Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip S’Mores Bars

As I assembled this six-layer dessert, I literally said “this is ridiculous” out loud.

And it’s true—these bars are utterly ridiculous. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip S’Mores Bars are a fun, indulgent riff on s’mores. Think chocolate chip cookie bars, but with layers of goodness inside. You’ve got peanut butter,  chocolate, graham cracker and marshmallow fluff in there. That all adds up to six insanely delicious layers.

IMG_4709I found this recipe during one of my s’mores-inspired recipe hunts. I’m a little obsessed with s’moresinspired treats, and constantly add more recipes to my collection.

The original recipe calls for store-bought dough, and you could certainly do that—there’s so much happening in these bars, you probably wouldn’t even notice the difference between store-bought and homemade dough. Still, I decided to make mine from scratch, and used the dough from my Gooey Chocolate Chip Fudge Bars. It worked out great: the dough was sturdy enough to keep the bars together, and the original recipe’s yield scaled perfectly to what the s’more bar recipe required. Whether you buy dough or make it, pay attention to measurements: you’ll need two 9×9 layers of dough to make this recipe work!

I was so excited to try these, and anxiously waited for the bars to cool so I could cut them up. My patience was definitely rewarded. Every bite of these bars is a trip down Delicious Lane. You get a bite of cookie, then a nice hit of chocolate, a spot of peanut butter, a spot of fluff…and more cookie. The graham cracker crumbs add a bit of texture, and help break up the fluff a bit.

My coworkers agreed that these bars were ridiculous, but in a totally amazing, have-to-eat-more way. We kept sneaking more bars from the kitchen all afternoon!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip S’Mores Bars

Original recipe: Cookie dough comes from Back from Seconds; Six Layer S’Mores recipe from Cookies and Cups. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 25 bars

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~3 hours, including chill time

Cook Time: ~25 minutes

Ingredients

For the cookie dough

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

For assembly  

  • 4 standard Hershey chocolate bars (I used dark chocolate)
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 5 graham crackers, crushed into crumbs
  • 7 oz of marshmallow fluff (about 1 1/2 cups)

Directions

Make your dough

  1. Use your mixer to cream together the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until it’s light and creamy
  2. Add eggs, vanilla and salt, then mix well
  3. Add baking soda and flour. Mix until combined
  4. Stir in your chocolate chips

Assemble and bake

  1. Line and spray a 9×9 pan
  2. Take 1 1/4 of your cookie dough, and press it into the bottom of the prepared pan. Try to make the layer as smooth as you can
  3. Top your cookie dough with a single layer of chocolate bars
  4. Spread peanut butter on top of the chocolate. This might get tough: I ended up “finger-painting” with the peanut butter to make it work!
  5. Sprinkle your graham cracker crumbs on top of the chocolate
  6. Use a spoon to put dollops of fluff all over the graham crackers, then use an offset spatula to smooth it into a single layer
  7. Use your remaining cookie dough for the final layer. It’s easiest to just put bits of dough on the top, and then smooth them out with your fingers so it’s a single layer
  8. Bake for 22-25 minutes, until the top is golden. Mine took 24 minutes. It’s a little hard to tell if they’re done since there are so many layers…make sure to use a toothpick to test if the insides are baked through
  9. Allow the pan to cool for 2 hours on a wire rack. Then, transfer them to the fridge to cool completely.
  10. A little before you want to cut the bars, take them back out of the fridge. Use a shape knife to slice them up!

Note that these are a little tough to cut: it’s too hard when the bars are gooey, but also too hard to cut if they’re super chilled. So I suggest chilling them to let the bars set, but taking them out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you want to cut and serve.

These bars last nicely in an airtight container, and are best within 3 days of baking.

 

 

And a handy Pin for the Pinners out there:

The world's mostbike-friendly cities

Advertisements

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Apple Cookies

There are only two ways I’ll eat green apples: baked into something delicious, or smothered in peanut butter. This recipe checks both boxes in one delightful cookie.

img_2179-1These cookies have an oatmeal peanut butter base that’s nutty and satisfying. You mix in little chunks of apple, which soften up in the oven. Cinnamon and allspice add the perfect hint of spice, a bit like what you’d find in apple pie. It’s a sweet, nutty, hearty combination, with a complementary mix of flavors in every bite. I picked this recipe to use up the last of my giant bag of Granny Smiths. Now that I’ve tried these cookies, though, I think the reverse is going to happen: I’ll start buying green apples just to make another batch of Oatmeal Peanut Butter Apple Cookies

Since these cookies use fresh apple, they’re best eaten the day you make them. The apples get mushy over time and make your cookies a bit mushy. These still got rave reviews for flavor on Day 2, but the texture was much better on Day 1. By the time I put these out for the lunch crowd at my office, they’d already lost their shape and were falling into soggy pieces. Very delicious, very peanut buttery pieces.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Apple Cookies

Original recipe: Two Peas and their Pod. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 20 cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 11 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup diced apple, peeled

Step by Step Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together your flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt
  3. Use your mixer to beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar together until it’s smooth and creamy
  4. Add in your peanut butter and mix it all again until it’s smooth
  5. Add your egg and vanilla, then mix the dough again
  6. Turn your mixer to “low” and add in the flour mixture bit by bit. Mix until it’s just combined
  7. Stir in your oats and apples by hand with a spoon
  8. Roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls and place them on a lined cookie sheet. Make sure to bake the dough right away–if you let it sit out, it will get really runny because the apples add moisture!
  9. Bake the cookies 11-12 minutes, or until light and golden brown around the edges
  10. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Make sure they’re actually, really, truly cool before you try moving them again… or else they will fall apart.

Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

One of my dearest friends visited San Francisco last week. Hila was one of my first SF pals, and one of my best friends in town until work moved her to LA. She frequently benefitted from my baking experiments when she lived nearby, but now she’s usually relegated to reading about my baking rather than tasting it. So when she booked her flight to visit over the 4th, I promised I’d bake something delicious to celebrate her arrival. A few days before she got here, I asked her favorite flavors so I could bring a treat to brunch. Her list back? “Dark chocolate, peanut butter and almonds.”

And so I started digging through my Pinterest boards and recipe lists. I sent Hila and our other friend Netta an email with some options to choose from. Hila picked these delectable Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting, Netta confirmed it sounded like a good plan – and off I went to find bittersweet chocolate!

IMG_0276These brownies are truly decadent. The combo of bittersweet chocolate, baking cocoa and espresso powder makes the base super chocolatey, with a bigger punch than many other brownie recipes. Espresso adds intensity to chocolate recipes, so it’s a good add when you want to dial up your chocolate flavor. Browning your butter is also always a good choice, and adds a little nuttiness to this brownie’s base.

Once you’ve made your brownies, you whip up a rather simple peanut butter frosting. The “salted” part is actually from a salt sprinkle, and not salt in the frosting itself. Adding salt on top of these brownies results in the ultimate salty-sweet treat. I didn’t have time to let my brownies cool before frosting them, which made the frosting melt a little and thin out. My fine sea salt sprinkle sort of melted into the frosting, too. The result tasted great, but if you want thicker frosting and chunks of salt, you should wait for the brownies to cool entirely before icing them. This also makes it easier to cut the brownies, since warm brownies fall apart if you try to move or cut them. (see photos below for evidence!)

IMG_0282Hila and Netta loved these brownies, and I’m sure you will too! We started eating them while in line for brunch… and then again right after we left brunch. This picture to the right is what it looks like when you pull containers of brownies out of your bag and hand them over to friends while walking around town. Nothing like strolling around San Francisco, catching up with good friends – and enjoying brownies while you’re at it!

Bittersweet Brownies with Salted Peanut Butter Frosting

Original recipe: The KitchnI’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 16 brownies

Suggested equipment: Mixer makes the frosting easier 

Total Time: ~ 1 hour 45 minutes, including time for the brownies to cool 

Cook Time: 30-35 minutes depending on your oven

Ingredients

Brownies: 

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate (You can use chopped chocolate or chocolate chips as long as you add it up to 3 oz)
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (You can omit this if you don’t have it, but it does add a lot of chocolatey depth!)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Frosting: 

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (You want to buy something like Jif Regular PB. PB with separated oil just don’t work as well for frosting!)
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon flake or fine sea salt (The original recipe suggested flake but I only had fine and it was just fine! Heh.)

Step by Step Directions

Brown your butter

  1. Preheat your oven to 325F.
  2. Grease an 8×8 square metal pan, and line it with parchment paper that hangs a couple inches over the edge. Once it’s lined, lightly grease the parchment, too. I use Pam spray for this but you could use butter instead.
  3. Put your butter in a medium saucepan and melt it over medium-high heat. Keep a really close eye on the butter as it cooks – butter can go from nicely browned to sadly charred quite quickly. You want to see the solids bubble up, then settle into the and turn a caramel brown. You’ll know it’s done when the solids are golden and the butter gives off a nutty aroma. It usually takes about 3-5 minutes to brown butter like this.

Make your brownies

  1. Pour the browned butter into a medium bowl, and add your 3 oz of chocolate.Make sure to do this when the butter is still warm – these next few steps depend on warm butter! (Unlike many recipes where you let the butter cool before using it)
  2. Let it stand for 1 minute so the chocolate begins to melt into the butter.
  3. Then, whisk the chocolate mixture until it is blended together.
  4. Add in your sugar and vanilla, and whisk it all together until it’s smooth.
  5. Stir in your eggs, salt and espresso powder. Mix it with a wooden spoon until the entire mixture is well-blended.
  6. Add in your cocoa powder and flour. Use a spatula or spoon to fold the ingredients together until they’re just combined. You shouldn’t see any specks of dry ingredients but also want to be careful that you don’t overmix – overmixing leads to tough brownies!
  7. Pour the batter into your pan and bake until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean. Start checking around 25 minutes to see how your brownies look. Mine took 35 minutes to fully bake, but my oven was acting up a bit.
  8. Let the brownies cool all the way before you start frosting and slicing.

Frost your brownies

  1. Once the brownies are cool, get to work on the frosting!
  2. Use your mixer to combine the butter, peanut butter and powdered sugar. You’ll know you’re done when the frosting is a light brown color, and the ingredients are fully smoothed together.
  3. Frost your cooled brownies with an offset spatula to get a smooth and even frosting.
  4. Once you’ve finished frosting, sprinkle sea salt on the top of your brownies.

Additional tips: 

  • The original recipe notes that you can make the frosting up to 1 week in advance, and the brownies up to 3 days in advance.
  • If your brownies are too dense to cut right away, you can refrigerate them for 30 minutes and then try again.
  • Like I mentioned above: if you want thicker frosting, don’t start frosting the brownies until they are 100% cooled. Otherwise your frosting will melt a bit and thin out, and the salt will melt into the frosting too. It’s totally awesome either way, so it’s just up to your textural preferences!

 

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

DSC07974I have a new favorite brownie. And I think you could have a new favorite brownie too, if you gave these Peanut Butter Cup Brownies a try.

Assuming that is, that you like peanut butter. If you don’t – try these instead. But if you DO like peanut butter, please stay tuned.

These brownies are rich, chocolate-y, and they have an entire Reese’s peanut butter cup stuffed in side. As you’ve probably noticed, I am a huge fan of fillings and stuffings in my baked goods. I love the dash of intrigue and the pump of flavor. These stuffed brownies were truly out of this world, with such a nice ratio of chocolate to peanut butter. It also doesn’t hurt that you brown the butter before mixing it in, or that the recipe includes a full 1.5 cups of cocoa. So chocolatey, so peanut-buttery, so wonderful.

I made these brownies for a friend’s birthday. I felt like baking with peanut butter or caramel for some reason, so I asked which flavor she preferred. She picked peanut butter, this brownie recipe won the round, and off I went to procure peanut butter cups. I actually ended up making something with caramel too, because I just couldn’t resist the urge… but more on that another time.

I took the brownies to my friend’s birthday party at Ocean Beach on an atypically sunny San Francisco Sunday. What’s better than eating brownies and hanging with friends on the beach? Not much, I’d say.

DSC07956

Adding PB cups

These brownies were a huge hit, and I think it has a lot to do with the texture. Peanut butter and chocolate is a rather common flavor duo in the U.S., but it’s not usually with this combination of textures. Most chocolate/PB recipes either use peanut butter from a jar, or peanut butter chips. Using peanut butter cups adds more depth to the peanut butter flavor because it is thicker, and a bit grainier. But it’s not like eating a straight peanut butter cup, either, because there’s no chocolate shell crunch. In fact, the peanut butter cup’s shell sort of melts into the brownie as it bakes. So you’re getting a straight bite of fudgey brownie right with the thick peanut butter.

This recipe makes a full 9×13 pan of brownies. Since I baked two pans of 9×13 treats that day, I only took 2/3 of the brownies to the beach, and froze the rest.

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Original recipe: The Food Charlatan. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 9×13 pan, mine cut into ~30 brownies 

Suggested equipment: Mixer, though you could definitely do this by hand

Total Time: ~55 minutes 

Cook Time: 30 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups butter (2 and 1/2  standard sticks. The original recipe called for salted and honestly I didn’t even notice, so I used unsalted and it worked out just fine) 
  • 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon water (just at a normal temp, not hot and not too cold) 
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 large Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (or another brand, but make sure they’re the size of regular Reese’s and not minis. Minis would work too but the peanut butter ratio would be different per bite and the large cups help make these brownies so tasty)

Step by Step Directions

Brown your butter 

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and let it cook until it’s browned. You should stir the butter occasionally and keep a very close eye on it- butter burns fast. It will foam up as it cooks and then will start turning a bit more golden in color, with small brown bits popping up as the cooking continues. When it starts to smell a bit nutty, that means it’s done
  2. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl so it can cool off a little before you use it in the recipe, and doesn’t keep cooking in the hot saucepan

Make your brownies

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Line a baking dish with parchment or foil, and then spray that with nonstick cooking spray. I prefer using foil for this sort of thing but you can use what you have
  3. Combine sugar, cocoa and salt in your bowl or stand mixer
  4. Add the butter, and then beat the mixture until it is smooth and almost creamy
  5. Add water and vanilla, then mix it together
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing in between each egg addition
  7. Add the flour and mix until it is just incorporated into the batter. The batter will be thick
  8. Pour your batter into the pan. You’ll need a spatula to help move it along since the batter is so thick
  9. Now comes the exciting part! Place your 12 large peanut butter cups in a layer on top of the brownie batter
  10. Push each peanut butter cup slightly INTO the batter so they’re no longer just on the surface of the batter
  11. Use your spatula sort of like a paintbrush to swirl brownie batter over the cups. You want the cups to be entirely covered by brownie batter (see pics below)
  12. Bake for ~25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out batter-free. The center of the pan should be mostly set. Mine baked for exactly 30 minutes
  13. Let them cool all the way before you slice into squares. I was time-constrained so I sliced a bit too soon and they weren’t quite ready for it and I got a bunch of brownie crumbles in the process. Which I totally threw into my carry container and brought with me to the party anyway, because brownie crumbles are delicious, too!

Peanut, Peanut Butter (Recipe Round-Up)

People in the U.S. sure love peanut butter. It’s consumed in 94% of U.S. households, and Americans consume enough peanut butter per year to make more than 10B peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Walk the aisles of your local grocery store and you’ll find an ever-expanding selection of varieties, from chunky to smooth to chocolate-swirled. We put peanut butter on our fruit, our bread, even on our celery. Of course, my favorite way to eat peanut butter is in my desserts. Here’s a list of some of my favorite peanut butter-y treats I’ve made in the past, along with what I want to make in the future.

These Peanut Butter and Jelly cookies come from the blog “Tastes Lovely” – I can’t wait to make them!

Nutella-Stuffed Oatmeal PB Cookies 

Salted Chocolate Chip PB Cookies

PB Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Buckeyes (peanut butter candy filling, dipped in chocolate)

Fudgy PB Swirl Brownies

Banana Brownies with PB Frosting

Next on my list: 

PB Cookie Brownies 

PB and Jelly Cookies

(A version of this post was originally published on my other blog, Culture Cookies)