Now that it’s officially summer, I assume the last thing you want to do when it’s 90 degrees F outside is turn on your oven … unless a) it’s not 90 F where you live or b) you have air conditioning. Either way, you can consider me extremely jealous if you’re fortunate enough to escape the summer heat, because here in Denver, there is no avoiding it — not when you’re a mile closer to the sun that shines more days than not.
Since the oven sits dormant on 90-degree days, I think having an arsenal of no-bake recipes is important to help carry us through summer without feeling dessert-deprived. Thankfully, I’ve got you covered with vanilla bean hot fudge sundaes, dark chocolate covered banana bites, almost raw strawberry cheesecake and now, crispy chocolate peanut butter bars. All of these recipes require minimal effort on your part, but result in something insanely satisfying and delicious. The best part? You won’t even miss your oven.
Notes: If you don’t have coconut oil for the chocolate topping, you can substitute equal amounts of non-hydrogenated shortening, but I highly recommend trying to track down some coconut oil if you can. I made these with brown rice cereal, but white rice would work just the same. Unfortunately, the brown rice syrup is a crucial component in helping these things stick together, so maple syrup or agave nectar will not be sufficient substitutes. However, you could use corn syrup, but be sure to steer clear of the high fructose variety.
Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Makes 10 bars
- 4 cups brown rice cereal
- 1/2 cup brown rice syrup
- 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Crushed peanuts
- Line a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper and lightly grease with oil; set aside.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the rice syrup to a simmer. Stir in the peanut butter until completely melted, then remove from heat.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice cereal and salt, then pour the peanut butter mixture over the top and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Press mixture into the prepared pan and level with a small spatula.
- Make the chocolate topping by melting the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a double boiler over medium heat. Once melted, remove from heat and pour over cereal bars. Smooth with a spatula then sprinkle with crushed peanuts.
If you want to eat them immediately, transfer the pan to the freezer to allow the chocolate to set for 15 minutes. I like to keep mine in the refrigerator and allow them to reach room temperature before eating, but if you have central air they should be just fine kept covered on the counter. Bars will keep, covered with plastic, for up to three days.
Photos by Ashlae Warner