Monday, October 12, 2020

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

This recipe comes from the new cookbook from Alex Guarnaschelli, Cook with Me.  I had a copy of the book from the publisher through Edelweiss, and when I review a cookbook, I always make at least one recipe! I love how she talks about learning to cook from her mom a lot in this one too. And along with that theme, many of the recipes are spins or just really good versions of traditional dishes, but sometimes that's what you want to learn from a real chef, at least I do.

I always tend to hang out in the baked goods and dessert sections of cookbooks but the picture of this dessert captured me immediately. I made it for our 20th wedding anniversary back in June, but waited to share it with you until it was closer to release date. This is so delicious, like a cross between a candy bar and a very rich cheesecake. I would make it for a large gathering because a small piece is very rich and satisfying. See at the bottom for a few tips from my experience making this!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
(from Cook with Me by Alex Guarnaschelli)

Makes 16 pieces

11 tbsp (1 stick + 3 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups (8-9 oz) finely ground chocolate crumbs*
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
16 oz full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (8 oz) smooth peanut butter
3 1/2 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (a generous 1/2 cup)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Make the crust: Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with about 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. In a medium bowl, combine the rmaining butter with the crushed cookies and cinnamon, and stir to combine. Transfer the crumbs to the buttered pan and press them into an even layer on the bottom of the pan (not up the sides.) Use a cup measure or a glass to press the crumbs down firmly. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the crust is firm, 15-18 minutes. Set the pan aside to let the crust cool for at least 20 minutes.

Make the peanut butter filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until completely smooth, 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs and peanut butter, and beat on medium-high speed until smooth. Pour the filling over the cooled crust, using a spatula to spread it out evenly, and place the pan back in the oven. Cook until the filling is firm and doesn't jiggle when you gently shake the pan, 12-15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and set it aside to cool for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 hour.

Make the chocolate top: In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl, set it over the saucepan like a makeshift double boiler (the bottom of the bowl shouldn't touch the cream), and shut the heat off completely. Stir the chocolate from time to time as it melts. When the cream is warm and the chocolate is somewhat melted, take the bowl off the saucepan, pour the cream over the chocolate, and stir until blended. If the cream and chocolate are similar in temperature, the result is a glossier ganache!* Gently spread the chocolate over the peanut butter layer in the springform pan and refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, at least 2 hours.

* Notes from JennyBakes
  1. For the chocolate cookies, I used the wafer cookies that at my supermarket are shelved near the ice cream, not with the rest of the cookies and crackers. I prefer them to Oreos because they are straight dark chocolate with no cream.
  2. You could do this ganache process that would require 2 bowls and 2 pans but to be honest I just zapped it in the microwave a bit and stirred in between. And I thought the end result was good enough, if not as glossy as it could be.  
  3. I think if I made this again, I would try to convert it to a square or rectangular contained. The recipe calls itself bars but it is in a circle, so really unless you cut it in a strange way you end up with wedges. And something about rectangles of these layers seemed more appealing, so I cut the circle strangely to get them.

Other recipes I've marked to try:
-Beet and Brown Rice Burgers
-Quinoa Pilaf
-Sheet Pan Blackened Salmon
-Macaroni and Cheese*
-Lentil Soup
-Exceptional Scrambled Eggs*
-Poached Eggs on Cheddar Biscuits
-Ninth Avenue Childhood Baked Ziti
-Chickpea and Celery Salad
-Red Velvety Strawberry Cake
-Tiramisu Swiss Roll

*Like I said above, I love to try all versions of classic dishes from chefs I admire.

No comments: