Chocolate-Frosted Peanut Butter Bars

1 Aug

I’ve just spent an age cleaning around my desk and I don’t know why.  I sat down to watch Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (highly recommend), and the next thing I know, I find myself sorting through a mountain of CDs and mysterious cables.  The CDs contained, as it turned out, old photos from various vacations, like camping in Gettsyburg and flying in a glider plane somewhere in NY state.   There was also a recording of me from four years ago at a flute recital.  I wasn’t too bad, you know?  I never wou;d have guessed, since it’s so hard to hear yourself when you’re playing.  But man, those turns?  Nailed ’em.  Crisp as a fresh Pringle.  (Remember Pringles?  Man, those were so 90s.)

But wait, you’re here for the baking aren’t you?  Fine, if you’re going to be like that.  Let me tell you, then, what I got up to last week.  I realize I’ve baked a lot these past two weeks, for lack of anything better to do.  And I wanted chocolate, so I made these deliciously decadent (oh I know it’s an overused word, but listen, it’s the best word, and you will see why) peanut butter bars with a friend of mine, who measured things, sat around, provided commentary, and foisted music upon me.  You know.  As friends do.

So here we go, chocolate-frosted peanut butter bars, from Joy the Baker because I love her to little sugar-y, chocolate-y pieces.

Oh, and check out this apron my wonderful mother got me.  She has the best taste, I swear.

 

How cute is that?  And best of all, it will keep my clothes safe from my flour-flinging ways.

Ingredients:

For the bars:

  • 10 tbsp butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter, your choice as to the specifics
  • 1/4 cup Nutella (you can just use an entire cup of peanut butter if you prefer)
  • (but why would you)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the frosting:

  • 6 tbsp butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2-2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips, melted (yes really)

To make:

Melt the butter and sugar together, quelling your disgust at the molasses-y mixture it produces, until the butter has just melted.

 

Why yes, that is a lot of butter.  Why yes, that is a veritable mountain of sugar.

 

It should look like this, yes?  When it does, remove it from the stove and allow it to cool for five minutes.  Then add the peanut butter.

I used white chocolate peanut butter, from the wonderful, wonderful Peanut Butter Co., which was founded by a Vassar grad, as the Vassar undergrad in my kitchen informed me.

 

Stir it in until it’s incorporated and then allow to cool some more.  If you don’t, you might end up cooking the egg.

I took a lot of pictures of this peanut butter for some reason.  It is very photogenic stuff, I suppose.

As I said in the ingredients list, I added a quarter cup of Nutella in place of the final quarter cup of peanut butter, just to make things interesting.  Nutella always makes things interesting.  It is a fact of life.  You don’t have to do this, but I really can’t imagine any reason why you wouldn’t want to.

Also, you could use honey peanut butter, chocolate peanut butter (which I love, love, love), almond butter, hazelnut butter (oh man, I’m doing that next), or whatever nut butter makes you happiest.

 

Goodness, enough of that.  Now add the egg and vanilla.

My egg was sweating it was so hot outside.

Whisk together the dry ingredients, and throw them into the bowl of sugar, butter, and egg all at once.

 

Stir until just incorporated.  Then dump that in a 13×9 pan and bake for 20-25 minutes at 325 degrees.  It seemed to take forever for these to cook, but I think that’s because the peanut butter made the bars look squishier than they actually were, and therefore undercooked for a long time.  In other words, if your baking tester comes out of the middle with some fudgy peanut butter clinging to it, I wouldn’t worry overly much.

Now for the frosting!  Which is divine, good lord.

Beat together the butter, cocoa powder, and salt.

 

Add half a cup of powdered sugar, then a tablespoon of milk, etc., etc., beating well after each addition.  Or do it all at once because you didn’t bother to read it and had two different people hovering over the bowl.

It’s fine.

Melt the chips.  If they are not completely melted when you dump them into the frosting bowl, do not fret.  It’ll just add more body to the frosting.

Beat until combined.  Then, when the bars are cooled down, frost them.

As you can see, we couldn’t wait until they’d completely cooled off.  So we threw the whole thing in the fridge when we made the frosting, and when they still weren’t cool, we pried a corner out, frosted it by itself, and ate the scalding mess.  It.  Was.  Delicious.  But better when it actually cooled down.

I had several one for breakfast the next day after having forgotten to cover them up for the night and it was fine, but really, cover these with plastic wrap or something because they go stale pretty quickly.

Mmmm…

So here’s your book of the week!  I mentioned I was going to watch Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy, which I saw when it came out in January, or whenever that was.  The reason I was going to watch it tonight was that I just finished the book today, in the car driving back from the Adirondacks.

Man, it was good.  Slow to get started for sure, and I actually picked it up this weekend after forgetting about it a few months ago.  It’s a good summer read…  You know, I don’t know why people say that.  Well, I suppose I do.  People say it because everyone wants a nice, easy read for their summer, right?  They don’t want to think too hard, but they do want some stimulation of the brain.

Well you know what?  That’s not what I want in my summer reading.  I want to be challenged.  I don’t have school to keep me going, so I need some complicated books.  Or at least something really engaging.  That was partly why I was reading the Richard Feynman/quantum physics biography.  Also, because Feynman was a boss, but that goes without saying.

In any case, TTSS is good for those of you who like an easy summer read, because by the end you have a clear indication of the “bad guy”‘s identity and what happens to everyone without working too hard.  And it’s good for those of you like me, who try to work the whole thing out ahead of time.  It’s just a good, solid book.  Nothing special, but nice.  I couldn’t put it down for the last hundred pages, needing to know what happened next, even though I pretty much knew, so that tells you a lot about how engaging the book can be.

And there you have it, folks.  Come back sometime tomorrow for a meringue recipe that won’t make you want to tear your face off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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