Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sweet + Salty No-bake bars

Each hear for the holidays at work, we all go out to a nice lunch, make a donation to a charitable cause, and bring in little treats for each other. We used to do a Secret Santa exchange, but then started doing the donations. In the past we have donated to Toys for Tots, We are the Children, sent money to the soldiers, the Petit Foundation, Hurricane Sandy Victims last year. This year, we decided to keep the donation in-house, and donate to the scholarship fund that has been set up in memory of our friend and coworker Kristin's brother who passed away earlier this year. It sounds like he was a really amazing guy, and she looked up to him immensely. The company he worked for matches all donations 100% which is also amazing. We didn't tell Kristin we were doing it, and planned to share what we were doing during our holiday lunch as well.

For a little sweet treat, I was going to bring the girls cake ball truffles. This coming from a girl who does not bake, I thought it would make the little present even more special. I made a test batch for Thanksgiving and brought home to the royals. They were super easy to make {literally make a box cake, let it cool, and crumble it.. mix in most of a tub of frosting and pop in the freezer for a few to set up. Then you form it into balls, freeze them a little more, and decorate.. that's it} - I decorated them with candy melts and this glittery silver sugar sprinkles. So yum. And although a little bit of a pain, very simple to make. Great. All I had to do before the holiday lunch was grab a box of cake and a tub of frosting.

Days went by between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and my spirit was not spiriting. I found myself dreading going to the grocery store and dreading making these cake balls. Why? No idea. They're so easy, right? So I found myself to literally the day before the lunch, last Thursday. I wanted nothing to do with making these cake balls after work.. but what else could I possibly make?! And then... I saw it. A link to the Curly Girl blog on Facebook... the answer to my prayers. And even better, no bake. No bake?! Leigh Standley, you are pretty much my hero. 

Now, before I share this mouth watering recipe, let me tell you a little about it. Because clearly, I am not good at photographing my adventures... New Years resolution anyone? Anyways: salty + sweet is probably the best combination in a dessert. This combines peanut butter, dark chocolate, and pretzels... um hello to all my favorites. The recipe itself is simple and delicious - I actually ended up decorating the top with my candy melts and sugar glitter to make it fancier {which added a little extra sweetness, but more importantly added color and sparkle, which made it look fabulously festive}

Peanut Butter Pretzel No-bakes ~ Original recipe from Curly Girl Design | Blog 

ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks of room temperature butter
2 1/2 cups + 1/2 cup of salted pretzels, crushed into crumbs
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup + 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter {such as Jif natural, smooth}
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips 

instructions:

  1. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. 
  2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of peanut butter and the butter. Mix until smooth. Add in powdered sugar and 2 1/2 cups of crushed pretzels and mix until well combined. Spread mixture into the bottom of the pan and smooth it out evenly.
  3. Combine the rest of the peanut butter and the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals to melt it together. Stir in between and continue until smooth and everything combines. Spread the chocolate layer over the peanut butter in the baking dish, and smooth it out evenly.
  4. Top with remaining 1/2 cup pretzels. 
  5. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting into bars and serving. 

notes:

  • These can be made ahead, cut up, and then frozen for later enjoyment.
  • Original recipe suggested using tin foil in the baking sheet, but I found it was hard to spread the PB mixture in, so I just sprayed the heck out of my Pyrex and put it directly in.
  • Make sure your butter is softened... mine had been frozen, and I thought it was to room temp when I started but it didn't end up combining all the way with the PB and you could taste the butter separately. This also could have been because I was using a hand mixer instead of a stand mixer. 

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