Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Dough Crumble Bars
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.
Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Dough Crumble Bars
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.
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)
- 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 or whisk vigorously to combine, for about 1 minute. Add the flour, baking soda, optional salt and stir until just incorporated. Batter will be quite thick and dense.
- Reserve 1/2 cup batter; set aside. Turn remaining batter out into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula. Evenly sprinkle the peanut butter cups over the batter. Pour sweetened condensed milk over the top (just eyeball slightly over half of the can as you’re slowly pouring). Using your fingers, lightly crumble the reserved cookie dough over the top in irregular, marble-sized chunks.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out without cookie dough batter clinging; it may not be clean because you’re going through other layers and you may have to peck around to find a testing place). Edges will be firm, raised, and golden. The sweetened condensed milk should nearly be set in all places, and possibly only a little jiggly in the very center of the pan. Bars will firm up more in pan as they cool.
- Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 3 hours before slicing and serving. Lift out using the foil overhang. I recommend cooling for 1 hour on the counter, and at least 2 hours in the refrigerator, or overnight. This ensures clean, pretty cut marks. If you don’t care about that, bars may be consumed as soon as they are cool enough to eat; grab a spoon and dig in. Extra bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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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!