I started regularly checking the food category on Pinterest and carefully considering each dessert recipe that popped up the various food blogs that I follow. What was going to be the winning idea? I found inspiration in a post from Brown Eyed Baker for Chubby Hubby Truffles.
As amazing as they sounded, it was too much work and effort to make truffles for a crowd at work, even if it was for Jon. But it got me to thinking... what about a peanut butter pretzel cookie? After looking at scads of recipes for peanut butter cookies, blondies, peanut butter blondies, chocolate peanut butter cookies, peanut butter brownies, I came up with this: Jon's Birthday Chubby-Hubby Brownie-Cookie bar.
I collected ingredients from my pantry and with an idea in mind, got to work.
I made a standard brownie box mix adding a little coffee grounds (maybe about a tablespoon) to the mix. I believe coffee and chocolate are the nectar of life, and as such deserve to always be paired together. I poured it into a lasagna pan which is a little bigger than your standard 9x13 and set it aside.
Next came the cookie part. I started with a basic peanut butter cookie recipe from Cook's Illustrated, my go-to source for all things food and kitchen related. But I don't follow directions well, and tweaked the recipe a bit. I used 1/2 a cup of White Chocolate Peanut Butter, which I had on hand because Brown Eye Baker had raved about it and when I saw it at Target it magically jumped into my cart, and 1/2 a cup of crunchy peanut butter - because that is what I had. The recipe called for actual peanuts (crazy! a peanut butter cookie with peanuts?!) but since I don't like them unless in butter form I didn't have any and left that ingredient out. I then actually followed the directions, until it came to the add-ins. I precisely measured and added by the handful semi-sweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup), peanut butter chips (maybe 1/2 cup), butterscotch chips (a generous 1/4 cup), and broken up pretzel bits (close to 1 cup). Turn the machine on and let it do the hard work of incorporating all of that chippy goodness into the dough.
The dough ended up being really stiff. There was no way I was going to be able to spread it over the brownie base like I had intended, especially as the brownie batter was rather runny. Hm... what to do. Scoop it!
I ended up scooping out the cookie dough, covering the brownie batter filling in gaps here and there. It was time consuming and my hand hurt by the time I was done. Next time, if there is a next time, I'd reverse the two layers. Put the cookie dough on the bottom, patting it into place to cover the whole pan, then top with brownie batter. Oh... then maybe when it's done, it could be frosted... with peanut butter buttercream, or caramel buttercream, and dusted with pretzel bits... I think there will be a next time.
Okay, back to this baking venture. Once the cookie dough was more or less covering the brownie mix, I dropped spoonfuls of caramel sauce all over the top. It was another, 'Hey, I have this in the fridge from this other event, let's add it in!' But I think Kraft caramel squares, maybe cut in half or quarters, would work better, sprinkled over the brownie layer. Next time.
I wasn't sure how long to bake it, so I went with the brownie instructions since they had a longer time, adding 10 minutes to account for the extra thickness. It still needed a few more minutes, but then it went too long. When it came out of the oven the cookie part was a bit dark, maybe a little overdone, for my liking (another reason to reverse the layers).
Ta-da!! Doesn't it look scrumptious? (If not a little overly yellow because of the film+lens combo in Hipstamatic.)
I would show you a cut view, but I forgot to take one... and it didn't last long at work. This recipe is not for the weak. I mean that literally. The stinking thing weighed a little over 7 pounds. Lugging that to work on the train was a trick, but Rockstar deserved it.
Happy Birthday, Jon!!