Friday, March 27, 2020

Chocolate Peanut Butter Easter Egg Squares

For some reason when I think of Easter, I think of chocolate (duh!) plus peanut butter!

This is one of my favourite one-pan bakes for any occasion, but I think it's particularly egg-cellent (ha!) for this holiday. I have made this recipe so many times, froze it, defrosted it on the spot when guests come around or when I have a major hankering (which is all the time...).

My Mom makes a double batch in a 9x13-inch pan and we just love this recipe!

To start, it's a tender peanut buttery shortbread that bakes up in under 20 minutes. This alone is a canvas for so many yummy toppings, including a cheesecake layer? YUM!

But right here I have a fudgy, silky, rich peanut butter dark chocolate ganache that just needs 3 ingredients. IT'S SO GOOD!

Have you ever made a peanut butter ganache? It is unreal. But first you need to know how to make ganache.

How to make chocolate ganache:

1. First finely chop the chocolate - this ensures that it melts evenly so that the ganache emulsion will come together smoothly.

2. Heat cream in a saucepan until it just comes to a simmer. Gentle heating is crucial to a smooth silky ganache. You should see small bubbles forming around the edges and a few larger bubbles just barely breaking through the surface. It does not need to boil because it will be too hot. But, if you do boil it by accident (it's easy to loose track of dairy over the stove!), then just pull it off the heat and hold it for 20 seconds to let the bubbling go down and allow it to cool slightly. Some chocolatiers boil their cream on purpose to extend the shelf life of their truffles, but then you must let the cream cool down a bit before adding the chocolate. The reason for this is if the cream is too hot, it will over-heat the chocolate.

3. Cover and let it stand for about 2 minutes. This lets the heat slowly penetrate the chocolate so that it melts evenly.

4. Stir or whisk gently from the center and work your way out to the edges until smooth and glossy.

Then top them off with some chopped up candy-coated chocolate mini eggs and serve them up! I know you'll be into them ;)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Easter Egg Squares
makes 12-16 squares

1/3 cup (75g) salted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup (55g) packed light brown sugar
3 tbsp (45ml) creamy natural peanut butter*
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (80ml) 35% whipping cream
5 oz (142g) semisweet chocolate (50-55% cocoa), finely chopped
1/3 cup (80ml) smooth natural peanut butter 
chopped chocolate mini eggs for topping

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

Beat soft butter with brown sugar in a medium bowl until pale and creamy. Mix in peanut butter and vanilla extract. Add flour and mix until combined. Place dough in prepared pan. Using either floured hands or a piece of plastic wrap, press dough evenly into the bottom of the baking pan. 

Bake for 15-18 minutes until slightly puffed, golden on the surface and lightly browned around the edges. Let cool completely.

For the ganache, heat cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to a simmer. Remove from heat, add chopped chocolate and let stand for 2 minutes before stirring gently until melted and smooth and glossy. Gently stir in peanut butter. Pour over cooled base and spread out evenly. Sprinkle chopped mini eggs on top. Refrigerate until set and then slice into squares!

*Tip: add a pinch of salt to the chocolate topping if your peanut butter is not salted.
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