Chocolate Peanut Butter Dream Bran Buddy Bars—Prototype 1:
This one is my answer to Mrs. Fields!

Around the time that I produced Prototype 8 of the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bran Buddy Bars, I was visiting a shopping mall and passed by a Mrs. Field's outlet, whose tasty treats included chocolate/peanut butter "Dream" bars. Chances are highly likely that I had such a bar in the distant past—and greatly enjoyed it. The price, be it financially or nutritionally, was likely on the high side. A great idea popped into my mind on my more recent visit—how about a Bran Buddy version? And so I quickly began to brainstorm a recipe that would be derived mainly from Prototype 7 of the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bran Buddy Bars, labor-intensive as they were. But I also gave a lot of thought to the crust of Prototype 8 (and/or the crust of the chocolate-only bars) as well, due to that crust having a dark brown appearance. This would come close to matching the Mrs. Field's bar's thick bottom layer—on top of which went an obscurely thin chocolate layer, followed by a somewhat thicker peanut butter layer, then finally an easily visible chocolate one (these top three layers seemed to have a filling-like appearance). However, my version would skip the obscure chocolate layer immediately below the peanut butter one. Visually, it did not matter much, but there would be a lot less work involved.

So the plan was to start with Chocolate Peanut Butter Prototype 7 and relocate the chocolate filling from the bottom and put it on top of the peanut butter one. That was easy to determine. Figuring out how to darken the crust (which would now be on the bottom) was much more of a challenge. One option considered was to make it like that of Prototype 8. This would therefore call for a second occurrence of ingredients of the chocolate filling. This additional set would be merged into the crust.

But there were at least a couple of issues. The total amount of cottage cheese for this recipe would be 18 ounces. Since I was not using this perishable ingredient for anything else, I would have preferred being able to buy a container of cottage cheese in this amount. Such a size was not available, at least in my knowledge (I was able to find containers at least in 8, 16 and 24 ounces). And I had some concern about the idea of adding another 6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate, in light of my trying to keep the fat down.

I finally decided on a reasonable compromise for the crust. I also decided to give the peanut butter filling more of a peanut butter appearance.
These Bran Buddy Bars just keep on getting better and better. What does this mean? They're getting devoured more quickly! Because of this, the actual recipe was increased by 50% and put into a 13" x 9" pan. However, the normal size recipe is presented here (remember to use a 9" x 9" pan if using this one!) for the sake of reference. Some helpful tips are provided as well.

Grind the Bran Buds ahead of time, then set side. Next, whip the cottage cheese ahead of time, then place in refrigerator until it is needed.

Sequential details (combining order) for crust (lower layer):
1/4 cup skim milk, heated
1/4 cup cocoa powder. Fully dissolve this in the milk.
2 oz. melted, semi-sweet chocolate
2 oz. unsalted peanut butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
14 oz. whipped lowfat cottage cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla (next to last ingredient here). Blend this in, then finally mix in...
8.8 oz. Bran Buds, ground up

Sequential details (combining order) for peanut butter filling (middle layer):
6 oz. melted, white chocolate
3 oz. unsalted peanut butter
3 tbsp. sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (last ingredient here!)

Sequential details (combining order) for chocolate filling (upper layer):
6 oz. melted, semi-sweet chocolate
2 oz. whipped lowfat cottage cheese
2 tbsp. sugar

Note the added peanut butter (along with a corresponding increase in sugar) for the peanut butter filling.

"Hey, wait a minute! Wasn't the chocolate filling supposed to include 1 teaspoon of vanilla??" As a matter of fact, yes. Unfortunately, this late step was forgotten.

Here are some additional tips. Melt the entire recipe's semi-sweet chocolate, i.e., 8 ounces, before adding any of it to the crust. More specifically, add the 2 ounces to the milk and cocoa powder mixture—quickly, of course. Immediately afterward, take the cottage cheese from the refrigerator, and add 2 ounces of this to the remaining 6 ounces of melted chocolate (return the remaining cottage cheese to the refrigerator). Blend these two together, reserving this mixture for the chocolate filling—set it aside and be sure to protect it against spoilage (since it may be a long while before the mixture is needed to complete the filling, refrigeration is recommended until then—at which point the contents can be reheated). After setting this mixture aside, continue with the crust (adding peanut butter, etc.).

And here's another tip: 1/4 cup of cocoa powder has been determined to weigh 1.2 ounces (so if this is what the normal-sized recipe calls for, a 50% increase would require an additional .6 ounce, i.e., 1.8 ounces altogether).

Chill until the top filling is almost completely firm, about an hour, then cut into bars. Return these to the refrigerator, and chill until fully firm.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Dream Bran Buddy Bars—Prototype 1

There were hardly any disintegration problems (looks like one hour of refrigeration before cutting was the way to go), and these bars were a terrific hit at the Sports Page. Steve told me that he had two of them ("for energy") before shooting his round of darts—and he beat his competitor! Lesa told me that the away team loved these a lot. Maybe I should nickname this prototype the Bull Shooter's Special.

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