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Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

February 21, 2008

chocolate peanut butter bars

My mom made these for a holiday a few years ago. She doesn’t have as vicious a sweet tooth as I do, nor is peanut butter one of her favorite ingredients. It’s not that I necessarily expected her to make a less-than-stellar chocolate peanut butter dessert, but I’ll admit to being thrown off guard at discovering how completely awesome these were.

The peanut butter filling in these is easy to repurpose for plenty of other recipes. It’s great for buckeyes, cookie sandwich filling, cupcake filling… scooped up on a spoon straight out of the fridge in the middle of the night… heh.

1-3/4 cups finely crushed graham crackers or vanilla wafers
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup butter
2-1/2 cups peanut butter (not natural*)
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups sifted powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 300°F. For crust, in a medium bowl stir together graham crackers, the 1/2 cup melted butter, and the cocoa powder. Press into bottom of an ungreased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

In a medium saucepan cook and stir chocolate pieces and the 2/3 cup butter over low heat until melted. Carefully spread half of the chocolate mixture over crust. Chill about 30 minutes or until chocolate is set. Set aside the remaining chocolate mixture.

In a large bowl combine peanut butter, the 3/4 cup softened butter, and the vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in as much of the powdered sugar as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining powdered sugar. Pat evenly over chocolate layer in pan.

Spread remaining chocolate mixture over peanut butter layer. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Cut into bars. Makes about 60 bars.

Cut these small because they are more truffle-like than bar-like and should only be consumed in small doses to reduce the risk of chocolate / peanut butter / sugar overload. They are best cold straight out of the fridge and get soft if left at room temp for too long. I also like to dust them with cocoa on top incase the chocolate develops a little bloom from being in the fridge. No one would know!

*The reason I specified not to use natural peanut butter for this is that I tried and they were definitely not as good as using the regular variety. The sweetness and texture were off, and part of what's nice about this recipe is how smooth and creamy the peanut butter filling is. Maybe at some point I will get to experiment with a version using natural pb.
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