Our Easter baskets tend to be filled with the same components each year: a book, a game or puzzle, and lots of chocolate. Due to Son #2′s nut allergy, I make all of the “fun” chocolate that goes into our baskets. Before you get too impressed, allow me to clarify: I usually melt “safe” chocolate and pour it into a fun candy mold. My boys are thrilled, and I didn’t have to work all that hard.
When deciding which candy mold to use this year, I began daydreaming about a candy bar that I used to get in my Easter basket from time to time: a Morley’s Peanut Butter Block. It was rich, creamy, and peanut buttery.
I’d be lying if I told you that the peanut butter block made it past Easter breakfast. That sucker was lucky to make it 30 minutes after I laid eyes on it.
This year I decided to attempt a safe version for my family. I wanted my boys to discover the glory that I knew would be the SunButter Candy Bar. How better to illustrate that point than with dark chocolate?
Behold! Dark Chocolate SunButter Candy Bars: rich, smooth dark chocolate hugging a creamy, SunButter filling. (BTW, the filling is a dead-ringer to the national brand peanut butter cups.) Whether you have a nut allergy in the family or not, you should make these nut-free candy bars–they’re a welcome addition to any Easter basket!
In keeping with my usual
lazy easy candy making approach, these bars come together with minimal effort. The assembly method is much like that of butter toffee, but without the precision of a candy thermometer.
Line a half sheet pan with waxed paper. Have a second half sheet pan and more waxed paper handy.
Heat the SunButter, unsalted butter, brown sugar and kosher salt in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir continuously until the mixture is smooth, and beginning to gently bubble around the edges. I highly recommend using the Creamy SunButter and not the Natural because the creamy version has added emulsifiers to hold it together and keep the filling from getting too oily.
Gradually work in the powdered sugar, adding only what is necessary to make a crumbly by not overly dry filling.
Depending on humidity and how well I sifted the powdered sugar, I add between 3/4 and 1 full cup.
Dump the filling onto the prepared baking sheet.
Press the filling with your hands to form a mound. Lay a sheet of waxed paper over top of the filling, and roll it to a 1/4-inch thickness. If the filling cracks, do your best to piece it back together with your fingers.
A few cracks are okay–they’ll just get filled with dark chocolate later! You’ll notice that I didn’t include any other measurements beyond the thickness of the filling. That is entirely by design! Candy making doesn’t have to be ultra-fussy.
Chill the filling in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes, or until firm.
Place the dark chocolate wafers in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in 30 second increments on full power, stirring in between each burst, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Once filling has sufficiently chilled, pour half of the melted chocolate over top.
Spread the melty goodness to just over the edges of the SunButter filling. If you work fast, you can swirl a design of some sort in the chocolate. Allow the chocolate to set. Here’s where using a good-quality chocolate melt comes into play. Chocolate melts do not require tempering, but instead contain wax to give the finished chocolate a nice sheen. They also dry much faster than melted chocolate chips. In my experience, melted chocolate chips always seem to stay a bit tacky to the touch.
By the way, I popped my candy in the ‘fridge for 20 minutes to speed up the chocolate setting process. Doing so did speed things along, but the drastic temperature fluctuation caused the edges of the chocolate to bloom just a bit.
Once the first chocolate side is set, remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator.
Cover the candy with a sheet of waxed paper, and carefully flip it over onto the other baking sheet. I flipped the candy onto my hand, and then quickly & gently guided it onto the other baking sheet. Try not to drop the candy or it will shatter. Remove the bottom mat or sheet of waxed paper.
Pour the remaining melted chocolate over the flip-side of the candy, spreading it over the edges to seal in the SunButtery goodness. Allow the chocolate to set.
Once the chocolate has set, use a bench scraper or a sharp knife to cut the bars by pressing directly downward in one, quick motion.
Just look at that luscious SunButter filling! Although I can’t vouch for the results, I’m going to venture a guess that you could try substituting your favorite seed or nut butter in this recipe.
Store Dark Chocolate SunButter Candy Bars wrapped in parchment and/or in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
If you’re really lucky, you may have a few left to tuck into an Easter basket.
Dark Chocolate SunButter Candy Bars
Makes 18 Bars
2 C. top quality dark chocolate candy melts (such as Chocoley)
½ C. creamy style SunButter (sunflower seed spread)
2 Tbs. brown sugar, packed
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
Pinch of kosher salt
¾ to 1 C. sifted powdered sugar
- Line a rimmed, half-sheet baking pan with waxed paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside. Have a second baking sheet nearby for finishing the chocolate bars.
- Place the SunButter, brown sugar, butter, and salt into a small saucepan. Continuously stir over medium-low heat until mixture is melted, fully combined, and just starting to gently boil. Remove from heat.
- Gradually stir the powdered sugar into the SunButter mixture until crumbly; the mixture will be stiff but should not be too dry. (I end up using between ¾ C. and 1 C. of powdered sugar, depending on humidity and how well it was sifted. Use your best judgment here.)
- Dump the SunButter filling onto the prepared baking sheet.
- Use your hands to press the crumbly filling into a mound.
- Cover the mound with a sheet of waxed paper, and roll out to ¼ inch thickness, piecing dough together as necessary. (I go with a free-form rectangle so exact perimeter measurements are unnecessary.)
- Chill the rolled filling in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes, or until firm.
- In a small bowl, melt the dark chocolate melts in 30 second bursts on high heat in the microwave, stirring in between bursts, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
- Remove the chilled filling from the ‘fridge. Also srmove the waxed paper from the top of the filling.
- Pour half of the melted dark chocolate over the filling, and spread over the edges with a knife.
- Allow the chocolate to completely set; about 20 to 30 minutes. You can chill it in the refrigerator to speed up the process, but the chocolate may “bloom” (discolor) due to the drastic temperature fluctuation.
- Once the first side of chocolate can completely set, place a sheet of waxed paper over top of it. Pick up the baking sheet with a hand placed firmly underneath the baking sheet, and the other hand placed firmly on top of the waxed paper covered chocolate. Quickly flip the chocolate over, and gently set it on both the waxed paper and the other baking sheet. Remove the waxed paper from the SunButter side.
- Pour the remaining melted dark chocolate over the exposed SunButter side of the candy. Spread with a knife to cover the edges. Allow the chocolate to set completely.
- Use a bench scraper or sharp knife and press downward through the candy to cut into bars. Chocolate bars can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks. Or, wrap chocolate bars in parchment paper and store in the ‘fridge to give as gifts.
- Makes 18-24 good-sized candy bars, depending on size.