Taking PB&J to a whole new level! Crunchy chocolate pretzel crust, raspberry awesomeness, creamy ‘butter’ filling, and decadent chocolate ganache make these bars over the top CRAZY!
So this recipe is one of those “I need something sweet and I don’t care if I have to eat peanut butter out of the jar” type of recipes. Actually full disclosure, that’s how this recipe came to be. I was starving and wanted something sweet but also something fast. Peanut butter! Peanut butter is my go-to dessert/sweet/protein/just-get-it-in-my-mouth-as-fast-as-possible food. I was in my kitchen, working on some recipes but didn’t have time to make myself something real to eat so out came the spoon and jar of peanut butter.
Yes, I’m one of THOSE people who eat peanut butter out of the jar. It’s my jar so I can do whatever I want. So I’m sitting there, happy as a little piggy with a newly found mud puddle when I “accidentally” grabbed the spoon from the jar of cookie butter. It wasn’t intentional though I can’t say if it wasn’t subliminal. Anyway I was like “OH! Well that’s a nice surprise!” You see I was working on my Ultimate Cookie Butter Cream pie and had it out along with a big bowl of ganache at the time.
So there I am, in the kitchen a spoon in each hand and a fretted look on my face as I really needed a third hand to scoop the ganache. That’s when I decided to whip up a few buckeyes. Well about halfway through making the filling I decided to incorporate the cookie butter and then I realized I needed a textural element thus the pretzels. See while I like traditional buckeyes, I prefer a crunch to them so often I’ll add pretzels to it or rice cereal.
Well, then I butterflied and got to working on something else as the filling sat on my counter with the pretzels to the side. When I came back to it I honesty mixed up my recipes and made this crust with the raspberry preserves on top and poured the filling on top of it. This crust with preserves actually was meant for another recipe but I was out in left field that I just put the crazy filling on top of it. By the time I was halfway through spreading it out I realized I made a boo-boo… or did I???
I just went with the flow and figured if it sucked I could pitch it or at least pick out the filling (which is HEAVENLY!).
Into the freezer the pan went and I went about finishing up my cooking butter recipe. I then realized I made way too much ganache (like that’s ever a bad thing, really!) Now I don’t know about you but when it comes to peanut butter and chocolate I actually prefer dark chocolate versus milk chocolate. I like the contrast in flavors. So to the ganache I added more dark chocolate to richen it up. Out of the freezer came the pan, and the chocolate ganache river began to run all over the crazy filling.
Seriously it took some serious willpower to not dig in right there. As soon as that chocolate hit that filling you could smell that warm cookie butter/peanut butter aroma and it was HEAVENLY! And yes when I wrote that I totally sang “Heavenly!” in my head in a high church-lady type voice. LOL
That night, after dinner, Mr. Fantabulous asked what’s for dessert. When I gave him his options he made the “nah” face which normally would have bothered me but not this time as it meant this pan of deliciousness was ALL MINE! He opted to go for sherbet (do you pronounce it ‘sherbert” or “sherbet”?) and I for this. As I sliced into it I could see him watching me out of the corner of his eye. When he asked what it was all I said was “you won’t like it”. Now in prior years, he would have been OK with that answer but throughout the years the man as gotten wise to my responses when I really don’t want to share.
As I sat next to him he asked for a bite. He then said, after he took a bite, “Not bad but does it have that cookie stuff in it that I don’t like?” When I told him yes he said “Yeah, it would be awesome with just the peanut butter but not that other crap.” LOL Oh how I love the fact that he calls cookie butter “crap”. Again, it means more for me. See where I’m going here folks? Now I, personally, loved the combination of cookie butter and peanut butter but in case you were wondering this is delicious with just cookie butter or just peanut butter filling.
I know… I made 2 more trays. Wha??? I had to test it out! Plus the guys at work inhaled these and said they’d steal my car if I didn’t bring more in. LOL
These Crack Bars are honestly no bake but if you see, there is an egg in the crust. When you temper the egg you’re adding a trace amount of hot liquid to the egg while whisking rapidly. This motion allows you to “cook” the egg without scrambling or curdling it. So the egg is cooked in this recipe by you tempering it.
I had someone once describe these as “If a buckeye, jar of jelly and a bag of pretzels were given to Satan and he was told to make something truly sinful. This is what he’d create!” I’ll take that!
Now what about change ups or add ins?
I love tweaking recipes – even my own! For the pretzels you can totally go with riced cereal, chopped peanuts (roast them first), corn chips, cookie chunks (yes, chopped cookies rock in this!). For the raspberry layer you can go with any thick preserve or homemade filling. I often make my own raspberry filling: 4 cups of raspberries plus 1 cup of sugar in a pot. Bring to a boil. Make a slurry of 4 Tbl cornstarch and 3 Tbl water. Stir that in for 1 minute exactly. Remove from the heat. It will thicken upon cooling.
Also if you didn’t want to make ganache you could totally go with chocolate buttercream.
This holiday season, show up to a party with a tray of these and watch them quickly be devoured. What I would do is make a batch of all 3: cookie, peanut butter and crazy and let the guests decide which is best. But don’t be upset if they all go and you’re left holding an empty tray.Print
- 8 Tbl butter, unsalted
- 1/3 cup dutch-processed cocoa
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups finely crushed pretzels (measure after you crush them) – do not make into a powder; just make into small pieces
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2/3 cup cookie butter or peanut butter (or go 1/3 cup of each! To go CRAZY!)
- 8 Tbl butter, unsalted and softened
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 cup raspberry preserves
- 1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup milk chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Line an 8×8 pan with foil leaving a 1” overhang. Butter the foil and set aside.
- To make the crust, add the 8 Tbl of butter to a double boiler. Once the butter has melted whisk in the cocoa and sugar until smooth. Temper the egg by adding a little bit of the chocolate mixture to the egg whisking constantly. Once whisked in, add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture and whisk until thick and shiny. This will take ~3-4 minutes; do not stop whisking.
- Remove the bowl from the double boiler and add in the pretzels working quickly to stir in. Pour the mixture into the lined pan; spread out evenly and press down.
- Spread out the raspberry preserves on top and place the pan into the freezer to set for 20 minutes.
- While the crust is cooling, make the Crazy filling by whipping together the 8 Tbl of butter with the cookie butter/peanut butter/both mixture until creamy. Add in the confectioners’ sugar and whip until light and fluffy. Remove the crust from the freezer and gently spread out the ‘butter’ filling on top of the preserves. Drop small dollops on and slowly spread out. *To spread it out more easily, wet your fingertips and gently dab the filling into place. Place the pan into the freezer while you make the ganache
- Place the chopped chocolate in a large glass bowl; set aside. Put the cream into a pot over medium-low heat until it starts to boil around the edges, remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Allow the mixture to sit undisturbed for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk or stir to smooth out and incorporate.
- Remove the pan from the freezer, pour the ganache over top of the crazy filling and smooth out. Place the pan, uncovered, in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set.
- To serve, lift the bars out the pan with the foil and using a warm, sharp knife, cut. Store any leftovers in the fridge, covered.