With apologies to those with peanut allergies…

My friend Annie has a sense of humor that tickles and delights me with its’ wickedness. She can make me laugh when almost no one else can by finding the dark humor present in any silver lining. She is also a true girlfriend: she knows how to bitch with the best of them; but can still keep it real when it’s just the two of us hanging. And, if you are her friend, she is as generous a soul as there is on the planet. She will shower you with gifts and goodies (gotta love that in a girlfriend!) But, Lord help you if you cross her….her wit is a mighty rapier! And, she has a memory like an elephant…a funny one at that. She will get you….time and humor are on her side. Lest you think that humor is her only attribute, she is also an extraordinary cook. And while she excels at anything in the kitchen, I think she is an uber-talented baker.

I tell you all this because yesterday was a stressful day for me-nothing major, but it was a hard day. It was 5:30 pm, already dark and gloomy, and I was exhausted from the events of the day. I was in the kitchen attempting to figure out what I could serve my kids for dinner that was nutritious and in the house- because I had not shopped. (Like I said, that kind of a day…) Headlights filled my driveway and then, there was Annie, like some angel from on high, holding a tinfoil package of heaven. She had tried a new recipe for Peanut Butter and Chocolate Shortbread Bars…designer Reese’s by my thinking- and she brought me some! What a day and what a time to have sweets deposited at my doorstep! And by a person that I adore…too good!

I opened the package and immediately bit into one. They were truly inspirational. Maybe all I had was a sugar low because at that moment the world started to look a little better. Or, maybe it was the fact that I have such a good girlfriend- one who somehow knew I needed a pick me up and who can also hit a recipe out of the park- that lightened my load and helped get me through the day. Can’t tell you which- can tell you that these babies are fabulous!

Peanut Butter & Chocolate Shortbread Bars
Adapted from Fine Cooking
Makes 4 dozen

For the crust:
14 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled until just warm
½ c sugar
¼ t salt
2 c plus 2 T all-purpose flour
½ c salted peanuts, finely chopped

For the peanut butter filling:
1 c creamy peanut butter filling (not natural- but emulsified variety such as Jif)
6 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ c confectioners’ sugar
1 T pure vanilla extract
2 T hot water

For the ganache:
5 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ c plus 2 T heavy cream

Make the peanut shortbread:

Preheat oven to 325.

Line a straight-sided 13×9-inch metal baking pan with foil, letting the ends create an overhanging edge for easy removal.

In a medium bowl, stir together the butter, sugar and salt. Stir in the flour and peanuts to make a stiff dough. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Refridgerate pan for 30 minutes (or freeze for 8-10) until the dough is firm.

Place pan on a rack in the center of the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 300 and bake until dough is completely set and crust is a golden brown all over, about 15-20 minutes more. Let the crust cool completely before topping.

Make the peanut butter filling:

Place the peanut butter and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium until smooth, about one minute. Add the vanilla, about half of the confectioners sugar and 2 T hot water to the mixer. Beat on low speed until combined, then on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute more. Beat in the remaining sugar and mix for 1 more minute, until the mixture is smooth and thick, like frosting. If the filling seems too stiff, add another 1 T of hot water and beat for another minute.

With a knife or a spatula, spread the filling over the cooled crust.

Make the ganache:

Put the chocolate in a small heat proof bowl. In a saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for 3 minutes. Stir gently wth a rubber spatula until smooth.

Spread the ganache over the peanut butter filling with a metal offset spatula to coat evenly. Let the bars sit for at least three hours to allow the ganache to set before cutting.

Carefully lift the bars from the pan using the foil sides and transfer to a cutting board. Separate the foil from the bars by sliding a spatula between them. Cut the bars into 1-1/2-inch squares.

Can be frozen.

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One Comment

  1. Suzanna
    Posted November 10, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I would say thank you for this recipe, but I may live to regret it! It looks fabulous!

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