Though for the most part, I prefer dark chocolate over milk chocolate, there is one exception to the rule: milk chocolate and peanut butter, as in these Peanut Butter Bars.
This flavor combination brings back memories for me every time. Closeted in my bedroom as a teenager, devouring book after book, and nibbling on my secret stash of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
As the oldest of five kids, I felt I had a lot from which to hide, along with a bunch of teen-aged angsty stuff that we all go through, as we try to survive the difficult terrain of high school. Milk chocolate and peanut butter were a big help.
Every so often, as I am reading an older book, I get this memory at the edge of my consciousness of those mingled flavors, and I realize that I have read that particular book before – probably in 1972.
This recipe used to reside on my old blog, where it had melted chocolate chips for the topping, but I like this ganache much better. It stays just on the edge of meltiness, and leaves the same traces on your fingers as those peanut butter cups did. Still, if you are in a hurry – and want to save a few calories – you can sprinkle the top with milk chocolate chips when you bring these out of the oven, and then spread them out when they melt.
The only other adjustment I made was for the use of natural peanut butter, which consisted of swapping them out in equal measures. I have never noticed a lot of difference in using one or the other, and I never buy anything but the natural stuff anymore. If you don’t have natural peanut butter, by all means, use what you have on hand.
This is a simple, and very easy recipe.
- 1 cup natural peanut butter
- ½ cup soft butter
- ¾ c dark brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3 eggs, one at a time, then
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 & ½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 11.5 ounce bag good quality milk chocolate chips [divided]
- 3 ounces heavy cream
- sea salt [optional]
- Generously butter and 9 x 13 inch baking dish and preheat the oven to 350º
- Cream together the butter and peanut butter.
- Add the sugars and beat until fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
- Beat in the vanilla.
- Measure in the flour, salt and baking powder.
- Beat on medium speed until well combined - about 30 seconds.
- Beat in ¾ cup of the milk chocolate chips, reserving the rest for the top.
- Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan, and bake at 350º for 28 to 30 minutes.* Cool completely.
- While the bars are cooling, heat the heavy cream just to a simmer, remove from the heat and add the remaining chocolate chips.
- Let the cream and chips sit for a couple of minutes, and then stir until the chips are completely melted and the mixture is very smooth.
- Once both the bars and the ganache are cooled to room temperature, spread the ganache in an even layer, and then sprinkle lightly with coarse sea salt, like Maldon.
- You can refrigerate the bars at this point to allow the ganache to harden, or just let them sit for a few hours at room temperature.
- Cut into bars to serve. Store leftovers tightly sealed in a single layer - refrigerate after 2 days.
There you go – just in case you have any angst of your own that needs soothing – trust me, these will take care of it!