Chocolate Peanut Butter Bran Buddy Bars—Prototype 6:

A repetition of Prototype 5, but with some challenging reallocations (and additional, yet minor changes)!

Shift 4 ounces of cream cheese from the filling to the crust (2 tablespoons of sugar were also supposed to be transferred along with this cream cheese in the filling-to-crust shift, and probably was indeed done, but the memory of this action is not 100% certain).

Sequential details (combining order) for crust:
12 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. unsalted peanut butter
1 tbsp. skim milk
(blend the three wet ingredients above before adding the two dry ones below)
1/2 cup plus (hopefully) 2 tbsp. sugar
8.8 oz. Bran Buds (ground up, of course)

Sequential details (combining order) for filling:
12 oz. melted, semi-sweet chocolate
2 teaspoons vanilla (should have added this one last, instead of at this point, because it quickly stiffened the chocolate)
4 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup (hopefully only this amount) sugar

Now things get really challenging. Press only HALF the chocolate filling into the 13" x 9" wax-paper-lined pan (if necessary, apply a minimal amount of broiler heat to facilitate the spreading). Then firm this up by chilling it in the freezer for 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the freezer, and add the crust mixture on top of the lower chocolate layer. Press it down firmly, then return the pan to the freezer for another 20 minutes.

Next, take the pan out of the freezer and press the remaining half of the chocolate filling on top of the crust layer. This step was too difficult, because the chocolate hardened too soon. Got to cut down next time on the freezer duration that follows the crust addition (seems like the filling absorbed the crust's cold temperature too quickly). Just make sure that the crust is packed as firmly as possible. But not all was lost, thanks to a quick heat application (broiling the pan in the oven for about a couple of minutes). Spreading the top filling suddenly became extremely easy.

Next, it's "back to cool" time, but this time the pan goes into the refrigerator, not the freezer.

Far more than enough time required for firmness passed (probably about two hours) before the contents of the pan were cut.

Unfortunately, the chocolate filling tended to break up badly during the cutting phase. Applying some oven heat helped a little, but not enough.
Here is some further background for Prototype 6. Laurie (a cousin of Lesa, who herself had provided excellent home care for my dad in his later years) made a number of recommendations for my Bran Buddy Bars (I think Laurie was probably also the one who suggested using Splenda back around Prototype 3). More specifically, she felt that the crust texture of Prototype 5 was too dry. She had two suggestions. One was to split up the chocolate filling into two parts so that these would form the top and bottom layers. The crust would go in between them. This approach would result in a bite that was more moist to the touch. Her other suggestion was to shift more of the cream cheese from the filling to the crust. She advised perhaps shifting as much as all the cream cheese to the crust, but I was concerned that taking too much cream cheese from the filling would result in the chocolate layers being too firm. This excessive hardness could also contribute, along with the thinness of these layers, to the chocolate filling cracking up too easily. So I made a decision to take only half of the filling's Prototype 5 share of the cream cheese and transfer it to the crust. Since I felt that some matching sweetness should also go along with this reallocated cream cheese, I also made plans to transfer 2 tablespoons of sugar as well.

Seeing that the chocolate filling was disintegrating on me during the bar-cutting process, I am glad that I didn't raid any more cream cheese from it. But I hope to come up next time with a better way to cut the bars non-destructively.

So what was the feedback on this prototype from Laurie? I had to wait a long time for this one (due to her absence at the time that I served these bars), but I was finally told by Lesa (who saved some bars for Laurie's later consumption) that she "liked them" (hopefully, according to what I best recall hearing).

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