Ode to Nigella 4 – Peanut butter squares

Possibly one of the most fattening things I’ve ever made. They’re like homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. OH MY.
This first batch is not what I would term a success, it definitely needs some tweaking from my end.
For starters, Nigella says the base should be a ‘sandy mixture’ but mine was very wet and pliable. I need to use the right size tin and determine what she means by plain chocolate vs milk chocolate. In fact, if anyone can shed light on that one for me, I’d greatly appreciate it.

Peanut Butter Squares

  • 50g dark muscovado sugar
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 200g smooth peanut butter
  • 200g milk chocolate
  • 200g plain chocolate*
  • 1 tblsp unsalted butter
  1. Mix the sugars, butter and peanut butter together either by hand or with the KitchenAid
  2. Press the mixture** into a lined 23cm square brownie tin
  3. Melt the chocolates and butter together in a microwave and spread over the base
  4. Put tin in the fridge to set
  5. When the chocolate has hardened, cut into small squares
The base mixture – certainly not ‘sandy’
It looked a lot more inviting in the book.

* I have no idea what the difference is between milk chocolate and plain chocolate. I think it might be important as the chocolate layer was very hard when I made it whereas the picture in the book looks like it has a bit of give in it.
** I also think my square brownie tin is 25cm so it was all a bit ‘thin’

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  • Badger

    Hmm, I've never heard the term "plain chocolate" used in cooking before. Could she mean unsweetened chocolate? I.e. plain with no sugar or milk added? I dunno that you'd get any extra "give" from that, though.

    Loving your ode to Nigella this month!

  • kurrabikid

    I think Badger's on the right track. I've had this very dilemma myself and one of my (now former) colleagues is an amazing cook and former deputy ed of the LA Times food section, no less. She explained to me that plain chocolate means a type of unsweetened chocolate (which can be hard to find in Oz). Hope this helps.

  • Helene

    They sound so good…! I would use unsweetened dark chocolate or bittersweet.

  • Cosy

    Delicious! Small tin or not, milk chocolate or plain!

  • Anonymous

    Plain chocolate does mean dark chocolate. The two terms are used interchangebly here in UK.

  • Anonymous

    Yup, plain chocolate means dark, sweet chocolate, usually with about 70% cocoa solids. It doesn't mean unsweetened or baker's chocolate. Whereas milk is the kind with about 30-50% cocoa solids in the more expensive brands.

  • rcschefcick

    Hi! I know I'm REALLY late leaving a comment about these – but – I make a really similar recipe wherein I make the base using: 1/2 cup unsalted butter – I melt the butter either on the stove or in the microwave in a largish container (so I can add the rest of the ingredients later). Stir in 1 cup smooth p-nut butter. When smooth add 3/4 cup crushed graham crackers and 1-3/4 cup confectioner's sugar. Spread/pat this into a LINED 8X8, 9X9 or 7X11 pan (I use alum. foil so I can lift the bars out later for cutting, etc)
    For the chocolate topping I use a mixture of good semi-sweet chocolate chips and sweet chocolate chips with emphasis on the sweet (as I LOVE milk chocolate!) about 1 cup total. I then heat heavy cream (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup) and stir into the chocolate chips until they form a smooth ganache. I try to make it somewhat stiff so the bars can be handled when they set up. I spread the chocolate on the base immediately before it can set and refrigerate until stiff. Then using the foil, remove from pan and use a large knife, heated in hot water and wiped often between cutting the bars. Keep refrigerated and try not to eat too much! This recipe ALWAYS works for me and has the same sandy texture as the Reese's cups. Enjoy!

  • Elisande

    Plain chocolate in the UK means no milk added and a higher cocoa solids content. I've just made this with the kids (I make it for a tea room also). The base I find will be more sandy if you use something like 'Whole Earth' peanut butter with a higher peanut content. However for myself and the kids I prefer something like Sunpat because it is easier to handle and comes out like putty or plasticine and then I can (or the kids can) squidge it flat in the tin. As to the topping I melt 100g (4oz) of milk chocolate – just your everday chocolate bar; and the 200g (8oz) of plain chocolate – like a Lindtt with 70% cocoa solids. You might try a continental or belgian chocolate.

    I have added more butter than the recipe which I'm sure she must have made up, cos it is so much easier if you add some soft butter as it makes the melted chocolate glossier and then it is much easier to cut without cracking the topping.

    Very fattening, and very small squares make a great addition to coffee after a meal.


    You can of course make it with all milk chocolate but add some butter to bring the softness so you can mark and cut.