Salted Nut Chews are one of our family favorites. They are very similar to a Payday candy bar, and in spite of them having marshmallows, which I dislike, I do like the bars. There is enough else going on with peanuts and peanut butter that I excuse the gooey white presence of marshmallows.
From year to year I wrinkle my forehead and wonder why the crust is different almost every time. Sometimes it rises and is kind of cake-y, sometimes it is crumbly and wants to fall apart between your fingers; it varies widely. I think the difference is in how cold or warm the butter is when I mix the crust together.
The recipe doesn’t specify whether the butter should be cold or room temp or if I should throw it in the microwave to melt it. So I do that last thing- melt it in the microwave. Then I simply add the flour, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, baking powder and baking soda. I beat it with my electric mixer, as per directions, and it looks like a cake batter.
Other years I’ve used cold butter and beat it with the mixer and it resembles coarse crumbs, which is what the recipe says it should look like. Hm, if they want coarse crumbs they should have said to use cold butter. That is the correct way then, to use cold butter, but I usually don’t remember that until after I’ve melted it and so I have more of a cake-y crust than a crumbly one. If you make the recipe, you can choose your type.
After the crust is made, spread it into an ungreased 9×13 baking pan. Yes, ungreased, and it does come out of the pan easily. The crust does that is; the marshmallow layer likes to stick like glue around the sides of the pan. We’ll deal with that in a minute.
Pop the pan into the preheated 350°F oven and bake for 15 minutes, until the sides are beginning to turn brown. Remove the pan from the oven and add the marshmallows. The recipe calls for 2 cups but I usually spread a single layer over it and call it done, without measuring. On the years when I remember, I avoid putting the marshmallows all the way to the edges so that they don’t melt on and glue the bars to the pan in evil ways.
It’s pretty easy to leave a small empty space all the way around and avoid the stretchy, gluey removal mess. This year I forgot to leave space and the bars heard my naughty words as I transferred them to storage containers. I don’t think they’ll tell on me.
Once the marshmallows are spread, put the pan back into the oven for a minute, just until they start to puff up. Remove the pan again and let it sit on a rack while you make the topping.
This is the simple part: measure 2 cups of dry roasted peanuts into a large bowl, along with 2 cups of crispy rice cereal.
Another simple part: measure 1 cup of corn syrup, 1 bag of peanut butter chips, ¼ cup butter and the vanilla into a saucepan.
Heat it on medium, stirring constantly, just until melted. Do not bring it to a boil.
Pour the sauce over the cereal and peanuts, mixing well, then drop by spoonfuls over the marshmallow layer.
Use a knife or icing knife to spread it evenly over the top.
Chill the bars, then cut into squares and store in covered containers. They don’t have to be refrigerated, but I do. For some reason my kids say they are best cold. Go figure.
The salted nut bars are so tasty: the crust is kind of a neutral flavor, but the topping with the nuts and cereal and peanut butter is amazing. I won’t comment on the marshmallow center layer because I try to ignore it. It’s sweet. There, I gave it a positive spin. You should try them. Unless you have braces, then you probably need to abstain. The years the kids had braces they had to give them up. But they appreciated them all the more afterwards!
Salted Nut Bars
1 ½ cups flour
1 stick butter; cold for crumbly crust, room temp or melted for a cakey crust
2/3 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups miniature marshmallows
2 cups crispy rice cereal
2 cups dry roasted peanuts
1 cup corn syrup
1 bag peanut butter chips
¼ cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°F
With a mixer, beat the crust ingredients until they resembles coarse crumbs. Press into an ungreased 9×13 pan.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Spread marshmallows over the warm crust, leaving a space around the pan so they don’t touch the side. Return to the oven for 1 minute.
Measure cereal and peanuts into a large bowl.
In a saucepan, heat corn syrup, peanut butter chips, butter and vanilla, stirring just until melted and smooth. Pour over cereal and peanuts and mix well.
Drop by spoonfuls over the marshmallow layer, then spread with a knife or icing knife.
Chill until firm, then cut into bars and store in covered containers.
The bars do freeze well.