These no bake salted crispy peanut butter bars are an addictive salty sweet treat that are criminally easy to make, share, and devour.
You may have noticed an absence of sweet things here on the blog over the past month or so. This was not planned by any means, but it does speak to the fact that I tend to favor savory over sweet. This was further confirmed by the inhalation of several cups of white cheddar popcorn which for obvious reasons will no longer be on offer in this house.
But as fall approaches everyone’s sweet tooth seems to be aching, mine included. And because the husband is very much into any situation involving peanut butter and chocolate this is my sweet treat of choice – at least until I cave to the seasonal pressures of pumpkin spice.
Candy can be a bit tricky, so my forays into that world tend to involve pretty simple recipes that call for at most a little microwaving. This one is unsurprisingly…a pretty simple recipe that calls for no cooking beyond a quick burst in the microwave. And for the minimal amount of effort (and short ingredient list to boot) these little candy bars’ return on investment is like 8000%.
And while I doubt this space will become a confectioner’s dream over the next few months, I am only human, and my sugar cravings must be HEARD.
Salted Crispy Peanut Butter Bars
Let’s talk about these little chocolate, peanut butter bars. Two mouthfuls of salty, sweet, nutty, chocolatey, smooth and crispy delights – yup, that about sums it up. What I love most about these is everything. From the satisfying crunch of little bits of rice krispies, to the melt in your mouth chocolate ganache, to the sweet peanut butter filling, these really have it all. Not to mention some annoyingly trendy sprinkling of flaky sea salt at the end to balance out all the sweet.
But what I love most about these tiny treats is probably that they’re fun enough for kids but not so cloying that adults will be turned off. Seriously, they pair with a tall glass of milk just as well they do with a strong mug of coffee and trust me, I’ve done the rigorous testing myself – it was tough. So if you’re into treating yourself a little extra this month then give these a go.
This is mostly simple, but for things that can go wrong here is my advice. 1. Don’t panic. It’s chocolate, peanut butter, sugar, and some salt…not the apocalypse. And 2. Read the tips and tricks below and learn from my experience/mistakes. Because we all make them, but isn’t it handy when you have someone who isn’t too afraid to tell you about hers so you can avoid making the same ones? Ok. We’ll start with what you’ll need.
What You’ll Need for Salted Crispy Peanut Butter Bars
Obvi. But this is probably the trickiest ingredient here to be honest and that’s because chocolate comes in so many different shapes and sizes. Milk, dark, chips, bars, with different amounts of cacao, sugar, etc. It can be confusing and intimidating, but here’s what you need to know for this particular recipe.
Avoid using the fanciest chocolate on the block for this. You don’t need to go for a standard bar of Hershey’s either, but somewhere in the middle is where you’ll hit the sweet spot of dark enough to be interesting without being so dark that you have problems melting it. I used a 60% cacao chocolate chip, which in some circles might be labeled as bitter-sweet.
Once you’ve procured your chocolate make sure it’s prepped to melt. If it’s already in chips (unless they are giant) you are good to go, but if you’ve got a bar to contend with then you’ll need to chop it. I find this easiest to do on a large cutting board (tiny chocolate shards tend to fly around) with a serrated knife. I would aim for pea-sized pieces or smaller – and we’ll get to why a little later.
I hear you typing out that email asking “may I substitute milk/half and half/etc for this?” and to you I say firmly but politely “no, you may not”. Ganache (which is effectively what we’re making when we combine chocolate and heavy cream) is made from heavy cream, not milk, not half and half, not hazelnut non dairy creamer. And also, we’re making candy, so let’s not take shortcuts. I’m sure you’ll find a good use for the rest of that carton of heavy cream anyway.
Here is where you can get a little wild and crazy. I went for a pretty standard jar myself, but these would be great (if a touch more grown up) if you subbed in natural peanut butter, almond butter, or even a nut free version of the stuff. Just keep in mind that some natural nut butters can be a little looser and so you might need to adjust the amount of cereal you use.
I like powdered sugar for this, because it doesn’t add any excess liquid to the party and it dissolves quickly into the peanut butter. But if you are on the sugar is evil bandwagon then feel free to swap the white stuff for some honey or maple syrup – again with the possibility of adjusting the amount of cereal in the filling to get a firm but light texture, that won’t squeeze out the edges when you take a bite.
This stuff is non-negotiable. The crunchy texture is what takes these from being just a tasty snack to an intervention worthy problem. So trust me on this and get yourself a box. Maybe also pick up a bag of mallows and throw together an impromptu batch of rice krispie treats, because no one hates that idea.
Flaky Sea Salt
Ok, of course you absolutely don’t have to run out just for a box of salt. But let me share with you a tale of a girl who bought a box of Maldon sea salt for seven dollars on Amazon (free shipping with Prime) over a year ago and thinks that seven bucks over 365 days is a pretty reasonable price to pay for beautifully flaky, one hundred percent delicious, fancy AF, finishing salt that you honestly won’t use all that often. That girl is me by the way…in case that wasn’t clear.
Easy Candy Making Tips
Ok, so this is an easy recipe, but the simple ones can still benefit from a few helpful hints. So here goes.
How to Prep Your Pan
There is little to no point in making something alarmingly delicious if you can’t get it out of the G-D pan. To make sure that doesn’t happen I use a two step insurance policy of non-stick spray and parchment paper. First lightly grease the pan with the non-stick spray and then lay down two strips of parchment paper with a few inches of overhang on all sides. That way you have a handy sling of sorts to pull the candy slab out once it sets.
How to Avoid Grainy Chocolate Ganache
This is the most likely issue you might encounter, and that’s because chocolate can be a fickle mistress. If your ganache goes a little grainy it’s no big deal – it will still be delicious. But to avoid it altogether keep these things in mind.
- Don’t go too dark. The more sugar present the less likely your chocolate will split. So don’t splurge on the 75% cacao, dark as midnight, single bean bar for this one.
- Keep it gentle – in the heat department that is. The reason chocolate splits is usually because it gets too hot. So keeping the heat source gentle is very important. Using the microwave for this means also being extra diligent about not overheating it. Ten seconds too long can turn your ganache from silky and smooth to grainy and matte. So check often and don’t let things get too hot.
- Chop it fine. A sure fire way to keep your chocolate from overheating is to melt it fast and get it out of there! So even though it’s a little bit of a pain to chop it small, it will save you in the end.
- Don’t forget to stir. Melting chocolate is 75% about heat and 25% about agitation. So stirring it will finish the melting process without overheating the chocolate.
- Or forego the microwave altogether. Melting chocolate over a double boiler (a glass bowl set over a small pot of simmering water) is always going to be a gentler way of cooking. Feel free to do it this way if you care to.
How to Fix Grainy Chocolate Ganache
It probably won’t but if the worst happens here are your options:
- Add more chocolate. Heat it gently and stir until smooth.
- Add more cream. Heat it separately and whisk it in gradually until smooth.
- Use it anyway. Ultimately you’re covering up the chocolate with that fancy salt anyway, so as long as your ganache has not completely separated (ie: has become oily and clumpy) I say go for it.
Make the Peanut Butter Filling
First you’ll crush up the rice krispies. You can do this by popping them into a zip top bag and crushing them with a rolling pin, or if you don’t mind the extra dishes a food processor makes quick work of this step.
Then you’ll melt the peanut butter in the microwave (much more straightforward than melting chocolate btw) and mix it in with the rice krispies and sugar. Pro tip (or really just a thing I learned): don’t use a whisk – which will result in a big clumpy mess. A rubber spatula is the better tool for this.
Assemble the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Pour a generous layer of the ganache directly onto the parchment paper and tilt the pan to spread the chocolate evenly to the edges. If it is being stubborn a few firm taps on the counter can help move things along. Then chill the chocolate until set (this should only take ten minutes or so). Pile the peanut butter mixture on top and use a spatula to push it into an even layer covering the chocolate. The final layer is usually the trickiest, but I find that giving the chocolate a ten second zap to make sure it’s still pourable is a good tactic. Just like the with the first layer, pour the chocolate over the peanut butter layer and tilt and tap the pan to cover.
Then sprinkle with that previously mentioned fancy salt (or don’t, you do you) and chill the whole thing until set – about an hour. You can also fudge this and pop it in the freezer if you’re particularly impatient.
Cutting and Serving Crispy Peanut Butter Bars
Once you’re ready to eat these all up, pull the whole slab out of the pan using the parchment paper overhang. If it doesn’t budge right away use a paring knife to loosen the edges/corners. Then cut the slab into 24, 1 x 2 inch pieces. Pro tip: if you want super clean slices heat your knife under hot running water and wipe dry between each cut. It seems tedious, but it will keep those layers beautiful and distinct.
Then FINALLY sink your teeth into the just firm ganache and down through the crispy, sweet peanut butter. Savor the crunch, rich chocolate flavor, and hint of salt and make sure to share…or, you know, don’t.
Crispy Peanut Butter Bars
These no bake crispy peanut butter bars are an addictive salty sweet treat that are criminally easy to make, share, and devour.
- Prep Time: 15 Minutes (plus chilling)
- Cook Time: 2 Minutes
- Total Time: 17 minutes
- Yield: 24 Pieces 1x
- Category: Dessert
- Cuisine: American
10 ounces chocolate chips or finely chopped chocolate
1/2 C heavy cream
1 C smooth peanut butter
1/2 C powdered sugar
2 C crisp rice cereal
Flaky sea salt to finish
Lightly grease with non-stick spray and line an 8×8 baking pan with two pieces of parchment paper, cut to fit the width of the pan with some overhang on all sides. Set aside.
In a bowl, combine the chocolate and heavy cream. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring in between each one, until chocolate mixture is melted and smooth. Pour half the chocolate into the prepared pan and tap the pan firmly on the counter to spread it evenly all the way to the corners. Transfer to the fridge to chill.
While the first chocolate layer sets, place the rice cereal in a large zip top bag and crush with a rolling pin until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Set aside.
Microwave peanut butter in a large bowl for 30 seconds or until it begins to melt and reaches a pourable consistency. While it’s still warm quickly mix in the powdered sugar and rice cream crumbs until combined.
Spread the peanut butter mixture over the first layer of chocolate, making sure to create an even layer that reaches to the edges. Pour over the remaining chocolate mixture (reheating in the microwave if necessary) and tap the pan firmly on the counter to completely cover the peanut butter mixture. Sprinkle the top with flaky sea salt and chill until set.
To cut and serve, remove the entire candy slab from the pan by pulling up on the parchment paper overhang. If it resists use a paring knife to loosen the edges and corners. Then cut into 1 x 2 inch rectangles using a sharp knife. Store covered in the fridge for up to a week.
If you don’t have a microwave, feel free to melt the chocolate and cream together in a double boiler (or a bowl set over a small pan of simmering water).
If your chocolate looks a little grainy instead of shiny and smooth, it’s OK. Your candy will still taste awesome. But you can avoid this by not overheating your chocolate mixture (which usually causes it to split) or by using a chocolate with a lower cacao percentage, ie: not the deepest, darkest chocolate bar in your pantry.
Keywords: chocolate peanut butter candy, joeats, easy candy recipe, peanut butter candy