It wasn't planned, but January has turned into "Baked" month because I can't stop finding good things to bake in this cookbook! (See the book in my left sidebar?) It started with Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf, and then the yummy Lemon Lime Bars and now....drum roll please...Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Bars! Let's just say these were totally scarfed down and oohed and aaahed over. Tell me, what's not to like...a Crispy Rice layer (not a marshmallow in it)...a peanut butter and milk chocolate creamy layer...and a topping of dark chocolate? So get a close-up look and tell me you're not craving one of these now!
For the crispy crust:
1 3/4 cups crisped rice cereal
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the milk chocolate peanut butter layer:
5 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter
For the chocolate icing:
3 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72 percent cocoa), coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter
Make the crispy crust:
Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside.
Pour 1/4 cup water into a small saucepan. Gently add the sugar and corn syrup (do not let any sugar or syrup get on the sides of the pan) and use a small wooden spoon to stir the mixture until just combined. Put a candy thermometer in the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 degrees 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, then pour it into the prepared pan. Using your hands, press the mixture into the bottom of the pan (do not press up the sides). Let the crust cool to room temperature while you make the next layer.
Make the milk chocolate peanut butter layer:
In a large nonreactive metal bowl, stir together the chocolate and the peanut butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for about 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust. Put the pan in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the top layer hardens.
Make the chocolate icing:
In a large nonreactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the chilled milk chocolate peanut butter layer and spread into an even layer. Put the pan into the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the topping hardens. Cut into squares using a sharp knife run under hot water and dried for smooth edges and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly, for up to 4 days.