These bars are THE best bars you will EVER eat. Period. The funny thing is though, they actually came about out of laziness. I was going to make these Peanutty Marshmallow Squares (from Chelsea Winter – she’s a celebrity chef in New Zealand) which are also very good, probably a close second to these bars. The only thing was, it was getting late in the day, I needed (*ahem* wanted) to make something to take with me to our regular girls’ night dinner and I just could not be bothered using the mixer to make the base and then again to make the filling. Happens to the best of us right?
So I started looking around and thinking of something else I could make with ingredients I already had (of course also feeling too lazy to go to the supermarket) and I thought – hmm maybe classic chocolate and peanut butter? I had seen a recipe for chocolate fudge bars recently and it hit me – chocolate and peanut butter fudge bars would be delicious, use ingredients I already had, and not take much time. That’s how these beauties came to be.
So you know how I said that I wanted to make these to take to a girls’ night dinner? Well, one of my friends absolutely hates frosting. Like can’t stand it, she always wipes it off cakes/eats around it. Weird huh? 😉 However, she will always dutifully try whatever I put in front of her, so when I brought out these bars and gave her a big slice she thought it was mostly frosting and said she would only have a bite. But of course it’s actually fudgy chocolate delicious-ness and when I looked over at her plate after a while there was none left! Apparently these are her favourite bars out of all the ones I’ve ever made, so you know they must be pretty damn good.
The first time I made them, I didn’t have pretty shapes on the top because, y’know, lazy. So I just had splodges which aforementioned friend said looked like it was a weird patchy top so I thought I would made them look pretty with stars on top to share with you all. 🙂 If you are also feeling lazy though, of course you don’t have to cut out stars or shapes, you can just press the topping on in splodges too! When I took the leftovers to work I got a lot of compliments – one of my colleagues said that he loved the texture of the bars and that they were melt-in-your-mouth which I wholeheartedly agree with!
These will definitely be a hit at your next gathering, or just in your tummy because you feel like them. They’re rich with the fudgy chocolate filling, but there’s a nice base to filling ratio so the peanut butter cookie flavour complements the chocolate nicely, as always! They are really easy to make, and even though I used my stand mixer to make the cookie dough you could easily use an electric hand beater or even just elbow grease if you’re really keen! I hope you enjoy these as much as my friends and colleagues did, happy baking!
- 300g (10.6oz) butter, cubed and softened
- ½ cup (packed) brown sugar
- ¼ cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1¾ cups + 2 Tbspn plain flour
- ¾ cup creamy peanut butter
- 400g (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 75g (2.6oz or ⅓ cup) butter, cubed
- 1 tspn vanilla essence
- 2 cups (350g/12.3oz) dark chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 23cm x 33cm (9in x 13in or similar) baking pan with non-stick foil and then grease the foil.
- Place the softened butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer (or, in a large bowl and using a handheld electric beater) and cream together on medium high speed. Mix until the sugar has dissolved.
- Combine the eggs and vanilla into the mixture, one at a time. Don't worry if the mixture separates or becomes sloppy at this stage. Add the peanut butter then the flour and mix until combined after each addition.
- Spread ⅔ of the mixture in the prepared pan, reserving the other ⅓ for the top. This is easiest when you press the dough into the pan with your fingers.
- Place all of the filling ingredients into a large saucepan and heat over a medium-high temperature. Stir together using a wooden spoon until the butter and chocolate have melted. Once these have melted the mixture will easily combine. Add the vanilla essence and mix to combine.
- Remove from the heat and let sit for around 5 minutes before pouring over the cookie dough layer and smoothing out the top.
- If you want cut-out shapes on the top of your bars, shape the remaining dough into a disc and flatten down until it's around 2.5cm (1in) thick, either using a rolling pin or just your hands. Cut the shapes out of this dough and place in rows along the top of the fudgy layer. Repeat until the top of the bars are covered in dough.
- If you don't want to do shapes, just rip up the dough into small pieces and press onto the top of the bars until covered in dough.
- Bake for around 25 minutes, or until the top cookie layer is golden brown and when you jiggle the pan, the fudgy layer only jiggles slightly.
- Remove the bars from the oven and cool on a wire rack for around 10 minutes before putting the pan in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight.
- Once the bars have set, cut into squares and enjoy!
- The bars will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container - they don't need to be kept in the fridge but they can be kept there overnight if needed.