Labor Day has come and gone in our part of the world, which means kids are back in school. So maybe you need some snacks for them?
Like these Peanut Butter Bars. They’re tastier than cookies – not to mention more dense and less dry. Plus, they’re easier to make because you don’t have to form individual cookies.
Best of all, kids love them! And we’ve noticed that adults can’t resist them either. That includes us. Though whether we’re kids or adults is still up for debate.
Recipe: Peanut Butter Bars
Mrs. Kitchen Riffs is the baker in our household, and this is her creation.
Prep time for this recipe is about 20 minutes. Baking time adds another 18 to 20 minutes. These bars are easier to cut if you let them cool completely, so allow time for that.
BTW, you really don’t want to overbake these – see Notes.
This recipe yields about 2 dozen bars (though it depends on how large you cut them).
Leftover bars keep well for a few days if they’re sealed in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature. Or you can freeze them (our usual choice), in which case they’ll keep for a month or so.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder (see Notes)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups peanut butter (preferably chunky; see Notes)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup brown sugar (see Notes)
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (see Notes)
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt). Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl, using a hand mixer), cream the butter and peanut butter together.
- Beat in the granulated sugar and then the brown sugar. Then add the eggs and vanilla extract. Beat well to mix.
- Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture, then mix thoroughly to combine.
- Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake until the top is firm and just starting to brown (about 18-20 minutes; see Notes).
- When done, remove the baking pan from the oven and let it cool on a rack.
- Cut into bars of about 2 inches square.
- These bars bake fairly quickly, so start checking after 18 (or even 17) minutes. Do not overbake. Overbaking results in dry, less tasty bars. Let them cool completely before cutting.
- When it’s time to cut the bars, we just lift the parchment paper out of the baking dish, and then cut the bars on the paper. Easy!
- Some recipes for peanut butter bars (and cookies) call for baking soda. But in our experience, baking powder makes for softer bars.
- Don’t have baking powder on hand? Baking soda will work in a pinch. Baking soda requires acidic ingredients to activate its leavening power – which both brown sugar and peanut butter provide.
- We usually soften the butter in the microwave. Twenty seconds or so should do it. Be careful, though – you don’t want the butter to melt.
- Or, if you can remember to do it, just remove the butter from the refrigerator a couple of hours before you want to make the bars.
- We recommend using high-quality peanut butter for this recipe. So go for a brand that contains just peanuts and salt, with no added sugar or flavorings.
- BTW, peanuts can cause severe allergic reactions for some people, so ask guests if they’re sensitive before serving these.
- Make sure to use pure vanilla extract, not imitation. We favor small-batch vanilla extract, which is pricy – but worth it.
- We generally use light-brown sugar in these bars, but dark brown will work too. The flavor of dark-brown sugar is just a bit more intense.
- These bars make a great snack. Or you can plate them up for dessert.
- Just don’t overbake them. Have we mentioned that?
“Love these bars!” I said. “The flavor is a-dough-rable.”
“Jeez,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “You knead some new jokes. These are stale.”
“I’m just trying to bake the world a butter place,” I said. “One joke at a time.”
“Sounds more like you’re having a mental bake down,” said Mrs K R.
“Well, if you’re going to succeed at baking, you need to take whisks,” I said.
“A rolling pin would also come in handy,” said Mrs K R.
Better stop before this gets really crumby.
You may also enjoy reading about: