Monday, May 16, 2011


In another of our occasional forays into the wonderful world of vocab, today on Cheesy Pennies we examine the word "Barfly", and whether it could be an appropriate term for yours truly.


Noun: A person who spends much time drinking in bars

Strictly speaking, this is not me.
I spend very little time drinking in bars.
I drink in my house*.
But I do spend much time baking up bars.
Does that count?

I think yes**.

This round is on me.  I'll make it a double.

Peanut Butter Fudge Bars
Adapted from the Simply Scratch blog.  Her step by step photos? Mesmerizing. I drool over most of the things posted there***, but this particular recipe haunted me.  Not for myself, but for my peanut-butter-and-chocolate-loving sister.   I thought it was my duty to make them on her behalf****.  Let's just say that in this case, doing good was its own reward.  Imagine that you took the best peanut butter cookie dough you ever had, packed it in tight, so it was super dense, almost like fudge, then baked it just a little, so it wasn't quite a cookie yet but was definitely not raw, and had a bit of a crispy top and some crunchy edges on it.  Got that?  Now, slather on a layer of soft, dark chocolate.  See?  You're probably falling off your barstool right now, just thinking about it.

For the bars:
1 c. butter
1/2 c. smooth peanut butter
1/2 c. chunky peanut butter
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda

For the chocolate ganache topping:
4 oz. semi sweet chocolate (I used mini chocolate chips)
1/2 c. heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350, and butter a 9 inch square baking pan.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer or a food processor, combine the butter, peanut butters, sugars and vanilla until smooth and creamy.   Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda, then slowly mix into the peanut butter mixture, just until combined.

Press dough into prepared pan with your fingers.  Don't worry if it's not perfectly will smooth out as it bakes.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until top is golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.   As it cools, the middle will sink.  Fear not!  This is exactly what should happen.  Because there are no eggs in the recipe, the dough only rises a bit as it bakes, and will condense as it cools, creating that intense, fudgy texture that makes these so rich and addictive.   It will also create a nice cozy area in the middle for the chocolate to go into, and leave a tasty cookie border around the edges of the pan.

To make the ganache, you'll need the chocolate to be chopped into small pieces if you aren't using chocolate chips.   Place the chopped chocolate into a medium bowl and set aside.   Heat the cream in a small saucepan, just until it begins to simmer.  Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and allow to sit for a few minutes so the chocolate will melt.   Whisk the mixture for several minutes until it is completely smooth and shiny.   Cool for just a bit more, then pour over the prepared bars.  Smooth out over the bars by tilting the pan from side to side, or by using a spatula. Place the pan in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour to allow chocolate to set.

Cut into small squares, and serve.

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Crispy Caramel Chocolate Truffle Shortbread Bars 
Once again, this illustrates the beauty and the danger of drinking at home instead of at a bar:  You can read other people's blogs while you do it.   That's how I discovered these decadent little numbers, recipe adapted from A Southern Grace.    In a nutshell, it's shortbread.  With a gooey-chewy-sticky chocolate middle.  And crunchy-nutty-salty-caramel stuff on top.    Lord, those people in the South sure do have a way with desserts!*****

For the shortbread layer:
2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. butter, cold and diced

For the chocolate truffle layer:
1 c. light corn syrup
1 1/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

For the crunchy caramel topping:
3/4 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. corn syrup (dark or light)
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. quick-cooking (not instant) oatmeal
1/2 c. finely chopped, lightly toasted pecans

Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter a 13x9 baking pan.

To make the shortbread, combine flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until combined.  Add butter, and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.   Don't worry, it's not supposed to form a ball of dough.  Turn the crumbly mixture out into the prepared pan, and use your hands to press into a single layer.  Now it looks like dough!  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn brown.

Meanwhile, make the chocolate layer.  Combine corn syrup and chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl, and zap for a minute or two, or until chips have melted.  Whisk the mixture together until smooth, let cool, then add the sugar, salt, eggs and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed with an electric mixture to combine.  Pour over prepared crust, and bake for 27 minutes, or until outer edges are firm and center is only a little bit jiggly.

While the filling bakes, prepare the topping.  Place all of the ingredients to a medium mixing bowl, and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.   When the bars come out of the oven, allow the pan to cool for 10 minutes, then drop spoonfuls of the topping onto the chocolate layer.   Carefully spread evenly, to completely cover the pan.  Return to the oven for another 25 minutes, or until just set.

Allow bars to cool for at least an hour.  Cut into squares and serve!

Click to Print this recipe!

* It is cheaper, easier, and infinitely more comfortable.  I don't have to wear shoes.  The company is excellent.  The bartender knows exactly how much lime to put in my cocktail and is extremely liberal with the gin.  And they stock the good stuff.
** Although a more appropriate name might be...


Noun: A person who mixes and serves drinks at a bar.

...since there was definitely mixing involved and I served both of these bars to a very appreciative set of customers this weekend.  Maybe they're the barflies!
*** Drooling is also a noted characteristic of the barfly.
**** Because I'm a barfly with a heart of gold.
***** Must be all that bourbon givin' them the inspiration.

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