Caramel Peanut Butter Almost S’mores Cookie Bars


Easy and absolutely delightful, these caramel peanut butter almost s’mores cookie bars are soft, chewy with a tasty hint of graham crackers in the cookie base.

bite taken out of caramel peanut butter caramel bar

First of all, thanks for all your well wishes of healing on my last post (and all the other insights you shared!). I’m still not eating solid foods, sadly, but my mouth is slowly feeling better.

And while I sip my smoothie, please, please will you make these cookie bars and enjoy them on my behalf? 

They are an amazing mashup of past favorites: these s’mores cookie bars + these peanut butter caramel chocolate chip bars.

cookie bar cut into square and sitting on top of pan of cut bars

An Almost S’mores Bar

My brother tipped me off that taking the graham cracker base from the s’mores bars and subbing out the marshmallow fluff for peanut butter + caramel would be a really delicious idea. 

And it is. 

That’s why they are almost-but-not-quite a s’mores bar. They still have the classic graham taste of a s’mores bar in that delicious cookie dough base and crumble, but the marshmallow gets a tasty replacement, just this once. 

And if you’ve never mixed caramel and peanut butter together, you are completely missing out. 

fork taking bite out of warm caramel cookie bar

Graham Cracker Cookie Dough

I’m convinced the graham cracker cookie dough could basically be the answer to most of our cookie bar conundrums. It’s so, so good. 

It’s not any harder than your usual cookie dough. 

  • butter
  • brown sugar
  • eggs + vanilla
  • flour
  • crushed graham crackers
  • baking powder + salt

The graham crackers give such a delicious flavor to the cookie dough – you might need to exert all your self control so that some of it actually makes it in the pan. 

mixing up graham cookie dough batter

Peanut Butter Caramel

It’s as simple as can be to make the peanut butter caramel.

Melt soft caramels (like Kraft, Trader Joe’s or Peter’s) in the microwave with a little bit of cream or milk. You can also use homemade caramel (you’ll need about 1 1/2 cups). 

Once the caramels are good and melted, stir in the peanut butter. I use a heaping 1/2 cup of peanut butter.

mixing peanut butter into soft caramel

To assemble

Press half of the graham cracker dough on the bottom of a 9X13-inch pan. 

Spread with the caramel PB mixture. 

Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. 

Crumble remaining graham cracker cookie dough as the final layer.

side by side layering pans of cookie bar ingredients: crust, caramel, chocolate chips, more crust

Bake just until golden. 

They can over bake quickly, so keep an eye on them. They should be set on the edges but still a little soft in the center. 

baked and unbaked pan of cookie bars

These might seem like just any other ordinary cookie bar, but I promise they are something special. 

The natural way to serve them is to let them cool, cut them into squares, pop onto a plate and give to everyone you know.

However, I highly encourage you, at least once, to serve one (or two) of them lightly warmed with a scoop of ice cream. To yourself. 

Peanut butter, caramel, and graham crackers are a match made in heaven. Put all those flavors into an easy cookie bar, and you may just have the most anticipated dessert of summer that you didn’t even know you needed. 

soft and chewy caramel cookie bar on white platter

One Year Ago: BBQ Hawaiian Chicken Foil Packets {Grill or Oven}
Two Years Ago: Almond Coconut Milk Chicken Satay
Three Years Ago: Cuban Sandwiches {Slow Cooker or Instant Pot} 
Four Years Ago: Chicken Taco Salad {InstantPot, Slow Cooker, or Stovetop} 
Five Years Ago: Baked Orange-Glazed Meatballs
Six Years Ago: Glazed Lemon Yogurt Sheet Cake 
Seven Years Ago: Sour Cream Lime Tart {Or Pie!} 
Eight Years Ago: Broiled Parmesan and Lemon Chicken 

Yield: 12-15 bars

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

bite taken out of caramel peanut butter caramel bar

Ingredients

Graham Cookie Base:

  • 1 cup (8 ounces, 2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (11.25 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) crushed graham cracker crumbs (about 18 rectangle crackers)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Caramel PB Layer:

  • 10-12 ounces soft caramels, unwrapped
  • 1/3 cup cream or milk (see note)
  • 1/2 cup (4.5 ounces) creamy peanut butter (I use a heaping 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups (9-12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9X13-inch pan with foil or parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the longer sides for easy removal of the bars after baking. Grease evenly with cooking spray and set aside.
    2. In an electric stand mixer or in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until well combined.
    3. Add the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. On low speed, mix until combined.
    4. Press half (or slightly more than half) of the dough evenly on the bottom of the prepared pan.
    5. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the caramels and cream (or milk) and microwave in 1-minute increments, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Stir in the peanut butter and vanilla until well-combined.
    6. Spread the caramel/PB mixture over the layer of cookie dough in the pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips. Crumble the remaining cookie dough over the top in small pieces.
    7. Bake the bars until golden brown but still soft (don’t over bake!), about 20-25 minutes. The caramel may seem runny but if the cookie dough part is golden and soft-set, take the bars out. Cool completely. Cut into squares and serve (chilled, room temp or warm).

Notes

Caramel: if you’re using homemade caramel, you most likely don’t need to add the cream (you’ll want about 1 1/2 cups caramel).

Milk or Cream: if using milk with the caramels (instead of cream) the mixture will be quite a bit thinner and runnier. I’ve made it both ways and it’s delicious either way – just richer and creamier with the cream rather than the milk.

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Recipe Source: adapted from these graham cracker s’mores bars

Posted on June 1, 2020 by Mel



Original Source Link

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