It’s recipe time. Before I get into this recipe, I have to point out that I’m not saying these will make Snickers candy bars, because that’s like a trademarked thing. I’m saying though that if you enjoy a peanut and caramel chocolate bar that touts itself to a balm to your hunger and often has humorous commercials, you’ll enjoy this recipe.
NOTE BEFORE STARTING: This recipe is a little bit more complicated in terms of ingredients and requirements. I’ll try and keep this simplified for you. But be prepared to need a lot of stuff, so it might be a good idea to make sure you have an empty sink or dishwasher to reduce clutter.
OTHER NOTE BEFORE STARTING: Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of downtime in this recipe. Like hours. So let’s say you want to serve these to your gaming group on a Saturday. That means on THURSDAY NIGHT, you butter the lined cookie sheet and get into your fridge before you go to bed. ON FRIDAY, you build all the layers and compose the bars. ON SATURDAY, you serve.
CAN I CHEAT? Yes, you can collapse this down into a few hours if you rush, but things might not set and you’ll not get those nice strata of flavors.
THE THINGS YOU’LL NEED THAT AREN’T FOOD
2 or 3 heavy saucepans that you can melt chocolate and sugar in. Things with thick sides and bottoms a plus. (You can double boiler this too, just put a pot on top of a pot of simmering water)
Space in your fridge for a cookie sheet
A cookie sheet lined with waxed paper that you’ve spread COLD butter on (yes, line it with wax paper because it’s going to make your life SO much easier later, and this is more like applying deodorant than buttering toast)
A spatula or spreading tool of some kind (to get the good stuff onto the sheet)
A bowl or two for mixing melted things together
Got those? Let’s take a breather for a second. This is a layering recipe, which means the food ingredients operate in groups, and then later, when we get to building the bars, we put the groups together. Now, I’m going to tell you, there’s going to be some fusion of layers if you do this in a rush or don’t let things get COLD. (like cold in fridge, not room temperature). If you’re okay with that, rock on. If you’re looking for nice even segregation of layers, follow the recipe.
GROUP 1: THE BASE
3 teaspoons butter (feel free to go up to 4) (And when I say butter, I mean BUTTER. Not margarine, not artificial spread. BUTTER. THE GOOD STUFF.)
1 cup milk chocolate chips (or whatever type of chocolate you groove with)
1/4 cup butterscotch chips (seriously, it’s worth it) (BONUS if you add in a shot of liqueur – your choice – with this)
1/4 cup Chunky Peanut Butter (Chunky is the better choice, but if you hate freedom and good food, use Creamy. I’ll mock you though. So hard.)
GROUP 2: FILLING:
1/4 cup butter (the good stuff)
1 cup sugar (Can you sub non-sugars like Stevia or whatever in here? Yes, just use 1/2 to 3/4 cup instead)
1/4 cup evaporated milk (Yes this is weird, and it’ll be in the grocery store in that aisle where you find a lot of old people. Evaporated milk is really only used in war rations and some recipes. And okay, yes, you can cut cocaine with it)
1 and 1/2 cups marshmallow creme (You may recognize this as “Fluff”. If you can’t find it, fill a large salad bowl with two bags of marshmallows, microwave them for ten seconds, then mash into a paste with a fork)
1/4 cup CHUNKY peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped salted peanuts (optional) (Now, if you’re not doing this with peanuts and you’re subbing throughout, use 1 and 1/2 cups of your nut of choice, and make sure you use the creamy version of the subbed nut butter hashtag-sounds-dirty)
GROUP 3: CARAMEL
1 package (14 ounces) caramels (unwrap them before you cook, do not eat them while cooking)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (yes HEAVY. Half and Half or milk DOES NOT hold up)
GROUP 4: ICING
1 cup (6 ounces) milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips
1/4 cup CHUNKY peanut butter
BEFORE WE START ROCKING AND ROLLING –> Line the cookie sheet, butter the waxed paper, get it in the fridge. This is totally something you do the night before or morning of, and I’m not going to tell you that this can also be put in your freezer, but hey, you can put this in your freezer. Colder is better.
WORKING WITH GROUP 1:
In a small saucepan, combine the milk chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and peanut butter; stir over low heat until melted and smooth.
Spread onto lined cookie sheet (you’re going to want to get this smooth, so use your spreader to even out any bumps. Think of this like you’re making a sidewalk, you want one uninterrupted sheet of awesome. On top of this layer will go ALL other layers, so lay good groundwork. Smooth is best. Refrigerate until set. How long? About as long as an episode of Law and Order. Ideally, 2 episodes.
WORKING WITH GROUP 2:
In a small heavy saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add sugar and milk; bring to a gentle boil. A gentle boil is little bubbles, no bigger than a pencil eraser, kind of like the way you make soup from a can. If this at all smells like gym shoes or morning breath or cat food or that sort of stale smell like a closet, you’ve burnt the milk. Wash the pan, start over.
Reduce heat to medium-low; let it come back up to a boil at the new temp and stir for 5 minutes. SERIOUSLY FIVE MINUTES. STIR FOR FIVE WHOLE MINUTES UNINTERRUPTED. MORE STIRRING MEANS BETTER CANDY. LESS STIRRING MEANS GROSS TASTING MESS.
Remove from the heat (I like to take this off the stove and put it on a towel on my countertop); stir in the marshmallow creme, peanut butter and vanilla. Add peanuts.
Spread over first layer (which means you pour it out of the pan right on top of the other layer). Refrigerate until set. (Like 2 episodes of Leverage)
WORKING WITH GROUP 3:
In a small heavy saucepan, combine the caramels and cream; stir over low heat until melted and smooth. (LOW HEAT, for reals – if it starts to smell like anything other than caramel, calmly turn off the heat and while things are still hot, dump it into the trash, wash out the pan and try again).
Cook and stir 4 minutes longer. FOUR MINUTES. TWO HUNDRED AND FORTY SECONDS. ABOUT AS LONG AS THE OPENING OF A TV SHOW FROM START OF PROGRAM THROUGH THEME AND OPENING CREDITS. YOU CAN DO THIS. STIR. STIR LIKE THE WIND.
Spread over the filling. Refrigerate until set. About 1 episode of your favorite show. Or two loads of laundry. Or a run to the post office and back.
WORKING WITH GROUP 4:
In a saucepan, combine chips and peanut butter; stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Pour over the caramel layer. Refrigerate whole deal overnight.
TWENTY MINUTES BEFORE YOU WANT TO START EATING, take the tray out of the fridge, and let it sit on your counter. Don’t touch it. Just look at it. Let your guests stare at it. Talk about how hard you worked.
If you’ve done this right, you should be able to flip the tray over, and get the whole sheet of awesome out so that it’s face down on your counter and you’re looking at waxed paper. Leave the paper on (otherwise you make a HUGE mess) and with a sharp knife (I have a chocolate cutting knife, if you don’t, grab your bread knife or big super cleaver or whatever you’re comfortable with), cut the block with the paper on into strips, then cut the strips into squares. Peel off the paper. Stuff in face.
YOU JUST MADE CANDY, ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS TO DO IN A KITCHEN.