My Favorite Brownies Two Ways: Rocky Road Brownies and Marshmallow Peanut Butter Brownies

Sarah Kieffer's 100 Cookies includes quite a few brownie recipes. There are base recipes ("My Favorite Brownies," "Fudgy Brownies," "Cakey Brownies," and even "White Chocolate Brownies"), and then a lot of variations involving add-ins like cream cheese, caramel, nuts, peanut butter, etc. I decided to jump right in to the chocolate brownie variations.

First, I tried the "Rocky Road Brownies," which add chocolate chips, pecans, and marshmallows to the "My Favorite Brownies" base recipe. To make the batter, you whisk together eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, canola oil, and vanilla; incorporate a mixture of bittersweet chocolate and butter that were melted in a double boiler, with cocoa added; stir in flour, salt, and baking powder; and add chopped toasted pecans, chocolate chips, and mini marshmallows (I didn't have mini marshmallows, so I used regular Jet Puffed marshmallows that I cut into quarters). You pour the batter into a parchment-lined pan; sprinkle over more pecans, chocolate chips, and marshmallows; and bake.
The recipe says you should bake the brownies for 25-29 minutes, and at 25 minutes mine were clearly uncooked because the batter was very jiggly. I made a double batch to bake two pans of brownies and one of my pans was done in 37 minutes and the other I took out after 39. I was a bit concerned that they had taken so long to bake. However, after I cooled the brownies and sliced them, I practically swooned when I took a bite. These brownies were so dang good. They had the perfect lightly fudgy texture, a deeply chocolatey flavor, and they were delightfully full of delicious chocolate, nuts, and marshmallows. They were almost candylike but not too sweet. These are truly amazing brownies and my tasters loved them as well.

A few days later I made Kieffer's "Marshmallow Peanut Butter Brownies," which use the same brownie base recipe and add a swirl of peanut butter filling and store-bought marshmallow fluff on top before baking. You make the same brownie batter as the rocky road brownies, but don't add the pecans, chocolate chips, or marshmallows. Instead, you spread the plain brownie batter in a parchment-lined pan; add dollops of marshmallow fluff and a peanut butter filling (creamy peanut butter, powdered, sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt); and swirl the filling and marshmallow together with the batter before baking.
I also had to bake these brownies for significantly longer than the recipe specified; I baked them for 38 minutes even though the range listed in the recipe is 26-32 minutes. The marshmallow portion of the swirl browned to a light tan in the oven, which I was not expecting because the photo in the cookbook (the same photo here on Sarah's blog alongside the recipe) shows brownies with a bright white marshmallow swirl.

Even though these two brownies are based on the same recipe, I had very different opinions of them. I was underwhelmed with marshmallow-peanut butter version, although I think in significant part this was because I loved the rocky road brownies so much. I thought the marshmallow-peanut butter brownies really could have benefited from something to add texture -- maybe some chopped peanuts mixed into the brownie batter, or even using crunchy peanut butter instead of creamy in the topping. I also thought that the strong flavor of the peanut butter competed with the chocolate flavor of the brownie a bit. 
Don't get me wrong, the marshmallow-peanut butter brownie is perfectly tasty. But the rocky road brownie is the one I still dream about. 

Recipes: "Rocky Road Brownies," "Marshmallow Peanut Butter Brownies," and "My Favorite Brownies" from 100 Cookies by Sarah Kieffer.