Crispy, chewy, peanut buttery, chocolatey deliciousness all wrapped up in a neat little bar! Perfect for holiday dessert trays, sharing with family and friends, and generally making your life better. These Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars are my family’s go-to Christmas treat!
My family has many Christmas traditions, and I am a firm believer in sticking to them. I guess you could call me a holiday traditionalist, but I prefer the term “holiday enthusiast.” As a family we trim the tree together, do the holiday shopping together (breaking off in pairs to keep the gifts secret, of course), and most importantly, my mother and I would do the holiday baking.
One of the earliest memories I have of myself in the kitchen is helping my mother and grandmother bake Christmas treats. I think I must have been around 6 or 7 years old. This was long before I figured out that my mom and aunt were signing letters to me as Mr Claus, before I stopped believing that snow had magical properties, and before I figured out that Christmases spent in tropical locations just weren’t the same. I was the designated quality-checker, spoon-licker, and chocolate chip dumper, and I took my jobs very seriously. Not one spoon went unlicked nor one chocolate chip escape while I was on duty.
Over the course of a weekend, the three of us would make our family’s holiday staples: my great-grandmother’s shortbread, butterscotch marshmallow squares, butter and mincemeat tarts, thimble cookies filled with raspberry jam, and these amazing Crispy Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars. While I didn’t get the chance to make these squares until I was much older (I wasn’t allowed near the stove top), they have always been one of my favourite Christmas treats. As soon as I can smell these bars bubbling away on the stove, I immediately get into the Christmas spirit.
much older now and our family dynamic has changed, baking these bars always remind me of sharing that time with my grandmother and the traditions my family built and cherished over the years. I hope to share these traditions with my future family so that my children also experience the joy and memories of licking spoons clean and stealing piping hot cookies from the tray.
To be honest with you, I’m not sure where this recipe originated. All I have to go on is a folded and stained recipe that was faxed (yes, faxed) to us from my aunt back in 1998. It calls for a wicked combination of smooth peanut butter, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, rice cereal, and semi-sweet chocolate. Can’t go wrong with that, can you?!
I’ve changed the recipe up a bit to suit the natural baking theme of my blog, but I’ve kept the original flavours and textures in tact. Instead of corn syrup and brown sugar, we use honey and raw cane sugar and I’ve used natural peanut butter instead of peanut butter with extra oils, sugars, and salt. As for the cereal, I found a great brown rice substitute for the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies we normally use. One Degree Organic Foods’ Sprouted Brown Rice Crisps are organic, all-natural, and only contain four ingredients: brown rice, coconut palm sugar, salt, and tocopherol. Tocopherol is a natural antioxidant made from sunflower oil that helps keep food fresh. It’s otherwise known as vitamin E, and aids in immune function and combats cardiovascular disease.* They retain the same crispness of Rice Krispies without all the added sugar. I also switched out the semi-sweet chocolate — which can contain a heap of added sugar — for quality dark chocolate.
These chocolate peanut butter bars are steeped in my family’s holiday traditions, and now I want to know what Christmas treat resonates with you on a traditional level!
To get the ball rolling, I asked a bunch of my Canadian blogger friends to share their own holiday goodies and the stories that went along with them. This little collaboration is what we created! Think of these anecdotes and treats as our Christmas gift to you. If you liked my post and this recipe, make sure to visit some of my friends’ recipes below and leave some holiday cheer on their blogs! And if you happen to make any of our treats, share them with us on social media using the hashtag #CdnBloggerTraditions!
Happy Holidays from my family to yours!
- 6 tbsp (85g) unsalted butter
- ½ cup smooth natural peanut butter
- ⅔ cup raw cane sugar
- ⅓ cup honey
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups brown rice crisp cereal*
- 1 cup peanuts, finely chopped
- 1 cup (120g) good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- ⅓ cup smooth natural peanut butter
- Grease and line a 9 x 9 inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang of about 2 inches for easy removal.
- In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the butter, peanut butter, sugar, honey, and vanilla extract. Whisk the ingredients together until all of the sugar has melted and the mixture is smooth. Do not boil. Remove from the heat and fold in the rice crisp cereal and chopped peanuts. Stir until the dry ingredients are well coated. Transfer the contents to the prepared pan and smooth out to the corners, pressing down slightly to fill in any gaps. Allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes and then place in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
- While the first layer is chilling, create a double boiler and add the chocolate and remaining peanut butter. Melt the two together and stir until smooth and combined. Remove the chilled layer from the refrigerator and pour the chocolate mixture over top. Working quickly, spread the chocolate layer to the edges and smooth the top. Place the bar back in the refrigerator for 2 hours (or overnight) to set. Once the bar has set, slice it into 16 equal squares.
- The bars will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week; bring to room temperature before serving. They will keep frozen in the same manner for up to 3 months.
Apple Cider Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce by One Tough Cookie
Butterscotch Peanut Butter Marshmallow Squares by My Kitchen Love
Caribbean Sorrel by Chew Street
Chocolate Truffle Hedgehogs by Cocoa Bean, The Vegetable
Coco-Kalikimaka Cookies by The Chewy Life
Gingerbread Cake with Maple Whipped Cream (Vegan) by The Refreshanista
Gingerbread Cake with Warm Caramel Glaze by Eat, Live, & Play
Peppermint Chocolate Snowball Truffles by The Busy Baker
Polish Gingerbread Cookies (Pierniczki Tradycyjne) by Liv for Cake
Vegan Caramel Popcorn by The Viet Vegan
*Higdon, Jane. “Vitamin E.” Micronutrient Information Center. Linus Pauling Institute: Oregon State University. Available Online. 9 December 2015.