Topping:

1 cup chunky peanut butter (not "natural" or old-fashioned)

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided

Three-fourths cup powdered sugar


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1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon half and half (or use whole milk)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

For brownies, heat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan with 20-inch piece of foil, leaving an overhang on both ends. Butter foil in pan.

In a large, heavy saucepan, over low heat, add the 1 1/2 sticks butter and both chocolates. Stir until melted and smooth.

Remove from heat. Whisk in sugar, vanilla and salt. Then whisk in eggs, one at a time.

Fold in flour, then chopped peanuts. Spread into prepared pan and bake in center of oven for about 30 minutes, until tester inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached.

Remove pan from oven. Use foil overhang to remove brownies from pan to a cooling rack. Cool completely before topping.

For topping, in a medium bowl, with electric mixer, beat peanut butter and 1/4 cup butter (half a stick) to blend. Add powdered sugar, salt and cinnamon, and beat well. Beat in half and half, and vanilla.

Spread mixture on top of brownies.

In a small pan, over low heat, stir together, the remaining 4 tablespoons (half a stick) of unsalted butter and the 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate until smooth. Dollop chocolate mixture over brownies, then spread evenly to cover peanut butter topping.

Chill until set, about 1 and a half hours. Cut into 30 squares; or wrap well, refrigerate, then cut into squares when ready to package for presentation.

Far East party mix

We have a friend who's allergic to chocolate and caffeine. For her and for those dear ones who may actually prefer a salty treat over a sweet one, here's a take-off on the classic party mix that includes elements with an Asian influence.