Holy moly, but these are good.
I mean like, unreal good. Like: I didn’t take these into work, or dump them on the neighbors, or force them on friends. Instead Scott and I hid in our house and devoured the entire pan on our own. Frankly I consider it a show of complete self-control that it took us 4 days to do so. Make these, immediately.
The original recipe’s version of the crispy crust was a bit different; I decided it should be a little more chewy than crunchy (I’ve read reports of the crust crumbling after refrigeration; that just will not do). Uh, and more peanut butter please. So I took my Grandma’s awesome Grandma bar base and used that instead, just with crispy rice over Special K.
So what you basically have here is: a crispy, sweet, chewy-yet-crunchy base with a nice punch of peanut butter. A dreamy creamy middle layer that tastes like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. And a top coating of a glossy, dark chocolate ganache. They are rich rich rich but you find yourself craving another no more than an hour after you eat the first one. So my suggestion: make these. Cut them into small bars.
And for goodness sake, but give most of the pan away.
Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
(adapted from Baked, 2008)
For the crispy crust:
1 3/4 c. crisped rice cereal
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 c. light corn syrup
1/4 c. + 1 Tbsp. (or about 5 Tbsp.) creamy peanut butter
For the milk chocolate peanut butter layer:
5 oz. good-quality milk, coarsely chopped
1 c. creamy peanut butter
For the chocolate ganache:
3 oz. dark chocolate (60 to 72 percent cocoa), coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. light corn syrup
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted (their recommendation) butter
Make the crispy crust: Lightly spray a paper towel with nonstick cooking spray and use it to rub the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan.
Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside.
Melt the sugar and syrup in a large-ish saucepan, over medium heat. At the FIRST SIGN OF BOIL, like at that first bubble breaking to the top, pull from the heat and stir in the peanut butter. Then add the cereal and gently stir to coat. Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan (do not press up the sides). Let the crust cool to room temperature while you make the next layer.
Make the milk chocolate peanut butter layer: In a large nonreactive metal bowl, stir together the chocolate and the peanut butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for about 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust. Put the pan in the refridgerator for 1 hour, or until the top layer hardens.
Make the chocolate icing: In a large nonreactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter.
Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the chilled milk chocolate peanut butter layer and spread (actually, I found it easier to just roll it around until it coated smoothly, avoiding the risk of picking up any of the peanut butter layer with it) into an even layer. Put the pan into the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the topping hardens.
Cut into 9 (they say, I say 16, at least!) squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly, for up to 4 days.