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Folks, have I got a doozy for you today!  Brownies, like mac and cheese, are one of those comfort foods that never go away.  We never let them go away.  We keep loving them in all different forms, all different recipes, and after a while – even after making 6 or 7 different recipes – we still remember which ones we loved and which ones we didn’t.  Well, I can assure you that you will never forget these brownies.  It’s impossible to forget about them – almost as impossible as forgetting what your favorite childhood book was. A luscious layer of peanut butter caramel runs right through the center of these double-baked chocolaty but not overly sweet brownies.  They are made with bittersweet chocolate, and while I would normally sub out half of the bittersweet for semi-sweet in my baked goodies, the balance of flavors between the dark chocolate and the sweet caramel is perfect.  If you can hold off on eating them for a day (good luck!) or even just a few hours, they actually get better over time provided you wrap them up properly.  I think the caramel sweetens up the deep dark chocolate just a wee bit and softens the bottom layer of brownie. I have to tell you though, they didn’t last a day in my house and they probably won’t in yours either. 🙂

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Peanut Butter Caramel-Filled Brownies
source: adapted from Rebecca Rather, The Pastry Queen

2 sticks unsalted butter
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
7 oz caramel candies, unwrapped
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream plus 1/4 cup
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9×13 pan with aluminum foil, leaving several inches hanging over the short ends of the pan. Grease the foil with butter or cooking spray. Be sure to grease the sides thoroughly, or the caramel layer in the middle will stick.

Combine the butter and chocolate in a heavy bottomed medium saucepan and set over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a large bowl. Add the sugar, eggs, and vanilla mixing until thick and glossy. This will take 1 or 2 minutes of vigorous mixing with a wire whisk, or about a minute using mixer with paddle attachment set on medium high speed. Whisk or stir in flour and salt. Transfer half of the batter (about 2 1/2 cups) to the baking pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20 minutes. Let the brownies cool for about 20 minutes but keep the oven on.

Stir the caramels, peanut butter, and 1/3 cup cream in a heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Immediately spread the caramel mixture over the brownies (if you let it sit, it will get hard and difficult to spread). Mix in remaining 1/4 cup heavy cream to the remaining batter to thin it out a little because it will stiffen as it sits. Pour the remaining brownie batter evenly over the caramel mixture and spread gently to cover.  If it is still difficult to pour, gently dollop large spoonful onto the caramel and allow the caramel to heat the batter.  As it heats, it will become easier to spread. Sprinkle the chocolate chips. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool the brownies completely in the pan.

Grab the foil edges and lift the brownies out of the pan and cut them into squares. Brownies will keep, tightly wrapped, for a week at room temperature.

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  • Beck
    January 14, 2011 at 7:28 AM

    My first time on your blog and it is gorgeous! Can’t wait to make these over here in Australia. They will definitely distract from all this rain!!! Yum

  • January 14, 2011 at 7:44 AM

    Wow! These look amazingly delicious. They sound so fancy, too! 😉

  • January 14, 2011 at 8:00 AM

    brownies look too good,..

  • January 14, 2011 at 8:56 AM

    Oh wow – brownies, peanut butter AND caramel!? Fabulous idea! These look divine.

  • January 14, 2011 at 9:12 AM

    Lovely chocolate and caramel combination. The caramel layer looks so pretty. An excellent comfort food. 🙂

  • January 14, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    Tara, these are some of the most delicious brownies I’ve ever seen… why would you do this too me when I have to go away this weekend and won’t be in my kitchen!? They look fabulous!

  • January 14, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    Wow! Yes, please. This has everything anyone could want

  • January 14, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    Look at that middle layer!! Just gorgeous! I NEED one of these!

  • Erin
    January 14, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    Those are my kind of brownies! Just beautiful!

  • January 14, 2011 at 12:17 PM

    These brownies look so incredible. I need to make them ASAP!!

  • Diane
    January 14, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    What brand of caramel do you suggest? I’d love to bake these for my office. Thanks!

    • smellslikehome
      January 14, 2011 at 1:36 PM

      Diane, I used Kraft individually wrapped caramels for these brownies.

      • Diane
        January 15, 2011 at 11:23 AM

        Thanks so much for replying. I’m going to the store today!

  • January 14, 2011 at 1:27 PM

    All my favourite keywords in one recipe. Unbelieveable. Is there such a thing as a brownie-holic? I think I am one. Must make this pronto.

  • January 14, 2011 at 2:55 PM

    I love your description! “A luscious layer of peanut butter caramel runs right through the center of these double-baked chocolaty but not overly sweet brownies.” Wonderful!

  • January 14, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Love it! I make brownies that have toffee candy bars in the middle. Love little surprises like that!

  • January 14, 2011 at 3:30 PM

    Ok, those look AMAZING!!! I am thinking I should make them because thne I never know what I am missing but omg those look great.

  • January 14, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    Oh my god, these are ridiculous. Yum yum yum.

  • January 14, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    These look divine! Definitely making these soon! Love your blog!

  • January 15, 2011 at 11:35 PM

    Wow, three of my favorite things, chocolate, peanut butter and caramel all in one yummy dessert!

  • January 16, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    Truer words were never spoken. The best mac and cheese I ever had and the best brownies are forever ingrained in my memory. These seem like they could give those a run for their money though. I can’t even wrap my head around them right now. I mean…chocolate, caramel, AND PB. It doesn’t get better.

  • January 16, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    These look amazing! I love the line of caramel

  • January 17, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    i am a brownie freak. i must make these. They look fabulous1

  • January 17, 2011 at 10:17 PM

    I got one of those Baker’s Edge brownie pans for Christmas, and I’ve been looking for the perfect recipe to try out in them . . . I think this will be it! They look delicious!

  • Christina
    January 18, 2011 at 9:41 AM

    I’m wondering what state/area you live in. I’m in Colorado Springs and am wondering if I’ll have to do any high altitude adjustments on this recipe. Looks FANTASTIC!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

    • smellslikehome
      January 18, 2011 at 3:45 PM

      Christina: I’m in CT. I’m not familiar with high altitude adjustments so I’m sorry that I can’t be of any help there!

  • January 19, 2011 at 4:57 PM

    These looks super decadent and delicious! Saving these for a rainy day!

  • January 23, 2011 at 11:56 PM

    This is just too good to be true! D.Vine.
    Thanks so much!

  • Mallory
    January 29, 2011 at 5:40 PM

    I made these for my fiance’s birthday yesterday, and although they weren’t quite as pretty as yours (my layer of caramel was more of a delicious swirl on top), they are easily the best brownies we’ve ever had. So thanks!

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