Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookie Bars: Whew, that's a mouthful!

ChocPBpretzelBar

I have a new best friend, and his name is Spencer. Want to know how we became BFFs? It’s all about the magical break room upstairs at King Arthur Flour.

On days when you’re blogging or baking in the kitchen, it’s always a bit tricky to go into the break room upstairs next to the test kitchen.  Sometimes there are one or two folks getting coffee and, spying your apron, they’ll inevitably ask, “Whatcha makin’?”

It isn’t bad to explain your current project to one or two people, but often by the time you’re done sharing, a third and/or fourth person has wandered in, catching only part of the conversation, and they’ll ask you to start again.

The next thing you know, it’s 20 minutes later and your test kitchen teammates are wondering why you aren’t there to shut off your golblasted timer as your cake in the oven starts to wisp smoke.

Back to Spencer, though. I wish you could meet him. He’s a little shy, but has the best sense of humor, and lovely sparkling eyes. I’ve known him in passing for years, and we’ve had a few short conversations in the above-mentioned break room before. But this day was different.

Spencer and Molly, two key merchandising team members, were in the break room as I was headed to the freezer to get out a batch of cookies. As soon as the words “Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookie Bars” were out of my mouth, Spencer turned those big trusting eyes to me and said simply, “You are my new best friend.” It was like being on the playground again, when you offered to share your juice box, or your Matchbox cars. No muss, no fuss, just a genuine offer to be friends based on a mutual love of the good things in life.

How could I not be charmed? Once the bars were sliced I headed over to Spencer’s desk with the first piece on a plate. Despite the fact that there was a casual meeting going on I slipped in, handed Spence the plate, and bid my buddy enjoy. Don’t worry, there were plenty of other samples headed back to the break room, so no one in the meeting missed out.

As a group, we pretty much devoured the panful of these salty sweet goodies in just a few minutes. I’m always happy to share with my co-workers but for me, these cookie bars will always have a special place in my mind, a reminder of good food bringing folks together.

Ready to make a batch for your BFFs? Let’s make Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookie Bars. (Honestly, I think it take longer to say the name than to actually make the bars!)

Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 9″x 13″ baking pan with parchment paper. Leave a little overhang of paper to make “handles” so you can remove the bars more easily later.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl place 1 1/2 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar  and 3/4 cup ground hard pretzels, the snacking kind. I used the salted ones, but brushed off most of the salt.

Sift it through with your clean fingers, then pour in 1/2 cup melted butter, cooled. Use a spoon or your hands to mix everything together until you have a cohesive dough. It shouldn’t be too sticky, nor too dry. Think shortbread dough, which is what it really is.

If the mix is a little dry, add a few teaspoons of water or milk until it comes together.

Press into the prepared pan, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. The crust won’t really brown, but will firm up a bit. Set aside to cool.

For the filling, melt 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler or in the microwave. Remember to stir frequently to avoid scorching.

Add 1 cup peanut butter to the melted chocolate. Doesn’t this look like the most glorious lava flow in the world? Or a choco-peanut-alanche.

Stir until velvety smooth.

Pour the chocolate-y goodness over the crust and spread evenly. Tapping the pan on the counter a few times will settle the filling and cause any bubbles to rise to the surface.

Sprinkle 1 cup coarsely crushed pretzels over the warm chocolate. Tap again to set them into the chocolate.

Place in the freezer for 45 to 60 minutes to firm up completely.

Use your parchment paper handles (aka sling)  to remove the entire tray full of bars from the pan. Use a very sharp knife to cut into squares, rectangles, or just random pieces.

Now, go give Spencer and me a call. We’ll be there with bells on to meet you, our new BFF. And if we can’t make it in person, you know we’ll be there in spirit.

Please make, rate, and review our recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cookie Bars.

Print just the recipe.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. "daisy in nj"

    These look amazing (and quIck to boot)! Can you tell me what a “sling” is? It looks as if it would be handy, but there’s no link to the KAF shopping site.

    LOVE the blog, await it eagerly and earnestly – thanks so much!
    HI Daisy, and others. Sorry for the sling confusion. I’ve gone in to the blog and clarified the parchment paper sling. I hope it helps! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. Dawne S.

    OMG, these things should be called PMS Bars!!! YUM!!!
    hee hee, you are too funny. Chocolate and peanut butter is welcome ANY day, right? ;) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  3. Judith

    What’s a sling? And what is the photo showing using a sling showing? I doesn’t look to have any thing to do with this recipe.
    Sorry for any confusion. When you line the baking pan leave a little overhang of paper to make “handles” so you can remove the bars more easily later. This is also called a “sling” and it makes it very easy to pull a batch of bars or brownies out of the pan in one piece. That is what you are seeing in the photo. Hope this helps! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  4. Kimberly

    So the pretzels for the crust are the hard, sourdough kind? Or the small, snacking ones?

    Hi Kimberly,
    I used the same ones in the crust that I used on the top, the skinny stick-like ones. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  5. Julie

    For those with allergies, do you think you could substitute 1 cup of butterscotch chips for the peanut butter? I would think it would be an even switch, but not sure if it would affect freeze time/moisture content for the cookie layer below.
    If it is a nut allergy, I think you could use the butterscotch chips, and maybe some heavy cream to smooth out the filling. OR make the crust then top it with a batch of Easy Microwave Fudge and more pretzels. ~ MaryJane

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  6. leilaz

    Just wondering…is natural peanut butter okay (as in just ground up peanuts)? Or should I consider getting a Jif or Skippy kind of one for these? Think I’ll be whipping some up soon. Thanks!!
    I haven’t tried with natural peanut butter, but I think it would work out just fine. It is thin enough to mix well with the chocolate and should not cause it to seize. Let us know how it goes. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  7. hntaylor

    I saw this recipe about an hour ago on your facebook post, and da-da, I just made a pan of these since I already had all the ingredients on hand; but I must say that I think I did better using dark chocolate and all natural peanut butter instead! Thanks for the recipe; I was needing to make something easy and inexpensive for my daughter’s lacrosse team and now mission complete! :)
    Would it be too goofy if I said “GOAL!”? ;) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  8. Bridgid

    This is SO up my alley! Now, can we gild the lily and drizzle some carmel on top? Please, please! Add some chopped peanuts?
    Sounds great to me. I did think about the caramel-ness a couple of times, so feel free to jazz it up and run with it girl! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. argentyne

    mmmmmm. chocolate, peanut butter and pretzels.

    One of my all time favorite combinations!

    Sub “toast” for “pretzels” and you have a common breakfast on rushed mornings at my house. :D
    Some unnamed blogger at our house just might put peanut butter and chocolate sprinkles on her toast sometimes, but we will neither confirm or deny just who it may be ;) ~ MaryJane

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  10. aoifeofcheminnoir

    Mmmmm…the kids would like these (alright, alright, so they’re “adult” kids!).
    These led to a discussion as to when was the last time we had “Poor Man’s Turtles” to every pretzel+chocolate+? treat we knew of! Now we’re craving ALL of them!
    Your breakroom taste tester friends are so lucky!
    How about having a sweet and salty party? Dress up either sweet (can you say sequins?) or salty (pirate gear ahoy) , feast on sweet and salty snacks, and watch a romance flick while you all provide the wisecracks. Sounds like a great night to me! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  11. waikikirie

    This looks so good and so easy!!! I’ll be making these pretty darn soon. By the way MaryJane, you, PJ and the rest of the KA gang have been my virtual BFF’s for a long time. teehee….Everytime one of you posts something I love (which is quite often)!!! xoxoxox
    For all of the issues that technology can bring, I truly do love the fact that I have so many friends nowadays, and a good number of them I’ve never met! It is always great to connect with you here waikikirie, the BFF table always has room for one more. <3 ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  12. Gwen

    Oh my.

    Filing this one for the next occasion spent with gluten free friends. Shortbread type stuff generally converts easily since it really doesn’t much rely on gluten and gluten free pretzels are easy to find these days.

    Ok, so this peanut butter fiend may have to try ‘em out before the next gluten free occasion….

    Reply
  13. "grandma ikki"

    Ok, now you’ve gone and done it…..I have drool all over my keyboard!
    Looks like I have to stop and get some pretzels today.
    Thanks for another recipe that I am 100% sure will be a “go to” one for gatherings. (with a few tossed into the freezer for one of the snack attacks that happen once in a while.)

    Reply
  14. Peggy

    I made this and the flavor is great, but the base is way too crumbly. I rechecked the recipe. Any ideas what I did wrong?

    We’re sure you used the right method to measure the flour and used melted butter. In the blog, MJ states if the dough/base “mix is a little dry, add a few teaspoons of water or milk until it comes together”. We hope you give this recipe another try, using the extra liquid as necessary to get a shortbread texture. Happy Baking! Irene@KAF

    Reply
  15. chinchillalover

    Oh my God.My best friend and I were just talking on the phone and 99% of that conversation was about the deliciously unhealthy food we will bake together at an upcoming sleepover.I daresay this shall be added to the list. I’ve already recommended this website to her and I bet she will be visiting in the future. Thank you for yet another mouthwatering recipe.
    This is deadly, isn’t it? It is on my short list for sure! Elisabeth

    Reply
  16. DawneS

    Okay, so I made these last night.
    My fault for using wax paper instead of parchment – DUH.
    The crust mix didn’t SEEM too crumbly, but as I was cutting and handling the bars, the crust separated from the chocolate, so I’m thinking it shoulda been more moist to start with.
    And then – of all things – my friend & I tried them & kinda felt like they were missing something, and she said salt. Which is weird, because I used salted butter and salted pretzels, and the peanut butter probably had salt in it, too (I used the natural kind). So I dunno – that was weird.
    Definitely going to try them again, though.
    Dawne – it may be that the crust was baked too long and/or the bars should allow to defrost a little at room temperature to avoid the separation. If you think it could use more salt, add 1/4 to 1/2 t. to the crust. We hope you will try it again! Elisabeth

    Reply
  17. jms2

    Ah jeeeze….these are so good. How can I make the chocolate shiny looking? Mine has a matte finish.

    You could try adding some corn syrup to the melted chocolate.-Jon

    Reply
  18. Suse

    I love salty and sweet. I love chocolate and peanut butter. So…i had to make this recipe. They were just okay. The crust part was lacking. Concept is good so i might try again by changing the crust recipe. Maybe some peanut butter in the crust. Maybe a different crust – toffee like would be good.
    Toffee crust would be lovely with these. Definitely take the concept and run with it. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  19. LOIS

    Made this over the weekend. It is delicious and a big hit with everyone in the family. But I also had the problem that the crust kept separating from the top. I tried storing at RT and in the fridge to encourage the two parts to adhere to one another, but neither really worked. Delicious but very messy.

    Bake the crust a little less time – this should help provide a surface the chocolate will stick to. We’re looking forward to the next batch of successful results – Happy Baking! Irene@ KAF

    Reply
  20. bsteimle

    I plan on making these next weekend – they sound perfectly scrumptious! My question is, do they have to be frozen to firm up, or will the fridge work just as well (just take longer). Once they have firmed up, do they need to be kept refrigerated or can they be stored at room temp?
    Thanks for yet another amazing recipe!

    strong>These bars can be served frozen, chilled or at room temp. They should be fine stored at room temp. as well – will they last that long? Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  21. WBratton

    These sound amazing. I’m thinking about topping it with bacon with the pretzels.

    yum! I am fully on-board with the idea of bacon! I’d crisp it up thoroughly and sprinkle some with the pretzels. Be sure to keep any you don’t polish off in the first day stored in the fridge to keep the bacon from going bad! You’ll find this might turn the bars a bit on the soggy side, but better soft than unsafe! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  22. bsteimle

    I plan to make this on the weekend – it sounds absolutely scrumptious.
    Your instructions say to firm this up in the freezer – is that just for speed or can it be put in the fridge? Also, once it is ready, does it have to stay refrigerated or can it stay at room temperature?

    The freezer is a speed thing. You can serve this treat frozen, chilled or at room temp, and can store it where it best suits your needs! Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  23. mjhdmrdyer

    I made these as soon as I saw the post…. family loved them, though I thought they were too crumbly. Second time I made them I made a shortbread base (laced with vanilla paste), used a dark chocolate and mixed it with chunky pb. Then crumbled just a couple pretzels on top and a few flakes of fleur de sel. YUM. The freezer method moved process along. Also, cutting a shortbread base was less crumbly. Nothing against crumbs mind you, just needed less milk to wash it all down. Keep your recipes coming. I LOVE baking and trying everything!
    I like the idea of the chunky pb. My hubby just bought two new jars, so I think this might get added to our weekend plans. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  24. "Barbara S"

    I made these on Monday morning for my co-workers right across the river from you in Hanover…. sorry I didn’t drop any off on the way by. My crust was a little crumblier than I wished but I did use the white whole wheat flour. Wondered if that would make a difference?? I made a double batch and they are gone. I don’t have freezer space so I put them outside for a while to firm up! Not a problem this week.
    Hi Barbara,
    Spencer and I will forgive you just this once for not sharing. ;) . If you used whole wheat flour, it would make the crust drier. Add an extra tablespoon of butter, or a touch of milk to make the crust hold together better. Dry winter weather can also make your flour drier, so you may not need to do this once there is more moisture in the air. You know, for when you make them next time and bring us samples. Shall we say, in June? ;) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  25. "Barbara S"

    Thanks, I did add a little more butter but not enough. Wheat flour, wood stove heat, so yeah June! Thanks

    You bet, Barbara! Try a little milk, too. That will really help things stay moist: add 1-2 Tbs at the same time you work in the butter. Best, Kim@KAF

    Reply
  26. essiemyra

    I made these today and they are delicious, but the crust was too crumbly when I cut them coming apart from the chocolate. They are very quick and easy to make satisifying the salty sweet snack in one treat. Thank-you
    While I did not have trouble with a crumbly crust, I have noticed some bakers commenting that they did. If you do have trouble with the crust being a little dry, add a tablespoon or two of milk and that should take care of it. Glad you enjoyed them. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  27. Erin

    I thought the idea and flavors of these were great, but they were a bit of a disaster for me. I couldn’t get the chocolate layer to harden properly, even after 1.5 hours in the freezer. Perhaps because I used natural peanut butter? Then, when I tried to cut the bars, the bottom layer crumbled and fell off from the still-gooey chocolate layer. Don’t worry, I ate them with a spoon, but I am puzzling over how things went so wrong. Any tips?
    Hello Erin – We have got to get this right so you will not miss out! Yes, probably using natural PB is where the recipe went wrong. How about making a blend of natural and Skippy (my favorite) or sticking with straight Skippy or your favorite brand. Try again and please come on back with the results. Elisabeth

    Reply
  28. Skippy

    Could I use dark brown sugar instead of confectioners sugar? I love the flavor of brown sugar and try to sneak it into everything. Would I do a straight up swap or would I need to adjust the measurement? Thanks!!

    You can certainly give it a try, it is not something we have done before in this recipe. I would add a few (2-3) tsp of additional flour if you replace the full amount to make up for the excess moisture.-Jon

    Reply
  29. Skippy

    Just a report back–thanks for the tip about adding extra flour when using brown sugar. That made a lot of sense. I still had some initial trouble with the crust, though. I found myself flummoxed by the note in the recipe that we should aim for a “soft dough.” When I hear that term, I think of a dough that I can gather up into a smooth ball. Instead, I had a dough that I could pinch into clumps, but didn’t hang together as a whole (note: I’m a very experienced baker, but as is often the case in any art, it’s the things that seem simple which are often the most difficult). I added four tablespoons of milk, then finally thought I better just plow ahead and press it into the pan. And you know what? It came out all right–I didn’t have any trouble with crumbliness when I cut the bars. So the lesson may be add more liquid when in doubt, and bake the bare minimum time (I took them out at ten minutes exactly).

    And while I’m rambling on, some other thoughts. I felt there wasn’t much of a peanut buttery flavor, but I think that may be because I used some standard issue Jif, as that’s what the recipe recommended, but I’m used to eating natural peanut butter, and that has a stronger peanut taste. Maybe a blend of the two types would work?

    I also think that if I was making these again, I would try to add to the flavor by adding a layer of caramel onto the crust before putting on the chocolate-peanut butter mix. Or maybe I would use a peanut butter caramel with the chocolate instead of straight peanut butter.

    Some other advice (if anyone makes it this far): check for saltiness. I had a bad bag of pretzels, with plenty of barely salted sticks, so I ended up dusting the top with sea salt and that helped bring out the chocolate flavor. The salt really makes a difference here, so don’t skimp. Also, think about what size squares you want when you break up the pretzels for the topping; if you want to cut very small squares (these are pretty rich), make sure you break the pretzels into very small pieces, so you don’t find yourself trying to hack through too long pretzels when you’re cutting the bars.

    Finally, I should note that I made these for a friend to take to a party and she said they all disappeared very quickly and everyone loved them. So despite the musings above, I would say that it’s a pretty successful recipe as is and is an especially fine option for summer when you don’t want the oven on for long!

    Goodness! What a review, thank you! I love the idea of a peanut butter caramel. I also use a very good PB from Michigan (shout out to Koeze’s, they make brilliant peanut butter! CANNOT beat that flavor by a mile) and I think it makes all the difference, Skippy. And great note on the pretzel size: you’d think some things would be apparent and using smaller pieces would make sense for cutting practices, but the clear things can sometimes be all-too cloudy! We appreciate the in-depth words and hope the next batch+ caramel turns out the best! Kim@KAF

    Reply
  30. Jan

    Years ago I bought a 9″ x 13″ spring form pan to use for all my brownies and bar cookies. Lining it with parchment paper means I can easily slide the cookies onto a baking sheet for cutting and has the added bonus of being able to use the pan almost immediately for another batch or variety of cookies. It worked so well that I bought a 9″ x 9″ square pan too!

    Reply

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