My boyfriend P's attitude towards food is often, in his own words, "Yea well...it's a food...you can eat it..." -_-... So when he praises (or even remembers) any food past the day he consumes it, I take notice and usually try to recreate it. For years now P's expressed a fondness for a rice krispies bar he used to buy in college. But he wasn't referring to just any plain rice cereal bar...
The rice krispies layer was just one of 3 essential components in the treat P described -- the others being almighty chocolate and peanut butter ;p. It wasn't hard to see that a light, crunchy cereal base would be the perfect foil for rich layers of peanut butter and chocolate. If you love the combination of chocolate + PB as much as we do, you'll now understand our interest in recreating this heavenly slice.
Speaking of recreating this bar of lore, I actually made one previous attempt over 3 years ago. Let's just say there was some yelling and a pan full of sweetened bricks where there should've been bars =X. Despite that, um, incident...I gave it another shot for P's birthday this year and they turned out much better this time. In fact P kept threatening to eat the entire tray, which is his special way of telling me I done good =).
I bet you guys have some beloved schoolgirl/boy treats of your own that you've been dying to bring back. I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Bars [Printable Recipe]
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking via Making Life Delicious
Makes about 16 bars (9-inch square pan)
XIAOLU'S NOTES: To make cleaner slices, run the edge of your knife under hot water then wipe it clean before/between each slice. The heat will melt the chocolate so that it slices cleanly instead of cracking under the pressure of the knife.
Rice Krispies Base
3 1/2 cups crisped rice cereal (such as Rice Krispies)
1/2 cup sugar
6 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Large pinch of kosher salt
Peanut Butter Layer
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
*Alternately, you may substitute good quality white chocolate to allow the peanut butter flavor to stand out more
1 cup creamy peanut butter (NOT natural or old-fashioned)
2/3 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz. dark chocolate (60% to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
1 tsp light corn syrup
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
Large pinch of kosher salt
To prepare the base, line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper (base AND sides) then butter the foil/paper. Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside.
Add the sugar, corn syrup, and water in a small to medium saucepan and stir until just combined. Don’t splash it around. You want to avoid getting sugar on the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat without stirring until mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 degrees F. You may have to tip your pan to get sufficient depth to register on a candy thermometer.
Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and a pinch of kosher salt. Then pour the mixture over the cereal. Working quickly, stir until the cereal is thoroughly coated, then press it evenly into the prepared pan using the flat bottom of a glass or slightly dampened fingers. Do NOT press down too much or the bars will be too hard. Let the crust cool to room temperature while you make the next layer.
To prepare the peanut butter layer, melt the chocolate and peanut butter together in a medium bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water (basically a makeshift double-boiler). Stir until smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan to cool slightly, and stir in the vanilla. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust.
Put the pan in the fridge for 1 hour, or until the top layer hardens.
To prepare the chocolate topping, melt the chocolate, corn syrup, butter, and pinch of salt together in a medium bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and let it sit for a minute to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the chilled peanut butter layer.
Spread evenly (a small offset spatula works well for this and it also helps to shake the pan gently from side to side to smooth out the surface). Put the pan in the fridge for 1 1/2 hours or until the topping hardens.
Cut into squares and serve. If there are any left, cover tightly and store for up to 4 days.