A must-try dessert made with delectable layers of peanut butter, vanilla and chocolate goodness.
By Elizabeth Czajkowski | Columnist
In Dante’s “Paradiso,” the third and final part of the “Divine Comedy,” Dante takes readers on a symbolic journey through the nine spheres of heaven. Each canto brims with deep theological and philosophical insights. And while I cannot replicate the genius of Dante’s nine spheres, I can bring you this: Elizabeth’s three layers of heaven. Namely, peanut butter, vanilla and chocolate.
These heavenly bars are unlike anything you have ever tasted. They’re one of my family’s favorites, and I have made them so many times for family parties that I have the recipe memorized. The bottom layer is essentially a Rice Krispies treat but better because it’s made with peanut butter and corn syrup. This layer gives the dessert its yummy crunch. Next comes the sweet, creamy middle, made with powdered sugar, vanilla pudding, butter and milk. So good! And finally, a thick, hardened layer of chocolate coats the top.
After a long chill in the fridge, the dessert emerges as a cool and delicious masterpiece with layers that melt in your mouth and swirl together in perfect, sugary harmony. The joke in our family is that these heavenly bars either get their name because they literally taste heavenly or because all the butter and sugar gets you there faster.
My recipe yields a generous amount, so it’s great to make if you have a large gathering, club event or floor meeting or if you just want to brighten the day of your friends. Another plus is that they are no-bake, so you can easily whip them up without even turning on the oven. I like to cut the bars into small squares because they are super rich. And this way, there are more to go around!
Here are a few pro tips for making these heavenly bars. The top layer requires you to melt butter and chocolate chips together on the stove top. Adding butter to the chocolate basically adds some fat, enhancing overall taste and texture. Butter helps the chocolate melt more smoothly, lowers its hardening temperature and gives it a shinier gloss when hardened. I recommend heating up the chips first and then, once they start getting slightly melty, adding the butter. Another tip: make sure your butter is at room temperature. You don’t want to add cold butter to the chocolate, or else it might seize and get lumpy. Nobody likes lumpy chocolate.
A final tip: actually, this is more of a commiseration. The first two layers, peanut butter and vanilla cream, are super easy to spread out in your pan. However, when you start spreading your chocolate layer on top of the vanilla cream layer, the cream and chocolate often try to mix together. But have no fear. This is a normal but annoying part of the process. Simply do the best you can. Try to have a light touch as you spread your chocolate across the pan. And it is totally fine if some of your heavenly bars have a marbled look. They will still be delicious!
These heavenly bars are great to have on hand for when you come back to your room after classes and need a little pick-me-up. Though not the healthiest, they are a great treat to indulge in every once in a while. And they are totally worth all the sugar and calories. Savor every bite! If you are looking for a little heavenly treat this weekend, keep on reading to get the recipe for these incredible heavenly bars.
Heavenly Bars Recipe
2 cups peanut butter
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup light corn syrup (I use Karo syrup)
1 pkg. 3.4 oz. instant vanilla pudding mix
4 cups Rice Krispies
4 cups powdered sugar
½ cup butter, softened
⅓ cup milk
1 pkg. 12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 TBSP butter (room temperature)
- In a large pot sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, melt together peanut butter, brown sugar and corn syrup on low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat.
- Add in half of the pudding mix and the Rice Krispies, and stir until evenly coated. Press into a jelly roll pan lined with wax paper. (For a thicker bar, you can use a 13-by-9-inch pan sprayed with cooking spray.) Use a flat spatula sprayed with cooking spray to press the mixture evenly into the pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat the powdered sugar, the other half of the pudding mix, the butter and the milk until thoroughly combined. The filling will not get any thicker as it sets.
- Spread this layer over the first layer.
- Chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the chocolate layer.
- In a small saucepan, melt the chips and butter on the stove top. Stir constantly until the mixture is thoroughly combined and smooth.
- Spread the chocolate mixture over the second layer.
- Chill and cut into small squares.
- Serve and enjoy!
- Keep leftovers refrigerated.
Wheaton College, IL