Christmas at Wheel’s family farm included candy. Lots of candy. After dinner, Grandma would bring out the candy and start filling the dining room table. The guests would dive into bags, boxes and carriers for their contributions. The table would start to groan and candy would overflow onto other surfaces. The “it takes a special touch” kind of candies – divinity, penuche, peanut brittle. The smooth chocolate candies. Peanut butter fudge. Cherries. Nuts. Coconut. Dipped candies. The cereal, marshmallow and kid friendly candies. But I zeroed in on the Peanut Butter Chocolate confection Grandma made. The peanut butter cup knockoff. Tastes just like the cups in the bright orange wrapper! Sweet peanut butter wrapped in chocolate — bliss!
This is a very simple recipe – four ingredients counting the secret and unexpected one. It’s faster to make with a food processor and the microwave, but easily done by hand. I cut the recipe in half to make 32 pieces in an 8×8 pan instead of the 48 pieces Grandma made in a 9x 13. (If you’d like the bigger recipe without doing all the math, you can find it on A Pinch of Joy Facebook page under “exclusive downloads”. You can “Like” if you are not already a follower.)
Line the 8×8 pan with non-stick aluminum foil, parchment or wax paper leaving a 3 inch overhang on each end to make “handles” so you can lift the candy out of the pan for slicing without losing a single piece. The bottom layer of chocolate is optional. I omit it unless I am making this for a gift or a party. The candy is pretty rich so slice it into one inch by 2 inch bars – or even 1 inch squares fancied up in paper candy cups. I’ve always thought this would be pretty at Christmas time with a little drizzle of red or green, but it never lasts long enough to try that! Oh – the secret ingredient? Graham cracker crumbs give it body and texture.
You can buy this candy in the store with a bright orange wrapper — aka Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!
- ⅔ cup graham cracker crumbs (6 sheets of graham crackers)
- ⅓ cup butter melted
- ¾ cup peanut butter
- 1¾ cups powdered sugar
- 1½ cups chocolate chips – ¾ cup for each layer, preferably Nestle's or Hershey's
- Line 8x8 pan with waxed paper
- Make chocolate bottom -- optional. Melt ¾ cup chocolate chips in microwave 40 seconds on high and then in 20 second intervals until chips become soft and begin to lose shape. Stir smooth. Spread in waxed paper lined 8 x 8 pan and place in refrigerator to harden. You can do this step ahead of time, even a day or more in advance.
- Make graham cracker crumbs, if using whole crackers, by pulsing in food processor until fine OR using rolling pin to crush.
- Melt butter 30 seconds in microwave, 10 second bursts until loses shape and add to graham cracker crumbs, Pulse in with two 10 second bursts. OR stir in well.
- Add peanut butter and pulse once for 10 seconds OR mix in well.
- Add 1 cup powdered sugar and pulse OR stir until well mixed. Add ¾ cup powdered sugar and mix well again. Mixture will form a soft but defined. slightly dry looking ball.
- Add peanut butter mixture to 8x8 pan and press down into even layer.
- Make chocolate topping. Melt ¾ cup chocolate chips and in microwave 40 seconds on high and then in 20 second intervals until chips become soft and lose their shape. Spread over peanut butter bars.
- Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until firm. Let set at room temperature for a few moments before cutting so chocolate will slice without breaking. Cut into 1 x 2 inch bars to place on plate or 1 inch squares, if using paper candy cups.
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