The Last of the Firsts

Sunday, September 7, 2014
September, 2001. The girls were on their way to the first day of school, in grade 2 and junior Kindergarten. It was the first time they'd gone to the same school and they (especially my youngest) couldn't wait. She'd been pretending to read for years, and now she was finally one of the big kids. Their first day of school was just a few days before an event that would make us all hold our kids a little closer, but on the day this was taken, the world still felt like a pretty safe place to be.

September, 2014. The same front yard, but they're both a little taller. This is probably the last time we'll have a traditional "first day of school" photo. My youngest is in twelfth grade this year, and we'll find out in due course what school she'll attend next fall. Because my oldest daughter hadn't started classes at her university yet, we were able to get one last photo of them on the first day of school. I'm still holding them as close as they'll let me. Whenever they're around, the world still feels like a pretty good place to be.

Spring, 2014. I made these bars to universal acclaim from my family, then set them aside to post later. That time has arrived. I hope everyone had a happy and safe journey back to school, whether it's your first time or your last. And if you serve these bars, you'll make your world a little sweeter place to be!

Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
(adapted slightly from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito)

Note: the original recipe makes 9 bars. Because they’re so rich, I cut them much smaller (I got 20 bars from mine).

For the Crispy Crust

1 3/4 cups Rice Krispies
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbsp light corn syrup
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

For the Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter layer

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips – 2/3 cup
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter – 1 cup

For the chocolate icing

3 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp light corn syrup
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

1. To make the Crispy Crust:

Line an 8” square baking pan with parchment paper. Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside.

Pour 1/4 cup water into a small saucepan. Add the sugar and corn syrup and use a small wooden spoon to stir the mixture until just combined. (Do not let any sugar or syrup get on the sides of the pan.) Put a candy thermometer in the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; cook until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage, 235 degrees F.

Remove from the heat, stir in the butter, and pour the mixture over the cereal. Working quickly, stir until the cereal is thoroughly coated, then pour it in the prepared pan. Use a little butter to grease your hands, then press the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Let crust cool to room temperature while you make the next layer.

2. To make the Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter layer:

In a large nonreactive metal bowl, stir together the chocolate and the peanut butter.

Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for about 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour mixture over the cooled crust. Put the pan in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the top layer hardens.

3. To make the Chocolate Icing:

In a large nonreactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter.

Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly. Pour the mixture over the chilled milk chocolate peanut butter layer and spread until even. Put the pan in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until the topping hardens. Slice into bars while cold.


Claudia said...

It's bittersweet, isn't it? I also have the "firsts" and the lasts" (can I count grad school - even if they don't live here anymore?). Your daughters are just lovely - awaiting the world. We want to make it a better world. For them. I never made bars much until my son went to college. And then it seemed I couldn't send him back or visit him without bars. This is a nice reminder that I can still do this for them! Even though they're settled in their own apts.

Beth said...

Claudia, you can absolutely count grad school! I think I'll start doing the same.

And hopefully they'll be taking my bars back with them for a long time. I sent soup back with my oldest today!

Valerie Gamine said...

Beth, your girls are absolutely lovely. My mom still whips out photos of my sister and I when we're all together, must be a "mom" thing. ;)

I haven't tried this Baked recipe but you've twisted my arm, I'll give it a try!!

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

It's so nice to see both photos of your daughters...they've grown into such beautiful young ladies. And those bars look to.die.for!!!!

Cheri Savory Spoon said...

What beautiful pictures of your daughter Beth, love these crispy bar recipe!

Angie's Recipes said...

Both of your daughters have grown into two beautiful young ladies, Beth. The elder one looks exactly just like you. Those peanut butter bars look very inviting!
Have a wonderful week ahead!

Gloria Baker said...

Beth your daugthers are lovely and I understand the time go fast!
I love these bars:)

Julie said...

Your daughters are such beautiful young ladies! Those first's are such special times! As they grow older, the first's become different and sometimes from a distance. Those bars are perfect for the first day of school. Have a great week.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Loved the photos. Your daughters are beautiful. I just went through Anna Li's last first day of school too. Lots of lasts this year. We can support each other.

Barbara said...

Your girls are lovely, Beth. All the firsts (and lasts) will never be must be very proud of them both.

Jemi Fraser said...

Such beautiful young ladies! Hope they are both off to great school years :)

Joanne said...

Your daughters are so lovely! Happy first days of school to them! And yum to these bars...totally what I would want to come home to!

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I like the look of those bars!

Katerina said...

They became two very pretty ladies Beth! You must be very proud for them! The bars are delicious!

Marcela said...

Wow! They became really pretty women! :)

Monica said...

What lovely girls you have! All the best to them in their respective school years. Your bars came out beautifully. I have made them a few times and they are so good - always a hit!

vanillasugarblog said...

your girls are gorgeous!
very pretty Ms Beth, you should be oh so proud!

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Beth, what beautiful girls you have - and what amazing pictures these are! I love that idea for a blog post inspiration - very special, dear friend! And, of course, the recipe that you posted looks like such a decadent treat to enjoy and share with the kids, grown-up or not..I looked at the "Baked" book a while back and was considering buying it - I should probably be added to my Christmas wish list..
Thank you for a wonderful post,

Zoe said...

Wow, Beth!

14 years has gone so fast... Your girls are pretty ladies now :D

Like your delicious bars.


Kathy said...

Oh Beth…how fast they grow up! Your girls are beautiful! And I love those crispy bars…I will be making them for my grandkids next time they come visit. Lovely post!

lisa is cooking said...

I love the tradition of back to school photos. And, I've been meaning to try these bars for ages. I'd love for them to make my world a little sweeter!

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

Yes, my youngest is in 12th grade too. I am becoming very familiar with the art of collecting "lasts"... How lucky you are to have such a collection of "first day" photos though!

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