Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Peanut Butter Crispy Bars

OH boy, oh boy, oh boy....I have been waiting quite a while to share these bad boys with you!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate fans better try to contain yourselves because this is a spectacular combination of the two. Spectacular I tell you! And they are one of THE easiest treats I have ever made. How is that for appealing, huh?

Before I go into the details of these bars, I better mention to you all again- peanut butter and chocolate are not my favorite combination. So, as a non-peanut butter and chocolate enthusiast, I am telling you, these bars are a MUST for you to make. Now that is saying something.

Remember how I said that these were easy? Well... let me rephrase that- "easy" if you have a cooking/candy thermometer. I know. I too hate it when special equipment is called for in a recipe, but if you don't have one, you realllllly should invest in a thermometer. I use mine at least once a week. I thought I lost it once. I might of cried. Don't worry, I found it.

Anyways! Lets break these bars down.

Bottom Layer: A candied crust of rice krispies... Mmmmmmm, yum.

Middle Layer: Milk chocolate peanut butter! Literally all you have to do is mix melted milk chocolate into peanut butter. Could that be any easier?

Top Layer: Dark chocolate ganache. Same thing as middle layer- just melt 3 simple ingredients together!

As you can see, the hardest part of this entire bar is the bottom layer. And truly, if you already own a thermometer, it's simple- just bring the ingredients to 235 degrees F. Thats it. Then mix them with the krispies. Quickly. And Evenly. Seriously, be quick and even about this. They harden pretty fast and if you don't distribute the syrup evenly then some bars have bites that are much harder than others. It's weird. I mean don't get me wrong, if that does happen, they are still delicious. I'm just a perfectionist so it bothered me a bit.

You should also know that I made these bars twice. One pan directly after the other... it was kind of pathetic. I actually ended up trying to put a twist on the second pan by first browning the butter and adding a nice pinch of salt- a trick I picked up from my salted brown butter rice krispies. I do believe that there was a nice difference in the taste. But that adds a few unnecessary steps that takes away from the incredible simplicity of the bars, so you can disregard my experimentation. Plus, although I thought it was great, it took away from the peanut butter as the dominant flavor.

This recipe uses an 8" square baking pan which some of you may not have. But I bet you have a 9"x13" pan... if you would like to adjust the recipe for that size, just double it. This recipe isn't baked, it's just chilled in the refrigerator, so the pan size doesn't have to be exact. If you have a 9" square pan, you can absolutely use that without any adjustments, your bars will just be a smidge shorter.

Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
Adapted from "Baked: A New Frontier in Baking" by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
Print Recipe

1 3/4 cups crisped rice cereal
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tb light corn syrup
3 Tb butter, melted

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter
5 oz milk chocolate, coarsely chopped or chips (scant 1 cup)
1 cup creamy peanut butter

Chocolate Icing
3 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/2 tsp light corn syrup
4 Tb (1/2 stick) butter

Lightly spray a paper towel with nonstick cooking spray and use it to rub the bottom and sides of an 8 inch square pan. Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside. Pour 1/4 cup water into a small saucepan. Gently add the sugar and corn syrup (do not let any sugar or syrup get on the sides of the pan) and use a spatula to stir the mixture until just combined. Put a candy thermometer in the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 degrees F. Remove from heat, stir in the butter, and pour the mixture over the cereal. Working quickly, stir until the cereal is thoroughly coated, then pour into the prepared pan. Press the mixture, evenly into the bottom of the pan (not up the sides). Let the crust cool to room temperature while you make the next layer.

In a large nonreactive metal bowl (or glass pyrex bowl), stir together the chocolate and the peanut butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for about 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust. Put the pan in the refrigerator for 1 hr, or until the top layer hardens.

In a large nonreactive metal bowl (or glass pyrex bowl), combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for about 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the chilled milk chocolate peanut butter layer and spread into an even layer. Put the pan in the refrigerator for 1 hr or until the topping hardens.

Cut into 16 squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly, for up to 4 days.

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