Boo! It’s Halloween, and my kids are totally psyched to go trick-or-treating. In keeping with the holiday excitement I decided to create a brownie based on one of my favorite candies, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups®. These Milk Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Pretzel Whole Wheat Brownies begin with Hodgson Mill Brownie Mix with Whole Wheat Flour & Milled Flax Seed and become more Reese’s-like with the addition of milk chocolate chunks and a sweet peanut butter swirl. To give these brownies a little crunch and a nudge in the salty-sweet department, I added some crushed pretzels on top. Needless to say, my little ghosts and goblins were delighted to celebrate Halloween with these scrumptious brownies, and I got to kick off this candy-laden holiday with a whole wheat treat. Pretty good trick, if I do say so myself.
These brownies, much like my other favorites, Luck o’ the Irish Brownies, Cinco de Mayo Brownies and S’mores Brownies, begin with a box of Hodgson Mill Brownie Mix with Whole Wheat Flour & Milled Flax Seed. It’s hard not to want to bake brownies every day when it’s as easy as opening a box of premeasured, premixed healthy whole grain brownie mix to get things started. Everything else I use in this recipe, such as the peanut butter, pretzels and milk chocolate, are generally pantry staples, so these brownies are a cinch to put together. My family likes Reese’s Creamy Peanut Butter, but any variety will work to achieve the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup taste in these brownies.
To begin, brown the butter in a medium-size saucepan, 3 to 4 minutes on medium-high, until the butter turns light amber brown and browned bits form on the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan immediately from the heat and tip it to the side so the browned butter is no longer touching the bottom of the pan. Keep it tipped for about a minute to give the bottom of the pan a chance to cool off so the butter doesn’t continue browning and possibly burn. (You may transfer the browned butter to another bowl instead of tipping it to the side, if you prefer.) Set the pan upright and put it aside for 3 to 4 minutes to allow the butter to cool a little before mixing in the eggs.
Next, whisk in the eggs, egg yolk and vanilla extract, then whisk in the brownie mix and baking powder.
Fold in the milk chocolate chunks and set the pan aside. Note: I broke two milk chocolate bars into pieces, but milk chocolate chips will work just as well.
In a small dish, stir together the peanut butter, melted butter and powdered sugar until smooth. I used ¼ cup powdered sugar to suit my sweet tooth, but feel free to use more or less, depending on your taste.
Pour the brownie batter into an 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan that’s been lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the batter evenly around the pan and then dollop the peanut butter filling on top.
Using the tip of a butter knife, swirl the peanut butter filling into the brownie mix, being careful not to cut through the foil lining the pan.
Sprinkle pretzel pieces over the brownies and press them lightly into the batter with your fingertips or the back of a spoon. Bake the brownies in a 350° F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out relatively clean. I find that it’s better to slightly underbake brownies rather than risk overbaking them, so pull them out of the oven as soon as they look set.
Allow the brownies to cool in the pan completely and then put the pan in the refrigerator, uncovered, for a few hours so they’re easier to cut into pieces. Remove the chilled brownies from the refrigerator and then transfer them to a cutting board by lifting up on the edges of the foil. Gently pull the foil away from the sides of the brownies and cut the brownies into squares. The brownies may be stored at room temperature for up to a week. I thought that these brownies tasted even better a day or two after they were made.
Halloween is all about the candy, but be sure to make room for these Milk Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Pretzel Whole Wheat Brownies. They’re rich and fudgy, studded with bits of milk chocolate and adorned with a sweet, creamy peanut butter swirl that gives them a taste similar to that of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but they’re a whole lot healthier than candy because of the 100% whole wheat and milled flax seed in the Hodgson Mill Brownie Mix with Whole Wheat Flour & Milled Flax Seed. The pretzel pieces on top of these brownies add a nice crunch and satisfy my salty/sweet craving, but feel free to leave them off if you prefer. Milk Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Pretzel Whole Wheat Brownies make for a great treat for Halloween or any time you’re in the mood for peanut butter and chocolate—with a healthy twist, of course! Happy Halloween! Enjoy!
Milk Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Pretzel Whole Wheat Brownies
- 1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 box Hodgson Mill Brownie Mix with Whole Wheat Flour & Milled Flax Seed
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 cup milk chocolate chunks
- 1/2 cup peanut butter
- 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter melted
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup pretzels broken into small pieces
Place butter in a medium-size saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pan immediately from heat and tip it so butter is no longer touching bottom of hot pan. Keep browned butter to side of pan for a minute or two so bottom of pan can cool and butter doesn’t burn. (Alternatively, you may pour the butter into a bowl instead of tipping the pan.) Set pan upright and set it aside for 3 to 4 minutes to allow butter to cool. Whisk in eggs, egg yolk and vanilla extract and make sure they’re thoroughly combined. Whisk in brownie mix and baking powder until mixture is smooth and glossy. Fold in milk chocolate chunks and set pan aside.
In a small bowl, mix the peanut butter, melted butter and powdered sugar until well combined.
Pour brownie batter into an 8- or 9-inch-square baking pan lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Spread batter evenly around pan and dollop peanut butter filling on top. Using the tip of a butter knife, gently swirl peanut butter filling into brownie batter. Top with pretzel pieces. Lightly press pretzels into batter with fingertips or the back of a spoon. Bake in a 350° F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out relatively clean. Cool brownies completely and then refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. Remove chilled brownies from refrigerator and transfer them to a cutting board, using edges of aluminum foil as handles. Gently peel foil away from brownies and cut brownies into squares. Brownies may be stored at room temperature, in an airtight container, for up to a week.
Makes approximately 16 brownies
Original recipe by Holly
You can find Milk Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Pretzel Whole Wheat Brownies and other recipes from Hodgson Mill by visiting the Recipes page.