It was cold here this last weekend.
I want to say, “unseasonably” cold, but that’s not true.
After years of living in this climate though, a humid and windy 52 degrees F can practically freeze your ears off.
I know some of you are rolling your eyes right now because your weather is way colder and wetter than ours.
That’s fine. Roll away. The cold wasn’t the point of my story anyway.
The point is that my kids found it hilarious that I busted out my fleece pajamas, and I wore them pretty much non-stop for the three-day weekend – except for when I left the house – and even then I debated about that particular self-imposed rule the first morning back to school.
I’m pretty sure I could have made it through the drop-off line without anyone noticing. You can only see my chest and arms through the car windows anyway, and there’s nothing eye-catching about arms through a car window.
Fleece pajamas, in general, are not particularly funny. . . except for mine.
They’re powder blue with white stars and polka dots all over them.
And it’s a warm-up suit.
Zipper hoodie, Yo.
And they’re a minimum of two (generously roomy) sizes too big.
The last time I wore them was when I was mucho grande pregnant with my fourth child.
Are you starting to get the picture?
They’re not cute.
But they are WARM, and three days ago, the only way I was able to get the bones in my lower legs to come back up to that cozy, life-sustaining temperature of 98.6 degrees was to take a burning-hot, 30 minute shower and then seal in the heat with my blue fleece jammies.
Deal with it, Kids.
And just because you laughed at me all weekend, I’m considering finishing off these PB & Chocolate bars all by myself.
Take that, Snickering Offspring!
So the bars. . .
here’s the deal.
I guarantee you they’re going to be messy.
I promise you they’re going to be tricky to cut.
The chocolate on top is going to slide around and crack where you don’t want it to crack, and the peanut butter is going to come smooshing out the sides from the pressure of the knife.
The bars are refrigerated, but that’s not enough to keep the peanut butter solid, and I wasn’t in the mood to add loads more sugar and butter to ramp up the firm factor.
You might be tempted to curse at me for giving you such a poorly thought out recipe (see my recipe notes – I actually put A LOT of thought into it AND offer suggestions for how to fix the flaws. . . ).
The PB can’t even hold its shape.
And it’s OK if you feel like you need to let an expletive fly in my direction.
I can accept my responsibility for the disaster part of the dessert.
I just feel like once you taste the bars, then you’ll be OK with the mess.
It’s not dainty by any means, so don’t sample it in front of anyone you’re trying to impress.
It’s possible that the entire slab of chocolate might fall off the top, and peanut butter might go sliding down your thumb and onto your sleeve cuff, and chunks of cookie may tumble down the front of your shirt.
You will have to lick your fingers with enthusiasm, and you must keep a large glass of milk, or water, or a mug of hot coffee close by to wash it all down – because it’s thick and will probably stick to the roof of your mouth or the back of your throat, or both.
After you’ve had your first bar, you’ll want more but you’ll feel full, and you’ll appreciate that sometimes failures are just fine with you.
You can’t say I didn’t warn you.
I suggest when you eat them, that you take care to wear ridiculo winter jammies – you’ll notice they taste exceptionally dreamy when you’re dressed appropriately.
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bars
These bars are messy. They will fall apart. They won't cut well. I mostly blame the peanut butter mixture. It's very soft. My reasoning however, is that in order to firm it up, I would have had to add more butter (over half a cup), and more sugar (also another half a cup), and I just didn't want to add that much more "bad stuff". I'm guessing that using "traditional" peanut butter (not the natural version) would also firm up the filling - but again - I didn't want to. I didn't want to add any unnecessary ingredients. Personally, I like the crunch of the chocolate layer, BUT if you're not into the tops of your bars cracking, you can try adding more Crisco to make the chocolate a little softer and easier cutting, and I have three suggestions when it's time to slice:
1. Use a narrow knife - it seems to crack the chocolate less.
2. Leave the bars IN the pan - This will prevent the chocolate layer from sliding.
3. Ignore # 1, freeze the entire pan and see what happens if you cut them frozen with a heavy-duty knife. (I have yet to try this one!)
For the Cookie Crust:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Prepare the pan: I lined a 9x13" pan with parchment so I could remove the bars when they were finished to cut them - however, I'm thinking now that it would have been better to leave them in the pan for cutting - so the chocolate couldn't slide around as easily. If you don't line it, just give the pan a quick spray with cooking oil. (Although I suspect that with all the butter in the cookie crust you probably don't even need to spray it. Your call!).
In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer, combine all of the crust ingredients.
Mix together on medium speed until dough begins to hold together. (It will start out looking like small crumbs, then large ones, then one or two big clumps).
Press dough into the bottom of the prepared pan as evenly as possible.
Bake 15-20 minutes, or until top is just barely golden.
Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before spreading with peanut butter mixture.
For the Peanut Butter:
Add butter to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until creamy. Add peanut butter and beat until incorporated and smooth. Add sugars and vanilla and beat until smooth. (Because the brown sugar is a little coarse, I beat the peanut butter/sugar mixture for quite a while - probably close to 5 minutes - to achieve the texture I wanted).
Using a spatula, spread peanut butter mixture evenly over the cooled cookie crust.
Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
For the Chocolate:
When the peanut butter mixture is frozen fairly solid, prepare your chocolate.
Pour 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl.
Add the tablespoon of Crisco. (If you'd like to make the chocolate layer a little softer to prevent cracking, try adding an extra tablespoon of Crisco.)
Microwave for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir with a fork. If the chips are not completely melted, heat in the microwave for 15 seconds more and stir again. Repeat if necessary.
Remove cookie/peanut butter pan from the freezer. Pour the melted chocolate over the top and spread evenly with a spatula. I attempted to "score" the chocolate before it froze by dragging the spatula tip through the chocolate to create a grid pattern. This was only somewhat successful when it came to cutting the cooled chocolate.
Place pan in fridge and let cool/solidify for least 2 hours.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days (or more!).
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