Homemade cookies are good. Homemade brownies are tasty. But homemade candy bars? These have to take the prize for Best Thing That Can Come Our of Your Kitchen.
These Crispy Candy Bars have four–FOUR!–layers of delicious sugary goodness. It starts with a base of crispy chocolate, then there’s a soft peanut-packed nougat, followed by chewy, creamy caramel, and topped with a chocolate-peanut glaze. If you think that sounds intense, you’re right. These are intensely good, and intensely addicting.
It’s true that there are a lot of layers and a good many steps, but there’s nothing difficult about this recipe. Almost every step uses a microwave, so most of the work involves microwaving and stirring ingredients. At the end you’re rewarded with a whole pan of chocolately, peanutty, caramel bliss, so I think it’s worth a few extra minutes of your time. Here’s what you’ll need:
Crispy Candy Bars
Prep time: 30 min
- 14 oz chocolate chips
- 3 oz (6 tbsp) unsalted butter
- 2 cups crispy rice cereal
- 3/4 cup + 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups marshmallow cream (1 7-oz jar)
- 1 1/2 cups roasted salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- 14 oz soft caramels
- 3 tbsp light corn syrup
Combine 1 cup of chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon of butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Add 1/2 cup of peanut butter and all of the crispy rice cereal. Stir until the peanut butter melts into the chocolate and the cereal is totally covered with the chocolate mixture.
By the way, here’s my favorite tip about baking with peanut butter. Line your measuring cup with cling wrap before you measure out the peanut butter. It keeps your cup clean, and it’s easy to pre-measure the peanut butter and have it ready to go. When you need to use it, just flip the cling wrap upside down and the peanut butter will fall right out! No more scraping it from measuring cups then washing them afterwards!
But back to the recipe. Line a 7×11-inch pan with foil, and spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. (If you don’t have this size, you can use a 9×13 pan and just have thinner bars, or you can try using two loaf pans or smaller square pans.) Scrape the cereal mixture into the pan and smooth it into an even layer. Refrigerate the pan to set the chocolate while you prepare the nougat layer.
In a medium pan, combine 4 tablespoons of butter, the sugar, 1/4 cup of heavy cream, and 1 tablespoon of light corn syrup. Place the pan over medium heat and stir until the sugar melts. Bring the pot to a boil, then cook it for five minutes, stirring occasionally as it boils.
After five minutes, take the pan off the heat and add the marshmallow cream and 1/3 cup of peanut butter. Stir until everything is well-mixed, then spread the nougat on the chocolate layer.
Immediately take the chopped peanuts and sprinkle them over the nougat, then press down gently to embed them in the top of the nougat. Refrigerate the tray again while you prepare the caramel.
Place the unwrapped caramel candies in a microwave-safe bowl, along with 2 tablespoons of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon of butter. Microwave the caramels, stirring after every 30-40 seconds, until they’re melted and smooth.
At first the caramels will resist melting, but keep heating and stirring them and they will eventually break down. The caramel is ready when it flow smoothly from the spoon.
Pour the caramel over the peanut and nougat layer, and–you guessed it!–smooth it into an even layer. Refrigerate the tray for about 30 minutes, until the caramel is fairly set.
Time for the last layer! Combine the remaining 8 oz chocolate chips, 4 tablespoons peanut butter, and 2 tablespoons corn syrup. Microwave them all together in 30-second intervals until everything is melted. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of heavy cream and whisk it in until your mixture is shiny and smooth.
Pour the chocolate on top of the pan and smooth it into an even layer. Refrigerate the pan until everything is completely set, another 30-45 minutes.
To cut the bars, lift them out of the pan using the foil as handles. Use a large sharp knife to cut them into small squares to serve.
These beauties will get soft if they’re left in warm temperatures for too long, so store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They should last 2 weeks, if you can resist eating them for that long. Enjoy!
All text and images (c) Elizabeth LaBau