Decadent Brownies & Bars

anne-thornton-smores-bars.jpgOne of the indulgences associated with my first week recovering at home with Violet was watching a little daytime TV while nursing; in particular, The Nate Berkus Show. I met Nate at BlogHer and enjoyed joint interviewing him this past fall, but hadn't yet had a chance to see his show. He's just as adorable on TV as in real life, and my ears perked up during his segment on dessert flipping with Anne Thornton since I was planning on bringing thank you treats for the midwives and hospital staff when I went to my postpartum visit this week. So on Monday, I made four (yes, four) trays of Thornton's goodies. I wasn't the most efficient (that particular day Violet decided she didn't want to sleep more than 15 minutes at a time), but ultimately -- thanks to Laurel's help when she got home from school -- we made a double batch each of the peanut butter brownies and s'mores bars. And oh. my. yum.
Warning: These treats are super decadent -- not for those counting calories -- and absurdly yummy. The peanut butter brownies involve more steps but the layers are fantastic. When I make them again, I'll try skipping the raw peanuts layer -- the texture contrast is nice but I felt that the peanuts detracted from the peanut butter buttercream layer. And the s'mores are super easy -- I skipped the chipotle pepper powder and they were still great.

Whether you make these brownies and bars as gifts, for home, or for parties, I recommend cutting them into smaller squares than specified in the recipes since the treats are so rich. I cut the bars into approximate 1 inch squares and they looked really cute in the gift tins and also were a more reasonable serving size. Especially since I figured that people would want to sample both types of bars.