Monday, May 18, 2009

Cake Mix Doctor Peanut Butter Bars

In preparation for the trip to Virginia for the women’s lacrosse NCAA Division II Final Four, I baked Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars from The Cake Mix Doctor. Actually, I baked them to give to my father- and brother-in-law who live in Virginia (and of course there are still a few left at my house). You can view a modified version of the recipe here.

These are really good and really rich. You can get them completed in under an hour, and it makes about 24 bars.

Here’s what you need:

1 package of yellow cake mix

1 cup of peanut butter (I used smooth, but you could use crunchy)

1 stick of butter, melted

2 large eggs

1 package (2 cups) of semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup of chopped walnuts (or any kind of nut-the original recipe called for pecans, but all I had were walnuts)

1-14oz. can of sweetened condensed milk

2 tablespoons of butter

1 cup of sweetened flaked coconut

2 tsp. vanilla extract

The bars will be baked in a 13x9 inch baking dish. You don’t need to grease the dish since there is so much butter in the recipe.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together the cake mix, peanut butter, the 1 stick of melted butter, and eggs in a mixing bowl.

The batter will be thick so you will need to scrape down the bowl.

Reserve 1 ½ cups of the cake mixture for the topping (this is super easy if you have a 1 ½ cup measuring cup—thanks, Dad! Mine are from Williams-Sonoma).

Put the remaining crust mixture in the pan, and use your fingertips to press the crust evenly over the bottom of the pan so it reaches all sides.

It won’t look like you will have enough dough, but you will, just keep working it out. Set the pan aside.

To make the chocolate filling, put the chocolate chips, condensed milk, and 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over low heat (be patient, it will take several minutes--you don’t want it to burn).

Be careful and don't make a mess like me!

Stir and cook until the chocolate is melted and mixture well combined. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the coconut, nuts, and vanilla.

Pour the chocolate mixture over the crust, and spread it evenly using a spatula (I found an offset spatula works really well) to the sides of the pan. Use your fingers to crumble the reserved 1 ½ cups of crust mixture over the chocolate and put the pan in the oven.

Before baking

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the cake mixture is a light brown. Remove the pan and put it on a wire rack to cook for 30 minutes.

After baking

Once the mixture is cool, then cut up into squares. It may take it awhile to cool, especially if it’s warm in your kitchen. In fact, I cut the bars, then put them into the fridge to harden up so the chocolate wouldn’t ooze out (not that it is a bad thing when chocolate oozes, it’s just very messy).

Anne Byrn suggests for long term storage, wrapping the bars in aluminum foil and freezing. I had to do this rather quickly after making them so my husband and I wouldn’t be tempted eat the whole batch!

Notes: When using a hand-held mixture, I use these bowls that have a piece of rubber on the bottom (special thanks to Mama for ordering these for me). After all, as cool as those stand mixers are, they can be kind of a pain to clean.

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