This is the third recipe from my Baked: New Frontiers in Baking marathon a couple of weeks ago and I have saved the best for last!
Matt and Renato's intro for this recipe states this bar is one of their best sellers. While it sounded insanely good, I wasn't at all prepared for how amazing they are. A crispy layer is blanketed with a peanut butter ganache type layer and then topped with a thinner layer of chocolate frosting.
Without question, my favorite layer was the crispy cereal. Traditional crispy bars coat cereal in melted marshmallows and butter. The Baked version candies the cereal. This step is fussier than the Rice Krispie treat you may have made before, and actually involves the use of a candy thermometer, but it is absolute genius. I could have eaten a bucket of the candied cereal on its own.
The peanut butter chocolate layer is riff on a Reese cup and was rich and creamy. I used a semi-sweet chocolate instead of a darker chocolate for the final layer and this was a good call. I just don't think peanut butter pairs well with dark chocolate. I considered using milk chocolate but really wanted a pronounced difference between the two chocolate layers.
The lovely layers are chilled for a bit and then it's on to the best part - cutting into these and tasting. Love at first bite! I kept going back for a nibble and then another nibble until I decided I needed to get these out of the house - FAST!
I literally think about making these every day. I may tweak the recipe a bit to increase the size of the crispy layer but they are pretty much perfection as is!
Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
Yield: 15 bars
For the crispy crust:
1 3/4 cups crisped rice cereal
1/4 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
1 cup creamy peanut butter
For the chocolate icing:
3 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. First, make the crispy crust. Lightly grease an 8x8 inch square baking pan. In a large bowl, pour in your crisped rice cereal and set aside. In a small saucepan, add 1/4 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.
2. 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 8x8 pan and press down into a smooth layer (do not press the mixture up along the sides). Let this layer cook to room temperature.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.