A Swing and a Hit: Home Run Bars

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A couple of months ago, I came across a recipe for carmelized crispy rice cereal (I think rice Krispy is trademarked) in Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi and it’s like a door opened to a crunchy, sweet but so browned it’s almost bitter land.  The possibilities were so inspiring that the next three weeks of recipes feature this versatile ingredient.

One of the beauties of caramelizing anything is that you get to control how deep you go.  I’ve tried several versions and prefer mine darker but not yet burned.  Think Cracker Jacks.

In fact, Cracker Jacks are what inspired this picnic and BBQ ready dessert bar.

How do you feel about a peanut buttery blondie base polished with a layer of chocolate and topped with crunchy caramelized crispy rice?

Homerun you say?

Exactly!

Homerun Bars

For the Caramelized Crispy Rice

Ingredients

  • 2 C crispy rice cereal (have had good results with both regular and brown rice versions)
  • 3 TBS water
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan add sugar.  Then add water and mix until sugar dissolves.  This is the last time you are going to want to touch the mixture until you take it off the heat the first time.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil (don’t stir) and allow to simmer until the syrup just starts to brown.
  4. Remove from heat and mix in cereal (I find a rubber spatula works the best). Gently mix cereal until ever last piece is covered in syrup.  By the time you there, everything will have dried and look like its dusted in snow (and now we know how they make Frosted Flakes).
  5. Return to heat over a medium burned and fold constantly.  The sugar will start to melt and caramelize.  Keep folding until you reach desired depth of caramelization.  I know the version I like is done when the sugar starts to smoke.
  6. Spread cereal on parchment lined baking sheet and allow to cool completely.
  7. From here you can store in an airtight container in big hunks.

For Homerun Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 C peanut butter (crunchy or smooth–I use smooth because I like to add-on whole peanuts)
  • 1/2 C butter, softened
  • 2 C golden brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 C all purpose flour
  • 1 C peanuts (I like slightly salted)
  • 1 TBS vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces chocolate (chips will do fine)
  • 1 batch caramelized crispy rice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line a 9X13 pan with parchment.
  2. In bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and peanut butter until smooth.
  3. Beat brown sugar into butter mixture in three stages, allowing the mixer to run for a couple of minutes after all of the sugar has been added.
  4. Beat-in eggs one-at-a-time, combining completely after each egg.  Beat in vanilla.
  5. Turn off mixer.  Add flour and mix on lowest speed until just combined.  Fold in peanuts by hand.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan using a spatula to level it out.
  7. Bake until a skewer inserted into the center of the dough comes out with small crumbs (about 35 minutes).
  8. Remove from over and allow to cool completely.
  9. Melt chocolate in microwave (30 seconds at a time at 50% heat until all chips melt with mixed).  Stir in oil.
  10. Using an off-set spatula, “frost” cooled blondies with chocolate.
  11. Slightly press caramelized rice into still warm chocolate.
  12. Allow chocolate to set-up.  Cut and enjoy.
  13. Store in an airtight container for up to three days.

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