My newest favorite bars are Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies. Brownies with peanut butter cups, roasted peanuts, and crispy rice cereal! Yes, they are as decadent, delicious and high calorie as that sounds. But I made them on a holiday. That’s the time to sample all of the normally forbidden treats. In moderation, of course!
I followed the recipe exactly, which is unusual for me. But along the way I thought there should be a simple adaptation that might make these bars stay together better. I’ll go into that later.
The recipe called for a box of brownie mix to be made according to directions in a 9×13 pan. I had brownie mixes that were dark chocolate fudge. My P.S. is a fan of dark chocolate, so he purchased them on sale at some point, hoping that I would make them. They sat for a couple of months, giving me their sad brownie faces whenever I opened the baking cupboard. They were begging to be made. One box was about to be very happy.
I mixed the brownie batter up with the eggs, oil and water required and spread it into a 9×13 pan. I put it in the oven at 350°F for 20 minutes. The brownie directions called for 20-25 minutes of baking, so I didn’t see why the bar directions said to bake for 6-10 more minutes after adding the next ingredients.
I spread the cup of chopped up peanut butter cups over the top, trying hard not to just shove them in my mouth. I followed that layer by spreading the cup of chopped dry roasted peanuts over the cups. I returned the pan to the oven for 6 more minutes. I still was hesitant about all the extra baking; I didn’t want some hard, dry brownies on the bottom.
The direction meant that the peanut butter cups on top of the brownies were melted somewhat. It seemed strange, particularly since the next step had me spreading a molten chocolate mess that included Rice Krispies and I wondered if when spreading it, the peanut butter cups would be all smeared and unrecognizable since they were melted. Actually it wasn’t a problem after all.
I melted the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in the microwave as directed, then poured it into a bowl over the Rice Krispies. I stirred it well and it was still very melted and easy to spread over the top of the brownies. It was a very easy recipe to make, in spite of having a lot of ingredients.
I let the pan cool on the counter then moved it to the fridge where I left it overnight. The next morning I loosened the edges and turned it upside down on a cutting board. I took a second board, placed it over the bars, and flipped it again so I had the pan of bars right side up.
From there I cut them into small squares. I like little pieces so everyone can try them, and take more if they want. I layered them in a container and realized the bottoms separated from the tops easily. Oh oh. It made me wonder if it was because there was the crumbly layer of peanuts between the brownie bottom and the chocolate rice cereal top.
Really it would still have the same crunchy effect if the peanuts had simply been mixed into the melted chocolate top later. Then more of the melted chocolate could have made contact with the brownie and would possibly have stuck together better. I’d try that next time, and am going to modify the recipe in the hopes that it is a fix for the separation problem.
Either way, these bars are so delicious! Chewy brownie bottom, firm and crispy chocolate top with peanuts and peanut butter goodness. Unlike the original recipe, I didn’t find that the top got soft and they needed to be eaten with a fork like she did. They stayed firm and could be picked up and eaten easily. I sent a large amount of them home with guests, out of my sight, not trusting myself with a container of these calling my name from the fridge. Sometimes you just can’t practice moderation, ya know what I mean?
Update: I made these again with the exact same directions, and they didn’t separate into two layers the second time. Odd, I have no explanation for why they separated the first time.
Peanut Butter Cup Brownies
1 box brownie mix, plus oil and eggs called for on box
1 cup Reese’s peanut butter cups, roughly chopped
½ cup salted peanuts, chopped
1½ cups (12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ tbsp butter
1½ cups creamy peanut butter
1½ cups Rice Krispies cereal
Make the brownies as directed on the box in a 9×13” pan; bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the brownies from the oven and top with the peanut butter cups and peanuts. Place the brownies back into the oven and bake an additional 6 to 10 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted and comes out clean. Remove the brownies from the oven.
In a microwave safe dish, melt the chocolate chips, butter, and peanut butter for about 45 seconds. The chocolate chips should keep their shape but will melt completely when stirred. Then stir in the Rice Krispies.
Pour the Rice Krispies mixture over the brownies and let cool. Once cool, place the pan into the refrigerator. Refrigerate the brownies for at least two hours until serving.
Makes 24 servings.
Adapted from Edesia’s Notebook