Before I forget, I wanted to share a great way to prepare local greens that really hi-lights the flavor of the greens: greens tossed with a crumbled cheese (we love French feta, any blue cheese, feta or goat cheese will work), grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced sweet bell peppers and/or cukes, and a white wine or balsamic dressing with extra virgin olive oil. You won’t be sorry.
OK, enough pushing local greens.
In addition to my somewhat out of control (excessive? Me? Nah…) cookbook collection, I also have a pretty hefty collection of recipes gathered from various online sources in a MS Word folder. A very large folder which is backed up regularly. So I was naturally interested when I read about Bookmarked Recipes, a weekly blogging event hosted by Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments that celebrates recipes we have found online anywhere.
This recipe for Mini Peanut Butter Cup Bars qualifies twice over, because I found it discussed by the folks on the CLBB, but the recipe is originally from Joe over at Culinary In The Dessert, whose blog I read and whose frequent contributions to the CLBB are a great source of baking info. Because it is Joe’s recipe I am providing the link to the recipe on his blog, but if you want a great source of recipes—light and otherwise, I also recommend the Cooking Light Bulletin Board.
Anyway, about the actual recipe. First of all, this recipe is not strong on the peanut butter and chocolate, so if that is what you are looking for, I refer you back to those Peanut Butter Bars I made a week or so ago. Because of this I was mildly disappointed the first day in a these-taste-great-just-not-what-I-expected kind of way. By the second day I was praying for John’s return so he could take the blasted things into his office before I ate them all. They are absolutely lethal. If you like peanut butter and chocolate and most importantly shortbread, you will love these. And because they are made with a shortbread base, their shelf-life is diet-frustratingly long. Thank goodness that also meant John could take them to his office 3 days later.
I had to make the base for this recipe twice and wasted an entire pound of butter in the process (all cook’s error). First I painstakingly showed Alex (we were baking together) the long division I was doing to find ¼ of 126 (126 g is one cup of flour) and by the time I was done I forgot I needed 1 ¾ cups and I only used 1 ¼ cups flour—needless to say the first base was awful. Then I nuked 2 more sticks of butter in the microwave (which I usually have no problem with) trying to soften it. The best part was the following conversation:
Me: Ergh. Darn it darn it. (Or, er, something like that)
Alex: What is wrong Mommy???!?!?
Me: Oh, I am just having trouble with this recipe. But don’t worry, I am not mad at you. Mommy just messed up, it is my fault.
Alex: No, it is my fault AND your fault! It is both our faults! OK, Mommy? So don’t worry, Mommy. We are baking TOGETHER!
Did I mention she also told me that every single bathing suit I tried on the other day looked “really, really cute!!!” Who knew that barely 3 year olds were so awesome?
Anyhoo, I only made a few changes to the original recipe. Joe mentioned that the bars were quite sweet, so in anticipation of that, I added a few hefty pinches of kosher salt to the peanut butter filling as well as an additional 50 grams (I scooped it with a small cookie scoop but weighed in case you don’t have one) of natural peanut butter to amp the peanut butter flavor.
Mini Peanut Butter Cup Bars
Adapted from Nestle by Culinary in the Dessert
16 T (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 t salt
1 cup peanut butter chips
2 small cookie scoops (50 grams) of natural peanut butter
2 hefty pinches of kosher salt
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 t vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate peanut butter cups
Preheat oven to 350
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until creamy. Mix in flour, sugar and salt just until the mixture is crumbly. Scoop out about 2 cups of the mixture (reserving the rest of the mixture) and scatter it in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking pan lightly coated with nonstick spray. Evenly pat the mixture down to form a crust – if it is sticky at all, use a piece of plastic wrap to help press down. Place the baking pan in the oven and bake until the edges have started to turn a golden brown color, about 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add the peanut butter chips and sweetened condensed milk. Add the peanut butter and salt to this as well. Heat over low and stir until the chips have melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla. Quickly pour the mixture over the hot crust and use an off-set spatula to evenly spread the mixture.
Combine the reserved crumbles and mini peanut butter cups – evenly scatter over the top of the peanut butter filling. Place back in the oven and bake until the center is set, about 25 – 30 minutes. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into bars.
Makes about 28 bars.