These cookies are amazing. Master Chow loves peanuts and peanut butter, but he often avoids peanut cookies because they taste like peanut brittle, which he does not like. Personally, I like all of the above. A bit too much, perhaps. Last year, in a radical shake-up of my eating habits, I decided to measure out what I was eating: my “one tablespoon of peanut butter” was actually more like two. Or three. Master Chow goes through an alarming amount of peanut butter, which he mixes into his oatmeal. Yes, it’s really, really good.
Needless to say, we are a peanut-loving family. These cookies leave every peanut/peanut-butter cookie that I have ever tried in the dust. I want to make them again, and soon. Unfortunately for me, Master Chow and I both have Major Reunions coming up this summer, and I have to exercise some self-discipline. Besides, I’m going to be making doughnuts soon!
The recipe comes from Tish Boyle’s wonderful book,The Good Cookie: Over 250 Delicious Recipes from Simple to Sublime ,and the recipe has appeared on the internet in several places, including Peabody’s blog, and the Best of the Best website. Ms. Boyle says that these bars are her “husband’s desert island food choice: he could live on them.” After trying out this recipe, I’m not surprised!
Crunchy Peanut Bars
Adapted slightly from The Good Cookie: Over 250 Delicious Recipes from Simple to Sublime
Brown sugar crust:
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1 2/3 cups (10 ounces) peanut butter chips
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups (12 ounces) salted peanuts
To make the crust:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Line a 9 by 13 inch baking pan with foil, then grease the foil.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and salt, set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment or beaters, beat the butter with the brown sugar at medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. At low speed, add the flour mixture and mix just until crumbly, 10 to 15 seconds.
4. Pat the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Prick the dough well with a fork. Bake the crust for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown around the edges. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool while you prepare the topping. Leave the oven on.
To make the topping:
5. In a large saucepan, combine the butter, corn syrup, and peanut butter chips and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the chips are melted and the mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
6. Pour the topping over the crust, using a spatula to spread it to the edges of the pan. Sprinkle the peanuts evenly over the topping, and press them lightly into the topping. Bake the bars for 12-15 minutes, until the topping is bubbly. Cool the bars completely in the pan on a wire rack.
7. Lift the entire foil sling carefully out of the pan. Alternatively, lay a cutting board across the pan, and flip the pan over so that the entire slab of cookies is upside down on the cutting board. Place another cutting board across the cookie slab, then flip it over again, so that it is right-side up. Using a sharp knife, cut into 36 bars.
These cookies keep for about 5 days at room temperature in an airtight container, and for a couple months if you freeze them. If you freeze, don’t put other cookies in the same container or the flavors will mix.