Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars
Sometimes I think there’s no new way to combine peanut butter and chocolate.
But then I put my thinking cap on and something always comes to me.
I was craving something dense, thick, peanut buttery and chocolaty, and very easy. I wasn’t in the mood for stand mixers and dough chilling. I wanted something fast and not fussy in the least. Sometimes I can handle tedious baking projects and other times, I have the patience of a flea.
I planned to use browned butter in the batter and finish them with a melted peanut butter-chocolate chip drizzle, but kept them pretty bare bones and am so glad I did. The peanut butter flavor comes through, and the glorious hunks and chunks of dark chocolate shine in every bite.
They’re made in one bowl, no mixer required, and the batter comes together by hand in five minutes. After a short 20 minute stint in the oven, you can be enjoying big chewy bites. I love recipes that don’t require hours of advance planning and that go from cupboard shelves and into my belly in under 30 minutes flat.
They combine many favorite recipes into one. They remind me of a pan-full of peanut butter-spiked Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups. As an aside, if you’re prone to cookies that spread, it’s impossible with those because they’re baked in muffin cups.
I love the soft, fudgy density of Peanut Butter and Jelly Blondies and this recipe is reminiscent of those, but because I used a pinch of baking soda and slightly more flour, they have more of a cookie-bar than a blondie texture. And, they’re loaded with chocolate chunks like my favorite Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chunk Cookies.
To make them, melt the butter, about 1 minute in the microwave. Stir in an egg, sugars, vanilla, a hearty scoop of peanut butter, and the dry ingredients. After the batter comes together, fold in chopped dark chocolate. I used Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Pound Plus Bar. I love their Pound Plus Bars for baking and the 72% and the Dark Chocolate are my two favorites.
A tip when chopping chocolate is to put a piece of parchment paper on your cutting board before chopping. It makes it so easy to pick up and dump the whole shredded mess into your mixing bowl. Chocolate isn’t able to cling to the cutting board, making cleanup much easier. I chop many batches of chocolate on the same piece of parchment and tuck it inside the wrapper of my leftover chocolate bar for next time. I hate to waste, even paper.
After the chocolate is folded in, transfer batter to the pan, and bake for about 20 minutes. Don’t overbake because the bars will set up in the pan as they cool. A toothpick test may or may not work because there’s so much chocolate in them and I had to insert a toothpick in four different spots until I stopped hitting chocolate and struck dough. Not a horrible problem to have.
They have all the benefits and taste of Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies, but faster and easier. I love pans of bars because there’s no dough to chill or form into individual mounds. No mixer dishes to do, and nothing can accidentally spread out all over a cookie sheet since it’s baked a pan.
The flavor of peanut butter is distinct and present but not overwhelming and doesn’t overshadow the buttery, sweet dough. The edges raised up and puffed a bit while baking and turned chewy, yet the interior remained dense, tender, moist, and soft.
The chocolate chunks are beautiful surprises that you can sink your teeth into in every bite.
There are so many ways to doctor these up, from using browned butter rather than melted, or adding white, butterscotch or peanut butter chips. Sprinkle in a handful of marshmallows, M&Ms, or a favorite candy. The dough is ripe for add-ins.
Before serving, drizzle with chocolate, melted peanut butter or melted chocolate peanut butter. After the photos, I drizzled some Dark Rum Caramel Sauce over the top on a whim. Oh my, highly recommended and if only I gotten a picture. You’ll have to use your imagination or just make some for yourself.
Those center cut bites are my favorite. Under-baked, gooey, rich, and flanked with hunks of dark chocolate.
Even after writing a cookbook with 100 Peanut Butter Recipes I don’t think I’ll ever run out of ways to combine peanut butter and chocolate.
They’re my favorite food groups.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars
All the flavor and texture of peanut butter-chocolate cookies, but much faster and easier. The batter comes together in minutes by hand and in one bowl. In under 30 minutes, from start to finish, you can be eating one of these bars. The peanut butter flavor is present, but doesn’t overwhelm the buttery, sweet dough. The edges are chewy, and the interior remains dense, tender, moist, and soft. There’s an abundance of chocolate in every bite, perfect for those who love pairing peanut butter and chocolate.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
1 large egg
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
heaping 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (like Jif or Skippy, do not use homemade)
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
6 to 7 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I used Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Pound Plus Bar, 54%)
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
- In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute. Allow the butter to cool momentarily so you don’t scramble the egg. Add the egg, sugars, vanilla, and stir vigorously to combine, for about 1 minute. Stir in the peanut butter. Add the flour, baking soda, optional salt and stir until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate. Turn batter out into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until center is just set and golden (a toothpick test should come out clean if you hit dough but because of the abundance of chocolate, hitting chocolate is more likely). Bars will firm up more in pan as they cool.
- Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Store extra bars in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Bars may be kept gluten-free by replacing the flour with your favorite gluten-free baking blend.
All images and content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or simply link back to this post for the recipe. Thank you.
35 Favorite Peanut Butter Recipes (as of September 2012)
I wrote a Peanut Butter Cookbook with 100+ recipes using Peanut Butter
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies (gluten-free) – The BEST PB Cookies I’ve ever had. There’s NO Flour, NO Butter, and NO White sugar used! Soft, chewy & oozing with dark chocolate. Crazy good!
Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies – One of my favorite cookie recipes on my site. Chewy, filled with texture, and combines three of my favorite cookies in one – chocolate chip, oatmeal, and peanut butter. Very easy and fast, no mixer required
Thick and Soft Peanut Butter Cookies (gluten-free) – There’s NO Flour, NO Butter, and NO White sugar used. Rich, not too sweet, very chocolaty and intense
Marshmallow Peanut Butter Double Chocolate Pillowtop Bars – One of my favorite desserts of 2011. Creamy, sweet, rich. A soft and sweet marshmallow-peanut butter top layer adorns a base of oats, sweetened condensed milk, and white chocolate. An all-time favorite
Special K Bars (no-bake) – The recipe is from my Grandma and one of my favorite bars of all time and ironically was the first picture Foodgawker ever accepted of mine. 280+ later, it’s fun to think back. The bars are chewy, peanut buttery and so easy
Peanut Butter Cocoa Krispies Smores Bars – No need for campfires, make s’mores at home. These smores have three layers, including a cocoa-crispy cereal top layer that’s made with peanut butter
Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Squares (No-Bake, Vegan, GF) – Dense, sweet, rich, chewy, packed with texture and so fast and easy
Homemade Peanut Butter (vegan if plain peanuts are used, GF) – Ready in 5 minutes and you’ll never want storebought again. It’s life-changing
Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter (vegan, GF) – Even though peanut butter doesn’t need doctoring up, adding a bag of chocolate chips doesn’t hurt. Ready in 5 minutes and so easy
What’s your favorite way to eat peanut butter and chocolate?
Recipes links welcome.
Thanks for the Barre Real Food Bars Giveaway entries