Peanut Butter Swirl Cocoa Brownies

Today was an exciting day. I dropped my winter coat off at the dry cleaner for it’s annual cleaning before putting it in storage for as long as possible. I didn’t realize how ready for spring I was. We had a lot of fun winter weekends in the mountains, but I can only handle wearing a puffy coat, scarf, hat, gloves, and boots for so long before I start to go a little crazy. Fortunately, the sun decided to shine last week, the daffodils decided to show off their yellow blooms, and we decided it was time to take advantage of the warmer weather. 

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We cleaned up our balcony with fresh new plants, a new outdoor table set, an herb garden, and some pretty flowers. We managed to get off the couch on a Sunday to take a hike, and we even picnicked by the lake with friends. These days, this is my ideal weekend, but I still can’t help but wonder when we became so adult. 

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At least some things never change…like my longtime love of brownies. Brownies are my all-time favorite dessert, tied with chocolate chip cookies of course. Growing up, I made brownies out of a box all the time, never realizing there was another way to make them. Thank goodness I learned otherwise, because I can never go back. Homemade brownies are a must and practically just as easy as the box mix.

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The one problem with homemade brownies is that I don’t always have chocolate bars on hand, which often pops up in recipes (who can keep chocolate in their house for more than a week?). But, I do usually have cocoa powder readily available (mostly because it’s unsweetened and not very tempting). When I found Smitten Kitchen’s best cocoa brownies that require only cocoa powder, I immediately made a batch…and was immediately hooked. 

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When making these, I honestly didn’t change much to her recipe other than adding the peanut butter swirl because the cocoa brownies are great as is. So feel free to ditch the PB and have them plain, or add your own favorite toppings. But, I do have to say that the peanut butter swirl is a much enjoyed addition for fellow PB lovers. 

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The other best part about these guys? 

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There is only one bowl required!

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And you may even get a peanut butter spoon at the end. 

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 Talk about win-win. 

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Peanut Butter Swirl Cocoa Brownies
Yields 16
Easy and rich cocoa brownies topped with a peanut butter swirl.
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
40 min
  1. 10 tablespoons // 140 grams unsalted butter
  2. ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons // 65 grams unsweetened cocoa powder
  3. 1 ½ cups // 250 grams granulated sugar
  4. ½ teaspoon salt
  5. ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. 2 eggs
  7. ½ cup // 65 grams all-purpose flour
  8. 2-3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F or 170 degrees C. Grease an 8x8 baking pan with butter, or line it with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a double boiler (or a medium glass bowl fitted on top of a saucepan filled), add in the butter, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt. Add in an inch of water to the saucepan and simmer the water on low heat while the mixture melts together. Once melted, take off the heat and set aside. The mixture will be grainy, not smooth.
  3. Once the mixture has cooled down a bit (2-3 minutes), stir in the vanilla extract. Then stir in the two eggs until combined; followed by the flour. The batter should be smooth and glossy at this point.
  4. Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly. With a spoon, drop small bits of peanut butter along the top of the brownie batter. With a toothpick or the tip of a knife, drag the tip through the peanut butter to create a swirl pattern.
  5. Bake for 25- 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when dipped in the center of the brownies. Let cool for at least 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving.
  1. These brownies are delicious without the peanut butter as well, so feel free to leave it out or add another topping of your choosing.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Caitlin Ball

5 Responses

  1. I am more of a chocolate chip cookie person – especially my Grandma’s recipe – however, I may pressure your mother-in-law to make this appealing recipe. Jon and I are April babies – we live for the spring. Nothing better than coming out of winter and seeing daffodils.

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