Monday, January 30, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies with Chocolate Ganache

These are truly one of the most decadent brownies that I have ever made.  Upon inspection you might say that they look more blondie than brownie and the fact of the matter that texturally they are more like a cake.  They are rich yet not too sweet.  These are a wonderful dessert and great with either a dessert wine, a cappuccino or a cold glass of milk.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Brownies with Chocolate Ganache

Peanut Butter Brownies
Recipe Adapted from Butterword Desserts

Makes 32 Brownies

Ingredients for Brownies
1/2 pound (2 sticks) softened unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup of creamy peanut butter
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour (King Arthur now makes a whole wheat flour that is like white flour but more nutritious - I use this)
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Ingredients for Ganache
9 squares of bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 tbsp of unsalted butter

Prepare a 9 X 13 inch pan (a quarter sheet pan) with parchement paper - with ends hanging over the edge for easy removal.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the softened butter and sugar in a stand mixture or hand beater at medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Add peanut butter and beat until incorporated.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla.   Add the flour minus two tablespoons slowly until just combined. (do not overmix as that will make for a tough dough)

Toss the chocolate chips with the reserved 2 tbls of flour (that will prevent them from sinking to the bottom) and add to mixture.

Put the brownie mixture in the pan.  It will seem thick but that is the way it should be.  Smooth the top for even baking.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the brownies are golden brown on top and  slightly puffed.  Insert toothpick in center and it is done when it comes out with some crumbs still clinging.  Remember that the brownies will continue to cook in the pan even when you remove them from the oven.

Cool completely for at least two hours on a baking rack.

To make the ganache put the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl.  Heat the cream and when it just begins to boil, remove from heat and pour over chocolate chips.  Stir until all the chocolate is melted.  Let it cool for 1 minute and then whisk in the butter and the ganache will be very glossy.

Spread the ganache over the cooled brownies and place in the refrigerator for one hour to set.

Cut brownies into 32 squares.  The brownies will keep in an air tight container for up to three days.  That is if they last that long.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Valentine's Day - Equipment Needed

Now that we have the packaging for our Valentine's basket decided and purchased we can turn our attention to the items that we need to make the goodies for the basket.

Equipement Needed to Make Goodies for Valentines Basket

In order to determine what equipement you need it is important to first decide what cookies, candy, cupcakes or whoppie pies, mini-brownies etc. you are going to bake.

 This year's basket will include the following:

Hand decorated sugar cookies
Home made marshmallows cut in heart shapes
Red velvet whoopie pies with buttercream filling cut into heart shapes
S'mores in X's and O's.
Triple chocolate brownies in heart shapes
Chocolate heart shaped box
Heart candy lollipops
Hard candy lollipops in X's and O's
Linzer Cookies with heart shaped cut out

In order to make all these items you will need the following:

Mold for chocolate cookie box (clear mold in center of the photo)
Various sizes of heart shaped cookie cutters - at least one with a scalloped edge
Heart shaped baking molds (tins on the top left of photo as well as pink silicon molds on either side of photo)
Heart Shaped Cupid cookie cutter in two sizes
X and O shaped cookie cutters (for cookies and s'mores)
Heart decorated cupcake papers (which can be used to package mini-marshmallows)
Star shaped cookie cutter (for you are the 'star' of my life)

These items can be purchased at your local bakery supply store, Target, Walmart or online at either  kitchen krafts or kitchen gifts.  Be sure and have your list ready before you go shopping!

Next blog will be about the ingredients you need to have on hand before you start your baking.  Stay tuned.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Decadent Low Fat Mexican Chocolate Pudding

I have been home with an awful winter cold.  Talk about putting a brake on my list of things to do.  Having said that there are only so many cooking shows or movies that one person can watch in the course of a day.  When you have a bad head cold the last thing you want to do is eat alot of food - especially food that requires energy to either cook or eat.  I have been subsisting on throat tea with ginger, honey and lemon, chicken soup (the Jewish penicillin) and toast.  Last night I craved something sweet.  So- I made my easy chocolate pudding.

It literally takes 4 minutes to prepare and cook - especially if you have stocked your pantry and refrigerator per the post on Pantry Staples.  With the addition of the cayenne pepper there is a deeper flavor of chocolate.

Mexican Chocolate Pudding
Serves 4

1 1/2 cup non fat milk
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
3 tbsp. corn starch
2 tbs. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 square bittersweet chocolate (1 ounce)

Mexican Chocolate Pudding Ingredients

Put half the milk in a saucepan and turn on heat to medium.  When the milk starts to foam add the square of bittersweet chocolate and stir until it is melted.  Combine sugar, cocoa powder, salt, cayenne pepper and corn starch (that is what thickens the pudding) with the rest of the milk.  Make sure that there are no lumps.  Add that mixture to the hot milk mixture stirring with a spatula.  When the pudding starts to come away from the bottom of the pan you are done.  Turn off the heat and add the butter and vanilla.  The pudding should be smooth and glossy.

Finished Pudding

Place into ramekins, cover with saren wrap and put in the refrigerator to set.

Mexican Chocolate Pudding

Wait around ten minutes and the pudding will be set.

Remove from fridge, grab a spoon and dive in.  Sheer heaven.

** For those of you who are calorie concious - according to the Point Tracker on Weight Watchers - one serving of this decadent pudding is 4 points.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Valentine's Day - Packaging Ideas

The first taste of a dish is the one you take with your eyes.  Presentation is the key to a successful dish.

Having said that,  sometimes the most difficult aspect of making a basket for a holiday is finding the right basket and then finding the right packaging for all of the scrumptious baked items.  It is important that you can see all the cookies, candies, marshmallows and anything else that you include as individual presentations.  Therefore, before I begin the baking process I design the basket.

I like to buy containers that will hold the baked goods in a way that they won't move or break.  I also like to buy clear bags for cookies.  The bags that I buy are food safe -  you must check to be sure.  Here is what this year's baskets containers is looking like.

Boxes, Ribbons and Tissue Paper for Valentines Basket

You can buy the clear bags in boxes of 100 in 7 different sizes at your local florist supply store.  They run from $4.40-$9.00 for a box of 100.  That is a great buy.  You can also buy them online at Papermart in boxes of 100.  You can also order ribbons, boxes, baskets, tissue paper and anything else that you might need from Papermart.    The chinese decorative food containers can be bought at either Pier 1 or any party supply store.   Pier 1 has great prices and they frequently have sales.  I always buy more than I think I need - especially when the items are on sale.  The red boxes for Valentines Day can also be used for Christmas so they will not go to waste.

To wrap the whole basket you will need a large roll of clear cellophane wrap that is available at either a florist supply store or at Papermart.

Stay tuned for the next posting which will feature a list of the supplies needed for the baking process.

Monday, January 23, 2012

A promise of things to come

Just a little tease about Valentine's Day.

Stayes tuned for recipes for heart shaped dark chocolate box, heart shaped linzer cookies, heart shaped marshmallows, hand decorated sugar cookies and packaging ideas.

Valentine's Basket of Sweets for Alfee's Sweetheart

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Triple Chocolate Brownies with Caramel and Walnuts

Triple Chocolate Brownies

I made these for Steph's 21st Birthday and I understand that they were deemed "the best brownie ever" by all those who ate them.   I am thrilled.   One of the fun aspects of this brownie recipe testing is discovering all the variations on a basic theme.

I used my basic Triple Chocolate Brownie  recipe and then expanded on it.  I made my home-made caramel sauce and let it cool to room temperature.  I then toasted slightly toasted whole walnuts - they will finish toasting in the oven. Roughly chop the walnuts and set aside.

Make the brownie recipe.  Pour into an 8X8 pan lined with parchement paper allowing the parchement paper to hang over the sides (this allows for easy removal of the brownies)  Place in the oven for 15 minutes - or before the brownie has really set.  Remove the brownie from the oven and swirl in the caramel mixture.  Cook for another 15 minutes or until a tootpick comes out slightly moist.

Remove from the oven and add chopped walnuts and cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow the brownies to cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes.  Put the brownies on a plate and refrigerate for another 30 minutes as this will allow the caramel to set.

Cut the brownies with a sharp knive.  Plate and serve with some vanilla ice cream.

There is no need to worry about storing them as they will not last.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Meyer Lemon Bread with Lemon Glaze

Meyer Lemon Bread with Lemon Glaze

This is moist light 'bread' with subtle hints of Meyer lemon.  The bread is very tender and more like a tea cake than a bread.  It is wonderful in the morning with vanilla yogurt and berries on the side or with a hot cup of tea in the afternoon.

Makes 8-10 servings

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup milk minus 2 tbls.
2 tbls. lemon juice
Zest from two Meyer lemons

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
Juice from one lemon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×15-inch loaf pan. I do this by spraying the pan with Pam spray and then dusting with flour.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. Zest lemons into the flour mixture and set aside.

In a larger bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar and eggs until it’s light and fluffy. I add the egggs one at a time and mix between additions. Add milk and flour mixture; start with the 1/3 flour mixture, 1/2 milk etc. until completely mixed. Add the 2 tbls. of lemon juice.

Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes (rotating pan half-way through bake time for even browning), OR until a toothpick or tester inserted into center of bread comes out clean. Allow bread to cool in pan for 5 minutes.

Prepare the glaze by mixing together the lemon juice, corn syrup and confectioner’s sugar. Remove bread from pan and poke holes on top of the bread with a toothpick or skewer. Drizzle glaze over the warm bread. Or simply sprinkle confectioners sugar over the warm cake.

Meyer Lemon Bread with Confectioner's Sugar

Store leftovers in a cool place, covered in plastic wrap.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Pantry Staples for Easy, Stress Free Baking

One of the most important aspects of successful baking is being prepared. Deciding on the recipe you want to make, reading the ingredient list and then making sure that you have all the ingredients on hand. During the winters, especially in Montreal, being in the kitchen can bring warmth and sunshine to an otherwise snowy, blustery and gloomy day. I have learned, from experience, that the most frustrating thing of all is wanting to do something in the kitchen and then discovering that I don't have the right ingredients. When this happens I usually close the cookbook, turn the lights off in the kitchen and put on the Food Channel.

Looking downtown in Montreal on a grey snowy day

To help you avoid this impediment to your culinary fun I have developed a list of the most important pantry items that you should have on hand at all times. This is an updated list from the one that I did two years ago. If you keep this group of ingredients in your pantry you can bake away with no problem.

Dry Ingredients:

White Sugar
Light Brown Sugar
Dark Brown Sugar (the difference in light and dark brown sugar is the amount of molasses that is in the sugar)
Confectioner's Sugar (10X sugar)
All purpose flour
Cake flour (used for baked goods that are lighter in texture)
Baking Soda
Baking Powder
Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder
Cream of Tarter
Corn Starch
Table Salt
Fleur de Sel (sea salt - used for finishing)
Dry Yeast
Powdered Gelatin
Powdered Milk
Oatmeal (not the instant kind)
Meringue Powder (for decorated sugar cookies)
Graham Crackers
Shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
*Most of the dry ingredients last a very long time if kept in a dark place in a tight container.


Nutmeg (whole)
Ground Ginger
Ground Cloves
Black Pepper
Chile Powder
Cinnamon Sticks
Instant Coffee and Expresso powders.


Dark Corn Syrup
Light Corn Syrup
Dark Unsulphured Molasses
Chocolate Syrup
Evaporated Milk
Condensed Mile (can be turned into Dolche de Leche - recipe to follow in upcoming blog)

Other Ingredients

Unsweetened Chocolate (comes in a blue box with 8 one ounce cubes)
Semi-sweet Chocolate (comes in a red box with 8 one ounce cubes)
Bittersweet Chocolate
Semi-sweet chocolate chips (Nestle's or Guittard)
White Chocolate Chips
Butterscotch Chips
Blocks of milk chocolate, 70% cocoa chocolate for finishing
Medium Size Marshmallows (if you don't want to make your own)
100% Madagascar Vanilla
All natural lemon, orange and peppermint extract.


Almonds (whole, blanched - you can always toast them)
Whole Pistachios

** - Store all the nuts in the freezer whole where they will keep for one year.

Other Necessary Items

Parchment Paper
Baker's Joy (a spray that is a combination fo Pam and flour)

Refrigerator Items

Unsalted Butter
Whole Milk
Whole Extra Large Eggs
Heavy Cream and Half and Half
Egg Whites
Cream Cheese

With this list of ingredients you can make cakes, cupcakes, buttercream frosting, cookies, brownies, tea cakes, candy, marshmallows, caramel sauce, whoppie pies with different fillings - just about anything!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Linda's Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger and Sweet Potato

The Montreal winters are particularly harsh and lend themselves to hearty bowls of steaming hot soup.  Today was one of those days and my friend Linda made a particularly yummy soup.  So her describing this soup prompted me to start another feature on my blog:  my friends contributing their recipes and photos.   Thanks Linda for the recipe, the great photo and the inspiration!

Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger and Sweet Potato
 Serves 6-8

2 lb of either Butternut Squash, Sugar Pie Squash or even Pumpkin!
1/4 Cup of Ginger - (approx. a 6-inch piece of fresh ginger grated (largest holes on the grater) 
2 Tbsp butter                                     
 4 Cups low fat unsalted Chicken Stock store bought or fresh
1 onion, chopped                             
1 carrot, peeled and chopped            
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
Salt & Pepper, to taste.

Heavy cream to garnish.

Peel and seed squash then cut into 2” chunks.  I was lucky enough to find them already cubed!  Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add onion, carrot and celery and cook until onions are translucent and celery is softened.

Add the squash, potato and saute for a few minutes.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover with lid and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes.
In a blender, puree the soup in batches until smooth or you can use an emersion blender.

 Return to saucepan and season to taste with salt and pepper.    Reheat gently, if needed, over medium-low heat. 

Ladle into bowls and drizzle with cream, serve at once.  Add toasted Tuscan bread and a green salad for a complete meal.


Note: A variation on a recipe Linda found in “The Williams Sonoma Cookbook” 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Baking with Thea - Part II

Thea and I made Bacon Brownies.  I know you are all shaking your heads - what bacon in brownies - how bizarre.  Bacon in all sorts of foods - especially sweet ones is the new 'it' ingredient.  So of course, I had to try it out.

Bacon Brownies

Looking at the photo they look like ordinary chocolate brownies.  And that is the point.  There is a subtetly to the brownies that when you take your first bite you realize that there is something different about them and then it hits you - there is bacon in the brownie.

Bacon Brownies - Adapted from Chef a la Porte
Makes 20 brownies

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp/ salt
5 strips bacon
2 tbsp. reserved bacon fat

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 10x10 pan or line with parchment paper with paper extending over the sides. (this makes removing the brownies easy)

Cook the bacon in a skillet or frying pan until well done.  Drain on a paper towel and reserve 2 tbsp. of the bacon fat. (do not cook the bacon in the microwave as you will not have any fat left over)  Finally chopped the crisp bacon and set aside.

Melt both chocolates, butter and bacon fat over double boiler.  This stage can be done in the microwave but do it in 10 second increments stirring in between.

Add 1 cup sugar to the melted chocolate and mix well.

In a stand mixer with the whisk attachement add the remaining 1 cup of sugar and 4 eggs.  Mix until just blended.

Put half of the sugar/egg mixture in a separate bowl and add the chocolate mixture one spoonful at a time so that you 'temper' the mixture and do not curdle the eggs.  After about 6 spoonfuls you can pour the rest of the chocolate mixture into the rest and mix well.

Beat the mixture in the stand mixture for at least 5 minutes until doubled in volume and a pale yellow.

Fold this mixture into the chocolate mixture. Add the chopped bacon.   Gently fold the vanilla, salt and flour into that mixture.

Pour into prepared pan.  Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly dry.

Let cook for at least 30 minutes.  Remove from pan.

Cut into squares.  Instead of a knife I used a large pizza cutter with a sharp edge.  I found that this prevents the 'tearing' of the brownies that occurs with a knife.


Note from Smoores: The bacon taste is very subtle - if you think you would like a more prounced flavor add 3 tbsp. of bacon fat.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pasta with Meyer Lemon Sauce

Today marks a departure for my usual postings to the blog.  I am going to introduce many more elements of my being in the kitchen and some of these will be main course recipes, vegetable recipes, placesettings, flowers and general tips on entertaining.

Today I am posting about my Pasta with Meyer Lemon Sauce recipe.

Ziti with Meyer Lemon Sauce

Meyer Lemons are a citrus fruit native to China that is a cross between a lemon and either a mandarin orange or a common orange.  It's skin is much finer than a domestic lemon and its juice much sweeter than a regular lemon.  My friend Margie has Meyer Lemon trees in her garden from which we make Lemoncello from an old family recipe.  When I was at Costco in Montreal this week I found boxes of Meyer Lemons - they have now officially gone mainstream!

This dish is wonderfully simple, easy and elegant.  A great main course to be served with grilled crustini, a salad and a Chardonnay.

Pasta with Meyer Lemon Sauce

Serves 4 as a main course - 6 as a side dish

One pound of pasta - either Ziti or linguine (whichever you prefer)
3 Meyer Lemons
1 Cup of unsalted Chicken stock
1 Stick of Butter
One bunch of parsley
Grated Parmesan cheese

Boil large pot of water.  Roll the lemons to release the juice.  Zest the lemons into a large sauce pan.  Juice the lemons into the same saucepan adding the chicken stock and the butter and bring to a low boil.

When the pasta water comes to a boil, add salt and pasta.  While the pasta is cooking leave the sauce on a low simmer.  Remove the pasta when not quite al dente and add to the sauce pan using a slotted spoon.  (do not throw out pasta water yet)  Cook the pasta in the sauce for 2-3 minutes adding some of the pasta water if there does not seem to be enough liquid.

Plate pasta adding parmesan cheese and chopped parsely to taste.  Add a touch of freshly grated black pepper.

Pour the wine and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Baking with Thea

Today was my day to bake with Thea before she went back to college after Christmas break.  She is going to be the most popular girl in her house when she gets back to school!  We decided to make my original "Lemon Surprise" cookie recipe and a new Chocolate and Bacon Brownie recipe.

The Lemon Surprise cookie is tender, almost like a shortbread and has a lemon glaze.  It is what we call a refrigerator cookie - that is a cookie that can be sliced and baked or frozen for up to three months.

Lemon Surprise
Makes 40-60 cookies depending on thickness


2 sticks of butter
1 Cup of Sugar

1 large egg
2 Tbls. of Lemon zest
2 Tbls. of Lemon juice

2 3/4 Cups of flour
1 Tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 Tsp. baking soda
1/4 Tsp. salt

Lemon Glaze

3 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 Tsp. corn syrup
1 Tbsp. very soft butter
Yellow Food Coloring (optional)

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and mix until combined.  Add the lemon zest and lemon juice. (remember to zest the lemon first and then squeeze the lemon!)  Add dry ingredients and mix until well blended.  Divide dough in half and roll into cylinders and wrap and put in refrigerator for at least two hours.

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Remove from the refrigerator and unwrap.   Roll the cylinders colored sugar and slice into 1/8 inch slices.  Place on cookies sheets line in parchment paper.  Bake for 8-12 minutes or until slightly brown around the edges.  Remove and place cookies sheets on cooling racks and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes (or until cool to the touch).

To make the glaze combine all the ingredients with a whisk.   Using a fork apply glaze over the cookies with a back and forth motion.  Allow glaze to set for 30 minutes.  When the glaze sets it will be hard to the touch.  Cookies will stay fresh for one week in a container - that is if they last that long.!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Baking With Anna

I am very fortunate to have an amazing group of friends - and with those friendships come their children - an exceptional group of wonderfully talented young people.    I love baking with these kids - we have lots of quality time in the kitchen and it is a wonderful way to bond.

This afternoon I was in the kitchen with Anna.  Anna is an amazing young woman - bright, kind, engaging and a ton of fun to be around.   She is also an avid baker, loves to read cookbooks and as she perused the recipes through various cookbooks we decided to make some cookies.  We went through all the various ingredients that her Mom had on hand in the pantry and come up with "Chocolate Crunch Cookies" which is a sophisticated Rice Crispy Cookie.  Simple to make, sinful to eat - and they didn't last very long.

Chocolate Crunch Cookies
Makes 40 cookies

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter - room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs (room temperatire)
1 rsp vanilla

2 cups of flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups oats (not instant)
2 cups Rice Krispies cereal
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Fleur de sel

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time mixing well between additions remembering to scrape down the bowl.  Add vanilla and mix.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add to butter mixture.  Add oats, Rice Krispies and chocolate chips.

Drop batter on a cookie sheet lined with parchement paper using an ice cream scoop.  Flatten slightly with hand.  Sprinkle fleur de sel on each cookie.  Bake 10-11 minutes and let cool on cookie sheet for an additional 2 minutes.   Put on wire rack and let cool completely to set.

Note:  We didn't add the Fleur de Sel when we initially baked the cookies.  When we tasted them they were very sweet due to the two sugars, the Rice Krispies and the chocolate chips.  We added the salt after the fact and the salt balances the cookie perfectly.  If you like really sweet cookies you can eliminate the salt but we all liked them much better with that addition.

Next time I make these cookies I am going to used dark chocolate chunks instead the the semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Browned Butter Brownies with Peanut Butter Buttercream

I wanted to try a brownie that had a chocolate base but with a little more smokiness.  I think that these brownies fill this desire.  They are a perfect balance to the nuttiness of the Peanut Butter buttercream.  The recipes are simple and straightforward.

Browned Butter Brownies
Makes 24 single brownies or 12 layered brownies


10 Tbsp butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup of dutch processed cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs (room temperature)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour

For the Peanut Butter Buttercream

6 Tbsp butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
pinch of salt


In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium low heat.  Continue cooking until butter has turned a golden-brown color.  It should smell a bit like caramel.   It will also have quite a bit of foam as you can see from the photo below.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar and the cocoa.  Use a spatula which I found easier th an a spoon or whisk.  Add the vanilla and stir again.  Beat the eggs and add slowly to the mixture while vigorously stirring so the eggs do not curdle.  Add the salt and flour and stir until just combined.

Line an 8 X 8 baking dish with parchement paper for a single layer of brownies or a 10 X 10 baking dish for layered brownies.  Bake brownies at 325 degrees for 20 minutes for 8 X 8 pan and 18 minutes for a 10 X 10 pan.  Allow to completely cool before adding frosting.

To make the frosting beat the softened butter, powdered sugar, peanut butter and salt until light and fluffy.  Spread over brownies.  If you are doing the layered brownies cut brownies in half and spread the bottom half with frosting, put the second layer of brownie on top and spread remaining frosting.

Put brownies into the refrigerator for 30 minutes before you slice.  This will allow the buttercream to set.  These brownies freeze well.  Slice and put on a tray in the freezer and then wrap.

As you can see from the photo below of the finished product I opted for the layered brownie.