The river that runs in the valley
makes the valley that holds it.
This is the doorway;
the valley of the river.
What wears away the hard stone,
the high mountain?
The wind. The dust on the wind.
The rain. The rain on the wind.
What wears the hardness of hate away?
Courage, compassion, patience
holding to their way:
the path to the doorway.
-Ursula K. Le Guin, A Meditation
I’ve been reading quite a bit of Ursula K. Le Guin lately — I’ve found her essays and poems to be much needed as of late. I highly recommend Late In The Day: Poems (affiliate link), and Words Are My Matter (affiliate link).
If you live in Minneapolis, come join me and Radio Cherry Bombe at The Lynhall on the future of food tour! Kerry Diamond will moderate the panel, which will be recorded for a future episode of their podcast, talking about what’s next in the food world. I’ll be speaking, along with Pakou Hang, Jamie Malone, and Lachelle Cunningham. You can buy tickets here!
And, the brownies. This is my favorite brownie recipe, taken to the next level with a peanut butter and candied cacao nib swirl. Candied cacao nibs is the genius of Tara O’Brady; the recipe from her wonderful book, Seven Spoons (affiliate link). I was quite taken with these brownies – they are rich, and the cacao nibs give a wonderful crunch.
(Sources: knife | Material )
Peanut Butter Brownies with Candied Cacao Nibs Recipe
Makes 12 large or 24 small bars
Note: I used Skippy creamy peanut butter (not sponsored, just my favorite peanut butter for baking). If you want to use natural peanut butter for these peanut butter brownies, make sure it is one that you know works well in baking recipes – not all natural peanut butters are created equal. You can omit the cacao nibs and just swirl in the peanut butter by itself, if desired.
8 tablespoons (1 stick; 113 g) unsalted butter, cold
8 ounces (226 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup (25 g) Dutch process cocoa powder
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (160 g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
½ cup canola oil
1½ cups (297 g) granulated sugar
½ cup (99 g) packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup candied cacao nibs (recipe below)
Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 by 13-inch baking pan and line a parchment sling.
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and the bittersweet chocolate until both are melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and add the cocoa powder, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt.
In another small bowl, mix the peanut butter and candied cacao nibs together.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, oil, sugars, and vanilla. Add the slightly cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir with a spatula until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Take the peanut butter-cacao nib mixture and drop it in circles over the brownie batter before baking. Using an offset spatula or butter knife, drag the peanut butter through the top of the batter, making swirls. Bake 22 to 27 minutes, until the sides of the peanut butter brownies have set, the top is beginning to crackle and look glossy, and a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the center comes out with crumbs. The chocolate batter on the skewer should not be wet, but should have a good amount of crumbs clinging to it.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment paper sling to gently lift the peanut butter brownies from the pan. Cut them into squares.
Candied Cacao Nibs
From Seven Spoons (affiliate link), by Tara O’Brady
Makes approximately 1 cup
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup (90g) cacao nibs
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.
In a wide, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, warm the sugar for a minute, without stirring. Scatter the cacao nibs over the sugar, and leave the pan undisturbed until the sugar begins to melt in spots. With a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, quickly stir the cacao nibs into the liquid sugar, incorporating any unmelted sugar as you go. Once most of the sugar has coated the nibs, remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the butter. Immediately scrape the cacao nibs onto the prepared baking sheet, pressing them into an even layer with the back of the spoon or spatula. Allow to cool.
Break the cacao nibs into tiny clusters by hand. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.