Today I thought I’d share one of the best things I make. It is by far my best seller, and people all over, vegan and not, rave about this dessert.
The funniest part is that it all happened by accident. My mom’s colleague’s birthday was approaching one day this past summer, and my mom wanted me to make her something nice. She casually mentioned that she loved chocolate and peanut butter, but the rest was up to me. So I did some searching and found the following recipe from a great blog, Once Upon a Chef. (as of right now, the recipe is off the site, but soon to return.) I’ve changed it a bit from the original recipe: I’ve made it vegan, changed the original chocolate crust to my graham cracker one, and I have made it in both square and pie form.
The rest is history. My peanut butter squares have been reviewed by a blogger “Confessions of a Northern Belle”, was the first dessert to sell out at my booth at a carnival this September, and I’ve found that it’s the easiest of all my desserts to ship across the country in my Etsy Shop.
One other thing to note: there are a lot of steps to this dessert, but once it’s all prepared, it’s really about just about layering on each part. Let me tell you, though: it is TOTALLY worth it.
So here you go. Give it a try, see what you think. I mean, how could you go wrong??! It’s CHOCOLATE and PEANUT BUTTER.
-One 8×8 square pan (for squares) or a 9” round cake pan (for pie), greased.
-6 tablespoons butter
-an entire sleeve of graham crackers (or 8 full graham crackers)
-¼ cup granulated sugar
-1 cup of chocolate, melted
-1-2 tablespoons nondairy milk
Peanut butter layer:
-1-⅓ cup peanut butter (I use salted creamy peanut butter. If using unsalted, add a pinch or ⅛ teaspoon of salt).
-2 cups powdered sugar
-6 tablespoons butter
-6 tablespoons brown sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla
*NOTE: to make these gluten free, use gluten free graham crackers. I have used Enjoy Life’s Honey Vanilla Graham Crackers (though not vegan) and I’ve thought about using animal crackers as well. I’ve also substituted coconut oil for the butter in the crust, which works pretty well. It does have a strong coconut flavor.
*I have made this recipe soy free and corn free as well. I used Enjoy Life’s chocolate chips for the chocolate layer and organic powdered sugar from Whole Foods, which uses tapioca starch instead of cornstarch for the peanut butter layer.
- Prepare the crust:
Preheat your oven to 350. In a food processor (or with your hands) crumble an entire sleeve of graham crackers so that all pieces are uniform crumbs. Then add the butter and sugar and pulse until combined. Press the graham cracker mixture into the greased pan. I like to use the bottom of a measuring cup or Pyrex to flatten out the crust and make sure all areas are even. This makes for pretty, evenly layered bars. Bake for 8 minutes, or until golden brown.
2. Prepare the peanut butter mixture:
While the crust is cooling, prepare your peanut butter mixture. Mix all ingredients together with either a hand mixer or standing mixer. You can try and mix by hand, but it’s pretty difficult once the peanut butter starts to get incorporated. Mix until incorporated. The peanut butter will form large clumps. Keep in the refrigerator until crust is cooled.
3. Prepare the chocolate ganache:
Once the crust is fully cooled, melt your chocolate with the nondairy milk. I’ve used both a double boiler and the microwave, and I find the microwave to be easier, but it’s up to you. If you’re using the microwave, microwave the chocolate at 30 second intervals, mixing after each round and being careful not to burn the chocolate (you may even want to do 15 second intervals).
4. Put it all together!
Start by taking about a half cup of the chocolate ganache and smoothing it onto the crust. You want a thin layer (this is what binds the peanut butter layer to your crust.) Put the crust in the freezer for about 10 minutes, until the chocolate hardens.
Once it hardens, press your peanut butter mixture onto the chocolate layer. You want to make sure that the peanut butter is even all over. I usually bring back that measuring cup or Pyrex to even it out.
Then, pour the rest of your chocolate ganache onto the peanut butter, again making sure that you have an even layer. We are not only going for taste, but beauty, people!
Finally, let everything set in the refrigerator anywhere from a half hour to an hour, or until the chocolate on top hardens. Cut into squares or wedges and serve.
And that’s it! This dessert keeps very well in the fridge, or as I said earlier, is great frozen. I like to eat them in half-frozen chunks, though boyf prefers them in the fridge. Either way, these squares won’t be around long enough for it to matter. Enjoy!