Sunday, June 6, 2010

Good Times, Bad Times

It's been a really crappy week. 

My dog Lucy will probably not make it much longer.  She's had my back for sixteen years now.  She's been with me through two bouts of breast cancer and the death of my dad.  She has been my loving, non-judgmental caring companion and I don't quite know what I will do when her watchful eyes are no longer upon me.  Her legs kept collapsing today and she refuses to eat.  Sadly, I know what that means.....

Other crap going on as well.  Friends sick, friends dying and so many of us with financial woes.  And I cannot even watch the evening news with those poor pelicans drenched in nasty, black viscuous oil.  Can someone just please make it all better?

However, there is some good news to report.  This is a picture of the house across the street from us which has been empty for the last two years.  (Well, okay, there were some renters there in the interim but that really didn't count).  But this week, a great family moved in and they have two young sons. This afternoon they held a birthday party on their front lawn with lots of noisy, energetic, happy kids.  We love that there is life and activity over there now!

(Of course, when I took this picture of their house, I did it through the windows of Henry's man cave.  I didn't want to scare them off by standing in front of their house with a camera!)

So when new neighbors move in, if you are me, you will knock on their door and take some kind of gift in terms of baked goods.  That meant peanut butter bars.  Like the ones we used to make when I worked at Star Provisions.

(Hey, Amy - this is for you!)

PEANUT BUTTER BARS (adapted from Star Provisions)

For the base:
6 oz. butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 cups graham cracker crumbs

Line a 13x9x2-inch baking pan with foil and grease well.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Sprinkle evenly in pan and press down well.  Bake in oven preheated to 350-degrees for 10 minutes.

For the chocolate layer:
32 oz. good quality chocolate
2 cups heavy cream

Place ingredients in heavy saucepan over medium-low heat.  Cook and stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.  Set aside to cool.  Pour over cooled graham cracker base and refrigerate until set.

For the Peanut Butter Layer:
6 oz. unsalted butter
8 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
32 oz. creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Melt butter and chocolate in a large bowl set over simmering water.  When mixture is smooth, add peanut butter and whisk well until mixture is smooth and homogenous. 

Remove 1 cup of the mixture to a small bowl.  Sift confectioner's sugar over and whisk well to blend.  When mixture is smooth and without lumps, return to rest of chocolate/peanut butter mixture.  Stir well then pour
over cooled chocolate layer.

Refrigerate overnight, then cut into bars as desired.

Yield:  24 bars if you cut them like I did.  That's because a) I am lazy and b) the bigger version looks better in a photo.  However, you should probably cut them in smaller portions as THESE THINGS ARE LETHAL AND VERY, VERY RICH.    Less is more.

Now, a couple of things.

Using a 13x9x2-inch baking pan is perfectly fine.  However, I prefer to use an extender for this recipe.  What's that? Well, it's basically a rectangular pan without a bottom and with expandable sides.  The concept is kind of like a springform pan in that you just remove the sides and voila! your baked product slides right out.  I'm not suggesting you buy one, but if you do, here's a link that might help you out:

Another tip is this - make sure you press your graham cracker crumb mixture down FIRMLY.  If you don't, it will simply come apart on you when you cut this into bars.  I use a fondant smoother (pictured above) to do this because it's rectangular and it can get into the corners.  If you don't have one, no worries - fingertips work pretty well, too.

Now let's talk about cutting these into bars.  As you can see from the photo, mine look pretty good!  Here's  the trick - after each cut, dip your knife into hot water and wipe it off.  Make sure that you cut straight down and don't bring the knife back up again.  Then dip it, wipe it off and cut again.  Oh, and be sure to trim all of the edges beforehand (cook's treat!)  Yes, it's laborious.  Yes, it's a pain in the ass.  But it will make your peanut bars look as good as mine - worthy of being in the pastry case at Star Provisions!


  1. I am so sorry to read about Lucy not doing well! I will be sending good thoughts your way. Thank you so much for posting the peanut butter bar recipe! They look amazing and I can't wait to try them!

  2. I just wanted to let you know, that you, are my hero.

    one million thank yous!