17 January 2009
Let us take a moment to think about Maurice Sendak and his timeless love song to the months of the year:
it's so nice
While slip sliding on the ice
to sip hot chicken soup
sipping chicken soup with rice.
I have to admit that I had to look this up. (I wish I carried more poetry in my head, but there's a lot of other stuff taking up important space in there. Like how I ought to wear thicker socks and stuff.) The version that I remember in my head is more like "January is cold with ice, so I like chicken soup with rice." My version seems more appropriate for January 2009. I mean, January is one of the most brutal months around, don't you think? I mean, it's cold, it's snowing and icy, and it's dark. (Well, ok, New York for the past few days has been sunny, but by no means warm, and what is the point anyway of getting excited about the sun if you can't do anything in it? Just think of my February kite-flying fiasco. But that is for another time.) But do you know what I discovered? There is nothing, and I mean nothing, not even sipping chicken soup with rice, better than getting a few last holiday gifts after the holidays. Jeff's parents just sent me two brandspanking new baking books to play with (thanks, Lorie and Bob!), and they couldn't be more exciting, not at all.
And January definitely got a little better with the addition of Peanut Butter Crispy Bars--kind of like a cross between a peanut butter cup and puppy chow and really, really good rice krispy treats. And because they are so rich and delightful, and you and your boyfriend probably couldn't finish a whole pan even if you try your darndest, you can give some away and spread the post-holiday cheer around.
Which is something definitely to look forward to in January.
Peanut Butter Crispy Bars, adapted from Baked
1 3/4 cups crisped rice cereal
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons melted butter
5 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
make the crispy crust
1. Lightly oil the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan. (I used a 9x10 pan, it seemed to work just fine.)
2. Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside.
3. Pour 1/4 cup water into a small saucepan. Gently add the sugar and corn syrup into the center of the pan (do not let any sugar or syrup get on the sides of the pan) and use a small wooden spoon to stir the mixture until just combined. Put a candy thermometer in the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 degrees F.
4. Remove from the heat, stir into eh butter, and pour the mixture over the cereal. Working quickly, stir until the cereal is thoroughly coated, then pour it into the prepared ban. Using your hands, press the mixture into the bottom of the pan (do not press up the sides). Let the crust cool to room temperature while you make up the next layer.
make the milk chocolate peanut better layer
1. In a large nonreactive metal bowl*, stir together the chocolate and the peanut butter.
2. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for about 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust. Put the pan in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the top layer hardens.
make the chocolate icing
1. In a large nonreactive metal bowl, combine the dark chocolate, corn syrup, and butter.
2. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering wter and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove teh bowl from teh pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the chilled milk chocolate peanut butter layer and spread into an even layer. Put the pan in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until the topping hardens.
3. Cut into 9 squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly, for up to 4 days.
*Does anyone know what a reactive metal bowl is?