Are you are looking for an out-of-this-world treat to serve to family and friends? Look no further because I have the recipe for you! There are so many wonderful things about these bars. We have two kinds of chocolate, peanut butter, and crisped rice cereal. When brought together, these become the Three Tenors of Yum. They are also great because they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. They won't last that long, but it is nice to make them in advance. The texture is marvelous in the mouth as well. The bottom layer is a candied, crispy, and crunchy base that is slathered with a smooth and creamy chocolate-peanut butter mixture and then topped with a delicious dark chocolate glaze. These are something special.
I first made these bars a few years ago for a boy scout troop meeting and a teacher's conference dinner and they were really good, but as usual, I needed to make a few changes to suit my taste. The original recipe made enough for an 8x8-inch pan, but these bars are so good that you'll want to share them. And that calls for a bigger pan. In doing so, I doubled the top and bottom layer, but only made 1 1/2 of the middle peanut butter layer. I felt it was a better chocolate to peanut butter ratio. The other change I made was to brown the butter. Any chance I get to brown butter, I go for it. It adds such a nice depth of nuttiness to the bottom layer that pairs perfectly with the peanut butter and chocolate. You can certainly opt to just melt the butter like the original recipe. Any way you make them they will be good!
*One note-- these are refrigerator bars. Therefore, they are not good candidates for sitting out on a buffet table on a warm, sunny day. However, when I took them to the boy scout meeting (inside) and the teacher's dinner (inside as well), I kept them covered and placed a large ice pack under the serving trays where they sat for an hour before being devoured.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
makes 24 2x2-inch bars
For the bottom layer
3 1/2 cups crisped rice cereal
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons light corn syrup
6 Tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and browned, browning is optional, but good
For the middle layer
7 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
For the top layer
6 ounces good quality dark chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
8 Tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter
Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper leaving excess hanging over the side for easy removal. Place the cereal in a large bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan, pour in 1/2 cup water; add the sugar and corn syrup and gently stir to combine. Using a candy thermometer placed in the pan, bring the the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the candy thermometer reaches the soft-ball stage, 235º F. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, and pour the mixture over the cereal. Working quickly, stir until the cereal is thoroughly coated. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Using a spatula sprayed with non-stick spray or wrapping a piece of plastic wrap around your hand, evenly press the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Allow the layer to cool to room temperature.
In a large heat-proof bowl, combine the chocolate and peanut butter. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Using an rubber spatula, stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and continue to stir to cool the mixture slightly, about 30 seconds. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust. Place the pan in the refrigerator for at least one hour or until the top layer hardens.
In another large heat-proof bowl, combine the dark chocolate, corn syrup and butter. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Using a rubber spatula, stir until the chocolate and butter have melted and the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and continue to stir to cool the mixture slightly, about 30 seconds. Pour the mixture over the chilled peanut butter layer and spread into an even layer using an off-set spatula. Place the pan in the refrigerator for at least one hour or until the chocolate layer hardens.
Using the parchment overhang, carefully lift the bars out of the pan. Cut into squares and serve chilled. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly, for up to 4 days. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking