OK, OK, not stars, but diamonds (that you can shape into ninja stars of [coronary] DETH!), Who doesn't love chocolate peanut butter bars? Who doesn't love that crumbly filling in Reeses peanut butter cups? You know what I'm talking about, the sugar substance spackled together with cheap peanut product and wax. Yeah, guilty as charged. So, obviously as soon as I saw this recipe in one of my new cookbook's, it jumped to the top of my 'To make' queue, with butter as the only dairy product, it was pretty easy to veganize.
The end product was everything I hoped for, including the not-too-sweet crumbly peanut butter filling reminiscent of my childhood (into adulthood) favorite, Reeses PB cups, but now with a high quality dark chocolate topping and cookie bottom, topped with a dash of pink Hawaiian salt to give it a touch of sophistication. Anyway, I do digress... Onto the recipe
Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Bars
Yields 24 bars
2.5 cups (9.5 ounces) chocolate cookie crumbs*
8 T (4 ounces, 1 stick) butter substitute, melted
2 1/2 cups (19.5 ounces) smooth natural peanut butter
1 1/4 cups (3.5 ounces) graham cracker crumbs
1 1/4 cups (3.5 ounces) finely ground puffed rice cereal*
1/2 cup (3.9 ounces) packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon (.2 ounces) kosher salt
8 T (4 ounces, 1 stick ) butter substitute at room temperature
6 ounces 70% dark chocolate, chopped
1 Tablespoon (1 ounces) coconut oil or butter substitute
Artisan salt, such as sel de guerande, pink Hawaiian, black salt, etc.
You can use any sort of chocolate cookie you like, I used Newman's Own chocolate alphabet cookies pulverized in my food processor. Pulverize the puffed rice cereal in a similar manner. You can also use vanilla cookies, corn flakes, or a blend of other crispy products for this.
For the crust... Line a 9x13 pyrex pan with aluminum foil, then grease with the wrapper of the butter substitute. Mix the crumbs and melted butter substitute together until it resembles wet sand. Press the mixture into the pan using your palms to flatten and spread until you have a uniform pressed crust. Chill in the fridge, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.
For the filling... Combine the peanut butter, butter sub, sugar, and salt together into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix on high until well combined, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well combined. Remove the crust from the fridge and using your palms, spread the peanut butter mixture around evenly on top. Refrigerate for 1 hour, uncovered.
For the topping... Melt the chocolate with the oil in a double boiler set over simmering water, about 6 minutes, stirring with a rubber spatula to combine. When the chocolate is melted and smooth, pour atop the bars and spread quickly into a think layer, careful not to scrape against the bottom, The faster you work the better, as the chocolate will start to seize atop the cooled base. Return the pan to the fridge.
Finishing... . After the bars have fully set (about 6 hours), prepare a hot water bath for a knife (a vegetable cleaver or a 7" santouku work well). While the knife is soaking in hot water, take the bars out of the fridge and lift them out of the pan in the foil and place onto a flat cutting surface. Use the hot knife to press down first in straight columns, then once more on diagonals to get that diamond shape, as illustrated below.
If you would prefer squares, feel free to cut straight down rather than diagonal. If you desire, a sprinkle of a fine salt really adds a nice touch to them.