Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! I know that it’s not a real holiday or anything, but it’s nice to have a different way to greet people in the mornings, isn’t it? People just seem to be in a better mood on holidays, even on this silly holiday. I do have a little surprise for Kramer later today, but I can’t say anything about it yet! We don’t really buy anything for each other on Valentine’s Day, but I still want to celebrate a little bit tonight. I’ll let you all know what my plans were later this week. What are you doing with your significant others or friends? In New York, it seems like there is a lot of pressure to go out to dinner – it’s weird, but I guess that there are so many good restaurants in the city that people will take any excuse to throw down some serious cash on a nice meal. Maybe when Kramer and I get some serious cash, we will do the same! For now, though, I’m excited to just have a glass of wine and relax at home.
Are you getting sick of hearing about Baked: New Frontiers in Baking yet? I’m sorry, but I’m in love with the book. Absolutely head-over-heels in love. I wanted to post these Peanut Butter Crispy Bars today because, really, can you think of a more romantic combination than peanut butter and chocolate? I don’t think I can. They are a match made in heaven and a wonderful way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. These are a no-bake bar, so if the peanut butter and chocolate aspect of these didn’t grab you at first, that part surely will. The crispy cereal is sort of candied with a combination of sugar, corn syrup, and butter (yum), topped off with a layer of pure peanut butter and chocolate, then finished off with a rich chocolate icing made with semisweet (or dark) chocolate. The cereal helps to cut through the peanut butter and chocolate, all while adding a nice crunch to the smooth chocolate. These three layers make for a truly decadent dessert, but in small portions, they are just the thing to satisfy that sweet tooth.
Quickly toss the cereal with the corn syrup mixture until well coated, then press into a greased pan. I doubled my recipe, so it’s in a 9×13 pan, but the recipe below calls for an 8×8 pan. Let the cereal cool while you make the next layer.
- 1¾ cups crisped rice cereal
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- For the milk chocolate peanut butter layer:
- 5 ounces good quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used large, good quality chocolate chips)
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used chunky)
- 3 ounces dark chocolate (I used semisweet), coarsely chopped
- ½ teaspoon light corn syrup
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- First, make the crispy crust. Lightly grease an 8×8 inch square baking pan. In a large bowl, pour in your crisped rice cereal and set aside. In a small saucepan, add ¼ cup of water. Add in the sugar and corn syrup (while not allowing any sugar or syrup to get on the sides of the pan) and use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until just combined. If you have one, use a candy thermometer and cook over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cook until it reaches the “soft ball” stage, about 235 degrees F. This will take about 8 minutes, more or less.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the butter. Pour the mixture over the cereal and quickly stir until the cereal is completely coated. Pour the cereal into the prepared 8×8 pan and press down into a smooth layer (do not press the mixture up along the sides). Let this layer cook to room temperature.
- While the rice layer cools, make the milk chocolate peanut butter layer. In a large, nonreactive bowl, stir together the chocolate and the peanut butter. You can use a double boiler to melt them together, or, like me, you can simply melt them in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between each interval, until the chocolate and peanut butter are smooth. Pour this mixture over the cereal layer, smooth out, and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour, until it had hardened.
- When the 2nd layer has cooled, make the chocolate icing. In a medium sized bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. You can, again, use a double boiler, or like me, simply melt everything together in the microwave in 30-second intervals, being careful not to burn the chocolate. Stir and be sure that it is smooth, then pour it over the peanut butter and chocolate layer, smoothing out when you are finished. Place the pan back in the fridge for another hour, until it has hardened.
- Cut the bars into squares (15 bars) and serve. These can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days.