Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

Yield:16 bars
In my opinion, peanut butter and chocolate is one of the best cookie combinations there is.  This recipe is a fabulous combination of those two ingredients and is one of my husband Rob's favorite cookies.  It takes a little pre-planning as it's a layered cookie, but it's entirely worth the effort if you're a chocolate and peanut butter fan. This bar cookie is my version of Mrs. Fields Chocolate Peanut Butter Dream Bars, only much less sweet and with a chocolate crust.  It took about 4 attempts to get the recipe right by my standards, all of which my husband nobly volunteered to test!

12 chocolate fudge sandwich cookies (or use chocolate graham crackers or wafer cookies)
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1 1/2 Cups chunky peanut butter
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream or 1/2 and 1/2, divided
1 tsp real vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.  Line an 8 inch square baking pan with foil.

2. Smash up the sandwich cookies in a food processor (or by hand if you don't have a food processor) until fine crumbs form.  Mix in the butter until the crumbs start to clump together.  If you're using chocolate graham cracker or wafer cookie crumbs instead of sandwich cookies, you will need more than 1 Tbsp. melted butter.  Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature.

3. Mix together the peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and 1/3 cup of the cream with a fork until well blended.  Carefully spread the mixture over the crumb crust.  Refrigerate about 30 minutes until it's pretty firm.

4. Melt the chocolate and 1/3 cup of cream together in a microwave on very low power or in a double boiler.  Mix the cream and chocolate together well with a whisk until it's smooth.  Spread the chocolate mixture over the peanut butter layer. 

5. Cover the pan with foil and refrigerate at least an hour until the chocolate is set.  If you can stand it, leave it overnight (this seldom happens in our house).  Use the foil liner to lift the bars out of the pan.  Slice with a very sharp knife.  You may need to run the knife under hot water first to make it easier to cut through the layers or let the bars sit at room temperature for a couple minutes before cutting.  Keep any leftover cookies refrigerated so that they stay firm.