Ah, love! Valentine’s Day is creeping up on us, and is the perfect time to celebrate your love, whether it be romantic, parental, dog-focused, whatever! The point is to let your loved ones know they are loved, and Sarah is back with more treats to help you drive home the message (but not to your dogs this time). These bars are easy to make and would be a perfect project with the kids, but your significant other will love them, too! Teach us how to love, Sarah!
Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day. Of all the mushy Hallmark holidays, this is the big one. And if you want your beloved someone to know just how gooey sweet your feelings are, do I have a recipe for you! Better yet, it involves very little actual cooking or baking. After making this recipe a few times, it’s easy to eyeball the amounts you need.
Sweet and salty recipes are a great boon to the baking world. With the saltiness to cut through, the sweet element can be even sweeter, and these cookies have a great crunch to go with the ultra smooth chocolate topping. This recipe (adapted from here) does require a food processor if you want a smooth caramel, and pulsing the peanuts and peanut butter cups a few times is going to help these bar cookies hold together better.
These Salted Caramel Peanut Stack Bars are an ideal treat this Valentine’s Day! Share the love!
Salted Caramel Peanut Stack Bars
¾ cup butter
¾ cup honey
1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup whipped topping
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (16-20 graham crackers)
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 cups chocolate peanut butter cups
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 ½ cups chocolate chips
1/3 cup butterscotch chips
1/3 cup Nutella
Start by lining a 13×9 baking pan with foil. This will keep everything from sticking and help hold your bars together while they set. Arrange a single layer of crackers flat on the bottom.
Combine butter, honey, brown sugar, and whipped topping in a saucepan, bringing to a boil. Keep an eye on it and stir often. While this is going on, pulse your graham crackers into a fine dust. Set aside and put your peanuts in the food processor for a few seconds – you want smallish pieces, but not a fine dust. Set those aside and run your peanut butter cups through the food processor for a few seconds.
Once your caramel has started to boil, stir constantly and add your graham cracker crumbs. Let this simmer for about 5 minutes, then add the vanilla and sea salt.
Make sure you are completely ready with the peanut butter cups and peanuts at this point, because the next parts happen fast. Pour half the mixture over your crackers, doing your best to spread evenly (this part is tricky). Before the caramel starts to cool, spread the chopped peanuts in a thin layer, then the peanut butter cups.
Pour the second half of the caramel mixture on top of the peanut butter cups. This is trickier to spread evenly, since your peanuts and peanut butter cups aren’t solidly set or attached to anything. It doesn’t need to be perfect! Press a second layer of crackers on top.
Melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, until melted. Stir in the Nutella. Spread this in a thick, even layer on top.
Pop your bars in the fridge for at least 4 hours to set. Even after cutting, these are best kept in a cool place, or the refrigerator, until you’re ready to serve.
It’s hard to know how to classify these, exactly – half cookie, half fudge, completely a delightful, gooey, salty-sweet treat. The salty crackers, peanuts, and caramel easily stand up to the richness of the chocolate butterscotch hazelnut topping and peanut butter cup layer for a surprisingly well-balanced bite. They’re easiest eaten in small 1-inch squares, not cut into brownie-sized bars. Cutting these is tricky, but a very large, very sharp knife seems to be the best way to do it. If your bars are falling apart, press the pieces together as best you can. These are great as gifts in a little tin, or wrapped up in cello paper with a pretty ribbon and tag. Every time I’ve made these, some want to fall apart, but I’ve never brought home leftovers from an event!
What are your slam dunk cookie recipes to give as gifts? Are you aboard the salty-sweet dessert train? Happy Valentine’s Day!