The flavor of peanut butter and chocolate together is truly an American construct because history says that the combination was developed by an American, Mr. Reese, who invented… you already know the answer!
A Duo That Has Taken France By Storm
This is most likely fact, and like many culinary American treasures – hamburgers, milkshakes, poke bowls – the peanut butter and chocolate duo has taken France by storm, as evidenced by the number of locations here selling Reese’s peanut butter cups.
Peanut Butter and the French Palate
In some ways this is suprising, if I rely on my own research done with peanut butter and the French palate. My experience says that when peanut butter is given as a taste to a French person it causes more than a nose wrinkle. It must be the achingly sweet mildness of a Reese’s peanut butter cup that makes it pass the French palate muster.
A Passion That Has Waned
I once loved Reese’s peanut butter cups, passionately. But of course times, recipes, and palates change and I am no longer enthralled. I don’t miss them, though, because I have the recipe featured here, and when you try it, you will understand.
A Friend in Need
It took time to develop, and I received much help from my friend Ricardo, a peanut butter and chocolate addict. While he sells art as a profession (his gallery, Ricardo Fernandes Gallery is a must visit on your next trip to Paris), one of his hobbies is sampling and commenting on these bars.
Add These to Your July 4 – or Any – Picnic
If you share his addiction these will be a perfect addition to your July 4 – or any – picnic. They can be made in advance, cut, packaged and refrigerated. When you pack them up for the picnic I recommend an ice pack because the topping may soften slightly depending on the temperature outdoors.
American Flavor, French Subtlety
I love the each part of this recipe – the cookie crust, the filling, the “frosting”- and when they’re combined magic ensues. They are a perfect example of hearty American flavor and French subtlety. I’m eager to hear what you think after you’ve tasted one, or two, or three…
Happy July 4th
Enjoy this truly French-American hybrid sweet, add it to your July 4 menu, and let me know what you think.
Bon Appétit, and enjoy!
PEANUT BUTTER BARS - LES BARS DE BEURRE DE CACAHUÈTE
- 1/3 cup;50g all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup;30g cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ cup;60g unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons pure peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons vanilla sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the peanut butter filling:
- 1 cup;250g pure peanut butter
- 2/3 cup;160g confectioner’s sugar
- ¼ cup;60ml heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the chocolate topping:
- ¾ cup;185ml heavy cream
- 6 ounces;180g semi-sweet chocolate, minced
- Preheat the oven to 350F (180C). Line an 8 x 8-inch (20 x 20 cm) baking dish with parchment paper.
- Make the pastry: sift together the flour, cocoa, and salt onto a piece of parchment paper. Place the butter and the peanut butter into the bowl of an electric mixer and mix until they are thoroughly combined and light. Add the sugar and continue to mix until they are thoroughly combined and almost fluffy. Add the egg yolk and mix, scraping the sides of the bowl, and mix until all is thoroughly combined. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
- Press the dough into the prepared baking pan and bake until it is slightly puffed and feels almost firm to the touch, which will take about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack.
- While the pastry is cooking, combine the peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar, cream, and vanilla extract and mix until it is smooth.
- Make the chocolate topping by pouring the cream into a medium saucepan over medium heat and heat it just until it is shimmering and tiny bubbles form around the edges of the cream. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
- When the pastry is baked, place it on a cooling rack until it is lukewarm. Spread the peanut butter filling mixture over the pastry. Pour over the cooled chocolate topping, and spread it evenly over the top of the peanut butter filling. Let cool completely, then refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight, before cutting.