Milkmaid's Recipe Box

FOOD, FOOD, FOOD! I'm such a FARMER at heart-- even a CALF knows that so much in life is about the FOOD! (A bit of a "bio" about me can be found way down near the bottom.)

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Peanut Butter Candy Bar Squares

I saw this recipe on the Betty Crocker website a few years ago, but I've changed it up just a tiny bit.  If I hadn't gotten the peanut butter cookie mix* at a really good sale price, and didn't already have the 14 oz. bag of caramels on hand, I would NOT have given this 'sweet/nutty' recipe a second look.  But, I did............. so,.............. I did! 

*This is the FIRST time in my life that I've bought any kind of cookie mix.  Truthfully, I could never see a reason always wondered why anyone would buy a 'cookie mix' when cookies are so easy to make from scratch.  Well,... I now have an idea as to a possible why--  it could be because some recipes ASK that a mix is used.  Like this one...

Suggestion:  Unwrap the caramels before you start anything.

Ingredients for the Base Layer:
  • 1 pouch (1 lb. 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker dry peanut butter cookie mix
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Spray bottom only of a 13x9 baking pan/dish with cooking spray.  (I sprayed the bottom, then lined the dish with foil and then also sprayed the foil liner; on the foil, I left little tabs with which I could lift all up/out for cutting on a cutting board when done/cooled-- see photo below.  I think you could use parchment paper to serve as the 'lifter', too.)
  3. In large bowl, stir above cookie base ingredients until soft dough forms.  
  4. Using a spoon, drop the dough all over the prepared baking dish, then spread it out evenly and press lightly. 
  5. Bake for about 13-15 minutes or until light golden brown. 
  6. Cool completely, about 30-40 minutes.
Ingredients for the Filling Layer:
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup (I used Karo, the kind that doesn't have high fructose corn syrup in it.)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 and 1/2 teaspoons water
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons vanilla
  • Dash salt
      • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar (Original recipe calls for 3 and 1/2 cups.)
  1. In large bowl, beat all filling ingredients EXCEPT POWDERED SUGAR with electric mixer on medium speed until creamy and smooth. 
  2. Gradually beat in sifted powdered sugar until well blended (filling will be thick).
  3.   Drop this by spoonsful all over the baked layer, then carefully spread it out evenly. 
  4. Refrigerate while preparing the next (caramel/peanut) layer.
Ingredients for Caramel Layer:
  • 1 bag (14 oz. caramels, unwrapped (I. hate. unwrapping. caramels!)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 and 1/2 cups unsalted dry-roasted peanuts (I used lightly salted Virginia peanuts)
  1. In 2-quart saucepan, heat caramels with 2 tablespoons water over low heat, stirring constantly, until caramels are melted and creamy smooth. 
  2. Add peanuts.  Stir over the low heat for just a very little while longer since the addition of the peanuts may have cooled the caramel too much to spread easily.  When everything is evenly hot, spread this caramel/peanut mixture evenly over 'filling' layer. 
  3. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until caramel layer is quite firm.
Ingredient for Topping:
  • 1 bag (about 2 cups) milk chocolate chips
  1. In small microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips uncovered on High for one minute, stir; microwave for one more minute, stir. 
  2. Then, when totally melted and smooth, spread evenly over cooled and firm caramel/peanut layer.  (A few minutes after putting the topping on, I used the tip of a skewer stick to make swirls in it.)  
Refrigerate for 2-3 hours or until chocolate is set.
IF you used aluminum or parchment paper to line the pan before baking the base (as shown below), lift out... 
It is so, SO easy to cut them into neat-edged squares after lifting them out of the pan/dish...
 (Because they are 'sweet', it's probably best to keep pieces a bit on the small size.)  Store covered at room temperature, or wrap/freeze.


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