A classic American combo: chocolate and peanut butter. If you are craving American comfort food then look no further. This elegant, yet playful dessert has three simple components that any beginner baker can make! The best part is that two of the components can be made at least a day ahead of time.
This desert might look difficult and extremely technical, but I promise you it is not. I will for sure share some of my tips along the way.
Before you begin you do need two special baking tools:
Half Sphere Molds
These are for making the chocolate bowls. Both of these items are very easily available on Amazon.
The molds were 13€ which is about 15 US Dollars and came in a 3 pack. Here is the link: chocolate molds
This dessert is a great way to impress your family and friends while still not being overly pretentious. The chocolate peanut butter brownie is fudgy and having it nestled into the most luscious swirl of peanut butter mousse makes heads turn for sure, but in the end, it is still chocolate and peanut butter. This dessert brings back memories of my childhood as we used to eat peanut butter... EVERY DAY! (Don't forget, I did grow up in America). Peanut butter on bananas, on apples, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Peanut Butter isn't elegant or fancy or chic. It's what we ate for lunch growing up.
I wanted to bring back those childhood memories but I wanted to elevate peanut butter and to show off its greatness.
Let's get to details of this dessert.
Start with tempering your chocolate. Tempering is just a fancy way of getting your chocolate melted and to a correct temperature. Dark chocolate needs to be melted and then have a temperature of 88-91 degrees F or 32C. If your chocolate is too hot it will be too thin and not coat properly. If it is too cold it will harden with a dull ugly finish. This temperature will ensure a glossy, shiny finish.
Here is the chocolate I used. Nothing fancy. Just basic dark baking chocolate. I paid less than 1€ for each bar of chocolate!
In the picture below you can see the smooth melted chocolate. But the temperature was WAY too high. About 125F. I had to wait.
Once the temperature was where I wanted it to be, I spent less than 5 minutes filling the half spheres with about 1-2 spoonfuls of melted chocolate and then spreading the chocolate all around the sides. Then it was into the freezer to set.
Don't stress about these not looking perfect. Remember they are going to be filled with your peanut butter mousse.
While these were in the freezer I got started on my brownies. I love making brownies but this recipe is actually NOT my go-to recipe for brownies. This recipe that I have for you today is wonderful but not the best in terms of ooey, gooey, fudgy brownie goodness. If you are looking to make the best brownie ever, then check out my recipe for the brownies here:
You can skip the macaron part and just make the brownies if that is all you need. OMG they are perfection!
The reason I have a different recipe for you today is because I needed to have a brownie that would be easy to cut into. That would hold it's shape and not produce a super flaky top which is common in most brownies. This recipe below just uses cocoa powder instead of baking chocolate. You definitely still get a great fudgy taste but it is not that punch of chocolate overload that you get from my other recipe.
I love making brownies because they take about 10 minutes until they go into the oven. I thought, why not make this part with my 3 year old daughter. She just got her own monogrammed apron and she loves when she can help measure out the ingredients.
She was so cute, and smiley and for a moment not whining or fussy. I couldn't stop staring at how adorable she was with her new apron and a wooden spoon in one hand and her other hand holding the mixing bowl like a pro...
And then I realized, OMG, she is over mixing the batter! It was too late. When you overmix you create air bubbles which will rise and then pop on the surface creating little tiny holes all over the place. Oh well... I'm not going to let this go to waste.
I also wanted to see how this would work if I spread the brownie mixture onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper instead of my 8 X 11 in pan. The brownies were a bit too thin, and had air bubbles but they tasted great!
While I worked on my second batch, I made myself some coffee and definitely sneaked a few odds and ends of this 'messed up' version.
The only change I made was using a pan and also not overmixing. I want to however show you how the swirls of peanut butter get baked into the top of the brownie. So here are some photos from my 'messed up version.' The topping part was correct and I used the same method on the second batch. I dropped spoonfuls of my peanut butter mixture on the top of the brownies. Then I used a toothpick to make figure eights and swirl the peanut butter all around into a fun abstract design.
Here you can see how my second version turned out. This is the brownie that I used for my dessert. While it did crack in a few places the holes were much smaller and hardly noticeable.
Plus you are using a star cookie cutter to cut out your shapes.
Now onto the easiest step- the peanut butter mousse. I call it a mousse but actually it is more of a peanut butter mascarpone chantilly cream. Typical mousse has either gelatin or raw eggs and this has neither. A chantilly cream also sounds super fancy but it is just a sweetened whipped cream.
I may or may not have saved a few spoonfuls and just ate them right then and there. This filing is incredible! It is light and fluffy with strong notes of peanut butter, but the marscapone and the saltiness from the peanuts tone down the sweetness making it pair perfectly with the chocolate bowl and brownie.
Whenever I am making a whipped cream or a mousse where I have to whip heavy cream into firm peaks I always use Sahnesteif which is German for stiff cream. It is a powder and comes in packets next to the baking powder and yeast in the baking aisle at almost every grocery store. It is similar to cream of tartar and will help give you a stable whipped cream, stable enough to pipe and to hold its shape.
Here you can see how I piped my peanut butter mousse into the cups. If you do not have a piping bag and/or tips you can spoon the mousse into the cups.
Here you can see a few of my edges cracked. Don't let that stop you. You will pipe the mousse and then with the crushed peanuts and brownie you won't even notice the edges anymore.
Did you notice any imperfections? Me neither. My eyes are drawn to the perfect swirl of the mousse and the fudgy inside of the brownie.
Then of course we had the question, 'How do you eat these?'
Well us adults used a spoon and ate the brownie and mousse before biting into the chocolate cup. My 3 year old just dove in, mouth first, no spoon or fork, just bit right into it. Her hands and face were covered with chocolate and peanut butter and I would not have wanted it any other way.