Ahhh, peanut butter and chocolate. The perfect marriage. And one of the most popular combinations for treats this time of year. I've made this bark each year since I first saw the recipe in Everyday with Rachael Ray
magazine. It's sinfully sweet and delicious and is a hit at parties. And it's great for mailing. It has all the things I love about a treat: salty, sweet, and crunchy. I think what sets this bark apart from so many others is that, instead of just being chocolate, it has a crunchy crust made of Matzo crackers.
Let's get started. First, the happy couple emerge from the cabinet.
Here are Matzo crackers. They are similar to saltines in texture, but are made of only matzo flour and water. They are most commonly used as a substitute for bread during the Jewish holiday of Passover. If you can't find Matzo (usually in the International section of the grocery store) you can substitute saltine crackers instead.
First, you lay out your crackers on your foil covered cookie sheet. Break the crackers as needed to fit.
Next melt your unsalted butter in a saucepan. Mine is a three quart heavy-bottomed pan. I think you need to be sure and use unsalted butter here. Peanut butter can be salty and, if you're like me and are at the store asking yourself "did I wanted unsalted crackers or salted???", then there is probably salt there too (because I always end up buying salted ones).
Once the butter is melted, add your sugar and 2 tablespoons of water to the pan. Now you need to break out a kitchen tool I'd never owned or used until I found this recipe.
The candy thermometer. I don't know why I was always scared to use one. They are super easy to use, and helpful too.
Cook your butter and sugar (not touching it!) until the temperature on the candy thermometer reads 255 degrees.
Not there yet.
Almost there! Now, when it gets to the right temperature, remove the pan from the heat and let it sit a minute.
Stir in your vanilla. Makes it bubble a lot. I wonder why?
Pour over the crackers and use a spatula to spread it evenly. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes.
Now for the chocolate! Sprinkle your bag of chocolate chips over the bark. Bake until the chocolate starts to melt (about 2 minutes). The chips will become glossy looking.
Meanwhile, melt your peanut butter in a microwave safe bowl until it has a pourable consistency, about a minute to a minute and half.
Once the chocolate chips have started to melt, spread the chocolate evenly over the bark. Pour your peanut butter over the top. Mmmm....
Swirl the peanut butter and chocolate together with a spatula or the back of a wooden spoon. Be sure to get a lot on the spoon, so you can lick it when you're done.
Let it set for an hour, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Break it apart and package for giving. And enjoy a piece or two or five for yourself.
Well, I'm done with my first official "Christmas baking" recipe. So many more to go! More recipes to come!