Easy No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars Recipe

I love the marriage of chocolate and peanut butter. One of my favorite treats has been Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but my deal now is that if I want dessert I have to make it from scratch. So I decided to make no-bake chocolate peanut butter bars (love no-bake recipes in the summertime) that are similar in taste to Reese’s.chocolate peanut butter recipe Because I’m such a label-reader now, I thought I take a closer look of what actually is in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Here are the ingredients:

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups’ Ingredients:

-Milk Chocolate which consists of:

  • Sugar
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Chocolate
  • Nonfat Milk
  • Milk Fat
  • Lactose
  • Soy Lecithin – An emulsifier and stabilizer, used with PGPR (below). Helps keep the cocoa and cocoa butter in chocolate from separating. In this case, the lecithin source is soybeans.
  • PGPR (emulsifier) – Polyglycerol polyricinoleate (say that fast 3x!) – In short, is used in place of more expensive cocoa butter to reduce cost. That’s not cool and grandma wouldn’t use it in her baking.

And also:

  • Peanuts
  • Sugar
  • Dextrose
  • Salt
  • TBHQ (preservative) – Tert-Butylhydroquinone – a chemical preservative, similar to butane that is in cigarette lighters -?! The FDA says it’s safe in small quantities. Does the FDA make you feel safe? Again, grandma didn’t have a bottle of TBHQ in her pantry so why would you want to eat foods that contain it? Not me.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars Recipe

Yes, you will notice that these are not exactly like Reese’s:

chocolate peanut butter bars recipe

No, they’re not perfect-looking or ready for a Martha Stewart Bake Sale…but they still taste yummy!

  • I made squares instead of the nice crinkle-sided rounded cups because it’s easier, but you could certainly buy some paper liners to make these look more authentic if you wish. I always tend to go simple and easy when I can.
  • No, these are not enrobed in chocolate with the peanut butter center. This is more of a technical display feature that does not bother me because once it goes in my mouth, the taste is the same. 🙂

Anyway, below is the simple, no-fuss version of this peanut butter bars recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (try to get graham crackers that don’t have hydrogenated oils and/or artificial flavors – surprisingly our local no-name generic brand had better ingredients than the name-brand did.
  • 1/2 pound powdered sugar (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup smooth or crunchy peanut butter (your preference)
  • 6 ounces milk, semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (1/2 bag) – I have a hard time finding milk chocolate chips (even “fancy” brands) without soy lecithin or vanillan (artificial, synthetic vanilla flavoring) in it so I have been using Nestle’s dark chocolate morsels (53% Cacao) which are all natural.

 Directions:

  1. Line a 9 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ pan with wax paper, parchment  paper or foil. You could also grease it, but lining it made for easy release and no-mess. If you want to have thinner squares with less peanut butter on the bottom, then try a slightly larger dish or pan like 9″x13″. Using the 9 1/2″ pan yields 16 pretty large thick squares.

    no bake peanut butter bars

    I used a 9 1/2″ x 9 1/2″ baking dish lined with wax paper for easy removal & clean-up.

  2. Melt the butter in a large bowl in the microwave or in a pot on the stove.
  3. Add the graham crackers to the melted butter and mix to coat.
  4. Now add the powdered sugar and peanut butter and mix well.
  5. Spread the mixture evenly into your pan.
  6. Melt the chocolate chips in a microwave or on the stove in a double boiler.
  7. Spread the chocolate quickly and evenly over the peanut butter mixture.
  8. Chill for 1 hour and then cut into bars. Don’t chill for too much longer or else it gets difficult to slice them (you will have to let them “thaw” a little if it does). I cut 4 rows of 4 bars to yield 16, but you can slice them smaller if you want.

It’s the graham cracker and powdered sugar that makes the peanut butter taste and have a similar texture to real Reese’s cups peanut butter. I found that the next day they tasted even better after the graham crackers had more time to be “absorbed”. But I had no problem eating them the first day either. 😉

So there you have it. Indulge when the craving strikes. Now it’s time to make my own Twinkies and Ho-Hos, but I’ll let some time pass for the sake of my waist-line and health.

What about you? Have you made your own homemade versions of your favorite treats?

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