This recipe is so easy, it feels like cheating. It’s one of those treats you can turn to in the most harried days of the Christmas hustle and bustle. In about 5 minutes you can have a weighty pan of candy made, and after a short chill in the fridge, they’re ready to be sliced up and packaged for gift giving.
You’re probably aware by now that I’m a HUGE fan of salty and sweet together, especially when peanut butter and chocolate are involved. I love Maldon flake sea salton these bars, but Fleur de Sel or any other sea salt would be wonderful too. Or, if you’d rather keep things sweet, the salt can be omitted – but I urge you to think about it first. Or perhaps taste-test one lightly salted piece before adding it to the entire pan.
You can package the bars in cellophane bags tied with pretty ribbon, or place them in cupcake liners and gift them in a pretty holiday tin. They’re potent, so I usually cut them no larger than 1×3-inches.
Peanut Butter Cup Bars
- 1 cup/226 g unsalted butter
- 1 cup/250 g creamy peanut butter
- 2 cups/180 g graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup/ 4 oz. finely chopped peanuts
- 2 1/2 cups/320 g confectioners’ sugar
- 1 cup/6 oz. chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
- Maldon flake salt optional
- Line a 12×8 or 13×9-inch dish with parchment paper with two sides overhanging, or butter the pan generously.
- In a 2 quart microwave-safe mixing bowl, combine the butter and peanut butter. Microwave at full power for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, or until melted. Blend together. Mix in crumbs, peanuts and sugar until the mixture is stiff. Press firmly into the prepared pan.
- In a small bowl, combine chips, and shortening. Microwave at full power at 30 second intervals, until the chips and shortening are melted and can be stirred smooth. Pour over the peanut layer and smooth the chocolate evenly with an off-set spatula. Refrigerate until set, about 40 minutes.
- Lift the candy from the pan by the two overhanging parchment edges. Sprinkle the chocolate with two or three pinches of Maldon flake salt, if using. Cut the bars into pieces and store in a container that seals air-tight.
- Stove-top directions: If you don’t have a microwave, then this candy may be prepared on the stove-top instead. Melt the butter and peanut butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until smooth. Melt the chocolate chips and shortening in a small saucepan over medium-low until smooth.