Hiiiii hello, hope you’re doing well on this Monday morning. Just wanted to slide in here with a great lil recipe for a treat we call “Patty Cakes” — chocolate coated peanut butter cracker sandwiches. Why Patty Cakes? Because they’re a signature treat Jimmy’s grandma Pat makes and ships around the country to her 8 sons, two-dozen-plus grandkids, and I don’t even know how many great grandkids. Sure, elsewhere on the internet you can find these under the more boring name “chocolate covered peanut butter cracker sandwiches” but in this huge, blended family I was lucky enough to marry into, they’re called Patty Cakes.
Generally I leave the Patty Cake-making to Pat — she’s the expert, after all — and, though Jimmy and I have been together for over a decade, there are some toes on which I just won’t step. But given the pandemic, I’ve been thinking a lot about treats that are easy to assemble in bulk for shipping in care packages or even just dropping off from socially acceptable distance. Patty Cakes are ideal for this (as are chocolate revel bars, if you’re looking for something slightly more involved). So, I got Pat’s permission (she said she would be “honored”) to make them myself and share them with you here.
You just can’t beat this classic combo of creamy peanut butter, crispy salty crackers, and sweet-bitter chocolate. And with the right sprinkle blend Patty Cakes are easily customized for different events or holidays. Around Christmas, Pat sends ones with green, red, and white sprinkles. For a graduation party, school colors. For St. Patty’s day, green and white. Chanukah, blue and white. You could even drizzle on white chocolate for a stripey pattern or flip the script and coat them in white chocolate instead. Get creative!
I’m all about practicality, and with just three easy-to-find ingredients, Patty Cakes are exceedingly so. (In Pat’s words: “If they weren’t easy, I wouldn’t make them!”) The chocolate coating forms an airtight seal around the sandwiches which keeps the crackers from going stale; they’ll stay good in an airtight container for up to a month if not more, especially if you store them in the fridge. At room temp, you’ll just want to make sure the chocolate doesn’t melt if you live in a warmer climate.
some notes on patty cakes:
- I used 3 oz 48% sweetened german baker’s chocolate, 2 oz milk chocolate morsels, and 2 oz unsweetened baker’s chocolate for my Patty Cakes, but you can use any chocolate you like — milk, dark, semi-sweet, a blend of all three, etc. Bakers chocolate, melting discs, or feves are ideal here. Chocolate chips will work, but have stabilizers in them to help retain their pointy shapes, which makes them harder to melt.
- The sprinkles I used are from Sprinkle Pop, but I don’t know which blend it is because I received it as a “mystery blend” with my last order.
- Do NOT use “natural” peanut butter or any peanut butter where you can see the visible separation of PB and oil in the jar. Your sandwiches will collapse on themselves and slide apart in the chocolate. This is a JIF-or-bust situation.
- I used a double boiler to melt my chocolate, but if you’d rather use the microwave you can. Microwave in 10-15 second bursts, stirring in between until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. You may need to return the bowl to the microwave a few times as it will cool while you work.
- Advice from Pat: Wait until you have all the cracker sandwiches assembled before you begin melting the chocolate. Don’t try to assemble and coat as you go. (I refrigerated the cracker sandwiches while I melted the chocolate to give the PB time to firm up before the chocolate bath.)
patty cakes (chocolate coated peanut butter cracker sandwiches)
- 36 Ritz crackers
- ¼ cup JIF peanut butter
- 12 oz baking chocolate, chopped or melting chocolate discs (see notes)
- sprinkles (optional)
- Line a sheet pan with wax paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Sandwich ¼ tsp peanut butter between two crackers to create 18 peanut butter cracker sandwiches. Arrange in rows on the sheet pan, and refrigerate until ready to coat in chocolate.
- Fill a small sauce pot with 1-2" of water. Place a heat-proof bowl larger than the mouth of the pot across the opening (you need to be able to hold the side of the bowl without burning your hand on any escaping steam or the pot itself) to create a double boiler. Bring the water to a low boil. Chop the chocolate and place it inside the bowl. Stir until melted and smooth.Keep the bowl over the pot on a low boil while you coat the crackers in chocolate, adjusting the heat as needed.
- One at a time, slide the cracker and peanut butter sandwiches into the melted chocolate. Use a fork to flip them over to coat both sides. You may need to use the fork or a small spatula to drizzle extra chocolate over any hard-to-cover spots.
- Use the fork to lift the patty cakes of the chocolate, tapping the handle of the fork on the edge of the bowl a few times to encourage any excess chocolate to drip off. Carefully place the patty cake on the lined sheet pan and slide the fork out from underneath.
- Top with sprinkles while the chocolate is still melty, before moving on to the next patty cake.
- Place the finished patty cakes on a sheet pan in the fridge until the chocolate has set. When the chocolate has set completely, remove the patty cakes from the pan and store in an airtight container for up to a month.
- The right bowl for the job: It should be big enough that you won’t burn your hand if you’re using the double boiler method, but not so big that the chocolate isn’t deep enough for the patty cakes.
- If you don’t want to use a double boiler: Chop the chocolate and place it inside a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high in 10-15 second bursts, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted and smooth. If you don’t stir in between or microwave too long the chocolate will seize up and resist melting. Slow and steady wins here. (If you use this method, you may need to periodically return the bowl to the microwave periodically because the chocolate will cool as you coat the crackers.)
- Chocolate: You can use any chocolate you like — milk, dark, semi-sweet, a blend of all three, etc. Bakers chocolate, melting discs, or feves are ideal here, though chocolate chips will work. Chocolate chips have stabilizers in them to help them retain their pointy shapes, which makes them harder to melt.
- Peanut butter: Do NOT use the natural stuff or any peanut butter where you can see the visible separation of PB and oil in the jar. Your sandwiches will collapse on themselves and slide apart in the chocolate. This is a JIF-or-bust situation.