This will be your go-to treat for parties from now on, trust me!
We’ve talked about my views on football. If you thought they might have changed over the past four years, I’m sorry to disappoint, but I’m still only here for the snacks. My boyfriend and my family, my friends, and most of the American population are major football fanatics, though. They can rattle off stats and informed opinions about plays and rant about fumbles and deflated balls (is that still a topical reference?) but you know what? When it comes to watching the Super Bowl, they’re also there for the snacks. No matter how much you love watching your team do its thing, you love it just a little bit more when you’re watching and eating.
It was the day before the Super Bowl that I decided to whip these chocolate peanut butter pretzel bars up. My boyfriend and I were hosting a party for the event. (Side note – do any other Celiacs or gluten-free eaters out there always prefer to host? Life’s so much easier when you can control the majority of the food.) I was whipping up a savory pizza dip (this one will change your life) and wanted to put out something sweet, too. It can be daunting to make 30+ cookies, though, and people often feel glutinous eating a cupcake. I wanted something that could easily provide enough for a crowd, and something people would feel was more of a sweet snack than a true dessert.
They taste like a Reese’s, but crunchier and a little bit saltier…therefore making them twice as addictive as a real Reese’s Cup! Peanut butter, powdered sugar, and a whole bag of crushed up pretzels make up the base layer, while a topping of melted chocolate and (of course) more peanut butter spreads out to the perfect finish.
The taste is the best part. Full stop. But the second best part is how easy these bars are to make! When you’re about to have a house full of people, an oven full of bubbly cheese, and you’ve still got your signature cocktail to mix up because you’re very extra and it sounded like a good idea at the time, you need something that doesn’t take too much effort.
Get out your pre-party angst (because you realize you meant to buy six limes and you only bought five, or whatever other reasons you might have) by bashing up a bag of pretzels. Or, get out your food processor and throw them in there. Small kitchen = I’d rather not bring out an appliance if I don’t have to. You don’t want the pretzels to be entirely dust. Nicely crushed up with some pretzel dust is what you’re going for. Here’s my pro-tip: I’ve made these several times now, and I always like them better with the Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pretzel Twists. I’ve used Glutino pretzels and Snyder’s GF pretzels, they turn out totally fine. Trader Joe’s just work better for me and I can’t explain why, but if you have the option, I’d go with them.
You’ll mix up the crushed pretzel/pretzel dust with peanut butter, powdered sugar, and melted butter. Either get your workout for the day in mixing by hand, or use your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Up to you. If the mix is looking a little too wet, pour in some more crushed pretzels. The mix should look like a thick cookie dough, still spreadable, but not wet.
Spread it onto a 9×13 rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Don’t skip that step. You can probably use tin foil that you’ve also buttered or greased, but I really think parchment paper is the key here. You might not fully reach every single edge, but that’s okay. Do your best to make it an even thickness all the way around. Then you’ll pour your topping on (remember, melted chocolate and peanut butter – also the working title of my memoir) and spread it around evenly.
Now comes the hardest part. Put that pan in the fridge for a couple hours and wait it out. Make your signature cocktail. Don your gameday finest. Eat a bunch of cheese. Live your life. After it’s hardened, take it out and slice it up. I got really exact when I first made it and measured slices out using a tape measurer. That’s who I am as a person, but please don’t be like me. Eyeball it. Cut lengthwise and widthwise in whatever size increments make the most sense to you. Uneven edges that don’t look perfect or don’t have the chocolate topping? Those are your taste-testing bites. You’ve earned them.
Don’t just reserve these perfect peanut butter treats for football days, though. Whip these bad boys out for book clubs, for office parties, for Tuesdays, for anything. They keep in the fridge for several days, so even though one pan will make a LOT of bars, you’ll get a LOT of enjoyment.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars
Prep: 10 minutes Cool: 2 hours Makes: ~100 bars
12 tablespoons butter, melted
3 cups pretzels, crushed (plus up to one cup more if mix looks too wet)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/4 cups peanut butter (if using natural peanut butter, will need to increase pretzels and powdered sugar)
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1. Line a rimmed 9×13 baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Crush pretzels either manually or with a food processor until they are all finely crushed, but not entirely dust.
3. Mix melted butter, pretzels, powdered sugar, and one cup peanut butter in a large bowl. Stir by hand until all incorporated or beat together with paddle attachment in stand mixer. If mixture looks too wet, add in more crushed pretzels. Should be the consistency of thick cookie dough.
4. Press the mixture firmly into the parchment paper lined pan. Spread into an even thickness.
5. Melt 1/4 cup peanut butter and chocolate chips together. Stir well to combine. Pour over bars and spread with spatula to coat.
6. Chill for at least one hour. Slice into bars. Serve immediately or store sliced bars in fridge.
Bars will keep in fridge for four days.