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Friday, July 15, 2011

Peanut Butter Cup Rice Krispie Treat

A couple of years ago I started to realize that my sweet tooth (or should I say, mouth full of sweet teeth) was not a by-product of summers spent working in a candy shop (as one would think), but something I had inherited from one of my grandmother, my Nanny.The first clue was a gift she gave me when I moved away. She had created a small little recipe box for me with some of her favorite recipes. Some were hand written on index cards with her long, loopy hand writing with little notes declaring the extra delicious ones. Others were magazine and newspaper clippings taped on the same size index cards so they all fit neatly into a small box. 

The first time I went through the box I noted the usual division of recipes - Soup, Salad, Bread...but what I noticed even more were the crazy number of tabs labeled for sweets (and this is in order, I'm reading right from the box) - Candy, Cakes, Cookies, Desserts, Frosting and Pies. I always knew Nanny had a sweet tooth, but right in front of me was the proof that it was a molar of a sweet tooth.

The second clue was a discussion about Christmas Cookies that we had over the phone one cold, winter evening (at least, it was evening here in London). I was telling her all about the Christmas cookies and candy that I was making for the holidays, and she was telling me all of the thing that she was making. We were sharing recipes and ideas, our favorites to make and which ones caused us trouble. And after that conversation was over I started thinking about how I have the same conversations with my mom around the holidays. She is notorious for making six, eight sometimes ten different types of cookies for the holidays and the she splits them all up in to tins and platters to give away to neighbors and friends. I've started my own tradition of that over the last couple of years, though I can only handle three or four types of cookies at one time.

It may seem a little silly now, or even a bit thick, that it took me so long to realize where my sweet tooth came from. I guess I never really sat down to think about it, it's just the way it was in our family.  When I was in the US in June my mother-in-law gifted me with a giant, American sized pack of jumbo Jet-puffed marshmallows (after reading about my craving for them here). The second I laid eyes on that beautiful gigantic bag of marshmallows I knew I needed to make rice krispie treats. But not just any rice krispie treat...I needed to kick it up a notch.

The reason I bring up my Nanny is because this dessert reminds me of something she would make. She makes all of the traditional baked goods - chocolate chip cookies with a little sprinkling of sugar on top, banana bread and candy like nut rolls and fudge. But she also likes to make things that combine several pre-made ingredients, a little Semi-Homemade before Sandra Lee was famous for it. For example - one of her favorite side dishes to make for dinner is a Jello and whipped cream "salad" made with pieces of fruit (pineapple, cherries, etc) and usually the odd mini marshmallow or two. Another one of her greatest hits is icebox cake - layers of graham crackers and vanilla pudding topped with a thick layer of sweet chocolate frosting (a fan favorite for sure). And you know what - these "semi-homemade" dishes are just as delicious as the "fully-homemade" ones.

And now, I'm going to introduce this little gem of a semi-homemade dish to my already swelling dessert recipes. I originally found it when searching the internet for Rice Krispie treat recipes, but I changed it so much that I consider it mine. I basically used the recipe as a guideline, and then threw it out the window. These bars are rich and decadent and at the same time miraculously light. The thick layers of chocolate and peanut butter create a nice balance with the light and airy Rice Krispie treat.

Peanut Butter Cup Rice Krispie Treats

Rice Krispie Treats
2 tbsp butter
10 oz marshmallows
6-7 cups rice krispie/ puffed rice cereal

Peanut Butter Filling
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar

Chocolate Topping
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup chocolate (milk, dark or a mixture)

- Lightly grease a 9x13 pan and set aside.

- In a large, microwave safe bowl heat the butter and marshmallows until the butter is melted and the marshmallows puff up and are soft. Stir to combine. Fold in the rice cereal with a spatula or wooden spoon until the mixture is just combined, making sure to get all the cereal incorporated in.

- Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer. Allow to cool and set at room temperature.

- For the peanut butter layer, combine the peanut butter, butter and confectioners sugar and stir together with a spoon. Heat the mixture in the microwave in short 20 second bursts until the consistency is somewhere between frosting and melted chocolate. You are going to spread the filling on the rice krispie treats, so it should be easy to spread. Top the rice krispie treats with peanut butter filling.

- For the chocolate topping, melt the chocolate and butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Stir until smooth. Pour over the peanut butter layer and spread the chocolate to create and even layer over the entire surface. Leave to cool and set over night.

- Makes 24 large bars or cut in half if you find them too sweet (and they are sweet!)


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