well it’s been a minute since I made a new post. it’s been busy with so many “life things.” after a year (plus) of a slower daily pace, my brain just needed some time away. during this time, I have been researching, writing and testing new recipe ideas. some have worked. many have not. blah, you know how it goes! slowly, but surely the creativity is staring to flow freely again. it’s so nice to be in this space. one thing that worked out BEAUTIFULLY are these peanut butter cup cookie bars. they might be new new favorite cookie bar! read on to find out why!
when inspiration strikes!
bakers and chefs are so dang creative. that, and the profit margins they work within are razor thin. nothing goes to waste! after making sugar cookies to gift to a family member for their baby shower, I was left with a few scraps of dough. not enough to make another whole cookie out of. I also happened to be snacking on some PB cups (as one does) and thought, “I wonder what would happen if.” well, friends, when those two mini cookies came out of the oven, they lasted approximately 2 seconds.
the flavors were remarkable for how homey they tasted, while still being completely and unfairly delicious. still, I wanted a chewy cookie bar more than a crumbly cookie. eventually my mind drifted to some blood orange cookie bars I’d made earlier in the year. THOSE bars. I still dream about those cookie bars. one test was all it took to confirm that these peanut butter cup cookie bars are perfect.
these delightful squares of deliciousness can best be described as
- milk chocolate-y
- peanut buttery
- like a cross between a blondie and a chocolate chip cookie ….aka, OMG, YUM.
grab these ingredients when you head to the store
- all purpose flour
- I love this brand for all my baking
- almond flour
- I use this brand
- granulated sugar
- unsalted or salted butter
- vanilla extract
- peanut butter cups
- regular or mini cups work here
- I love the dark chocolate PB cups from trader joes, but you can use any kind you like!
- milk or dark chocolate bars
- you will need 1-2 (4oz.) bars
- I love this brand for baking in cookies
- flaky salt
- I only use Maldon’s
- they’re my favorite and a box lasts a LONG time when used as a finishing salt
baking tools for the best bars
these are pretty much a one bowl cookie bar! nothing too fancy is needed, but here is what I used:
- stand mixer with paddle attachment
- or hand mixer with beaters and mixing bowl
- food scale
- preferred over measuring cups for baking
- more accurate
- makes clean up a breeze!
- 8X8 aluminum pan
- more even baking
- parchment paper
- makes clean up so easy
- allows for an easy release from the pan
- oven thermometer
- gives the most accurate temperature of the oven
- can let you know if you have hot spots
tips and tricks for a fabulous batch of cookie bars
- bring all the ingredients to room temperature
- promotes easier mixing
- decreases the risk of over mixing
- hand stir the dry ingredients to the wet
- save some pieces of chocolate and/or PB cups to top the dough before baking
- fully preheat the oven before baking
- line the bottom and two sides with parchment paper
- makes lifting the bars from the pan super easy
- swap the all purpose or almond flour for a 1:1 GF flour
- I like this one from Bob’s Red Mill
- use the PB and chocolate style candy YOU like
- for allergy friendly bars, sub the PB cups with sunflower butter cups
- bake the bars until they are lightly golden on the edges and pale in the center
- cool the bars for 25-30 minutes in the pan
- they will continue baking in the hot pan
- place hot pan on a cooling rack
- if topping with flaky salt, do this in the first few minutes offers coming from the oven
- best enjoyed while warm
- reheat for 10-20 seconds in the microwave
more cookie bars to love!
- smores tahini cookie bars
- salted caramel rye blondies
- funfetti blondie bars
- gingerbread blondie bars
- chai tahini blondies
peanut butter cup cookie bars
- stand mixer with paddle attachment or hand mixer with beaters
- 8X8 pan
- parchment paper
- food scale or measuring cups/spoons
- 1 3/4 c (210g) all purpose flour
- 1/3 c (32-37g) almond flour sub with 1/4 c (30g) all purpose
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 c (200g) granulated sugar
- 1 c (226g) unsalted butter, room temperature sub with salted butter, but omit the added salt
- 1 (57g) large egg, room temperature
- 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract
- 1 c chopped PB cups
- 1/2- 1 c (4-8oz.) chopped milk chocolate bars sub with more pb cups or chocolate of choice
- flaky salt for topping
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a 8X8 pan with parchment paper along the bottom up the sides and with a 1-2" overhang. This makes it easier to lift the cookies out of the pan without breaking them. My preferred way to do this is to measure out/cut a piece of parchment to fit from one side to the opposite side. If you want, you can repeat to fit the exposed sides of the pan.
- Whisk the flours and salt together until well combined.
- In a stand mixer with paddle attachment/ hand mixer with beaters, beat the sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla extract, beating each one on low for about 20 seconds before adding the next.
- Add the dry ingreidents to the wet and mix by hand or on the lowest setting until JUST combined. Once the dough is mostly combined, add in the chopped PB cup and chocolate pieces. Work into the dough until mostly combined. While the dough is still in the bowl, use your hands to incorporate any stray pieces that didn't get worked into the dough. Starting at the edges, working in to the center, evenly press the dough into the prepared pan.
- Bake the dough in a 350F oven for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are set and golden brown. The center will look lighter – more a light golden brown. Remove the baked cookies from the oven to cool in the pan on a cooling rack for about 30 minutes. If topping with flaky salt (recommened), top the bars as soon as they come out of the oven. Wait until the bars are completely cooled before slicing for the cleanest cut.
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