This week, my friend Lawrence got obsessed with recreating a cookie from his childhood that was apparently unique to the bay area: Mother's Flaky Flix. That got me thinking about some of the "treats" I used to eat as a kid, so I asked if he'd ever had the chocolate and peanut butter brick known as a Gold Bar. He had never heard of them, and a quick web search revealed that Gold Bars were (are?) a hyper-localized treasure created by the culinary minds at the Albuquerque Public Schools.
This blog shares a recipe or two and a slew of funny comments by folks raving about eating Gold Bars at APS. I only had the pleasure of enjoying them for one year in the 6th grade at Wilson Middle School before I got shipped across town to Albuquerque Academy (a school with its own unique housemade delectables like Munch Pudding, Nothings, and Veal Birds). I remember my lunch on Wednesdays at Wilson consisted of a Gold Bar (25¢, I think), a giant pickle, and a carton of chocolate milk. Between all that junk food and the cholas wanting to beat me up because I didn't like Michael Jackson, it's a wonder I survived public school at all.
Anyhow, I combined the recipes from the blog and made a few mods to come up with this:
4 tbsp melted butter
2 c peanut butter (I went with crunchy)
2 c powdered sugar
2 tbsp brown rice syrup (this is my hippy substitution for corn syrup, but you could certainly go for light Karo. My other thought was that agave syrup could also work since it's just a small amount to add pliability.)
2 c rice crispies
1 bag chocolate chips
Combine the first 4 ingredients in a big bowl. Fold in the crispies. Press the mixture evenly into an ungreased 9 x 13 pan. I actually think you could do them in a 8 x 8 if you wanted them on the thicker side. I also covered it with a piece of parchment and rolled over the top with a rolling pin to smooth it out, but that's optional.
Melt the chocolate chips until they're smooth and shiny. I did this in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds for about 4 min (but your microwave is probably more powerful than mine, so just keep an eye on it). A double boiler would obviously work, too.
Spread the chocolate evenly over the peanut butter mixture. Stick them in the fridge for 10–15 minutes until the chocolate just starts to re-harden, but is not brittle. This is the time to cut them. In my 6th-grader's mind, they were huge, like 4 x 4, but as a reasonable adult, I cut them into 24 smaller squares. Stick them back into the fridge until they feel solid.