Peanuts, Pretzels, and Peanut Butter

You, too, would have taken a piece.
You, too, would have taken a piece.

The peanut butter/pretzel/chocolate bars on the television looked delicious. Chocolate and peanut butter is a favorite flavor combination of mine and adding a salty component seemed a great idea. It was after Christmas before I could make the bars. And of course, changes were made to the recipe. Here is my recipe.

The perceived problem with the peanut butter bars are the fat and calorie. Making the bars in January meant there was the annual increase in my desire to improve the nutritional aspect of the foods in my diet. I decided upon the pretense of making an effort at improving the nutritional value of these bars. It was easy because the recipes I viewed seemed to call for more butter, sugar, and fat than necessary. I could reduce the fat and sugar while maintaining taste.

The larger pieces were distracting. Smash until only small pieces exist.
The larger pieces were distracting. Smash until only small pieces exist.

To reduce the fat I opened a fresh jar of natural peanut butter and drained the layer of oil sitting atop the peanut butter. The peanut butter was still plenty moist, but two tablespoons of oil were removed. With more than half the peanut butter being used in the recipe, the oil removal meant calorie removal. Next, the butter amount was cut in half. I opted for this large amount because the batch made on television provided for a very moist batter. With peanut butter still be contributing moisture to the bars, the missing butter would most likely not be noticed.

Sprinkle mini chips to melt the chips in a shorter period of time.
Sprinkle mini chips to melt the chips in a shorter period of time.

Which brings me to the sugar. A popular online suggestion from Europeans is to cut sugar in American recipes by half. That seemed extreme given my experience with other recipes, the fact a higher cacao chocolate chip would be used in the recipe, and salty pretzels would be added to this dish. I opted for a cut of 25% with the idea of adjustments in the future. It seemed best to experiment with sugar by making small, not large, changes.

The pretzels were dipping sticks broken in half and placed in the measuring cup. Did you know there are 28 pretzel dipping pretzels to a cup? You do now! Once measure, the pretzels were place in a plastic bag and crushed with the flat side of the measuring cup. Had they been crushed with my grandmother’s rolling pin, the pieces would have been smaller which would have been better. Next time I will use grandma’s rolling pin.

In the bag
In the bag

The original recipe created a chocolate top layer consisting of melted chocolate chips and peanut butter. The reason for the peanut butter is to keep the chocolate layer soft for cutting. (Some recipes call for butter in place of peanut butter.) If you want to have a softer chocolate layer choose, then add in peanut butter or butter. I don’t find the thin layer of chocolate difficult to cut as the layer of chocolate is thin.

Curious to know the number of calories I had eliminated from the bars, I made the calculation (about 500 fewer calories went into the bowl than was called for. When calculating the reduction I noticed something very

Finally, all assembled.
Finally, all assembled.

unpleasant. The original recipe called for the 13 x 9 pan called or a yield of 60 pieces. This would mean each piece is slightly smaller than 1.5 inches square. Yeah, who eats a piece of candy that size? Yet, only about 16 calories were eliminated from each 1.5 square inches. No, I do not want comments about the increased caloric intake of larger pieces. I think I will stick to the chocolate peanut clusters which are a snap to make.

Enjoy!

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