Sometimes my chocolateless world gets a little empty. Gooey, chocolate desserts look good on TV, at restaurants, or when Mom eats a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. No matter how good all those treats look, I can’t have any of them. Luckily there are some substitutes. Sometimes called white chocolate, more often white coating or white pastelle, much “white chocolate” isn’t chocolate at all. Instead, it’s a mix of sugars and oils, and not very healthy or natural, but when it’s all you can have you take what you can get and enjoy it far more than you should.
Whitman’s makes some marshmallow treats covered in white pastelle at different holidays which are super tasty. I’ve also found several varieties of popcorn with white coating drizzled on it, Neiman Marcus has some yummy white coated potato chips, and there’s the foreign White Lion candy bar from Nestle, which is pretty amazing. But when it comes to my baking needs, Nestle’s white baking chips are the best.
They don’t melt very easily, and they’re super sweet, but they add a flavor and texture that’s as close to chocolate as I’m going to get. If you aren’t allergic to chocolate and would like to use different white chips or chunks, or even milk or dark chocolate ones, it would work perfectly, maybe even better since they’d probably melt better into the bars. If loving my white baking chips is wrong, though, I don’t want to be right.
In these particular bars, the chips add just a little extra sweetness and complexity to the peanut butter base. Without them, I think these bars would be a little boring, plain, and maybe a little dry. I added extra peanut butter from the original recipe and think the bars definitely benefitted from it. As you probably already know, I’m also very picky about the peanut butter I use. Though I grew up on a traditional grocery store brand, I now think it’s important to buy natural peanut butter where the only ingredient is peanuts. Trader Joe’s has the best peanut butter I’ve found. Whether creamy or crunchy, salted or unsalted, the flavor and texture are fabulous. In this recipe, I used unsalted crunchy peanut butter. The crunchy peanuts added a little extra texture without changing the whole bar, and personally, I’m not a big fan of salt, but use whatever peanut butter you like. If you use an all natural variety, be sure to open, stir it, and refrigerate it the night before so it is not too liquid, throwing off the balance of the dough. If you have a peanut allergy, any nut butter could be substituted.
They were dense, soft, and just a little chewy without being heavy. Never too sweet, be sure not to overbake them so they retain their soft texture and do not become crumbly. The peanut butter flavor is present without hitting you over the head, and the white chips and peanuts from the crunchy peanut butter add just a little something extra.
They’re great for a snack or dessert, even on the go. Give them a try for an easy to make treat – no mixer required – I know you’ll enjoy them.
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg (pasteurized if you like)
- 1 large egg yolk (pasteurized if you like)
- 1 cup Trader Joe’s all natural crunchy peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (1 12 oz. bag) Nestle white baking chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Line the pan with parchment, leaving an overhang for easy removal, then butter the parchment.
- In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, mix melted butter and sugars together until fully incorporated. Add the egg, egg yolk, peanut butter, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined; do not over mix to prevent the bars from being tough. Stir in the white chips.
- Scrape the dough into the prepared pan. Using a spatula or spoon, spread the batter evenly over the pan, making sure to get enough in the corners. Smooth the top as much as possible.
- Bake until the top is just starting to turn golden, mostly around the edges, and the bars are quite firm to the touch, about 30-35 minutes. Rotate halfway through if necessary. Cool bars completely in pan.
- Once the bars are cool, remove from pan using the parchment overhang, and cut into 32 roughly equal bars. May be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen, wrapped in parchment and foil, and placed in a zipper bag for up to three months.
Recipe adapted from Claudia Sidoti for Cooking Channel