These delicious brownies are designed to be delicious as well as fun to prepare.
Peanut butter cups are set into the rich chocolate batter and serve, after baking, as rounded vampire faces.
Whimsical Vampire Peanut Butter Cup Brownies
Yield: 24 to 30
Nonstick cooking spray and aluminum foil
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into several pieces if cold (or use salted butter and omit salt in Step #2)
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped, or 4 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Peanut butter cups, about 15, see cook’s notes
Decorating: candy eyes, red licorice (mouths), and/or red citrus-wedge shaped jellies (alternative mouths), small tube (.67 grams) white writing gel (fangs)
Cook’s notes: My favorite size of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups to use in this recipe are the disks that are a little less the 2 inches in diameter; they are sold 2 to a 1.5-ounce pack. I arrange them 3 across in 5 rows (15 total). But other sizes and shapes of peanut butter cups can be used. For the photo, I had some peanut butter bars that I turned upside down, as well as the small round shapes.
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position. Preheat to 350 degrees. Line a 9-by-12-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Combine butter and chocolate in large saucepan (I use a 5-quart Dutch oven because it gives enough space to stir in Step #2). Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally with rubber spatula, until melted. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
2. Add sugar and eggs to chocolate mixture and mix with whisk until smooth and well combined. Add flour, cocoa powder, and salt; whisk until well combined.
3. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan with rubber spatula. Place peanut butter cups on top of batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of brownies (not in peanut butter cup) comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes (it takes longer in my oven, about 40 minutes). Place pan on cooling rack. Cool completely.
4. Lift brownies out of pan using the overhanging foil. Decorate peanut butter cups to look like vampires, using candy eyes, candy mouths (either red licorice or a portion of candy red citrus-wedge shaped jellies), and fangs (squeezed from white writing gel).
Source: adapted from a recipe for brownies in “The Big, Fun Kids Baking Book” from the Food Network Magazine (Kids Hearst Home, $25.99)