These decadent Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies come from my 100 Cookies cookbook, and I couldn’t resist baking them in the shape of a heart for Valentine’s Day. Peanut butter and chocolate go together like eggs and bacon, macaroni and cheese, coffee and doughnuts; maybe even Romeo and Juliet. It’s a favorite combination, and the perfect way to celebrate any holiday.
The layers are comprised of My Favorite Brownie recipe as the base, a creamy peanut butter filling with cacoa nibs for crunch, and a smooth, glossy chocolate ganache. The cacao nibs add both a bitter note that offsets the sweetness and richness of the chocolate and peanut butter, and a much-needed crunch.
My favorite brownies have a deep chocolate flavor, slightly chewy texture (a nod to the boxed brownies of my youth), and beautiful shiny top. Each bite has the best brownie elements – chewy, fudgy, and chocolate heaven. They also make a great Marshmallow Swirl Brownie.
How to Make Layered Peanut Butter Brownies:
- Make the brownies in a 10 by 2 in [25 by 5 cm] heart shaped pan or 9 by 13 in [23 by 33 cm] pan. Do not use a glass pan! Glass retains heat longer than metal, and this can affect the outcome of the brownies.
- Mix all the peanut butter filling ingredients together (except the cacao nibs) until smooth and combined.
- Warm the heavy cream until just simmering, then pour over the chopped chocolate in a glass bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for at least five minutes. Then whisk to create the ganache and let cool on the counter.
- Place the peanut butter filling on top of the cooled brownies and use an offset spatula to smooth the peanut butter. Sprinkle the cacao nibs evenly over the peanut butter. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the freezer, and pour the room-temperature ganache over the top of the peanut butter. Use an offset spatula to carefully smooth it over the top of the bars if needed.
More Brownie Recipes:
- Peppermint Hot Chocolate Brownies
- Marshmallow Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl
- Raspberry White Chocolate Brownies
Layered Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies
- 1 recipe My Favorite Brownies baked and cooled in a heart-shaped pan (or a 9 x 13 [23 by 33 cm] works, too)
Peanut Butter Filling
- 1 ½ cups [323 g] creamy peanut butter (like Jif or Skippy, not a natural kind)
- ½ cup [60 g] confectioners’ sugar
- 4 tablespoons [57 g] unsalted butter at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- ½ cup [60 g] cacao nibs
- 10 oz [283 g] semisweet chocolate or bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
- 1 cup [240 g] heavy cream
- 10 by 2 in [25 by 5 cm] heart pan (you can also use a 9 by 13 in [23 by 33 cm])
- Bake the brownies according to recipe, in a 10 by 2 in [25 by 5 cm] heart shaped pan if desired.
For the filling
- Set aside cacao nibs. In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt, and stir until completely smooth.
For the Ganache
- Place the chocolate in a small bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until it is simmering and just about to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let sit for 5 minutes. Remove the plastic and whisk until completely smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
- When the brownie has cooled, remove it from the pan and place it on a wire rack set over a parchment-lined sheet pan. Place the peanut butter filling on top and use an offset spatula to smooth the peanut butter. Sprinkle the cacao nibs evenly over the peanut butter. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the freezer, and pour the room-temperature ganache over the top of the peanut butter. Use an offset spatula to carefully smooth it over the top of the bars if needed. Let the bars sit until the chocolate is set. Cut the brownie into pieces. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.