peanut butter caramel brownies. with crunch.

yesterday afternoon josh and i went to a barbeque in our friend shira's backyard. she has her very own cherry blossom tree, all to herself, and it sprinkled the most lovely blossoms on us as we ate. by the time we left, the warm sunshine that had inspired t-shirts and sandals and even summer dresses was giving way to a cool evening breeze and the promise of rain, and shira's backyard was covered in a pink fairyland of soft petals. as was everyone's hair. and our plates. we googled cherry blossoms and their edibleness and were relieved to find that martha stewart once made a cherry blossom cake, so ingesting a few petals here and there didn't seem too harmful.
i spent the better part of yesterday morning trying to decide what to bring to the barbeque. dessert was obvious, but what kind was elusive. something fruity and springlike? some kind of cookies? or maybe cookies stuffed with candy or other cookies? ice cream or sorbet? how would i decide? then it hit me. i remembered one of the top five most indulgent desserts i've ever made. it's chocolatey. peanut buttery. chewy. crunchy. all at the same time. i'm only going to be pregnant for a little longer. now is the time to indulge.

my friend arielle, who is a wonderful and creative cook and baker, introduced me to this dessert last summer in fire island, where she showed up for the ferry bearing all sorts of treats, including these mind bogglingly terrific brownies. my mom grew up going to fire island every summer and i grew up hearing stories about this magical place with multi-colored sand, where there are no cars and everyone walks around barefoot all the time and deer roam freely. it's still like that today, and the wonderful weekend we spent there last summer was made all the more memorable because of arielle's treats. she came with an entire tin full of them. we ate them when we woke up, and for dessert after breakfast. and lunch. and for an afternoon snack. and before and after dinner and right before bed. it was like that. she left empty handed. i left inspired.

there are many recipes for them out there, and yesterday i chose to use this one, which i altered a bit and added caramel to. like i said, now is the time for me to indulge. besides, caramel can only improve something that already has chocolate and peanut butter. these brownies have everything. and then some.

ingredients for the peanut butter caramel brownies with crunch:
1 box brownie mix (and whatever ingredients the mix calls for)
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts
1/2 cup chopped caramel candies
1 1/8 cups chopped reece's peanut butter cups
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (i used a combination of milk and dark chocolate cause that's what i had)
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/2 tbs butter
1 1/2 cups rice krispies cereal (i almost got cocoa krispies. almost.)
to make the peanut butter caramel brownies with crunch:
1. mix the brownies according to the directions on the box and bake for 20 minutes in a 9 x 13 pan.
2. take the pan out of the oven and cover evenly with the peanuts, peanut butter cups, and caramel bits, then put the pan back in the oven for 5 minutes.
3. melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter however you please, and make sure they're all blended together, then add the rice krispies.
4. take the brownies out of the oven and pour the chocolate/peanut butter/rice krispies mixture over the top and spread it evenly. refrigerate for a couple hours or until the top hardens a bit, then cut 'em up and eat 'em! i recommend cutting them into small-ish bites. they're that rich. 

though we left the barbeque a bit early, we did manage to make it through one round of dessert (as if i would have left before then!) and the brownies were a hit. so were the 'smores cookies someone else brought, and the homemade chocolate babka, which was still warm when i bit into it. talk about inspiration...


  1. I made this as an anniversary treat and brought the extras to work. 1 person told me they were the best brownies she'd ever had and the other person demanded the recipe. Just sayin Nani.

  2. i can't even begin to tell me how happy this makes me! now, the question is... what on earth are we going to make together?!

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