I’ve never made Chex-related desserts before. I know there are a plethora of Chex bar recipes out there, but I guess it’s never really come up for me. Sure I’ve made Rice Krispies treats before, but other than that, the cereal dessert train has more or less passed me by. I made these specific ones because I needed to take something to Thanksgiving but couldn’t take the day before off like I normally do (a colleague beat me to it!) and we were going to leave right when I got home from work on the Wednesday. I needed, therefore, to make this on Tuesday night. On Tuesday night I was also going to the gym because obviously we’d be gone the rest of the week, and anyway Tuesdays are one of my regular days. This means that while I do get the opportunity to hit the grocery store on the way home, I also don’t get home until nearly 9. So I needed something I didn’t have to bake and that wouldn’t take all that long. These fit that bill, and had the added bonus of being crunchy and chewy, sweet and salty, chocolate and peanut butter and caramel – a study in delicious contrasts.
The recipe comes from Girl Cooks World, and hers are… denser, maybe? She probably was more rigorous about pressing the mixture down in the pan than I was. No big deal. Also, I clearly should have halved this recipe considering that I had to do it in two 9×9 pans since my closest-thing-to-a-9×13-pan is currently over at the colleague’s house where work Thanksgiving was, with (probably not even any) crumbs of the Chai Bars I brought in it, and I wound up coming home with a FULL PAN totally untouched. To be fair, I had no idea how many people were going to be there; it turned out to be nearly the minimum, but there could have been any number of people I didn’t know and didn’t know about there, so this is really a case of hindsight being 20/20. So I should’ve cut down the recipe and unless you’ve got a crowd to feed, you should too, and also you should cut down the chocolate (I KNOW and don’t worry, I haven’t been kidnapped and badly impersonated) because it’s really a paint-the-entire-top-with-chocolate amount, and if you’re committed to the drizzling idea, you’re going to reach a point where you can truly drizzle no longer. I’ve used the amount I think would be appropriate in the recipe, but who knows, you might need a little less or more.
Peanut Butter Caramel Chex Bars
7 cups Chex of some variety – I used the corn kind because they were on sale
1 1/4 cups roasted salted peanuts (mine may have had some additional seasoning on them, which I only get a hint of when eating them – by handfuls, out of the jar… what? – but there it is on their ingredient label so if you care about that, keep an eye out)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Line a 9×13 pan (or reasonable substitute) with tinfoil and grease it or spray it.
Mix the Chex and peanuts together in a bowl.
In a pot over medium-low heat, stir together the brown sugar and corn syrup until the sugar is dissolved.
Turn the heat up to medium and bring to a boil.
Let it boil for 1 minute without stirring.
Remove from the heat and stir in the peanut butter, salt, and vanilla until smooth.
Pour over the chex-peanut mixture and stir (gently!) to coat.
Spread evenly into the pan(s).
Leave it to cool for 20 minutes; otherwise the chocolate won’t harden when you drizzle it on top.
When it’s time, melt the chocolate and drizzle it on top. Uh… obviously.
I kept them in the fridge at the beginning, just to make sure the chocolate hardened, but after that you can keep them out on the counter unless it’s hot where you live.