Saturday, November 27, 2010

Peanut Butter Bars

I'll do a full write-up on the debacle that was Thanksgiving at some other point, because I'm swamped with work from my less sexy, non-blogging life.

A few people asked me about what I brought as a hostess gift to T-Day (as opposed to D-Day, although for me Thanksgiving is more Dunkirk-like, in terms of survival)

All Recipes Peanut Butter Bars

  • 1 cup melted butter(but not 'hot)
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (I didn't use gluten-free crackers, but you could easily use them, if you are gluten-sensitive or wish to make a treat for someone who is gluten-intolerant). The crumbs must be PULVERIZED. They should have the texture of sand, otherwise the dough will be lumpy.
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar (I have tried this recipe with regular and brown sugar, and again--the dough becomes too coarse and lumpy--it needs the fine powder of confectioners' sugar).
  • 1 cup peanut butter (chunky or creamy)--PLUS four extra tablespoons (So, 'divided' use.  Yes, that's as technical as I get in my terminology.)
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
However, I'd add a few 'notes' to the original--first of all, don't do what I did, and just mix everything in a big lump--make sure to cream the butter, sugar, and peanut butter together first, and then add the graham cracker crumbs to the mix SLOWLY--otherwise it takes forever to fold into an incorporated 'dough.'

Getting the food to the destination is often harder than actually making it
  1. Cream the butter, sugar, and the 1 cup peanut butter together, then (I'll say it again) SLOWLY incorporate the crumbs.  And I do mean slowly--don't do what I did, and throw everything in a lump, because the mix will take forever to combine.  This might be more important with gluten-free crackers, depending on the texture.  You may need an extra tablespoon of butter or peanut butter to get everything 'wet'--the dough will still be gritty and crumbly, kind of like sand.
  2. Spread mixture onto the bottom of 9x13 inch pan (you can use a slightly smaller pan for thicker bars--in fact, that might work better, as it will be easier to spread).
  3. Panic because dough is weird and sandy and hard to spread across the bottom of the pan.
  4. Melt the chocolate chips with the four tablespoons of peanut butter, either in a bowl over boiling water or in the microwave (heating, pausing, stirring, and heating) until incorporated.
  5.  Spread over the prepared crust.  Realize that you now have peanut butter over every single surface in the kitchen.  The chocolate peanut butter mix will be super, super sticky. It was hard to get it to cover everything--I think I should have tried to let it get more like 'liquid' although I was afraid the chocolate might 'seize.'
  6.  All Recipes says to "refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into squares."  My experience: check after one hour. See that mix is still a crumbly mess. Panic. Cry.  Wake up the next morning.  Realize that it has set.  Fall on knees and thank the heavens.
  7. The All Recipes site says 12 bars is the yield.  Unless someone is really, really hungry, these are very rich--almost like fudge.  I cut them in tiny pieces (about 30-40, I forget which) and garnished them with Reeces Pieces and M&Ms in the little cups
  8. Take to Thanksgiving.  Have everyone ignore them and eat store-bought goods instead.
Question: Does anyone have a good method for measuring peanut butter?  I always find it very sticky to worth with and make an incredible mess?  It sounds so easy on the page: "measure one cup of peanut butter."  And I say to myself: yeah, measuring cup of peanut butter in the cup, one cup spread all over the kitchen.
What actually got eaten at Thanksgiving
Sometimes I heat the jar to make it less adhesive, but no matter what,  I always end up looking like a very messy toddler at the end of any recipe that contains more than a tablespoon of the Great American condiment.


  1. Convert the measurement to weight (using the Internet oracle of your choice) and use a scale to get the proper amount. Put the bowl of dough directly on the scale, set it to zero, then keep putting in PB until it his the target weight.

  2. @Gwen--that's a great idea! I also like the idea of 'buttering' (or oiling) the bowl with that idea. Before casting my net for suggestions, I'd seriously be wearing more peanut butter than got into the bowl.