No bake peanut butter chocolate bars
Updated: Feb 13
Growing up, the Starbucks near my school had these incredibly delicious peanut butter bars that I used to get quite often. They had a thick peanut butter base and a thin milk chocolate top layer, very reminiscent of a holiday Reese's.
I've always wanted to recreate them at home, so I started by making a peanut butter cup version. It took a few iterations, but I finally found the right balance of peanut butter flavor with a thick, almost crunchy texture, and a chocolate shell that wasn't too thick. I knew once I got this right that it was time to recreate the peanut butter chocolate bars I loved so much!
These bars come together in under 30 minutes and just require some chill time. I store them in the fridge and they have quite a long shelf life. And best of all? No baking needed. They are the perfect treat to have on hand or to bring to friends, though I wouldn't blame you if you don't want to share!
One note on the ingredients before we get going. I tried this recipe another time after writing it originally with a new brand of peanut butter and found that the bars didn't solidify. I was stumped as to why, and then I looked at the ingredients on the new jar of peanut butter. I found there was an additional ingredient, palm oil. I looked back at the ingredients of the original peanut butter I used, and it was ONLY peanuts. The bars still tasted delicious, but I found that they were much more difficult to slice, and were not quite the same consistency. The kind I used for my initial batch and the one I would recommend is the Organic Creamy Peanut Butter from Whole Foods, or you can find a similar one that also only contains peanuts!
Peanut butter layer:
1 cup peanut butter (double check that it's a peanut butter made with peanuts only, no added palm oil)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
4 sheets graham cracker (about 2/3 cup)
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2/3 cup milk chocolate chips
1 tablespoon oil or melted unsalted butter
Total time: About an hour
Assembly time: 15 minutes
Chill time: 30 minutes to an hour (overnight if you use a peanut butter that has added oil)
First, crush your four sheets of graham crackers. You can do this in a plastic bag using any flat tool. Crush your graham to as close of a powder as you can. You can also use a food processor, but I always find that it breaks down easily! In a large bowl, combine your peanut butter, powdered sugar, and graham cracker. You'll find that the mixture gets a bit dry, so at this point melt your two tablespoons of butter and add that in as you continue to stir. Once it forms a dough like consistency and you can see that your ingredients are fully incorporated, grab loaf pan or a square pan (9x9 or 8x8) and line it with parchment paper. You have a few options. If you want thick bars (this is my preference) spread your peanut butter mixture to cover half of a square pan or all of a loaf pan using a spoon or flat tool, like an offset spatula. If you want to make thinner bars, you can spread your mixture across a full square pan. Place your pan into the freezer.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl melt your milk chocolate chips in a microwave. Start at 30 seconds, and then switch to 10-15 second intervals stirring each time until fully melted. Add in your one tablespoon of oil or melted butter and stir together until fully combined and your chocolate should now look glossy. Note, if you chose to make thinner bars, you may want to increase the chocolate to a full cup and add an additional teaspoon of oil or melted butter. Remove your chilled peanut butter mixture from the fridge and add your chocolate topping on. You can use a flat tool to smooth it out carefully. Place your bars into the fridge for about 30 minutes to an hour to set and then slice! Note: if you used a peanut butter that has any added oil, you'll need to freeze your bars overnight before slicing, and then I recommend storing in the freezer.
You can slice into 8 squares, or keep going and create 16 triangles. Once sliced, you can store in the fridge for about two weeks. You can place into the freezer, though I recommend putting them back into the fridge to defrost before enjoying. The ingredients stay fresh for quite a while, so if they last, they'll remain good for a while :)
Carb and serving info:
Servings: 8 or 16
Carbs per serving (1 of 8): 39
Carbs per serving (1 of 16): 20
Carbs in full recipe: 313
Carbs from chocolate: 73
Carbs from graham cracker: 48
Note: Carb information is calculated based on the specific ingredients I used to cook with to help guide my own insulin to carb ratio when dosing before I eat my home cooked recipes.