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When my sister makes chocolate peanut butter bars, we always put them in the back refrigerator in the utility room. Presumably this is an effort to make them a little less accessible and last a few hours longer. When you tiptoe into the utility room in the middle of the night and open the fridge, you have to admit to yourself that you have arrived there for no other purpose than to “even off” the edge of the bars in their pan. Sadly, this is not a significant deterrent for my family (fatties, remember?). Inevitably, the very next day, you hear a wail from the utility room as someone discovers that the pan is gone. (Often, this pathetic, devastated person is me.)

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Despite my obsession with these bars, I’ve developed a bit of a snotty attitude towards them. After all, the ingredients include store-bought graham crackers and regular peanut butter. My snobby foodie side sneers condescendingly. Nevertheless, I was determined to give you this recipe. So I made my own graham crackers.

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It was a preposterous thing to do, totally defeating the purpose of such a simple recipe.

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Nevertheless, the graham crackers were delicious. Luckily I only had to crush up half the batch to get the crumbs for the peanut butter bars, so I had some left to eat by themselves. They also improved the peanut butter bars: I could really taste the cinnamon and molasses of the homeade crackers in the bars. Store-bought graham crackers provide texture without much flavor.

Natural peanut butter makes the bars taste much more peanut-y. With regular peanut butter, the bars will be smoother and less crumbly.

The trickiest part about making these bars is to cut them into squares without cracking the chocolate topping. I haven’t encountered this problem before, since in the past I always just left them in the pan, and cut out one piece at a time. I don’t have any particularly helpful advice to offer here–a lot of my bars came out very oddly shaped. I chilled them overnight, and then let them sit on the counter for about 20 minutes before cutting them. The topping is less likely to crack if you remove the bars from the pan before cutting. It might help to line the pan with parchment paper, so you could have handles to pull the bars out with.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

1 1/2 cups fine graham cracker crumbs (homemade or store bought)
1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter (natural or regular)
1 lb. powdered sugar (I didn’t have a scale, used about 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup butter, melted
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Mix graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a bowl. Add the peanut butter and stir until well combined. The mixture will be crumbly.

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2. Pour the melted butter over the mixture and mix well.

3. Turn the dough into a 13×9″ pan, and press it down evenly with your fingers.

4. In a double boiler (or in the microwave on medium heat), melt the chocolate chips. Spread the melted chocolate over peanut butter dough.

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5. Refrigerate for several hours. (You can get by with 1 hour if you’re impatient.) Cut the bars into squares. Store in the refrigerator.

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