I feel like I keep saying this… How have I not made these before?? I’ve been participating in Baked Sunday Mornings for over 7 years and made the large majority of BAKED’s recipes from their four cookbooks– it’s hard to believe we’re in our last 6 months of baking through BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking… and voilà, we’ll be done forever. These Peanut Butter Crispy Bars are one of the bakery’s all-time classic treats, which I’ve had multiple times in their bakeries in Brooklyn and Manhattan (sadly now shuttered). But somehow. Somehow! I have never made them in my own kitchen. I have no explanation for this, other than PB-chocolate things are generally not on the top of my preference list. At long last I have made them, and I will henceforth make them again and again. In fact, we’ve saved some of the very best BAKED recipes for last, so I’m excited for these last 6 months of baking with this group… And then I’m going to be very, very sad!
The original quantity is made in an 8×8″ pan, but the recipe says that it doubles well, and frankly that little square pan ain’t gonna feed very many people, so I went with a double batch in a 9×13″ pan. These were so easy to pull together, and although there’s some chilling time to take into account, I made each layer easily while prepping ingredients for dinner, and before I knew it, they were done. In other words, when you need a low-effort, high-payoff dessert, this is what you want to make!
The crispy rice base layer is made by boiling a mixture of sugar, corn syrup, and water and taking it to 235°F, then stirring in melted butter. Pour this over the cereal in a big shallow bowl and mix it to coat all the puffed rice. That will cool while you melt milk chocolate and peanut butter together, which you’ll pour over the top of the candied cereal layer and spread it out smoothly. Let this chill for an hour until it solidifies. Finally, melt together dark chocolate, butter, and a touch of corn syrup to make a shiny glaze and pour this over the milk chocolate-peanut butter layer. I simply tipped the pan around to even it out, and in the fridge it went to chill. That is it!
The only things that I would improve upon next time are: a) I found that the ratio of syrup to cereal was too gooey, even after the bars had firmed up. A lot of the sticky mixture sank to the bottom, making the bars hard to remove even from the parchment paper that I used to line the pan. (Note to self: spray the paper with PAM.) I would add another 1 cup or so of cereal for the double batch to soak up the extra sugar goo, which would also make the bars a little taller; b) the glaze didn’t stay shiny like in the book’s photo. However, it was perfectly smooth and stayed creamy, so this wasn’t a big deal. I took the bars out of the fridge about 30 minutes before cutting them, and they still sliced beautifully with sharp edges.
Verdict? Wow. Decadent AF. I cut squares about 2″ in size, and I mean, I could personally house a lot more than that, but these are suuuuper rich. For people who don’t traffic in desserts on a regular basis, you could cut 1″ bites and that would be plenty. I think cutting them into skinny bars (like a fun-size candy bar) would be cute too, especially if you’re serving them for a festive occasion. Incidentally, I find these to be really elegant– you could easily dust the top with edible glitter, luster dust, or golf leaf. Or just dispense with anything fancy and gobble these bars up!
You can find the recipe for Peanut Butter Crispy Bars over at Baked Sunday Mornings. I promise, you won’t be the least bit sorry.
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2019.