As of yesterday, January 13th, I’ve trialed 18 new-to-me recipes this year! That doesn’t count the numerous, and I mean many, recipe re-tests to get things just right. In fact, these Triple Peanut Butter Cup Bars took me several tries. Every batch was delicious, but some were too crumbly, some a little too sweet, but these are just right for all of you pb-aholics out there. Oh, and yes, you can make them with almonds or even nut-free – options included!
365 Dairy-Free Recipe Challenge Update
These triple peanut butter cup bars are a success from my personal 365 New Dairy-Free Recipe Challenge for 2016. My goal is to trial at least 365 new-to-me recipes this year, and that doesn’t even count all of the retesting I am doing to perfect many of those dishes.
My New Dairy-Free Recipe Trials for January 7th through 13th:
- Banana Nut Bread Baked Oatmeal (a few trials and success!)
- Spanish Fried Rice with Bacon and Sweet Potatoes (yum!)
- Thai Turkey Salad (Sun Basket)
- Steak Chimichurri with Winter Greens Salad (Sun Basket)
- Coconut-Braised Cod with Broken Rice (Sun Basket)
- “Milk” Sausage Gravy (success!)
- Gluten-Free, Vegan Cream Biscuits (almost there – sharing this with the gravy next week!)
Just barely eeked in my one per day! I need to up my game in the weeks ahead as I have some travel sneaking up. The ones noted as “Sun Basket” are a prize I won for a healthy recipe / food delivery service (most of what we got was paleo!) where they send you the ingredients and a recipe to follow. It was fun to try out and got me to experiment with some new dinner recipes – man were those salads big!
These Peanut Butter Cup Bars are actually the result of several testing batches of the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Granola Bars that I posted about last week in my 365 Recipe Post: Skinny Gluten Free Hamburger Buns. All rounds were delicious, but I wanted bars that were chewy, crispy, cohesive at room temperature and when chilled, loaded with peanut butter, and a little indulgent. I finally succeeded …
Special Diet Notes: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Bars
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, soy-free, optionally vegan / plant-based, and vegetarian.
For peanut-free almond butter cup bars, substitute almond butter for the peanut butter and use sliced almonds in place of the peanuts.
For nut-free sun-butter cup bars, substitute sunflower seed butter for the peanut butter (most versions will make them a little sweeter) and use another 1/2 cup of the crispy rice cereal in place of the peanuts.
For less nutty peanut butter cup bars, swap a simple melted chocolate drizzle or glaze for the peanut butter-chocolate frosting. Optionally swap the peanuts with 1/2 cup of additional crispy rice cereal.
- ½ cup honey or agave nectar (for strict vegan)*
- ½ cup + 3 tablespoons creamy natural peanut butter, divided**
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 ¼ cups cocoa (or plain) crispy rice cereal (I used One Degree Veganic Sprouted Brown Rice Cacao Crisps)
- ½ cup chopped roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 to 1 ½ cups quick oats (certified gluten-free, if needed)
- ¾ cup dairy-free, semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life Mini Chocolate Chips)**
- Place the honey in a medium pot over medium heat. Bring it to a simmer and let bubble until it reaches about 245ºF (give or take 5 degrees), about 3 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and stir in ½ cup of the peanut butter and the coconut oil until smooth.
- Stir in the crispy rice cereal and the peanuts. Stir in 1 cup of the quick oats. Stir in additional, as needed - I usually end up using 1¼ cups, but you might want to pack in more. All bits should be nicely coated.
- Press the mixture firmly and evenly into a greased 8x8-inch dish (do not use coconut oil to grease it!). Place the dish in the refrigerator to cool.
- Place the chocolate chips and the remaining 3 tablespoons peanut butter in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave another 30 seconds on HIGH. Stir until smooth. If not fully melted, heat in 15 second intervals, stirring in between, until just melted.
- Remove the bars from the refrigerator and pour on as much of the chocolate-peanut butter mixture as you like. You may have extra.
- Place the dish back in the refrigerator to set up, about 20 minutes.
- Cut into squares or bars. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week (they will be softer but should be cohesive), in the refrigerator (my favorite, I like them chilled), or they can be frozen. If frozen, let warm up a few minutes before digging in - they get a little crispy!
**If you want just a thin coating of the chocolate-peanut butter topping, reduce the ingredient amounts in the topping to 2 tablespoons peanut butter and ½ cup chocolate chips.