To me, the American Midwest is a magical land where bars reign supreme. I'm not talking about places where people meet and drink, although there are plenty of those too. I'm talking about bar cookies. Bakeries in the Midwest seem to devote prime bakery case real estate to the decadent treats in a way I've seen in no other part of the country--it's a truly beautiful thing.
And while recently taking a road trip through this veritable bar country, I came across an especially fascinating specimen at several different bakeries: the Special K Bar. These no-bake bars, which generally resemble bricks in both size and weight, were comprised of a dense, crunchy-chewy mixture of corn syrup, sugar, peanut butter, and Special K cereal, all topped with about a half-inch of fudgy chocolate topping.
They're almost indescribably rich, but completely addictive--so bad, but so good. Needless to say, upon returning home I immediately set out to recreate this magic in my own kitchen. My version is just as decadent as the ones I found in bakeries, but they seem slightly more virtuous when served in small, truffle-sized portions.
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 1 1/4 cups light corn syrup
- 2 cups peanut butter (a creamy, no-stir type works best)
- 6 cups Special K cereal
- 12 ounces (1 bag) semisweet chocolate chips
In a large, microwave safe bowl, combine the brown sugar and corn syrup; mix well. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
Remove from microwave and stir the mixture, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Microwave the mixture again on high for 2 minutes, or until the mixture starts to bubble around the edges.
Remove bowl from microwave and add 1 1/2 cups of the peanut butter; stir until smooth and fully incorporated. Add cereal and mix until it is fully coated.
Spoon cereal mixture into a well greased 13 x 9-inch pan, pressing down with either clean fingers or the back of a spoon to make sure it is evenly and firmly packed into the pan.
In a medium microwave safe bowl, combine the chocolate chips and the remaining 1/2 cup of peanut butter. Heat on medium power for 2 minutes; remove and stir mixture. If chocolate chips are not fully melted, return the mixture to the microwave and heat in 20 second intervals until fully melted. Stir until smooth, and spread over the cereal mixture.
Let cool completely, and then cut into bars. Do not chill the mixture before cutting.