Posted: April 11th, 2011 | Filed under: Cookie | | 1 Comment »
I know that we’re getting into spring/summer… and that I should be using lots of fresh fruits for all of my baked goodies right now… but I’m not going to lie, sometimes the produce situation here just kinda sucks, and I just can’t make a trip out to Central Market or Whole Foods right this moment for fruit to bake with without a really really really good reason. But I can always find in me the desire to bake with peanut butter and chocolate… which I am convinced is America’s favorite flavor combination. And it is certainly one of my hubby’s. So in all of its rich gloriousness I give you… the peanut butter ganache brownie. Its not hard, a little time consuming, but well worth the effort. The brownies are dense and chewy, and peanut butter icing does such a nice job of being enrobed in chocolate, that I can’t help that this may be one of my new favorite ways to eat a brownie. And who can blame me? Peanut butter frosting is just so dang delicious. So for the endless backyard parties, and showers, and spring to do’s you have going on… consider these little guys… I promise they’ll be a hit.
In other news, we are hopefully a few days away from closing on a house… we’ll see…
Peanut Butter Ganache Brownies
Brownie Base Ingredients
12 tbsp Unsalted Butter, room temperature
10 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
1 1⁄4 c Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 c All Purpose Flour
1 tsp Salt
Peanut Butter Layer Ingredients
1 cup Peanut Butter
4 Tbls Unsalted Butter, room temperature
3⁄4 cup Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Milk
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
7 oz Bittersweet Chocolate
4 Tbls Unsalted Butter, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350F. Prep the a 9×13″ pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, sitting over a simmering pot of water (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water) melt the butter and chocolate, stirring occasionally until melted and then remove from the heat. Stir in the sugar to the chocolate mixture. Stir in one egg at a time followed by the vanilla extract. Stir in the flour and salt, just until combined. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in it comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan.
To make the peanut butter layer, combine the peanut butter and butter in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. Stir in the powdered sugar and salt. Finally, stir in the milk and vanilla extract. Spread this on top of the brownies.
To prepare the ganache, melt the chocolate and butter in a medium bowl, sitting over a simmering pot of water (make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water), stirring occasionally. Once it is melted and smooth, pour it on top of the peanut butter layer and spread evenly. Refrigerate until the ganache is set.
Posted: January 11th, 2011 | Filed under: Cookie | Tags: best peanut butter cookies, peanut butter cookies, soft peanut butter cookies, ultimate peanut butter cookies | No Comments »
Last night my sweet hubby and I were getting ready to watch Parenthood (which we love… because it is amazing) and he looks over and very sweetly says… “I wish I had a cookie.” Now, it not often he wishes for dessert, or asks for anything from the kitchen, and I had been debating all night whether or not to bake some cookies… so really he just gave me a good excuse. Not to mention, I had been eyeing a few peanut butter cookie recipes and was looking forward to an adaptation/concept I had been thinking about for awhile.
So here you go, some super tasty, soft and light peanut butter cookies that are a new favorite in the Jarrell household.
And just so you know, our anniversary “get away” was great. We ate some really tasty food (which I will be posting on later) and got lots of rest and much needed relaxation time. We got to take the time to discuss the big things coming up this year, and now we have started taking some steps towards big goals. We’ll be working towards buying a house this May, and I’m working towards opening a bakery at the end of the year. (We’ll see if I can stick to that time line.) We’ll keep you updated on those big steps and I look forward to sharing more treats from my kitchen and trials from my life with you this year!
Alyssa’s Ultimate Peanut Butter Cookies
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
1 cup peanut butter (I use JIF)
3/4 c sugar (plus some for sprinkling)
1/2 c firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c peanut butter chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Add the milk and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and beat until just combined. Fold in the peanut butter chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with the bottom of a glass. Lightly sprinkle with sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes. Cookies will appear to be undone, but they are not. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 1 minute and move to cooling racks to cool to room temperature. Enjoy with a big glass of milk.
Posted: November 10th, 2010 | Filed under: Cookie | Tags: apple bars, apple caramel bars, apple crumble bars, apple pie bars, caramel apple bars | 1 Comment »
More apple-y goodness just for you! (I am trying to get all of these out before it is officially holiday season.) Next up is pumpkin… yum. But lets talk just a little more apple. Last week we used apples and made a homemade caramel. So now you have some left over caramel (unless you happened to gobble it all up) so here is a great way to combine the caramel and apple again — in a bar with a terrific little crumble! These are a perfect treat for the end of fall - and they are super portable, so you can share them with friends too!
Caramel Apple Crumble Bars
For the Caramel
1 c cold water
3 c sugar
2 c heavy cream, at room temperature
In a medium size saucepan, combine the water and sugar. Set over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes, making sure no sugar is sticking to the sides of the pan. Increase the heat to high and boil without stirring until the syrup becomes a deep amber color, about 15 minutes. Swirl the pan occasionally for even browning. Once the syrup turns deep amber in color, immediately remove from the pan. Slowly add the cream to the syrup (there will be lots and lots of bubbling, don’t be scared) whisking vigorously until the cream is incorporated. Return the pan to medium-low heat and stir until the sauce is smooth, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and allow to come to room temperature before chilling. (This can be stored for up to a month in the refrigerator.)
For the Bars
3 cups All-purpose Flour
¾ cups Packed Brown Sugar
¼ cups Granulated Sugar
2 teaspoons Cinnamon
¼ teaspoons Of Salt
1 cup (2 Sticks) Cold Unsalted Butter, Cut Into Small Pieces
1 whole Egg
Preheat the oven to 375F. Grease a 9 x 13 pan; set aside.
In a food processor, mix the flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Pulse until pea-sized clumps form and virtually no loose flour remains. Press half of mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
For the Apple Mixture
½ cups Granulated Sugar
2 teaspoons Cornstarch
4 whole Medium-sized Apples (I Used Sweet Tango), Peeled, Cored, And Grated
In another bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and cornstarch. Squeeze out any excess liquid from the grated apples with your hands, then mix them into the sugar until thoroughly combined.
Sprinkle the apple mixture evenly over the crust. Pour and spread the caramel over the apple mixture. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the apples. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is slightly golden. Cool completely before cutting into squares.
Posted: October 6th, 2010 | Filed under: Cookie | Tags: brown butter chocolate chip cookies, brown butter cookies, brown butter dessert, chocolate chip cookies | No Comments »
So there we were, looking at our freshly cleaned apartment, all picked up and ready for friends to come over and join in some GLEE fun. My no longer very messy kitchen was pristine and sparkling (as sparkling as laminate gets), the dishwasher was running, the floors were clean… it was all so pretty. But it didn’t last long. All it took was a few minutes of this pretty kitchen for my little brain to start thinking of ways to destroy it. (What can I say? I’m hopeless.) Cookies sounded terrific, and what I hadn’t tried yet was a brown butter cookie… how about that chocolate chip cookie with brown butter that I flagged ages ago? It was perfect. I had everything on hand and a few minutes before GLEE watching time… so off I went. (And don’t worry, my kitchen really didn’t get messy.)
But lets chat about something. A few of you may remember that awhile back I posted about my trouble with cookies. So I’ve been practicing, and I may also just be drawn to some great cookie recipes for some unknown reason (my calling as a cookie baker?). And I’m not going to lie, the cookies and I have been doing well lately. I recently made a terrific oatmeal cookie, and last night these amazing little guys. The brown butter really left a nice toasty after taste and the cookies were nice and soft with a thin crisp outside. They were super tasty… and don’t worry, they take all of fifteen minutes to prep, so you can have them ready for dessert tonight.
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisking frequently, heat until butter turns golden brown. Let cool to room temperature. In separate bowl, add sugars. Pour in brown butter and whisk until smooth. Whisk in eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and kosher salt. Add dry ingredients to sugar mixture, and stir until just combined. Let mixture completely cool before adding chocolate chips (or they will melt). Fold in chocolate chips. Scoop dough with an ice cream scoop onto cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake 8-10 minutes, until tops are set and bottoms are just turning golden brown. Let them rest on the pan for a few minutes before transferring them onto cooling racks. Serve with a glass of milk and a smile.
Posted: September 9th, 2010 | Filed under: Cookie | Tags: heath bar blondies, peanut butter blondies, peanut butter heath bar, peanut butter heath bar blondies | No Comments »
Okay, so you know about the peanut butter thing. What else can I make with the peanut butter I think to myself. The pie had been sitting on the back burner for awhile, just waiting to come out. But I hadn’t thought past the pie. And then my new cookbooks came in. My beautiful new cookbooks. Amazon and I were friendly last week. I picked up two Magnolia Bakery cookbooks and the Royer’s Round Top Cafe Cookbook. (The last one is out of print, so Amazon was the only way to find it. But, apparently they are working on a new one. I sure hope it happens sooner than later.) And so I was doing what I always do when I get a fantastic new cookbook… reading each one page by page, recipe by recipe, story by story, like it was a fiction novel. I love it. One time my very smart little sister asked me… “How is you know so much about cooking stuff?” and after thinking about it for a minute I replied, “Because I read cookbooks like you read Harry Potter.” (This could now be switched out with the Twilight series.) And there it was, in the middle of the bars section of a Magnolia Bakery book, a blondie with peanut butter… and it sounded amazing… I could just imagine it looking all cute on a plate for friends. And that was the end of the search… I was ready for some awesome blondie action.
Man am I glad I settled on this great little cookie bar. It is super tasty and not difficult to put together. And, they did not stay in the house… they went with Ryan up to the office to be eaten up by others.
Peanut Butter Heath Bar Blondies
adapted from the Complete Magnolia Cookbook
1 1/2 C. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 C. smooth peanut butter
2 1/2 C. granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3 T. vanilla extract
3 C. self-rising flour
4 C. peanut butter chips
1/2 c heavy cream
4 coarsely chopped Health bars or chocolate covered toffee bars (about 1 cup)
1/2 C. finely chopped unsalted peanuts
Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease and flour a 12 x 18-inch jellyroll pan.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and the peanut butter until fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until smooth. Add the eggs and the vanilla extract and mix well. Add the flour and beat until well incorporated. Spread the batter evenly into prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into center of pan comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool to room temperature.
To prepare the topping: In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the peanut butter chips and the cream, stirring until smooth. Drizzle the peanut butter mixture decoratively over the cooled blondies. Sprinkle the Heath Bars and the peanuts on top.
Allow to cool to room temperature, or overnight, before cutting and serving. Makes 24 three-inch blondies.
Posted: August 23rd, 2010 | Filed under: Cookie | Tags: pb&j bars, peanut butter and jelly bars, Peanut butter and strawberry bars | No Comments »
Lately I have been making lots of lame excuses for why I have not been actively sharing recipes with you. I’m making that change right now. Because, lets face it, those excuses were way l-a-m-e. So on my path to not being so lame, I give you Peanut Butter and Strawberry Bars. With the school year here (it is no longer quickly approaching) I am reminded of my deep love for fun school stuffs. I’m not going to lie… I wish I had an excuse to buy some cool new office supplies (like cute paper clips and monogramed pencils) and a fun new backpack. When I was in school we packed our lunches most of the time. This tasty bar reminds me of all of those PB&Js we packed so long ago… and I think it would make a great dessert packed up in a brown paper bag or enjoyed as a “wholesome” after school snack.
Peanut Butter and Strawberry Bars
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
3/4 c butter, softened
3/4 c peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
1 c packed light brown sugar
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 c all purpose flour
1/2 c strawberry jam
4 c strawberries halved or quartered
Heat oven to 350 F. Line 13x9x2″ baking pan with parchment paper. Beat butter and peanut butter on medium to high for 30 seconds. Beat in sugars, baking powder, and salt until combined. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with mixer. Stir in remaining four. Spread dough in prepared pan. Bake 25 minutes or until top is lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. Remove from pan, and remove parchment paper. Spread jam on top and pile on the berries. Cut into bars. Serve at once or refrigerate up to 6 hours.
Posted: August 10th, 2010 | Filed under: Cookie | Tags: chocolate chip cookies, giant chocolate chip cookies, soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies, soft chocolate chip cookies | No Comments »
About a week ago on a very hot night we joined a couple of friends on the lawn of the Denton Square for a lovely al fresco dinner date. It was steamy, but with the breeze and the sun going down, and the laughter and the chilled wine, I really didn’t even care. We shared some tasty veggie filled sandwiches made lovingly by Taylor and Darrell. We toasted with a little wine that I picked up earlier in the weekend. We finished it all off with giant cookies I baked the night before. Thats right… I said it, you don’t have to do a double take. GIANT cookies. And they were delicious. Soft and chewy and full of chocolate chip goodness. And really, is there a better picnic dessert than a cookie? It doesn’t get too crumbly, require a napkin, fork, or spoon. It doesn’t have to be chilled. They only need to be tucked safely away in a hard container, no cutting, slicing, or serving required… and there they are. Just big simple cookies.
Now lets get down to the details. This recipe isn’t outlandish, it doesn’t require fancy vanilla beans, or 90% cocoa nibs… just the same things you already have sitting in the pantry. But here is the thing… instead of using your little cookie scoop… or a tablespoon to drop these little guys — you are going to use an ice cream scoop. Thats right… the same amount of dough you put into a normal sized cupcake.
It seems scary. So just put a few cookies on a pan at one time. And when they come out of the oven… be patient! Let them rest for a second, then let them cool on a wire rack… then attack! Its cool, I know you want to. And please, share in the attack of the giant cookies with friends. Its the neighborly thing to do.
Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Everyday Food by Martha Stewart
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (about 12 ounces) semisweet and/or milk chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter with both sugars; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add the salt, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until well mixed, about 1 minute. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
Bake until cookies are golden around the edges, but still soft in the center, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on baking sheet 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.
Posted: June 7th, 2010 | Filed under: Cookie | Tags: best fudge-y chocolate cookies, chocolate cookies, soft chocolate cookie | 1 Comment »
I am not much of a cookie baker. I would love to be. I would. It’s just that… well, most of the time I have problems with cookies… hey hey hey.. lay off me… we all have our week spots. And its not that I’m terrible per say… its just that I’m not amazing, yet. Maybe these little guys are on my pathway out of Cookiesofdoomsville. But here is the thing… it is HOT here in Texas. Really hot. And trust me, I’m not exaggerating. This last weekend had predictable highs of 103 degrees. That is not pretty. That is not even a little bit comfortable. That is stay inside weather… thankfully I’m inside most of the time. However, this blistering heat does call for something cool and creamy… like a nice homemade ice cream sandwiches with some chocolate-y fudge-y deliciously soft cookies… yum!
Cocoa Fudge Cookies
Mix these little guys right in the saucepan you melt the butter in… less dishes to clean… awesome.
1 c all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp butter
7 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
2/3 c granulated sugar
1/3 c packed brown sugar
1/3 c plain low fat yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa and sugars. Add yogurt and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Bake for 8-10 minutes until cookies are almost set. Cool cookies on pans 2-3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans, and cool on wire racks.
**I made three batches, one with the plain yogurt, one with vanilla, and one with sour cream… they were all perfect and delicious…. so don’t be afraid to use what is on hand.
Posted: April 25th, 2010 | Filed under: Cookie | Tags: best brownies, buttery brownies, chocolate brownies, chocolate chip, denton arts and jazz fest, favorite brownies, outrageous brownies, soapbox | 1 Comment »
It has been an insane week with work and a million other things. But it was way fun hanging out with friends – and Denton’s Art’s and Jazz Festival was this week. It is one of the things I love most about Denton. It is free to go – it is full of awesome music, and fun/funny art and - FRIED food. Fair food really. Corndogs, funnel cakes, fried oreos, kettlecorn, lemonade, sweet tea, and all of the rest… yum. I mean – the Texas State Fair is huge – and overwhelming – and expensive. And this is the less expensive, more fun version of this. And we can walk down from the apartment. Seriously, people park farther away than we live. How cool is that? And even better – all of Denton’s finest hippies come out in their glorious form and this my friends makes for some excellent people watching. Excellent. And in the midst of this insane and fun week came brownies. Brownies served spontaneously at LOST night. Taken to the office. Eaten all up and worked off at the gym.
I know that I just posted a brownie recipe and I promise that I don’t only sit up here and eat brownies all the time. I just have been in a “What should I make? Oh, I could make brownies…” kind of kick. And I have to say, I don’t care if I have posted multiple brownie recipes already – you know you like it. And all of them are delish! Seriously… who doesn’t need another great brownie recipe in their recipe box of awesomeness?
So here it is, a really yummy recipe from a favorite lady who never fails me – the one and only Ina Garten. I love her. She is my favorite. And everything she makes is simple and delicious without being over the top or weird. (Thanks for that Ina.) So don’t be freaked out by the amount of butter and chocolate. It worried me for a minute too…. but in the end it was totally worth it. However – I am going to get on my little soapbox for just a moment. I do not like chocolate chunks or chips on chocolate. Just like the wrong chocolate icing on chocolate cake is not good, just overwhelming – a really great brownie does not need little balls of chocolate hiding in there. It is too much. For real. Now an oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips – great. But chocolate cake with chips and chocolate icing with chips is too much. TOO MUCH people. Simple. Stay simple and balanced. But you know – if you personally love you some chocolate overload go ahead and enjoy yourself and add as many chips/chunks as you would like. Off the soapbox.
Ina Garten’s Outrageous Brownies
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
1 pound unsalted butter
28 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided – (I chose not to use the added chips-you saw the soapbox-So I only used 14 oz)
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
6 extra large eggs
3 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups chopped walnuts (I used pecans-they were awesome)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 12×18×1 inch baking sheet. Melt together the butter, one pound of the chips, and the unsweetened chocolate in a medium bowl over simmering water. Allow to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee granules, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the warm chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the walnuts and 12 ounces of chips in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup flour, then add them to the chocolate batter. Pour into the baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, then rap the baking sheet against the oven shelf to force the air to escape from between the pan and dough. Bake for another 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake!
Allow to cool thoroughly, refrigerate, and cut into squares.
Ina’s notes: Flouring the chips and walnuts keeps them from sinking to the bottom.
It is very important to allow the batter to cool well before adding the chips, or the chips will melt and ruin the brownies.
Do ahead: This recipe can be baked up to a week in advance, wrapped in plastic, and refrigerated.
Posted: April 14th, 2010 | Filed under: Cookie | Tags: chocolate peanut butter bars, chocolate peanut butter rice crispy, peanut butter crispy treats, peanut butter rice crispy | 7 Comments »
I love baking. My hips don’t love my baking. Part of that problem stems from my massive sweet tooth. If it is in the house I will devour it. Seriously. Half a pan of brownies? It is lucky if it lasts two days near me. I try people. I do. But this would be much easier if my sweet husband would actually eat more sweets. He has the metabolism of…. well, its crazy really. He can eat whatever, whenever, however much he wants and his hips have no complaints. None. However – he has a much more discerning sweet tooth. (We won’t discuss his Taco Bueno habits.)
He would really prefer rice crispy treats, peanut butter cups, and frozen pie to most of the cakes that I make. So when I came across the recipe for peanut butter crispy bars in my Baked cookbook I was pretty excited. I grown up version of one of Ryan’s childhood (and present) favorites.
My fear with the recipe after reading through was that the candied crispy part would be too tough, or too crispy and not soft like a normal rice crispy was put to rest after a bite – this was a grown up rice crispy treat meets a peanut butter cup! It was better than I had hoped. And guys – for real – it was easy. I mean really. It involved melting and pouring. It is not hard. I guess I misjudged the recipe thinking it would be a little more difficult when I first read it – but really – easy. I love it. You will love it. Make a batch today. And share – so your hips are happy too.
Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
From Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
For the crispy crust 1 3/4 cups crisped rice cereal
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the milk chocolate peanut butter layer
5 ounces good-quality milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup creamy peanut butter
For the chocolate icing
3 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72 percent cocoa), coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter
Make the crispy crust: Lightly spray a paper towel with nonstick cooking spray and use it to rub the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking pan. Put the cereal in a large bowl and set aside. Pour 1/4 cup water into a small saucepan. Gently add the sugar and corn syrup (do not let any sugar or syrup get on the sides of the pan) and use a small wooden spoon to stir the mixture until just combined. 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 into the prepared pan. Using your hands, press the mixture into the bottom of the pan (do not press up the sides). Let the crust cool to room temperature while you make the next layer.
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 the mixture over the cooled crust. Put the pan in the refridgerator for 1 hour, or until the top layer hardens.
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 (actually, I found it easier to just roll it around until it coated smoothly, avoiding the risk of picking up any of the peanut butter layer with it) into an even layer. Put the pan into the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until the topping hardens.
Cut into 9 squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, covered tightly, for up to 4 days.