When I was little, my brothers and I would go trick-or-treating together, and when we got home, we’d pour our respective hauls out of their pillowcases. We’d organize our candy by type, putting everything in order of personal preference. Then the bartering began. Piece by piece, we’d trade off the things we didn’t like until everyone was satisfied. We were all pretty nice about it; D loved Twizzlers, but I loathed them, so I’d let him have them in return for something of low value to him. But seriously, and at the risk of sound like Bart Simpson, woe be to anyone who tried to get their hands on my peanut butter cups or my Butterfinger® bars.
Yes, I know this candy is known for being a flattened cylinder with a thin chocolate coating. You can definitely cut the peanut butter base into rectangles and dip it in chocolate if you feel like it, but I think the flavor and texture here is so dang good that it just doesn’t justify the extra, painstaking work. Just so you’re aware, these bars are roughly half the thickness of the store-bought candy bar. I think the peanut butter:chocolate ratio is perfect. These bars are flaky and crispy and stick in your teeth and your dentist is probably putting me on their most-wanted list as I type.
This recipe is very simple, but you need to know two things before we begin: you must have a candy thermometer for this recipe, and you must read through the entire recipe before you start. Everything comes together quickly, and I certainly don’t wish a candy disaster on anyone.
When you’re done, you’ll have more candy than you can possibly eat, so you have no excuse not to share it with friends. If all your friends are dead*, you can store them in an airtight container in the freezer so you can grab a piece of candy whenever you feel like it. Oh, and by the way? When it warms up outside again, you should definitely break up a handful of these and stir them into ice cream. Ughhhh.
Eternal gratitude to Bruce Weinstein for publishing the recipe I based this one on in The Ultimate Candy Book, and Not Without Salt for keeping the stupidly beautiful (but not vegan) blog where I first heard about it. I could hug you both!
- 1 c creamy, sweetened peanut butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 c sugar
- ⅓ c light corn syrup
- ½ c water
- ¾ cup vegan chocolate chips
- 1 Tbsp shortening or coconut oil, optional
- Grease an 8-inch square pan.
- In a small saucepan, stir together peanut butter, vanilla, and salt.
- Warm mixture over very low heat, being very careful not to burn anything to the bottom. Set aside, keeping it warm.
- In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar, corn syrup and water.
- Cook sugar mixture over medium-high heat just until it reaches 290 degrees, under hard crack. At first, the temperature will rise steadily, and then it will hover around 220 for what seems like an eternity. Be patient and keep stirring! Once it starts rising again, it will do so quickly.
- Quickly stir in peanut butter until smooth.
- Pour into prepared pan, working fast as the mixture begins to harden quickly!
- Let cool on a wire rack for about 8 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips, stirring frequently until smooth.
- Stir in shortening until completely melted and incorporated.
- Pour chocolate over warm peanut butter base and use a spatula to spread, making sure to coat peanut butter evenly.
- Allow to cool fully on wire rack (at least a couple of hours) before cutting with a sharp knife.