Peanut Butter S’Mores Cookie Bars

 

I had such a great, relaxing weekend. It was our first weekend where we didn’t have plans to go anywhere since June so J and I were excited to just rest and get some things done around the house. Last night we took an after-dinner bike ride up by the beach, stopping to watch the sunset and just take a few deep breathes. We just needed a slower weekend, you know?

We ended up hosting our new friend Daniela for one night this weekend. She’s from Germany, traveling the country for 9 weeks. Strangely enough, she met one of my Cali friends in Memphis who told her to give me a ring once she arrived in San Diego. Random, huh? I love spending time with people from other countries. They have such a unique view on life in the States and I feel like I have more educated conversations than usual.

Turning the conversation back to American topics, I asked Daniela if she had ever had a s’more before. “No!” she said, her eyes lighting up. “I’ve heard it’s an American treat!”

Yes, my German friend, yes it is. I was time to show her the good stuff…time to make the s’mores cookie bars. We got out the mixing bowls and got to work.

When J and I were up in Big Bear for the 4th of July, J shared with everyone his secret special s’more which incorporate Reese’s peanut butter bars instead of the plain ol Hershey’s chocolate bar. I think he made a fan of about everyone in the group. Something about peanut butter with chocolate that can’t be beat. I decided to do the same with this cookie bar recipe… instead of using the chocolate bar it called for, I tried the Reese’s chocolate peanut butter bars that they now sell (they have the same shape of a Hershey bar). It. was. so. good. Seriously. I think Daniela’s first taste of something s’mores-like was a delicious one and I’m pretty sure that our pan of cookie bars will be empty in another day or tow. Seriously delish.

By the way… I know that s’mores aren’t exactly healthy but I tried to make this with as little high-fructose corn syrup as possible. I bought organic graham crackers and Ricemellow Creme which is a vegan, dairy-free version of Marshmellow Fluff from Whole Foods Market. The Reese’s peanut butter bars I found no substitute for so I just went for the original. And, as usual, used whole wheat flour in place of white flour.

recipe adapted from Baking Bites and Crepes of Wrath

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose whole wheat flour flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 8 graham crackers  put through a blender or food processor until fine)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-3 Reese’s peanut butter bars (in the candy aisle next to Hershey’s bars) OR 2 king size Hershey bars (for a non peanut butter version)
1 1/2 cups Ricemellow Cream (vegan, non-dairy) or marshmallow Fluff (not melted marshmallows because they harden when they cool)

To Make:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and/or line an 8-inch square baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and vanilla.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix at a low speed until combined. Divide dough in half and press half of dough into an even layer on the bottom of the prepared pan. Don’t worry if it seems thin; the baking powder will allow it to rise.

4. Place chocolate bars over dough (don’t layer the bars, just break them to fit if you need to), then spread the ricemellow creme over the chocolate bars. Finally, top the marshellows with the remaining dough by forming the dough into sheets with the palm of your hands and laying it down (as shown above). Don’t worry if the dough isn’t covering everything as it spread out as it bakes.

5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until lightly browned. If the top is browning too quickly, you can always cover it with tin foil for the remaining baking time. Cool completely before cutting into bars. If you don’t allow them to cool completely, they will crumble when you try to cut them. Of course if you can’t wait, just eat them warm with a fork. Makes 9 large or 16 small bars.

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