I love the marriage of chocolate and peanut butter. One of my favorite treats has been Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but my deal now is that if I want dessert I have to make it from scratch. So I decided to make no-bake chocolate peanut butter bars (love no-bake recipes in the summertime) that are similar in taste to Reese’s. Because I’m such a label-reader now, I thought I take a closer look of what actually is in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Here are the ingredients:
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups’ Ingredients:
-Milk Chocolate which consists of:
- Cocoa Butter
- Nonfat Milk
- Milk Fat
- Soy Lecithin – An emulsifier and stabilizer, used with PGPR (below). Helps keep the cocoa and cocoa butter in chocolate from separating. In this case, the lecithin source is soybeans.
- PGPR (emulsifier) – Polyglycerol polyricinoleate (say that fast 3x!) – In short, is used in place of more expensive cocoa butter to reduce cost. That’s not cool and grandma wouldn’t use it in her baking.
- TBHQ (preservative) – Tert-Butylhydroquinone – a chemical preservative, similar to butane that is in cigarette lighters -?! The FDA says it’s safe in small quantities. Does the FDA make you feel safe? Again, grandma didn’t have a bottle of TBHQ in her pantry so why would you want to eat foods that contain it? Not me.
No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars Recipe
Yes, you will notice that these are not exactly like Reese’s:
- I made squares instead of the nice crinkle-sided rounded cups because it’s easier, but you could certainly buy some paper liners to make these look more authentic if you wish. I always tend to go simple and easy when I can.
- No, these are not enrobed in chocolate with the peanut butter center. This is more of a technical display feature that does not bother me because once it goes in my mouth, the taste is the same. 🙂
Anyway, below is the simple, no-fuss version of this peanut butter bars recipe.
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (try to get graham crackers that don’t have hydrogenated oils and/or artificial flavors – surprisingly our local no-name generic brand had better ingredients than the name-brand did.
- 1/2 pound powdered sugar (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 3/4 cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter (your preference)
- 6 ounces milk, semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (1/2 bag) – I have a hard time finding milk chocolate chips (even “fancy” brands) without soy lecithin or vanillan (artificial, synthetic vanilla flavoring) in it so I have been using Nestle’s dark chocolate morsels (53% Cacao) which are all natural.
- Line a 9 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ pan with wax paper, parchment paper or foil. You could also grease it, but lining it made for easy release and no-mess. If you want to have thinner squares with less peanut butter on the bottom, then try a slightly larger dish or pan like 9″x13″. Using the 9 1/2″ pan yields 16 pretty large thick squares.
- Melt the butter in a large bowl in the microwave or in a pot on the stove.
- Add the graham crackers to the melted butter and mix to coat.
- Now add the powdered sugar and peanut butter and mix well.
- Spread the mixture evenly into your pan.
- Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave or on the stove in a double boiler.
- Spread the chocolate quickly and evenly over the peanut butter mixture.
- Chill for 1 hour and then cut into bars. Don’t chill for too much longer or else it gets difficult to slice them (you will have to let them “thaw” a little if it does). I cut 4 rows of 4 bars to yield 16, but you can slice them smaller if you want.
It’s the graham cracker and powdered sugar that makes the peanut butter taste and have a similar texture to real Reese’s cups peanut butter. I found that the next day they tasted even better after the graham crackers had more time to be “absorbed”. But I had no problem eating them the first day either. 😉
So there you have it. Indulge when the craving strikes. Now it’s time to make my own Twinkies and Ho-Hos, but I’ll let some time pass for the sake of my waist-line and health.
What about you? Have you made your own homemade versions of your favorite treats?