Chocolate Peanutbutter Bar w/ Pretzel Shortbread Crust

Ingredients:  For the Pretzel Shortbread Crust:
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/2? cubes
2 cups pretzel crumbs, very course
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Filling:
1 18oz jar creamy peanut butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 3/4 cups pretzel crumbs (fine – not course)

For the top layer;
1 (11.5oz) bag semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy cream

Make the Crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all ingredients for the shortbread into the bowl of a food processor. Process on high until all off the butter has been incorporated and mixture begins to form pea sized lumps. If no food processor is available, simply add all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and blend the ingredients together using a pastry cutter or your bare hands.

Pour mixture into a glass or ceramic 8 x 11.5 x 2 baking pan. Using the bottom side of a metal spatula, press the shortbread firmly into the pan, forming a level, compact layer.

Place shortbread into preheated 350 degree oven. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.

Make the Filling:
Combine all ingredients for the filling in a mixing bowl. Using a rubber spatula, mix all ingredients together until thoroughly combined into a homogeneous mixture. Set aside.

Once the pretzel shortbread crust has cooled for about 30 minutes, make the chocolate top layer:
Place the chocolate chips in a mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream over medium heat until it just begins to simmer, stir frequently. Pour cream over chocolate chips. Whisk until all chocolate has been melted and mixture is shiny and smooth. Do not over mix – this will create a grainy, less desirable texture.

Assemble the bars:
Spread the peanut butter filling mixture evenly over the shortbread layer in the baking dish. Again, using the bottom of a metal spatula evenly press down the mixture and spread into 1 even, compact layer. (Try not to break the shortbread layer in the spreading process – I used my hands to crumble the peanut butter mixture evenly over the shortbread before compacting.)

Finally, pour the chocolate over the peanut butter layer. Use a rubber spatula to spread so that all areas are evenly covered with chocolate. Place pan into fridge. Chill for at least 1 hour, or until the chocolate has set before cutting into bars. Once cut, garnish each bar with 2 chocolate covered pretzels (homemade or store bought).


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