Posts tagged with Desserts

Icebox peanut butter cup bars perfect for summer

God, these are good.

God, these are good. by Sarah Henning

I know I’m all about the vegetables in this column, but I would be completely remiss if I didn’t share this fabulous recipe for a great summer dessert.

A healthy summer dessert, of course. But a great one, nonetheless.

I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, though I never eat them anymore. They just have too many ingredients I’d rather avoid. But luckily for me (and you), I’ve found this awesome healthy recipe that uses all-natural ingredients, healthy fats and unrefined sugars to create the same delightful flavor combination as those little cups of heaven.

Even better, they can be whipped up in 15 minutes, and just need an hour to freeze. That’s right, they don’t even need an oven or stove. A major bonus as temperatures get into the 90s.

I’ve made them many times and each time they haven’t disappointed. My hubby and the kiddo love them too. So much so that I’ve had to announce I’ll only make them once a week. Yes, they’re that good.

Note: To melt the coconut oil, stick it outside. Kidding. Sort of. What I tend to do is boil water in my electric kettle (avoiding the stove, of course), pour the hot water into a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup and then place a 1-cup measuring cup full of coconut oil over the water. It’s a sort of easy double-boiler method.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Cup Bars
Chocolate crust:

3/4 cup ground almond meal

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

Pinch of sea salt

Peanut butter filling:

1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon melted coconut oil

Pinch of sea salt

Chocolate topping:

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup melted coconut oil

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper and set it aside. In a medium bowl, stir together all of the chocolate crust ingredients until a moist dough is formed. Press the dough evenly into the bottom of the lined loaf pan, and place it in the freezer to set.

To prepare the filling, you can use the same bowl to stir together the peanut butter, maple syrup, coconut oil and salt. Depending on whether you’re using salted or unsalted peanut butter, you may want to add more salt to taste. Store-bought peanut butter cups are quite salty, so I like to add a generous pinch of salt to mimic that flavor. Remove the crust from the freezer and pour the peanut butter filling over the top, using a spatula to spread it out evenly. Return the pan to the freezer to set.

Rinse the mixing bowl, and use it again, if you choose, to make the final layer. Combine the cocoa powder, melted coconut oil, and maple syrup, whisking well to break up any clumps. Once the mixture has become a smooth chocolate sauce, pour it over the peanut butter layer, and return the pan to the freezer to set until firm, about an hour or two.

Once the bars are firm, grab the edges of parchment paper to easily lift the solid bar from the pan, and use a sharp knife to slice the bars into your desired size. Store them in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to two weeks, or in the freezer for up to a month. (The bars become very firm if frozen for too long, so I prefer serving them from the fridge after the initial firming-up time.)

Makes about 15 bars.

— Recipe from


Grandma’s famous peanut clusters

My grandma's famous peanut clusters.

My grandma's famous peanut clusters. by Sarah Henning

Honestly, folks, this is going to be a pretty short post this week. I'm sorry about that, but when I tell you the reason why I think you'll understand.

My grandmother passed away this week. It feels strange typing this, not only because it's still such a foreign idea in my mind, but also because I didn't think I'd be telling anybody in this fashion.

I'm not telling you this for your sympathy, though it's appreciated. Honestly, the only reason I'm sharing this at all is because my grandmother was a fabulous cook and taught me so much of what I know about food. She left a giant, flour-coated impression on me and colors my food writing whether she knew it or not.

I spent a huge chunk of my childhood in her kitchen, watching her work her magic. She made the best desserts known to man, and I've told many, many, many people that if she'd ever opened a bakery it would've become a sweets-lover's destination, a national chain, or both. Chocolate pie, strawberry shortcake, peanut brittle, chip chocolate cookies (NOT chocolate chip, mind you), muffins ... the woman could do it all. And it was all so very good.

So, in her memory this week — we're working very hard to celebrate her life and how fantastic she was, rather than dwell on the sadness we all feel — I thought I'd share my favorite recipe of hers: peanut clusters.

They're simple — there are only three ingredients — but they're out of this world.

I've made them many, many times and they've been loved by people all over the country — I've made them in Kansas, Pennsylvania and Florida, and my mother has whipped up a batch or 20 in Alabama.

Honestly, I've probably known the recipe by heart since I was 10 or so, but when I got married, my mother's best friend asked for everyone in attendance to provide a recipe, hand-written on a recipe card. My grandmother wrote out the recipe in her beautiful handwriting and, now almost 10 years later, I still have it, as clean as the day she wrote it out.

The hand-written recipe I got at my bridal shower.

The hand-written recipe I got at my bridal shower. by Sarah Henning

So, in her memory, I'm going to share it with all of you. Honestly, it's not as healthy as most of the recipes I share in this space, but it's fantastic, and I hope you all enjoy it. The day she died, my husband insisted we make some as a little tribute. I even had one even though they're not vegan (or "funny" as my grandma would've said), and I'm glad I did.

Grandma Jeanne's Famous Peanut Clusters

1 (6-ounce) package chocolate morsels

1 (12-ounce) package butterscotch morsels

1 (12-ounce) package salted Spanish peanuts

Combine chocolate and butterscotch morsels in a double broilers (or microwave) until melted, being careful not to burn them, and stirring often.

Stir in the peanuts. Drop by the teaspoon onto waxed paper. Let set until firm either in the freezer or fridge. Store in an air-tight container in the freezer.