Moving in together. Adopting a cat. Getting engaged. You would think any number of these milestones would have made Mark and I feel like we had reached adulthood. But it wasn’t until we found ourselves hosting “game night” with two other couples that we felt like we had crossed a major threshold. We couldn’t quite put out finger on it, but something about the whole thing felt very domesticated.
This did not bother us in the slightest. On the contrary, we were pretty excited about it. Mark took charge of arranging the logistics. I was too worried about what we would eat.
I love to cook for other people, but Mark convinced me that this was supposed to be a low-key affair and that simple was best. We decided to order dinner out, but make dessert. We still had plenty of chocolate chip cookies from last week’s polar vortex-inspired baking session, so that could be half of our spread. But two of our attendees keep away from gluten – and cookies are definitely not gluten-free.
This is not the first time I’ve cooked for this group, so I had a few gluten-free recipes up my sleeve: flourless chocolate cake, cheesecake, coconut peppermint patties… Nothing was calling to me. I went in search of something new.
I flipped through my stack of cookbooks, which were frustratingly gluttonous for gluten. As a last resort, I picked up the same Baked cookbook I used last week. I doubted anything would fit the bill… but then I found it: Peanut Butter Crispy Bars.
Just a few weeks ago, Mark had told me in passing that Rice Krispies had come out with a new “gluten free” version. (such is a topic of conversation for two Brooklyn foodies) Perfect!
At this point, I’ve come to trust Baked’s recipes wholeheartedly (although I’m wary of their cakes, which is a story too long for this blog). So I jumped right in – after a quick trip to the grocery store, that is.
Besides the fact that I was baking for a great group of friends, I was excited about this recipe because it gave me an excuse to use my brand new double boiler. Twice. Call me crazy, but a double boiler also makes me feel like a grown up.
The bars had three layers. Thus, the recipe had three distinct parts:
1) The crispy bottom. I melted butter, sugar and corn syrup. As soon as it was melted, I tossed it into the bowl of cereal and spread it into a greased baking dish.
2) The peanut butter center. It was time to break out the double boiler (yesssss). I melted peanut butter and milk chocolate chips. This is where I diverged from the recipe a bit and added extra peanut butter. I was worried that the whole bar would taste like chocolate, which seemed like a waste of peanut butter. Once the taste was on the “right” side of the peanut butter-chocolate ratio, I spread it on top of the cooled rice krispies and threw it into the fridge.
3) The chocolate top. Several hours later, I returned to the double boiler with dark (72% cacao) chocolate. Once that chocolate was melted, it was poured – in a very thin layer – on top. Then, back into the fridge until game time.
In the end, Mark’s advice to be low key in the preparations was perfect. The bars were complete and in the fridge hours in advance, which allowed me to be well rested and prepared for a raucous game of Cards Against Humanity. After a dinner of takeout tacos, a few glasses of celebratory prosecco, and Frank’s inaugural, three-word toast (see blog post title) , it was time to break out dessert.
The bars were a hit with everyone – gluten and non-gluten alike. The recipe warned that the bars are rich, and they certainly were. The recommended serving was nine bars for an 8×8 dish. I cut the the nine bars in half to make eighteen and even that size was pretty overwhelming given the heaviness of the ingredients.
The top layer was a little eager to slide off, but the bars stayed together for the most part. And the peanut butter flavor came out nicely, reinforcing my decision to tweak the middle layer a bit. This is definitely a repeat recipe, although I think next time I’ll make a thicker rice krispie bottom – I could have used more crunch.
Game Night was a huge success. Frank was the night’s big winner. Card-inspired nicknames were given out. And our kitchen table was a lively scene until well past 1:00am. I suspect we have a monthly tradition on our hands. Who said being a grown up was hard?