Saturday, December 20, 2008

Holiday Baking Results - Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares

Okay. I did not eat all of the squares missing from the pan. But, in all honesty, I could have. This candy is like a drug to me. There is something about the crunch of the graham crackers mixed with the peanut butter and offset by the chocolate that absolutely slays me. A word of warning: it is extremely sweet. The phrase “tooth-achingly sweet” always comes to mind when I take a bite. But then after the fifth, sixth, or seventh bite I’ve forgotten about the sweetness. By the tenth I’m quickly strategizing about how I’m going to force myself to put the pan back in the fridge.

Make these. Just make them.

I would advise, however, having a plan for these candies before you prepare them, e.g., sharing them with office-mates, taking them to a holiday party, etc. Don’t make them just for yourself or your family. They are too irresistible.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares

2 sticks butter, melted
1 cup smooth peanut butter (like Jif or Skippy, not “natural” peanut butter)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (approx. 14 squares/7 rectangles)
1 lb. powdered sugar
12 oz milk chocolate (melted)

1. Butter a 9 X 13 inch baking pan. I use a glass Pyrex dish.
2. In a large bowl stir together the butter, peanut butter, graham cracker crumbs and powdered sugar. Pat into prepared pan.
3. Pour melted chocolate into pan over peanut butter mixture. With a spatula spread the chocolate in an even layer.
4. Refrigerate the candy for 45 minutes. Then cut it into squares (you want to do this before the chocolate hardens completely, hence the 45 minutes).
5. Store in the refrigerator, and if possible, show some restraint!

A couple of tips:

• To produce the graham cracker crumbs, I put the crackers in a large Ziploc bag then bang them with a meat mallet. A rolling pin would also work. So would the back of a pan or possibly even your fist. (You could probably forget the whole bag thing and just use a food processor, although it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.) Or, of course, if your grocery store sells graham cracker crumbs by the box you could just buy one of those.

• Instead of dirtying a bunch of pans constructing a double boiler, I have had great success melting chocolate in the microwave. The trick is to only use 50% power and to run the microwave in short bursts. For 12 ounces of chocolate I usually start with two minutes and then continue in one-minute blocks until the chocolate is just melted. If there are still a couple of solid bits that’s okay. Just stir the whole thing and the small chunks will melt.

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