Hye Thyme Cafe: Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Peanut Butter Nanaimo Bars

It was really starting to bother me when everyone was talking about all of the holiday baking they were doing. To me, it seemed way too early. I like my goodies to be fresh, not sitting around for 2-3 weeks! I make a few cookies that keep just fine for that long (or longer), and there are a few where I can mix up the dough and freeze it until I'm ready for it. There are even others I can make ahead and then freeze, but it seems to me, after putting in all the time, effort, and love to make something for my friends, family, etc., I don't want it all dried up and stale by the time they get to eat it! So anyhow, I was starting to feel left out and in need of some holiday spirit and remembered this recipe I had seen on The Food Network...it could be prepared ahead and then frozen.

Because we were planning to make lesser quantities of more items this year, I decided to make a half batch in a 6c Pyrex covered storage dish.  

1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 c sugar
1/3 c cocoa
1 large egg
1 3/4 c graham cracker crumbs
1 c shredded sweetened coconut
1/2 c finely chopped blanched almonds 
  (I just got a bag of slivered almonds in the baking aisle)
1 t vanilla  (not in original recipe)

1/3 c unsalted butter, softened  (I used salted)
1/3 c peanut butter
1/2 c confectioners sugar

4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 T unsalted butter

Start by lining and 8x8 baking pan or casserole with foil, leaving overhanging flaps to use later as handles. Normally, I wouldn't bother with this step; I would just run a knife around the edge to release it, then invert the pan, but since I was going to wrap it up and freeze it anyhow, I figured what the heck. I think I even gave it a shot of Pam for good measure.

Using a double boiler, or a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, melt the butter, then stir in the sugar and cocoa. Add the egg and continue cooking, whisking, or stirring frequently, until thickened - about to the consistency of hot fudge, then stir in the vanilla and remove from heat, reserving the pot of water for later.

Now stir in the graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and almonds, and press into your prepared pan. 

For the center layer, all you do is whip together the peanut butter, butter, and confectioners sugar until light and fluffy, then spread it over the bottom layer and freeze while making your glaze. You might actually want to take a break here. When I went to spread the chocolate on top, the peanut butter layer wasn't quite frozen enough yet, so the heat from the chocolate was warming it up and dragging the peanut butter while I was spreading it. Not a big deal, but if you're looking for "perfection," you don't want the PB showing through your chocolate.

That just made me think of the old Reese's commercials ... "You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!!" And THAT just made me think about how I keep wanting to try a batch of brownies with a mini Reese's sunk into each. Yumm!!  Need an excuse to make them. Hmmm...   

OK, break over - back to your double boiler. Chop up your chocolate and drop that in a new bowl (or toss in some chips) with 2T unsalted butter over your simmering water, and stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and cool just a bit, then pour the chocolate over your peanut butter and spread with an offset spatula or other weapon of choice.

Freeze again for about 30" to set, then use the foil handles you created to lift it out of the pan, carefully peel back the foil and slice into small squares. I'm actually thinking that when I make these again, I may refrigerate rather than freeze them to slice, then freezing them after that if I'm not using them right away. I found that when I went to slice them, the peanut butter was squishing out the sides. If the chocolate is sort of set but not quite solid, that shouldn't be an issue.

The Food Network said to wrap the pan in plastic, then aluminum, but I did it the other way around - pulled the whole thing out of the pan, wrapped another piece of foil around it and stuck it in a freezer bag.  I did decorate mine the way they did, with a half peanut on top, but I'm thinking next time, I might put a banana chip on top - or maybe half and half. We'll see.  I'll definitely make them again though. Anything that involves chocolate and peanut butter is good with me. The coconut is a bonus.  😏

1 comment:

  1. I have always wanted to try this recipe. Yours look delicious!


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