Update: This is an old post from 2006, and you should know that the recipe is WAY under-rated. Or maybe I was just really hungry when I made these the first time, but they were so good and had so many different textures and flavors. I think I'd make them more often if I had Reese's Peanut Butter Cereal around. I may buy some just to update these pictures.
Update 2: Okay, so I didn't buy the Reese cereal. Instead I made Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies with Trader Joe's Bambas, the delicious puffy little peanut butter & styrofoam flavored snacks. I actually like Bambas, but they are better by themselves than baked into brownies, so stick with the cereal.
Also, I've linked to the original recipe on which this one is based, and the last time I checked it still worked. If you find this post and can't access the original recipe, here's a quick rundown on how to make these brownies:
Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies
You will need the following: 1 batch of brownies baked as directed in a 9x13 inch pan. Use any brand or bake them from scratch. 14 oz of unwrapped caramels and ¼ cup water 1 or 2 cups of broken pretzels ¼ cup butter, melted 1 cup powdered sugar 2 cups peanut butter 2 or 3 cups Reese's Puffs Cereal (use more or less to taste) 2 cups of chocolate chips plus a little shortening or coconut oil for melting
Let your baked brownies cool. Put the caramels and the water in a large microwave-safe bowl and melt on high power, stirring every 15 to 30 seconds until completely melted. Stir pretzels into caramel, then pour over the baked brownies. Refrigerate while you prepare the peanut butter. Mix the melted butter and powdered sugar, then stir in the softened peanut butter until smooth. Stir in cereal and spread over the caramel layer. Melt the chips along with a little shortening or coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring every 30 seconds, until smooth. Spread over the peanut butter layer. Chill until firm, then lift from pan and carve into squares.
Old Post and Link to Original
One of the best things about being on the Bake-Off Contest floor was walking around and sampling the other contestants' recipes. Last year I was too nervous to do that and opted to go back to the hotel room and hide under the covers. But this year, I walked around and tasted as many things as I could. One entry that really stood out was called Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies.
I love Take 5 Bars, the candy after which these brownies were modeled, and these are similar. They are sweet, a little salty, and have a bit of crunch from the Reese's cereal. The Reese's cereal, which I thought it would get soggy but which in fact stays crisp and airy and balances out the richness of the brownies.
The worst part of making these was unwrapping the caramels. When will someone start packaging unwrapped blocks of caramel for baking? Maybe it's not easy to do from a packaging standpoint (I wouldn't know), but it's 2006 and you'd think we'd have come up with a way to get past having to stand there and unpeel each little caramel. Lucky for me I have a 4 year old helper. But soon she'll catch on to the fact that unwrapping caramel is not fun. The end results were worth the trouble of unwrapping the caramels.