Union South Peanut Butter Brownies


In college, I rarely spent much time in Memorial Union, the main student union. It was nearly a two mile walk from our apartment, and on the complete opposite side of the campus from the engineering school.

Instead, most of my student union needs were taken care of at Union South, which was just across the street from the engineering buildings. Union South was incredibly outdated and had a fairly gloomy interior, but they did offer food. My time in Union South essentially consisted of “go get food and bring it back to the prettier and more comfortable Engineering Hall or Engineering Centers Building where all my friends are hanging out between classes and meetings.” And even that lessened once they put a deli in Engineering Hall (appropriately titled “E-Squared”).



Naturally, Union South was rebuilt and opened less than a year after I graduated. Apparently, it is now gorgeous and the kind of place where you would want to hang out or have a meeting. Isn’t that the way these things always go?

Union South (and later, the E-Squared Deli) offered these incredibly rich and decadent brownies which which I would occasionally treat myself. Dan loved them even more than I did, and would stop to pick one up between classes occasionally.

The brownies were thick and fudgy and individually wrapped in plastic wrap. The peanut butter frosting was creamy and nearly as tall as the brownie itself.

A few weeks ago, Dan’s co-worker sent him home with a peanut butter brownie she had bought at a bake sale. The frosting was piled high, and the treat made us nostalgic for the brownies of Union South. Once that memory was triggered, it was only a matter of time before I came up with the recipe to recreate the beloved Union South brownies.


Union South Peanut Butter Brownies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 12-16 brownies

Union South Peanut Butter Brownies

To be a true "Union South" brownie, the layer of frosting should be nearly as thick as the brownie itself. If you aren't a fan of that much frosting, you can cut the frosting ingredients in half. Warning: these brownies are very rich, so eating a little at a time is best.


  • 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • For the Frosting:
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup low-fat milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9ร—9โ€ณ baking pan.
  2. Melt the chocolate, butter and olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth.
  3. Pour the chocolate into a mixing bowl and beat in the sugar either by hand or by using an electric mixer. Add the flour, eggs and salt and stir until everything is just mixed.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges begin to pull away from the pan and the top feels slightly firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edges of the pan. Turn the brownies out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  5. For the Frosting:
  6. Beat the butter and peanut butter until creamy and relatively smooth. There will still be a few small lumps, but these will get smoothed out when you add the milk.
  7. Slowly add the powdered sugar until it is incorporated into the peanut butter. Add the milk and beat until smooth.
  8. Spread the frosting evenly over the cooled brownies.


    • Julie @savvyeats says

      If you want to skip the brownie half and go straight for the frosting, go for it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. says

    when I was in Madison, Union South was the place to go for punk-pop shows just about every single weekend. I’m pretty sure I saw both Motion City Soundtrack and The Starting Line play at Union South over a dozen times each. So many memories! [and these brownies? DIVINE!]

    • Julie @savvyeats says

      I don’t remember there being many shows at Union South, but I may be wrong… have you seen photos of the new Union South? It is gorgeous!

  2. says

    Frosting is my favorite part of any dessert hands down. And a cup of peanut butter. Wow is all I can say. I am so jealous that your engineering got a deli. We could have definitely used one! It was my goal to never get good delivered to the lab. If I was there that long… It was time for a break:)

    • Julie @savvyeats says

      Agreed on the food delivery! Sometimes, even stopping just long enough to go get the food yourself and bring it back is the break you need. Even better if you can spare the time to eat it at the deli/cafe/restaurant before heading back.

  3. says

    oh my gosh, i don’t want to rub it in or anything, but seriously. the new union south is AMAZING. i’ve gone over there for lunch a couple times and taken some work there a couple afternoons. it’s gorgeous!

    my undergrad got a new student center the year after i graduated too if if makes you feel any better. the new one has a 4 star restaurant in it that students can use their meal plan points at. insane.