help ensure you wouldn’t overbeat.)

stir the wet and dry ingredients together

Pour the brownie batter in the pan

Line a 12 x 18 inch sheet pan with parchment paper. Pour the brownie batter onto the parchment.

pour the brownie batter into the pan

Smooth it down with a spatula so it’s even and covers the whole pan.

smooth the brownie batter

Swirl the peanut butter through the brownie batter

Put several spoonfuls of peanut butter on the batter. Do it kind of evenly, but don’t make yourself nuts. (After all: A “swirl” isn’t exactly precise…)

peanut butter and brownie batter

With a knife, swirl the peanut butter around through the brownie batter. (Make kind of a figure 8 motion with the knife.)

swirl in the peanut butter with a knife

Repeat until you’ve swirled in all the blobs of peanut butter.

swirl the peanut butter into the batter

Bake the brownies

Pop the pan into your preheated 350-degree oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes. You want a toothpick to come out clean. The top will be a little crackly.

Now, after they’ve been in the oven for about 20 minutes, Ina recommends picking the pan up and dropping it on the oven rack to force the air out from between the pan and the brownies. I didn’t do this (I was tempted, but didn’t want to press my luck), and they came out just fine. It’s up to you.

brownies hot out of the oven

Cool the brownies right in the pan.

big pan of brownies

Wait until they’re at least room temp before slicing. Ina Garten recommends keeping them in the fridge.

crackly top of brownie


large brownie

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. There’s nothing better than a brownie! Oh, wait! There is ~ The Hungry Mouse facelift!!!!
    This is FABulous, Jessie! And I think one of my favorite parts is the bottom where it shows The Hungry Mouse on Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr. Congratulations, and Happy Valentine’s Day! *hugs*

  2. I made a similar recipe for my best friend’s bridal shower last summer and have been toying with trying them again. Mine didn’t have peanut butter in them though, which is MY FAVORITE (aside from espresso) so I will DEFINITELY be altering this (we have Celiac’s disease in the house so I have to toy with gluten free flour and the stuff that goes with that). Good thing we have a snow day supposedly coming, I can spend all day playing with these! Sigh….extra workouts for me! THANKS

  3. These are amazing. To help me with my swirling of the peanut butter, I melt the peanut butter just a bit and then pour a several thick lines of it across the batter and then swirl. It’s fool proof and you have a little bit of peanut butter in almost every bite. Yum!

  4. i will try to make this cake 4 my children….so yummy…saw this picture but i can make it…i’ll do it….send me another delicious food from another country…

  5. i stumbled onto your blog from another site, i think, or was it Google? anyhow, you are now lovingly bookmarked and I love reading your blog.
    i love brownies and this looks amazing! chocolate on its own is heaven enough, but when you add coffee and peanut butter into the equation, bliss might not even cover it!
    will try these soon!

  6. Mmm just made these and they were FANTASTIC! I made two smaller trays as I didn’t have one large one, and they turned out amazing. My fiance can’t stop raving about how delicious they are!