I don’t know how it was for other people during grade school, but our hot lunches never changed over the years. Whether it was 1st grade or your senior year of high school, you knew that at least once a week you’d get a rectangular slab of “pizza,” spaghetti, or if you were lucky it was going to be sloppy joe day. Hell yeah, sloppy joe day. Thank the dogs they let you go a la carte in high school.
Desserts were a different matter, because there was always the hope that maybe today, please today, just give us a Peanut Butter Crunch Bar. They were like mana from the gods. It was pure, unadulterated sugar. A layer of peanut butter mixed with Rice Krispies was layered with chocolate blended with powdered sugar. There was absolutely nothing healthy about those bars. I’m shocked they were being offered as a “balanced meal” quite honestly.
Years later, I was working my job at the library when a group of us were sharing the best memories of school and the Peanut Butter Crunch Bars came up in the conversation. Without fail, everyone remembered just how delicious those little sugar bombs were. Using our super power librarian skills, we did some research online but couldn’t find anything. I pulled out some old school skillz (with a z) and used the “telephone” to call the school district. At first they had no idea what I was talking about, but after transferring me to several different people, I ended up talking to someone in the kitchen.
I had to convince her I wasn’t insane, because she obviously thought I was. After several minutes, she told me she had the recipe, but it was for a batch of several hundred bars. Telling her that didn’t matter, she faxed me the recipe, and the twenty-something kids rejoiced.
I’m not going to lie, the first batch of these I made killed my mixer. There was smoke and burnt wires. It wasn’t pretty and smelled even worse. I should have split the peanut butter into two batches, because mixing 4 lbs of peanut butter with even MORE butter is a challenge for any piece of electronic equipment. The other change I made was I used dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate (because dark chocolate is AWESOME).
What makes these bars better than the traditional Rice Krispies bars is that the ration of peanut butter to krispies is so massive. They’re more like eating a crunchy peanut butter bar than a Rice Krispies treat that tastes like peanut butter. Feel free to experiment. Do you like white chocolate? Use it! Crush some peanuts and sprinkle them onto the chocolate. They’re a great, simple dessert, that you’re kids (adults, friends, hobos…) will love.
“Stolen From The Schools” Peanut Butter Crunch Bars*
2 1/4 pounds room temperature peanut butter
1/4 pounds room temperature butter
1 3/4 pounds powdered sugar
1/2 pound Rice Krispies (or rice puff cereal of your choice)
1/2 cup melted chocolate (or more for a thicker topping)
In a LARGE mixing bowl, cream the peanut butter and butter together on low speed for 5-6 minutes. Add powdered sugar and mix for 2-5 minutes more. Remove peanut mixture from the mixer and fold the Rice Krispies in with your hands. Spread mixture into a 9″ x 13″ pan (larger or smaller depending on your desired thickness). Press down with your hands and then roll flat with a rolling pin. Spread the melted chocolate over the peanut butter mix. Place in the refrigerator overnight to firm. Cut into desired square size.
*Thanks go out to my old grade school R.C. Hill, here in Romeoville, along with the Valley View School District for treating a former student like a slightly crazy sugar addict. They may have looked at me funny, but they knew what daddy needed.