The authors of the new cookbook, “Come In, We’re Closed,” (Running Press, $35) describe the Chocolate Peanut Butter Crunch Bars from Ad Hoc in Yountville, Calif., as the “uptown version of the pedestrian peanut butter cup.”
It is also the most requested staff meal dessert there. When the bars are on the menu at Ad Hoc, the staff meal only features the trim left behind when they’re cut. Christine Carroll and Jody Eddy gathered recipes from the staff meals of 25 of the best restaurants around the world for the new cookbook.
Here’s a recipe from the book for those Chocolate-Peanut Butter Crunch Bars. The original recipe calls for the specialty ingredient ground feuilletine, airy French flakes similar in texture to dried crepes, but the authors have suggestions for affordable and accessible substitutions.
Chocolate-Peanut Butter Crunch Bars
From “Come In, We’re Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World’s Best Restaurants,” by Christine Carroll and Jody Eddy (Running Press, $35).
From Ad Hoc sous chef Sarah Zozaya.
For the crust:
5 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (see notes)
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
4 1/2 cups smooth natural peanut butter
2 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 cups ground feuilletine (see notes)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
8 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the topping:
12 ounces 70 percent dark chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon canola oil
For the crust: Line a half-sheet tray (18-by-13 inches) with aluminum foil. Mix the crumbs and butter to a wet-sand consistency. Press the mixture onto the sheet tray with the palms of your hands to form a uniformly thick crust, about 1/4 inch. Chill in the refrigerator, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
For the filling: Combine the peanut butter, cracker crumbs, feuilletine, sugar and salt in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle. Mix on high speed until combined and aerated, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and mix on high for 1 minute more, until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix, as the mixture could separate. Remove the crust from the refrigerator and spread with the peanut butter mixture using a small offset spatula in an even 1-inch layer. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, uncovered.
For the topping: Melt the chocolate with the oil in a double boiler set over simmering water, about 6 minutes, whisking occasionally to combine. While the chocolate is warm but not hot, pour it over the peanut butter. Smooth into a thin later with a small offset spatula. (The chocolate coating must be applied and spread quickly or it will seize and become unspreadable). Place the sheet tray in the freezer, covered in plastic wrap, for a minimum of 6 hours to set completely.
Using a knife dipped in very hot water, portion the bars while still frozen into 24 rectangles. Serve immediately or store in the freezer until the dessert hour.
The bars can be kept in the freezer, wrapped tightly, for several weeks. They go from solid to squishy very quickly; serve them straight from the freezer and skip them altogether for a summer picnic.
Notes: Ad Hoc makes their chocolate cookie crumbles from their signature TKO cookies. If you live near a Bouchon Bakery – Thomas Keller’s expanding pastry chain – TKO cookies can be purchased. Otherwise substitute Nabisco Chocolate Wafer Cookies, chocolate animal crackers, or in a pinch, Oreo cookie halves with the white filling scraped off. Grind any one of them to a fine black sand in the food processor, then fish out any large chunks; regrinding again if necessary. (This is the same way they make their graham cracker crumbs).
Ground feuilletine is used to give the bars their light crunch. For a small fortune, the crepe-like flakes can be found online at specialty bakery sites like micheldefrance.com. For a less-expensive substitute, try unfilled and unflavored Pirouette cookies, gaufrette wafers or do what we did and use crispy rice cereal (cornflakes would work too). They can be ground as instructed for the chocolate crumbs to achieve the coarse-sand consistency of crushed feuilletine.
Yield: 24 bars