The pure insanity of an idea like this one came from an over-abundance of candy corn in the house. Plus Mellowcreme pumpkins (which are made from the same who-knows-what-the-heck-chemical-over-load-but-damn-they're-tasty ingredients of candy corns...just manufactured in a different shape) lose their wow factor after Halloween and mid-November as you start to change gears into Christmas mode. Halloween candy step aside...all things peppermint and eggnog all aboard.
So, just to what to with ALL that candy corn (or mellowcreme pumpkins)? Melt them of course. Once melted a plethora of options are on the table. I had come across a recipe for homemade butterfingers using melted candy corn which is where the idea for these bars started. I figured since the pumpkins were so sweet already why not add some salty undertones (the shortbread crust and salted peanuts) to balance things out. Then of course melted chocolate on top...I mean it would be silly to have salty shortbread, peanuts, marshmallow, peanut butter, and NO chocolate? Oh no, that's not how we run things around here.
Lastly these are super easy...just a few steps along the way but really they are pretty fool proof. Just be careful when melting the pumpkins/candy corn in the microwave. Treat them like you would chocolate. You don't want to heat them for too long or they'll burn and seize.
Then you'll be left with a giant bowl of grumpy-hardness that will be impossible to salvage.
Then you'll wish you never melted them at all since it will be another year till they'll be back on the shelves and at that point all you'll want to do is eat them but they're melted (burned).
Then you'll blame me for tempting you with my sassy bars.
So just take it easy with the microwave is all I'm sayin.
Sweet n' Salty Peanut Butter Candy Corn Bars with a Shortbread Crust
makes about 16 large bars
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups crushed shortbread cookies
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
3 cups candy corn or mellowcreme pumpkins
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the topping:
2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 tablespoon vegetable shortening
3/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Spray a 9x9 pan with non stick spray and set aside. Combine the crushed shortbread cookie crumbs with the butter, sugar, and salt in a medium sized bowl.
Use a fork to combine until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
Press crust mixture into the bottom of the pan and freeze for about 30 minutes until firm.
Remove pan from freezer. Place pumpkins and/or candy corn in a large heat safe bowl.
Microwave for one minute. Stir and reheat for an additional 30 seconds. Stir and continue to heat for 10 second intervals (stirring after each) until no lumps remain and mixture is smooth.
Add peanut butter and vanilla extract and mix till combined. Mixture will be very thick and almost dough-like.
Press filling mixture into the pan using your fingers making sure it's even and smooth (it will feel almost like modeling clay).
Place pan in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes.
To prepare the topping, place the chocolate and shortening in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for one minute, remove and stir. Reheat for an additional 30 seconds, remove and stir. Continue to heat for 10 second intervals (stirring after each) until smooth and no lumps remain.
Add the chopped peanuts to the melted chocolate and stir to combine.
Pout melted chocolate and peanuts over the filling layer. Use an offset spatula to make sure the chocolate is even.
Place pan back in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to firm up. Remove from fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes (making them easier to cut).
Cut into bars and enjoy!
Filling recipe adapted from Elizabeth LaBau