It’s been awhile since I’ve made a gooey pan of bars.
Or baked peanut butter cups into something. These make up for lost time.
They’re the best bar I’ve made in recent memory, and I can’t keep my hands off them. If you’re looking for a fast and easy layer bar with results that far exceed the minimal effort spent, these are the ones.
Prep and assembly takes 10 minutes, no mixer is required, and you can stir everything together in one bowl. I love bars and desserts that come together in no time and that create a minimum amount of dishes.
They have a cookie dough base layer, which is topped with mini peanut butter cups. Sweetened condensed milk is poured over the top and handfuls of cookie dough are crumbled before baking. So easy.
Begin by melting one stick of butter. Stir in an egg, sugars, vanilla, flour, and baking soda. The dough is thick and dense.
Press the dough into an aluminum foil-lined and cooking sprayed baking pan, but not all of it. Reserve one-half cup of dough and set it aside. It’ll be crumbled on the top later.
I urge you to line your pan, leaving overhang, so you can just lift the bars out. Plus, it makes cleanup a breeze. Nothing says dealbreaker on a quick and easy dessert like sweetened condensed milk that caramelizes all over your baking pan and you have to literally chisel it off.
Sprinkle the mini peanut butter cups over the dough base. Or use diced full-size peanut butter cups, or other diced candy bars. Use up leftover Easter candy, or whatever odds and ends you have. Candy is candy, it’s all going to be good, use what you have. Rolos, Snickers, Milky Way, Three Musketeers, or similar.
Pour just over half of one can of sweetened condensed milk over the top. Use the other half to make 7-Minute Microwave Caramels. You can make those in the microwave while the bars bake in the oven, which is exactly what I did. My house smelled wonderful from caramels in the microwave with peanut butter, chocolate, and cookie dough in the oven. And this is why I run, every day.
After flooding with sweet milk, lightly crumble the reserved cookie dough in irregular, marble-sized chunks.
Try not to sample too much along the way. Easier said than done.
The hardest part of the recipe is that you must let the bars set up for about 3 hours before slicing or you’ll have a literal hot mess. Let them cool on the counter for an hour, then place the pan in the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight. Lift out with the foil overhang and make nice, clean, pretty squares.
Alternatively, you could just dig in with spoons as soon as they’re cool enough from the oven if you don’t care about clean cuts or devouring this, family-style. As in, the whole family dives in with a spoon.
The cookie dough base is squishy soft in the middle, dense and buttery. The edges raise while baking and turn firmer and chewy. They’re no chocolate chips added and the richness and pure cookie dough flavor really shines. These are for cookie dough lovers who can appreciate a really flavorful slab of dough.
There’s just enough golden cookie dough on top to sandwich in some of the gooey filling, but not so much that the dough overpowers the other flavors. I prefer crumbles and crisps to double-crusted pies because that top layer of crust is just too much dough. I like things sprinkled rather than totally enclosed with dough.
The peanut butter cups provide texture and a nice pop of peanut butter and bit of chocolate in every bite.
The creamy, rich, sweetened condensed milk takes on caramel and vanilla tones while baking. It cloaks the cookie dough and peanut butter cups in a sweet, milky, luscious bath.
Gooey and sticky, sweet and creamy, soft and chewy, chocolate and peanut butter, vanilla and caramel, all in one.
Please pass the napkins.
The best bar I've made in recent memory. Loved these! They're fast, easy, and a cinch to make. They come together by hand with just one bowl in minutes. There's a soft, chewy, dense, buttery cookie dough base, topped with peanut butter cups, and creamy, rich, sweetened condensed milk coats it all. Gooey and sticky, sweet and creamy, soft and chewy, chocolate and peanut butter, vanilla and caramel flavors, all in one.
Yield: one 8-by-8-inch pan, 9 to 12 squares
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
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
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 heaping cup mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (or diced full-size cups; or substitute with another type of diced candy bar such as Snickers, Milky Way, Butterfinger, Heath, Rolos)
about 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (just slightly more than half of one standard 14-ounce can)
Recipe from Averie Cooks. 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.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars – All the taste and texture of cookies, minus the work of making individual cookies. Bar cookies are so much faster and these are soft, chewy, and loaded with chocolate chunks
Milky Way Chocolate Cookie Crumble Bars – The chocolate answer to today’s bar, made with Milky Ways instead of Reese’s, and every bit as soft, chewy, and gooey
Cookie Butter Brown Sugar Streusel Bars – Soft, chewy and moist from the cookie butter and all brown sugar dough base that’s topped with crunchy streusel bits
Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups – If you tend to have issues with cookies spreading, it’s impossible with these since they’re baked in a muffin pan. They’re thick, soft, chewy and extremely moist
Coconut Peanut Butter Magic Cake Bars – One of my favorite desserts of 2011, and similar to Seven Layer or Magic Bars, but a cake base is used instead of a graham cracker crust. Soft, dense, rich, chewy, tons of textures and flavors, and so easy
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
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
Peanut Chewy Payday Bars – Like the storebought candy bars, but I prefer these. Sweet and gooey meets salty and crunchy with an abundance of peanut butter, peanuts, and plenty of chewy texture
Ritz Cracker Stuffed Peanut Butter Cups (No Bake, Vegan) – Make your own peanut butter cups in minutes and stuff them with your favorite surprises because everything tastes better sandwiched with peanut butter and chocolate
Do you have a favorite bar recipe or fast and easy dessert?
Feel free to leave links in the comments.
Thanks for the entries in the KithenAid 5-Quart Stand Mixer Giveaway!