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Sticky Peanut Butter Cookie Bars

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Sticky Peanut Butter Cookie Bars are by far one of the best desserts I have made! They are completely a breeze to make, and the flavors are dreamy and fun. Every bite is filled with a heavenly shortbread crust, roasted peanut layer, and decadent chocolate.

These cookie bars are sure to make you hungry at the sight of them. 

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Sticky Peanut Butter Cookie Bars

Alright, all of you peanut butter and chocolate fans-watch out! I have a recipe that is going to knock your socks off and have you running into the kitchen to whip up a batch of these cookie bars. A buttery salted peanut shortbread covered by a thick layer of bittersweet chocolate and topped with caramel candied peanuts-does it get any better than that? Not for a peanut butter and chocolate fan like me! 🙂

The hardest part of this recipe is waiting for the chocolate to set! If you have never made your own caramel before, it is super easy.

The most important thing to remember is not to stir the sugar-water mixture while cooking; you only want to gently swirl the pan. If you stir the mixture, the sugar will recrystallize, and you will have a mess. Trust me on this one; I have ruined many batches of caramel by accidentally stirring it.

Do I Use Salted Peanuts or Raw Peanuts?

When making these sticky peanut butter cookie bars, you will need to use peanuts that are salted and raw for best results. The salted raw peanuts give you lots of flavor and texture that goes well with the other ingredients. You can use regular salted peanuts if that’s what you have on hand, but roasted tastes different, so keep that in mind. 

Can I Use Semi-Sweet Chocolate to Top My Peanut Cookie Bars?

Yes, when making these peanut cookie bars, you can swap out the bittersweet for semi-sweet if you want. Bitter chocolate, of course, has a bitter flavor! So, if that’s not your cup of tea, don’t worry! Semi-sweet chocolate isn’t too sweet but gives you delicious chocolate that will make your lips smack. If you want to go completely wild, you could switch the bittersweet chocolate out for white chocolate or even milk chocolate. Keep in mind those two chocolates are VERY sweet, so it will change the flavors of the bars a lot. 

Do These Peanut Butter Bars Have to Be Refrigerated?

No, these peanut butter bars do not have to be refrigerated. You can leave them on the counter, in the cabinet, or in the fridge if you want. It’s completely up to you how you keep them. It’s important to store them in an airtight container, but they will last 4-5 days easily. 

If you want to keep them for even longer, you can freeze them too. Cut the bars and place them in a freezer container. They will last up to 3 months in the freezer. Just take out what you want and set it on the counter to thaw then devour. It’s that easy, and you will always have a sweet treat on hand whenever you want one.


You’ll notice there are two sets of ingredients for these sticky peanut butter bars. There is a shortbread layer as well as a sticky peanut butter layer. Don’t worry, though, everything is pretty easy to use, and there aren’t any strange steps along the way. 

For the Shortbread:

  • Salted roasted peanuts

  • All-purpose flour

  • Granulated sugar

  • Cold unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into small chunks

For the Topping:

  • Granulated sugar

  • Water

  • Heavy cream

  • Vanilla extract

  • Finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

  • Salted roasted peanuts

  • Kosher salt

How to Make Peanut Butter Cookie Bars with Crunchy Peanut Topping

I know you are probably licking your lips imagining biting into one of these perfectly made peanut butter cookie bars. Trust me, I feel the same way and want to go whip up another batch! Let’s get started so you can make them soon:

First Step: Warm the oven to 350 degrees F. Then use a stick of butter to grease the bottom and sides of an 8×8 metal baking pan. Then add a long piece of parchment paper along the bottom. Allow the parchment paper to hang over the sides so you can easily pull the bars out when they are done baking. Add one more piece of parchment paper in the opposite direction, leaving overhangs too. Grease the parchment paper with butter. 

Second Step: Prepare the shortbread crust by adding the peanuts, flour, and sugar to a food processor. Once combined, take the cover off of the food processor and add in the chunks of butter. Then place the lid back on and pulse until it resembles a coarse meal. 

Third Step: Place the dough into the bottom of the baking dish. Use your fingers to lightly press the dough into the pan. Take a fork and make small holes all over the dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes until they are golden brown. When you remove the shortbread crust from the oven, add the chopped chocolate and place it on a wire rack to cool. After the chocolate is melted, take a spatial to evenly spread it out to cover the entire crust. 

Fourth Step: Use a saucepan and turn the heat to medium-high. Add in the sugar and water and begin boiling it. Make sure not to stir it once boiling. Then continue cooking the mixture while lifting the pan and giving it a swirl every once in a while. Continue cooking for around 8 minutes or until it becomes a caramel color. Take the pan off of the heat and add in the heavy cream and vanilla. Add in the peanuts and pour over the chocolate layer. Add salt on top of the peanuts and allow the bars to finish cooling all the way. Cut and serve.


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Sticky Peanut Butter Cookie Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 16 squares
Sticky Peanut Butter Cookie Bars are by far one of the best desserts I have made! They are completely a breeze to make, and the flavors are dreamy and fun. Every bite is filled with a heavenly shortbread crust, roasted peanut layer, and decadent chocolate.
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For the Shortbread:

  • 1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts

1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, 1 stick, cut into small chunks
  • 2 tablespoons water

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons water

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup heavy cream

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 6 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

6 ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate

  • 1 1/2 cups salted roasted peanuts

1 1/2 cups salted roasted peanuts

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

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  • Preheat the oven to 350℉. Butter the bottom and sides of a 8-inch metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up two sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. Place another piece of parchment paper in the same manner, perpendicular to the first sheet. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan). Butter the parchment.
  • To make the crust: In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse peanuts, flour, and sugar to combine. Remove cover of food processor and sprinkle the butter evenly over the dry ingredients. Cover and process with 12 1-second pulses, until the mixture looks like coarse meal.
  • Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and gently press it evenly across the bottom of the pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork. Bake in the center of the oven for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Sprinkle chopped chocolate over the crust and transfer to a wire rack to cool while you make the topping. Once the chocolate has melted, use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate evenly over the crust.
  • In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the sugar and water to a boil swirling the pan gently(do not stir), until the sugar has dissolved. Cook, gently swirling the pan occasionally, until it is a caramel color, about 8 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and carefully stir in cream and vanilla extract. Stir peanuts into caramel mixture and immediately pour over the chocolate base. Sprinkle salt over peanut bars and allow to finish cooling. Cut into rectangles and serve.


Source: adapted from Chow
Author: Laura

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