Chocolate Peanut Butter Shortbread Bars
Chocolate and peanut butter is a recent classic American dessert combination. By recent, I mean it seems to have surged in popularity in the last 10-15 years or so even though the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup was first introduced back in 1928 (per Wikipedia). We just can’t seem to get enough of this perfect pair. Although it existed when the likes of my grandmother, James Beard, Julia Child, and other great American foodies were making their mark, there seem to be few recipes that utilize this mix of sweet chocolate and nutty creamy peanut butter from that time. Perhaps this was due to the emphasis on sophisticated French desserts and the reputation of chocolate and peanut butter as a simple candy combination with little depth or complexity in flavor. Whatever the reason, that lack of old fashioned recipes has delayed my use of this amazing match on this site and I’m happy to finally introduce it in this simple indulgent bar that still includes a blast from the past.
This three-layer bar begins with my grandmother’s Polish Mazurka recipe. Mazurka is wonderful shortbread bar (check out Polish Mazurka (Pumpkin Spice Caramel Optional!)). It’s rich and buttery with just the right touch of sweetness. The recipe includes one of my favorite ingredients often used throughout “The Art of Fine Baking:” hard boiled egg yolks. I’ve written about this awesome little technique in the past and there doesn’t seem to be a shortbread or pie/tart dough recipe that doesn’t benefit from it. The process of hard boiling the eggs and separated the yolks takes a little extra time but the richness and deep flavor it adds to the dough is well worth it.
If you can stop yourself from eating the mazurka shortbread just by itself, the last 2 layers are even more delightful. A layer of creamy peanut butter mixed with powdered sugar and melted butter is spread evenly on top. The melted chocolate follows – I like semi sweet but milk or even bittersweet dark chocolate may also be used. The last step is undeniably the hardest: waiting for that chocolate peanut butter goodness to chill so they can be cut into bars and devoured.
Lightly grease an 8×8 inch baking pan and line with parchment paper.
For the Mazurka/Shortbread:
Cream butter with sugar. Add mashed hard-cooked egg yolks and vanilla. Gently stir in flour mixed with salt. Press dough into prepared pan. Chill until dough is firm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 30 minutes until firm and lightly browned on the edges. Cool.
While shortbread cools, make the peanut butter layer:
Mix peanut butter with melted butter and confectioners sugar. Spread evenly on cooled shortbread. Chill 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt chocolate chips in a double boiler. Allow to cool slightly. Pour on peanut butter layer and spread evenly. Chill until completely firm, around 3 hours. Allow to sit at room temperature for a few minutes before cutting into bars.