Peanut Butter Cocoa Candy Bars
Sometimes, life hands you lemons and you make lemonade - no, sorry - lemon curd. But, other times, life hands you a shit sandwich and you have to make peanut butter cocoa candy bars. Or, in this case, life handed friends of mine some very difficult troubles with their toddler and newborn baby, and so I made THEM some peanut butter cocoa candy bars.
I love baking for people (obviously), especially when there are special occasions. But just as much, I love being able to offer a little sweet taste of happiness to those going through hard times. For us Americans who aren’t allergic, peanut butter is seen as an ultimate comfort food. I specify Americans, because I have many colleagues who actively dislike peanut butter, and most are European or Australian. It’s understandable - they like vegemite. Eew.
And if we’re talking American sweet comfort foods, you can’t really leave out the chocolate and the candy. So, there you have it. The holy trinity of sugary comfort foods. Put them all into one dish? Don’t mind if I do!
adapted from The Crepes of Wrath
MAKES 24 Regular Sized Bars (or 16 huge or 32-40 bite-sized)
1.75 cups all-purpose flour (210g)
1/4 cups black cocoa* (21g)
1 cup packed light brown sugar (210g)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar (210g)
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
1/4c honey (85g)
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups chopped candy of your choice**
9x13 glass dish
*I love King Arthur’s Black Cocoa - it’s super rich & cocoa-y, and gives an amazing dark black color to baked goods. You can use regular cocoa, however, and it will be fine.
**I used mini milky ways (10) & twix (8)
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9x13 glass baking dish with heavy duty aluminum foil, then spray bottom & sides lightly with baking spray.
Whisk together the 1.75c flour and 1/4c cocoa, set aside.
Add your 2c of brown sugars to your stand mixer bowl, then add 2 eggs and beat on medium-high until lightened, smooth & ribbony - about 3 minutes.
In the meantime, add your 1/4c honey, 2tsp vanilla, and 1c peanut butter to your 2 sticks of warm, melted butter.
Add your butter mixture to the mixer, beginning to mix on low until the liquid is incorporated, then increasing the speed to medium, mixing until well combined.
Add in your dry ingredients and mix on medium until just incorporated, then add your chopped candy and mix on low until evenly distributed, 5-15 seconds.
Spread into your baking dish, smoothing the top evenly with a spatula, knife, or back of a spoon.
Bake for 30 minutes, then start checking to make sure the top isn’t getting too browned/crispy. If so, or you’re worried, lay a piece of aluminum foil over the pan while it bakes another 15 minutes. When they’re done, the sides should be completely set, but the center may still jiggle ever so slightly when you shake the pan.
Allow to cool completely before cutting. They may be even easier to cut if you refrigerate them for 30-60 minutes first.