This has got to be one of my favorite recipe titles. The name just says it all, doesn’t it? You get the visual… TRIPLE LAYER. Then get reeled in with that one dessert ingredient that gets everyone salivating… PEANUT BUTTER. And to finish it off.. CRUNCH!
Not only does the recipe name tell it as it is, the bars themselves truly rock! I can’t think of a better treat for Sunday’s big game- or any time you need a big batch of deliciousness. A crispy, crunchy, chocolaty cookie base. Creamy, peanut buttery filling. Topped off with a super simple, super decadent, glossy chocolate layer. This is the ULTIMATE bar!
And WHO doesn’t LOVE chocolate + peanut butter?
Well, I do know one. My middle kiddo, but I swear she is an anomaly. At age 5, after eating peanut butter and nuts for her whole life, she declared she was over them! No more PB&J’s for school lunch!
(Side note, she still LOVES Nutella, even after we broke it to her that swimming in all that chocolaty goodness are whirled up hazelnuts. AND she was okay with it. 😂 Go figure).
Anyway, most of us love the classic combo of PB and chocolate. So much so that there happen to be a TON of ways out there to get your fix!
So why make my recipe? The CRUNCHY cookie crust, of course! Those other one-note bars got nothin’ on these, let me tell you. My Triple Layer Bars have an irresistible contrast of smooth and crunch that you will absolutely ADORE!
Can I Make These Peanut Butter Crunch Bars Ahead?
For sure! They freeze beautifully for up to a month, and can also be stored in the fridge for two weeks. My guess is, they won’t last that long!
Are There Any Substitutions or Additions?
- You can use crunchy peanut butter if you’d like it to be more toothsome.
- If you want just a little more crunch, but not a lot, sprinkle chopped peanuts on the top chocolate layer after you spread it on.
- You could brown the butter used in the crust. Let it cool slightly before using it. I’m not entirely sure it’s worth it here, as the peanut butter dominates the flavor profile, but if you’re a brown butter lover then go for it!
Any Other Tips When Making These Peanut Butter Crunch Bars??
- These are very soft at room temperature. Popping them in the freezer before cutting and plating is a must! And see note 4, below, on serving temperature.
- I like to cut these into small squares for easy snacking, but you can cut them into any size you wish. Squares, rectangles, big, small, it’s up to you!
- I used a natural, no-stir peanut butter when testing this recipe. Check your label as certain brands may have added sugar and salt, which could affect the flavor of the filling. I recommend trying to find a brand that does not have added sugar, which could result in a too-sweet bar. If that’s all you have, you may want to decrease the sugar in the recipe, and may not need the ½ teaspoon of salt in the filling.
- My husband loves these straight from the freezer. I prefer them with a little chill on them, but not totally frozen. You’ll discover your own favorite temp🌡️ My suggestion though is to serve them at least slightly chilled- it doesn’t take long for them to come up to room temp for those that enjoy theirs when the peanut butter is the softest.
Watch me make my Triple Layer Peanut Butter Crunch Bars:
Triple Layer Peanut Butter Crunch Bars
For the crust:
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 3 cups ground chocolate cookies I use Annie’s chocolate bunnies, one full 7.6 ounce box
- ¼ cup brown sugar
For the filling:
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- 1 ½ cups creamy peanut butter I use an organic, no-stir peanut butter but pick your favorite brand
- 6 tablespoons butter at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
For the chocolate topping:
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups bittersweet chocolate chips use between 62% and 72% if possible
- 1 tablespoon softened butter
- Preheat the oven to 375. Line a 9 x 12” baking pan with heavy duty aluminum foil.
- In a food processor, finely grind the chocolate cookies so that you have 3 cups. (As noted in the ingredients, I use a full box of Annie’s Chocolate Bunnies which is close to a half pound of cookies). Add the brown sugar and pulse to combine, then pour in the melted butter. Process for about 15 seconds.
- Dump the mixture into the lined baking pan and press it in evenly across the bottom of the pan. Bake for 7-9 minutes then remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- Make the filling. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the powdered sugar, peanut butter, softened butter and ½ teaspoon of salt. Start the mixer slowly so that the powdered sugar does not end up all over your counters, then increase the speed to medium and beat until it is a smooth paste. This could take a few minutes. Just keep beating, and increase the speed as it starts to come together to get it really nice and creamy.
- Spread the peanut butter mixture onto the completely cooled crust, using a small offset spatula or butter knife to spread it evenly. Place in the freezer while you make the chocolate topping.
- In a small saucepan, warm the cream until it just begins to simmer. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate chips, making sure they are fully submerged. Wait 4 minutes, then stir with a whisk until smooth and glossy. If it doesn’t come together right away, keep whisking vigorously and it will get there. Whisk the butter into the chocolate until smooth. Let it cool down, or place in the refrigerator for a few minutes, so that it does not melt the peanut butter layer when you spread it on top.
- When the chocolate has cooled to room temperature, pour it onto the peanut butter filling and spread it out evenly. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes for easier cutting. Once it's set up (chilled through), remove from the pan using the foil like handles, and carefully pull the foil away from the sides. Cut into squares and enjoy!
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