Sunday, September 05, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

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1 c. Butter or margarine
1/2 c. Natural peanut butter (ie. no sugar added)
1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
1.5 c. Brown sugar
2 c. Graham cracker crumbs
1 c. Rolled oats
1 bag (250 g) Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chipits

Melt the butter in the microwave and and stir in the peanut butter.  Blend well.  Then, add the vanilla extract and set aside.

In another mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, rolled oats and brown sugar with a fork.

Pour the peanut butter mixture into the dry mixture.  Stir until everything is combined.

Line a 9x13" dish with wax paper. Spread the peanut butter and graham cracker crumb mixture in the dish and press down firmly.

Put the chocolate chips in the same bowl you used for mixing the butter and peanut butter. Melt the chocolate chips in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring in between, until all the chocolate chips are melted (approximately 3-4 times). Spread the chocolate on top of the peanut butter bar bottom.

Tip:  If you chill the graham cracker bottom for 15-20 min until it begins to harden, it is easier to spread the melted chocolate on top.

Chill in the fridge until the chocolate is set (approximately 45 min). When the chocolate is hard to touch, cut into bars. Then chill for several more hours until the bars are firmly set.

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My comments:

One of my new favourite website is Tastespotting.  It is a collection of fantastic food blogs and it updates frequently.  I visit this website 3-4 times a day and I just can't get enough of it.  My last few recipes were discovered through Tastespotting.

Sometimes you see several similar recipes popping up on the same day.  When there are 10-20 of foodies all attempting the same recipe, you know it's the time for the Daring Baker Challenge.  The last one I saw was back in July for some pretty mouthwatering ice-cream cakes.  Well, I'm not a daring baker...I'm more of a lazy baker.  The easier the recipe, the better.

I came across two recipes [1, 2] for chocolate peanut butter bars that required very few ingredients and zero baking.  Ah! my kind of recipe.  We've just survived a massive late summer heat wave and believe me, the last thing you want to do is to turn on the oven, even when you have AC.  I was a bit suspicious about the no-bake part but the ingredients were cheap, so I gave it a try.

The bars turned out amazing!!!  I substituted the powdered sugar for brown sugar because I was too lazy to climb up to the top cupboard to retrieve my powdered sugar.  I also reduced the amount of brown sugar to 1.5 cups (instead of 3).  I thought the end result was pretty good, if not a bit too sweet.

The first time I made this, I found the graham cracker bottom, while tastey, was too greasy, too buttery.  It needed to be serve chilled, otherwise, the bar becomes too soft to hold in your hand.  I had an idea to improve it and I wanted to try it out before posting the recipe.  However, I have been reading up on the art of food photography [1, 2] plus extracting a few pointers from a friend.  I had the opportunity to try out what I've learned today and my pictures turned out really nice.  They are, by no means, professional quality but as you can see, they have improved tremendously since last night when I photographed my sweet potato rolls.  So I need to show these off because I don't know when I'll have another opportunity to do this again without my toddler stealing the food and running away from me while I try to be artistic.

Anyhow, I made them again a few weeks later and this time, I added a cup of rolled oats to the graham cracker bottom.  The bottom firmed up really well and these newly improved bars tasted great even when kept at room temperature.  I brought them into work and the unanimous consensus was that this recipe is a keeper.  :)

(I ate all the peanut butter bars before I got a chance to re-do the pictures.  So what you see above is actually pictures of the old rolled-oat-less bars, but they looked pretty much the same.)

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