Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirly Brownies

By Tuesday, November 30, 2010

This post was updated with new photography in January 2015!

I am really sensitive to caffeine. I discovered this when I was 10 years old at my grandparents 40th wedding anniversary. It was a huge party, just like a wedding, and I was part of the entertainment for the evening (I sang a song about family for my grandparents.) After I was done singing, I took off to find fun things to do.

What I found was dark chocolate cake and tea in the church kitchen. My grandparents and dad always drank tea, so I tried it and liked it. I also figured I could eat as much cake as I wanted, seeing as I was without adult supervision. I ate about 3 pieces of cake (generous ones, too) and over the course of the night, I went back and got a tea refill about 10 times. In total, my parents and I tallied that I’d consumed roughly 12 cups of tea and 3 large pieces of dark chocolate cake.

That’s when the puking started.

It took about 3-4 hours to set in, and then I was barfing all night long. My parents said if they hadn’t known better, they would have thought I’d had alcohol poisoning. My body was rejecting the caffeine in a very serious way.

My parents started to notice other things afterwards. A glass of coke or pepsi and I was literally bouncing off the walls. It had a much more obvious effect on me than on other children. Same with chocolate – it would send me running around in circles with energy. But when they cut caffeine out of my diet, I seemed much more subdued. My mother started listing caffeine as one of my allergies on my field trip permission slips.

Later on, when I was about 14, my mother went to a local chocolate factory and got a huge (I’m talkin’ 10 lbs) box of chocolates. My parents went out one afternoon, and I helped myself to probably 20-25 chocolates (and about five clementines, I might add.) I went to my Pathfinders meeting, came home and was vomiting chocolate all night long.

The next morning I had my first hangover. I was naucious, had a headache, dehydrated and the thought of chocolate (or anything other than saltines) made me want to die. My parents thought it was hilarious. This solidified two things: first of all, I had some issues with control and portion size, and secondly, my body was very sensitive to caffeine.

As I grew older (and more sensible), I became increasingly aware of it. On nights when I couldn’t sleep, I’d go over what I’d consumed in the last 5-7 hours, and every time I had had something caffeinated. Chocolate anything, dark pops, tea or coffee and I was not going to sleep before 3am.

This is good and bad. Bad because I really enjoy some things that contain caffeine and I can’t have them past 5pm. Good because if I’m feeling run down, caffeine is sure to perk me up – more than most people.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies |

I’m not a chocolate craver, unlike my Mama. I prefer salt and rarely crave sweets. This recipe, however, combines my love of salty stuff with chocolate, which is a more common addiction. I love peanut butter (probably why I really like Thai food) and if I’m going to have chocolate, it’s got to be dark. And who doesn’t like brownies? (That would be my father, who absolutely despises anything chocolate. Weird, I know.)

It’s not a totally easy recipe, but you’ll probably have most ingredients lying around, so it’s great for a rainy day. Thankfully I had bought some dark baking chocolate when it was on sale recently (always stock up on necessities when they’re on sale – something I learned from my thrifty mother!)

And the most wonderful part is that it’s the second recipe I’ve made from my new subscription to Canadian Living magazine! Which means the recipe is available online and I don’t have to type it out. Yipee!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies |

Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirly Brownies


  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
  • 5 oz (142 g) bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup (175 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt


  1. In large bowl, beat 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the peanut butter, the butter and sugar; beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in vanilla. Beat in chocolate. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Spread in parchment paper–lined 8-inch (2 L) square metal cake pan .By spoonfuls, drop remaining peanut butter over top. Run knife through batter to swirl; smooth top. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven until tester inserted in centre comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging, about 20 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack. Cut into squares.
  2. Adapted from Canadian Living

Now, there are a few tricks in this recipe. The first is how to melt chocolate properly. It’s very easy to burn, so putting it directly on a flame or heat source is a risky idea. I suggest boiling a pot of water and putting the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over the water and stir until it liquefies. Chocolate of any colour will turn chunky when it burns and that’s irreversible. I’ve included a photo to show you.

Also, why does brownie batter taste better than any other cookie or cake batter? Yum!

Canadian Living recipes really are “tested until perfect,” so there aren’t many changes or suggestions to point out. I would be careful, however, not to cook the brownies longer than it says – I did and the outside was a bit dry.

You have no idea how hard it is for me to stop myself from eating these delicious babies after 5pm!

  • carlyloves
    November 30, 2010

    12 cups of tea?! Amazing.

    • kentjulia
      December 3, 2010

      did you ever make the wasabi/grapefruit/carrot/avocado creation?

      • carlyloves
        December 3, 2010

        I’m going to do it when my essays are done! For now I’m surviving on clementines and whatever I can convince Ian to make me 😉

  • Kacie
    December 3, 2010

    I love this! I want these brownies. And reading this entry just makes me miss your crazy self. The story about the party explains so much 🙂

    • kentjulia
      December 3, 2010

      i miss you too!!!! i will call soon. xoxoxo

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