There is often an alchemy in good food: certain ingredients are enhanced simply by pairing them with certain others. Smoked salmon with spicy horseradish, sea salt with hot caramel and oily mackerel with tart gooseberries.
Chocolate and peanut butter may not be such a chic combination, but nonetheless, it is nothing short of genius. This is one of those dream partnerships: the rich, stick-to-the-roof of your mouth quality of the peanut butter seems to meld perfectly with the unique melting qualities of chocolate.
I do not know whether to boast or be embarrassed about how easy these are to make. What I will tell you is that these squares will win you friends and great influence wherever you take them. I do not know anyone who hasn’t tried them, closed their eyes and become strangely quiet as the flavours meld in the mouth. They are reminiscent of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but much more interesting from the texture of the caramelised peanuts scattered over the top.
These squares make gorgeous petit fours or larger squares of loveliness. You can use all dark chocolate as a more sophisticated topping, but normally I like a mixture of half dark and half milk. There are not many ingredients, so quality will shine through. Buy chocolate with a high cocoa content: it makes up of the recipe and so good chocolate does make a difference.
Apparently they keep well, but I wouldn’t know anything about that.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Squares
For the base
250g smooth peanut butter
200g icing sugar
50g softened butter
50g dark muscovado sugar
For the chocolate topping
150g dark chocolate
150g milk chocolate
For the nuts
50g salted peanuts
30g icing sugar
Line a Swiss roll or brownie tin with cling film.
Mix all the base ingredients together in a mixer. You can do this by hand but it is a bit hard going. The mixture will be a little like rubble. Using your fingers or the back of a spoon smooth the mixture evenly in the base of the tin.
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a pan if gently simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the base of the bowl as it will make the chocolate split.
Pour the chocolate mixture over the peanut butter base and smooth.
Heat the oven to 180. Mix the peanuts with the icing sugar and a few drops of water to combine. Spread the sugary nuts over a baking tray and bake for about 10 minutes until the nuts caramelise. Leave to cool.
Sprinkle the caramelised nuts over the chocolate top. Chill until required then cut into the desired size.