Monday, February 18, 2013

Mama K's Peanut Butter Squares

The old saying goes that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. With this in mind, I decided to whip up a batch of one of my husband's all-time favorite treats for Valentine's Day: peanut butter squares. These aren't just any kind of peanut butter squares -- these are made from his mom's recipe. He loves them. Early in our marriage, he called his mom, wrote down the recipe, and stuck it my recipe file. I don't make these bars very often, but when I do, Kevin is a very happy man.

From what I've been told, these peanut butter squares are like the ones that were served in school cafeterias back in the 1980s and 90s. Seeing as I could probably count how many times my mom paid for school lunch on one hand (as much as my brothers and I begged, Mom always sent us kids to school with homemade lunches), I don't really have that point of reference to draw from. I will say, though, that these peanut butter squares are absolutely delicious and dangerous beyond all belief; you can't stop with one.

I thought about tinkering with the recipe for this post since I'm still following a sort of paleo-ish diet. Maybe substitute all that sugar with honey, maple syrup or sucanat; perhaps toy with the flour and use almond flour instead (though gluten-free baking still intimidates me). Maybe I could make these treats little less dangerous to the waistline.

But I cast that idea aside quickly because these bars were for my valentine, a guy who doesn't totally buy into, as he would call it, all the natural/health food mumbo-jumbo (but he is totally patient and cool with me buying into it). I say, a treat now and then won't kill anyone (eating the entire pan, which you will want to do...well, that's another story). I even diverged a bit from the paleo stuff and indulged this past Valentine's Day.

Now, I recognize that Valentine's Day is over, but that shouldn't stop you. Why not make a batch today for Presidents' Day and raise a peanut butter square (and a glass of milk) in honor of George Washington's birthday?

So, without further ado, I bring you the peanut butters squares from my husband's childhood, in all their peanut-buttery, chocolaty, and sugary goodness.

Mama K's Peanut Butter Squares

3/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 cups peanut butter 
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

peanut butter (around a cup)
chocolate frosting (my go-to chocolate frosting recipe can be found here).

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

First, beat the butter and sugar together until relatively light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, salt, baking soda, and vanilla. Mix.

Add the peanut butter. I used chunky peanut butter in this batch, though either creamy or chunky is fine.

Add the oats and flour. Mix.

Personally, I like the batter even better than the baked squares. As you can see, my almost-two-year-old was of the same mindset. Tread with caution here, folks.

Turn the batter out onto a greased cookie sheet.

Press it and shape it with a rubber spatula or you can use your hands like I do. See all those finger indentations? This is where I should mention that I don't fill the whole cookie sheet; it only goes about half-way. No big deal. Just trim of the ragged edge when you cut these up and no one will know.

Bake for around 10-12 minutes. The edges should be browned and the top won't be wet or sticky.

Spread peanut butter all over the top of the squares. Word to the wise: you might want to use creamy peanut butter for this step (though, as you can see, I didn't) because it makes spreading the chocolate frosting (next) on top of the peanut butter easier.

Then spread the chocolate frosting. I used my favorite chocolate frosting recipe for this step -- I did halve the recipe and I used vanilla in it instead of almond extract (the almond and peanut flavors just clash too much. The almond extract in that recipe is awesome with other desserts, though).

Love in square form, right there.

We ate some of these on Valentine's Day and then I sent most (we had to keep some) of the leftovers to work with my husband, so he could share with his carpool and anyone near his office. Really, it was better that way.

(This post is linked up to Homestead Barn Hop.)

1 comment:

k. said...

Oh my yum!! I remember these VERY well from school. So so so so good! I think the girls I'm tending will love them too. I can't wait to make them!

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