Summer vacation is here, and so are my nephews. They’re spending a couple of weeks with us, passing the time watching Skylander Academy, playing dominoes, destroying things on Xbox, moving to Just Dance, petting my sister and her husband’s puppies, and doing all other things that 11- and 7-year-olds find entertaining.
Like most kids, they can be picky eaters sometimes, so I consider it a personal victory when they come over and eat (and enjoy) food that I make for them. So far, I’ve been successful in having them eat homemade pancakes (thank you, Alton Brown), and my chicken and mushroom tomato alfredo pasta. Yesterday, I thought I’d try making them something similar to the no-bake chocolate peanut butter bars I’ve made before, with a twist.
You might be thinking, “that won’t be a challenge; what kid doesn’t like chocolate and peanut butter?” What you need to understand is that these kids are not too keen on chocolate desserts that don’t resemble Kinder Surprise, Choco Baby, or M&Ms. But I decided to take the gamble, crossed my fingers, and got to work.
(There’s actually another reason why I made these. We recently bought a bag of salted pretzel knots that weren’t as good as the brand we usually get. Before my sister got rid of them, I told her to hold onto them until I find something to do with them. So, two birds, one stone.)
After a dinner of the aforementioned pasta, I brought the bars out. Shockingly, my 7-year-old nephew gobbled them up like no one’s business. I had to tell him to slow down so he won’t choke. And while he didn’t share his little brother’s excitement, the 10-year-old said they were pretty good too. I’ll count this one as another victory, especially since they’re not the only ones eating them.
For the base:
1 1/2 cup crushed pretzels (use a food processor for a finer grind, but any crushing process will do)
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp powdered sugar
9 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup peanut butter
For the topping:
1 1/2 cup chocolate morsels (preferably semi-sweet or dark)
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup rice cereal
Rainbow sprinkles (optional)
- Prepare your container: wipe a baking tray down with butter, line it with parchment paper (make sure the sheets are long enough to hang from the sides), and then apply more butter to the paper. Set aside.
- Put the crushed pretzels, sugar, melted butter, and peanut butter in one bowl and mix well.
- Dump the mixture into the baking tray and smooth it out using the back of a spoon. Make the layer as even as possible. Get into all the sides and corners too.
- Put the chocolate and 1/4 cup peanut butter into a microwaveable bowl and put it in the microwave on high for about 30 seconds, and stir together well. If it hasn’t melted yet, pop it back in the microwave for a few more seconds.
- Fold in the rice cereal, mixing until every morsel is covered in chocolate.
- Pour the mixture on top of the pretzel base and smooth it out until the base is completely covered.
- Top with rainbow sprinkles or whatever you choose (mini marshmallows, morsels, peanuts, etc.)
- Put the tray in the fridge for at least an hour so the chocolate and base can set.
When you’re ready to cut, take the tray out of the fridge and wait about 10 minutes so the chocolate layer won’t crack under the pressure of your knife. Pull the treat out of the tray using the parchment paper, transfer onto a chopping block, and use a knife to cut into squares (The tray I used was 12″ x 7.5″ and I was able to make 32 squares about 1 1/2 inches in size). Put the bars in a plastic container and keep it in the fridge.
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