New York City has been celebrating Restaurant Week (at 4 weeks, it should be more like “Restaurant Month”!) recently and it gives some of us a chance to explore a few finer dining options that we might normally have to think at least twice about. Among the superb three-course meals I’ve had the pleasure of partaking are a smattering of beautifully plated, melt-in-your-mouth fantastic desserts.
One of the most memorable? A peanut butter crunch bar featured at Aureole, Charlie Palmer’s Michelin star establishment. Oh, my goodness… was it phenomenal! My roommate and I were talking about it for days, and my mind kept drifting back to it so often that I decided I’d make a simpler, homemade version to enjoy.
Three distinct layers of crunch, mousse, and ganache, featuring smooth peanut butter, dark, and milk chocolate. Despite the fact that I didn’t have any fancy valrhona chocolate nor delicate mille-feuille pastry in the pantry (Who does?! One day, Eunice… one day.), I was determined to make this work. As it happened, the preparation for this delicious and fancy-looking dessert is amazingly simple. I must admit I wasn’t entirely sure how the textures and flavors would come together, but they did so in the best way possible!
Drawing from those younger days of making Muddy Buddies or Puppy Chow (remember those good ol’ days?) as a child, I immediately thought about using cereal to give that bottom layer a nice crunch! Cornflakes were my answer, but Rice Crispies, Chex, or other similar crunch cereals would also do the trick. Mixed together with a milk chocolate-peanut butter glue, and there’s the peanut butter crunch base!
The top two layers are chocolate-based. The middle is a whipped ganache mouse of a milk-dark chocolate combo, and the top is a luscious and uber-rich dark chocolate ganache glaze. YUM! A bit of setting time in the fridge or freezer between each layer, and this crunch bar is ready to serve! Plate it individually with a chocolate stripe and kernelled gelato for an elevated dessert feel :) We so fancy…
- 1/3 c milk chocolate chips
- 3/8 c peanut butter
- 1/2 c crushed corn flakes
- 1/2 c dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 c milk chocolate chips
- 1/2 c heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- 1/2 c dark chocolate chips
- 1/4 c heavy cream
- Melt chocolate chips (in either a double broiler or carefully in a microwave) and stir in peanut butter when chocolate has completely melted. Mix in crushed cornflakes until well coated.
- Press an even layer onto the bottom of a lined loaf pan. Place in fridge to cool/harden.
- Boil heavy cream and pour over chocolate; stir until well mixed and a thin chocolate ganache has formed. Stir in vanilla and mix well. Place in refrigerator to cool (just cool enough such that ganache is scoop-able but not overly stiff).
- Remove from fridge and whip with stand or electric hand mixer until light and moussey; 2-4 minutes.
- Spread the whipped ganache over cooled crunch layer in loaf pan to form an even middle layer.
- Place in fridge or freezer to harden.
- Boil heavy cream and pour over chocolate; stir until well mixed and a thin chocolate ganache has formed. Stir in maple syrup. Cool slightly, until of "molten lava"-like runny-ness.
- Pour ganache over the mousse layer and cover completely to form top layer. Try to refrain from manually spreading as this will allow for a beautiful clean glaze.
- Chill until ready to serve. Cut into 1/8ths and enjoy!
- This dessert can be made well in advance and keeps well in the freezer.
- To better incorporate the peanut butter flavor throughout, substitute out some chocolate and whip with peanut butter! I haven't done this, but I would recommend substituting (1/4 c chocolate + 1/8 c heavy cream) with 1/5-1/4 c peanut butter.
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