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:

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Marshmallow-Stuffed S’Mores Cookies

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This photo is from Katie at Veggie and the Beast because my “gooey center” photos turned out terribly! See the links below for the rest of her beautiful pics

It can be challenging to bake with marshmallows, since they often dissolve or spread into a crispy wafer. That’s why many s’more-inspired recipes use marshmallow cream instead of real mallows, or stick to using marshmallows as a topping. Stuffing marshmallows into cookies sounded like a challenge… until Katie from Veggie and the Beast taught me how.

Turns out that the trick is to use gelatin-free marshmallows. These mallows hold their shape while baking, giving you a nice, gooey bite in the middle of your cookie. Gelatin-free mallows are often sold as “vegan marshmallows” so you’re likely to find them at stores that cater to a vegan clientele. I got mine at Whole Foods, and read that Trader Joe’s also sells vegan mallows these days.

These cookies bake up beautifully, and it’s fun to watch people’s reactions when they realize there’s a marshmallow stuffed inside. The base dough tastes a lot like a graham cracker on its own, plus you mix bits of graham cracker into the dough. Add chocolate chips and the marshmallow centers… and you really get that s’more effect.

Note that this dough has to chill for a bit before you bake it, so make sure you plan ahead!

Marshmallow-Stuffed S’Mores Cookies

Original recipe:  Veggie and the Beast. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. The original bloggers’ pics of the mallow center are way better than mine, so you should take a peek!

Yield: ~20 cookies 

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: ~1.75 hours

Cook Time: ~13 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 2½ cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or any other type you prefer)
  • ¾ cup crushed graham crackers (broken into small pieces, not crumbs)
  • 10-11 large gelatin-free marshmallows, cut in half (I bought a brand called Dandies)

Directions

Make your dough 

  1. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a small bowl, then set the bowl aside
  2. Use your mixer to cream the butter for a couple minutes
  3. Add your brown sugar to the mixer bowl, and mix until it’s light and fluffy
  4. Add your honey and mix it all again
  5. Beat your eggs into the mixture
  6. Add your dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low, until just combined
  7. Fold in your chocolate chips and graham cracker pieces with a wooden spoon
  8. Refrigerate your dough for at least an hour

Assemble and bake your cookies 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Scoop your cookie “bottoms” onto a lined cookie sheet. You’ll want to scoop about a tablespoon of dough for each “bottom” (see pics!)
  3. Place half a marshmallow on top of each cookie “bottom”
  4. Top each marshmallow-dough stack with another tablespoon of dough
  5. One stack at a time, pinch the dough around each mallow so it’s entirely encased in the dough. Then, flatten the entire stack a bit (this prevents the mallows from rising to the cookie top as the cookies bake)
  6. Bake your cookies for about 10-13 minutes, until the sides are golden. As with many types of cookies, the centers won’t look fully baked when you take these out
  7. Let the cookies cool on their sheets for a couple minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack

As you might expect, these are awesome when they’re right out of the oven. I brought them to work the next day and they were still awesome, even though the centers had firmed up a bit! You can always throw your cookie in the microwave for a few seconds if you want to replicate that fresh outta the oven gooey effect.

 

S’Mores Brownies

I have a confession to make: I didn’t know today was National S’Mores Day until my mom texted me about it (thanks Mom!). But, I’ve been on a s’more-inspired baking kick recently, so I already had the perfect recipe ready to share and commemorate this very special “holiday.”

S’Mores have long been one of my favorite treats. I have fond memories of sitting around the beach fire pits near my high school, making s’more after s’more and memory after memory. My friends and I would play around with the ratio of graham-to-marshmallow-to-chocolate, stacking layer after layer to see how high we could go.

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In recent years, I’ve experimented a lot with s’more-inspired baked goods. Last year I whipped up some S’Mores Cupcakes with Marshmallow Crispies. The year before that, it was these wonderful S’More Cookie Bars. This year I decided to try more than 1 over the course of “S’More Season” – so the brownies you’ll see today are only the first in a series! If you want a sneak peek of other S’Mores treats that may show up on the blog, check out the Pinterest board where I store all my S’Mores-inspired ideas.

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We ate these in a park. It was glorious.

Now: about these brownies. There is a graham cracker layer all the way at the bottom, pre-baked a bit to get it nice and firmed up. You cover the cracker layer with a rich, brownie layer that bakes up into delicious, rich brownies. And then you sprinkle a generous topping of mini marshmallows, graham cracker bits and chocolate pieces on top to create a “s’more” effect in every single bite. I made these for a friend’s going away party and subbed in dark chocolate everywhere possible, since that’s her favorite type of chocolate. Since we ate these outside, the chocolate on top melted a little – which ended up being an awesome touch and amplified the “s’mores” effect.

These brownies are rich, and the recipe makes a full 9×13 pan so these are great for a party. Make sure to allow time for this recipe’s phased baking process: you’ll throw the pan into the oven 3 separate times at different points in the recipe.

S’Mores Brownies

Original recipe: Chef in Training. I’ve made some modifications and added my own commentary. 

Yield: ~20 brownies

Suggested equipment: Mixer 

Total Time: ~1 hour

Cook Time: ~35 minutes 

Ingredients

Crust 

  • 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs (I put my graham crackers in a plastic bag and smashed them until I had crumbs. You could also use a food processor)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted

Brownies 

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup dark cocoa (You can sub in another kind if you’d prefer but I loved the rich chocolate flavor from the dark cocoa. I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 1⅓ cups flour
  • ½ tsp salt

Topping 

  • Roughly 1½ cups mini marshmallows (you’ll want to eyeball it for the right ratio)
  • 3.5 graham crackers, broken into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 dark chocolate bars, broken into bite-sized pieces (you can swap in another type of chocolate, of course)

Step by Step Directions

Make your crust (use the crust ingredient list) 

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375F.
  2. Line a 9×13 pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.
  3. Combine graham crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a medium bowl and use a spoon to combine them together.
  4. Press the mixture into your pan and make sure it is evenly spread out.
  5. Bake for 7 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and set aside.
  6. Reduce your oven to 350F for the next steps.

Make your brownies (use the brownie ingredient list)  

  1. Cream butter and sugar together.
  2. Add your eggs and vanilla, and mix until it is well-combined.
  3. Add in the cocoa, flour and salt. Use a spoon to stir the mixture together until it is completely mixed.
  4. Pour your brownie batter over the graham cracker crust.
  5. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, then remove from the oven. The brownies won’t be fully set yet so don’t worry!

Add your topping (use the topping ingredient list) 

  1. Sprinkle your topping ingredients evenly over the semi-baked brownie. You’ll want to eyeball to get the perfect ratio of marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers.
  2. Bake the pan again for roughly 10-15 more minutes. Keep an eye on your brownies to know when they’re done; mine took the full 15 minutes. The brownies are done when a toothpick comes out clean with a couple crumbs. Make sure you’re sticking the pick into the brownies themselves and not getting melty chocolate on the toothpick – that can lead you astray!

Eat warm if you want melty chocolate on top; cool if you prefer little chunks of chocolate to bite into. These kept nicely for 2 days beyond the bake date. Make sure to store them in an airtight container if you want to keep them around.

 

S’Mores Cupcakes with Marshmallow Crispies

When I say “S’Mores” what comes to mind? Perhaps a campfire, or maybe summer camp? Me? I think of the beach.

I’m from southern California, and the beach played a big role in my high school social life. Come the weekend, we’d head to the beach early in the evening to stake out a bonfire pit – there were never enough to go around. Once the sun went down, we’d take out our precious provisions of graham crackers, Hershey bars and marshmallows. We’d inevitably share our pit with latecomers who didn’t get their own, making these beach nights a fun mix of making new friends and seeing old friends.

My love for S’Mores grew strong- I even wrote one of my college essays about the delicious treats. And when I studied abroad in Spain, I had my parents bring graham crackers so I could teach local friends the beauty of the S’More. These days, I have to try S’Mores-inspired desserts wherever I see them. Recently, that has included the Frozen S’More at Dominique Ansel in NYC, the S’Mores Bread Pudding at Lambert’s in Austin, and the gourmet plated S’More at Aqua Nox in Vegas.

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S’Mores Cupcakes with Marshmallow Crispies

I love baking S’Mores-inspired desserts myself, too. So you can imagine my glee when I found this recipe for S’Mores Cupcakes over at the fantastic blog Shutterbean. I save tons of S’More-like recipes, but this one stood out for its use of graham cracker in the cupcake itself. It’s a hearty, taste, if that makes sense, just a tinge of sweet with a satisfying, buttery cake. Then there’s a layer of chocolate ganache, rich without overpowering the cake. A bite of ganache and cake together is pure magic.

The proverbial cherry on top, in this case, is a marshmallow topper. Shutterbean’s recipe calls for plumped, golden marshmallows. Remember when I said that if you make mistakes baking, you should just run with it and see what happens? Well, here’s a good example. I baked my marshmallows too long, resulting in flattened, crispy marshmallow bits rather than fluffy toppers. I ran with it- and I actually liked it! The crisp marshmallow adds a nice crunch to the top of the cake. I’ll have to try these again to get the marshmallows just right, but I was actually pretty happy with my accidental “twist.”

I made the cakes at night, then the toppings in the morning since I was concerned about the mallows holding up. And then my boyfriend and I carried the container of cupcakes all around San Francisco running errands before work. As one does.

S’Mores Cupcakes with Marshmallow Crispies

Source: Shutterbean, which is one of my favorite blogs these days- especially since the author also lives in San Francisco and I get all fan-girl-like when she posts gorgeous pictures of my beloved city or references places I recognize

Yield: ~15 cupcakes. My tin makes 12 and I didn’t have time for Round 2, so I just baked the remaining batter in free-standing muffin liners placed in a pan. They were very short and stout since nothing structured their shape- but they still tasted great!

Suggested equipment: mixer

Total Time: ~1 hour

Cook Time: 20-24 minutes (mine took 22)

Italics below are my own comments on the original recipe. I broke the directions into a few more steps, too.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (You can put them in a bag and smash with a rolling pin, use a mortar and pestle, smash with your hands, etc. Just make sure you get the crumbs fine enough to mix into the flour, you don’t want pieces in there)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used semisweet chocolate chips instead of chopping chocolate) 
  • 12 large marshmallows
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Step by Step Directions

 Make your batter

  1. Whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl
  2. Beat the butter and sugar in a separate bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes
  3. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary
  4. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients and milk alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing well between additions. Mix until just combined

Bake your cakes 

  1. Heat oven to 350° F with the racks in the middle and top positions
  2. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. Divide the batter among the muffin cups
  4. Bake on the middle rack, rotating once while baking about 20-24 minutes. (You’ll know they’re done when a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, without any batter on it)
  5. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes; then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely

“Roast” or “Crisp” the marshmallows 

Here is a picture from Shutterbean so you see what the original version looks like. Definitely a texture choice- so maybe you should try both kinds of mallows!

My “crispie” directions: Place the marshmallows on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 until the marshmallows are deflate – they will look like marshmallow puddles. These puddles will firm up as they cool, becoming crispy wafer-like treats that you can break into pieces

Shutterbean’s “roasted” directions: Place the marshmallows on a parchment-lined baking sheet, 2½ inches apart. Bake on the top rack until golden and deflated, 6 to 10 minutes. Let cool

Make the ganache

  1. Bring the cream to a boil in a small pot
  2. Remove from heat, add the chocolate, and let sit for 5 minutes
  3. Whisk to combine

Assemble

After both the ganache and marshmallows cool a bit, assemble your cupcakes! Spread a layer of ganache on each cupcake, then stick your mallow of choice on top.

Final step: Share with friends, and let the S’More-fueled nostalgia commence!