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Angels Unawares, Serial #5 and Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

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Every once in a while you just need a little pick-me-up–OK, maybe more than just every once in a while. Sometimes you have to string together a series of pick-me-ups just to make it through the day–from the wake me up snuggle with your pup (ignoring for the moment that she chewed up your favorite slippers overnight) to that cup of French-vanilla latte to your newest favorite song on the way to work to ordering those to-die-for sandals (it’ll be summer one day) during a break. Some days are journeys from pick-me-up to pick-me-up through swamps of drudgery.

But every once in a while the pick-me-up includes a surprise that maybe, just maybe, kicks you out of the doldrums and ends the endless cycle of ho-hum drudgery made barely tolerable by intermittent treats. Sometimes the pick-me-up changes your whole outlook–like the evening walk that treats you to a glorious sunset or a stop by the self-serve yogurt place where you run into that friend you haven’t seen for weeks. The pick-me-up becomes a lift-me-out, as in “lift me out of this pissy mood I’ve been in forever.”

Now I don’t want to oversell these Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies, but maybe, just maybe they’re more than a pick-me-up. Maybe they’re a lift-me-out. And the key lies in their hidden double treat–not just peanut butter (which is hardly a hidden treat since it is in the name) but the richness of cream cheese. What do you think–chocolate, peanut butter, AND cream cheese! This pick-me-up ought to lift-you-out if anything will! (OK, maybe winning the lottery or an all-expenses-paid trip–tomorrow!–to the Bahamas would be better, but these brownies will have to do for now.)

Meet Laura Jackson Earl, one of two main characters in our latest serialized novel Angels Unawares. She could use a pick-me-up, lots of them, as she struggles to care for the physical and emotional needs of her gravely ill ex-husband. As if her current demands aren’t enough, she has to deal with bridging decades of total separation from him (she knows nothing about his life since they divorced) and is tormented by a secret she must divulge but can’t imagine how. Her pick-me-ups will have to be of the spiritual sort, but at the moment she’s having trouble finding any. Check it out by clicking one of the links below the recipe.

pb swirl brownies

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies

Peanut butter layer:

3 Tablespoons peanut butter*

1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, room temperature**

2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 egg white

Brownie layer:

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

peanut butter swirl brownies

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 5×7 inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, add all of the ingredients for the peanut butter layer (peanut butter through egg white). Beat these ingredients until a smooth batter is formed. (You can use an electric mixer to help speed up the process.) Set aside.

In a separate bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder, and whisk all of the dry ingredients together. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Once the butter is completely melted, remove it from the heat and add the sugar. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved into the melted butter. Next, add the vanilla extract and egg to the melted butter mixture. Whisk until all of the ingredients are well combined. Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the melted butter mixture and stir until an even batter is formed, careful not to over mix.

Pour the brownie batter into prepared 5×7 pan. Drop spoonfuls of the peanut butter mixture on top of the brownie mixture. Using a table knife, swirl the peanut butter mixture throughout the brownie batter. Bake brownies for 22-26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.

Remove the pan from the oven and let the brownie cool completely before cutting into squares.

Makes 6 brownies.

*Do not use natural peanut butter that has the oil separated; this will be too runny for the peanut butter layer.

**If you do not have cream cheese on hand, you can use three tablespoons of plain or vanilla Greek yogurt.

peanut butter brownies

{Adapted from Bake at 350}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #5 of “Angels Unawares”.

Angels Unawares, Serial #5, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Angels Unawares, Serial #5, text © Jeffrey Anderson

Enjoy!

About Elaine

http://cooking2perfection.blogspot.com/

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