Soft and chewy peanut butter cookie bars are topped with creamy caramel (Dulce de Leche) and rich chocolate ganache. Add a sprinkling of chopped peanuts and Reese's Peanut Butter cups to make these peanut butter caramel cookie bars over-the-top delicious!
If you love peanut butter, caramel, and chocolate, you are going to go nuts over these caramel peanut butter cookie bars. I sure did!
Both are easy to make using a bowl and spoon (no mixer needed) and are topped with a layer of Dulce de Leche, a creamy caramel made from sweetened condensed milk that can be purchased in cans or jars.
Once the Dulce de Leche is spread over a cookie bar, it holds its shape nicely and adds an amazing caramel flavor. To make these Dulce de Leche Peanut Butter Bars, I started by making our peanut butter cookie recipe and baked the cookie dough in an 8-inch square pan.
Of course, I couldn't stop there. I also added a layer of silky smooth chocolate ganache on top of the caramel. The deep dark chocolate flavor balances out the sweetness of the caramel.
For fun, I topped the cookie bars with chopped peanuts and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. YUM!
The peanut butter cookie bars are super easy to make using a bowl and spoon (or silicone spatula, which is what I like to use).
Let's make some cookie bars.
- mixing bowl
- silicone spatula (or wooden spoon)
- 8-inch square baking pan
- non-stick tin foil (or parchment paper)
- offset spatula, optional
- small saucepan
- Use your favorite peanut butter. The flavor will shine through in these cookies.
- Do not overmix the cookie dough once you've added the flour. Just mix it until you don't see any more white streaks. If you overwork your dough, the cookies won't be as tender and soft. They will be rubbery.
- Bake until the edges of the cookie turn golden brown and look and feel set and the center still jiggles slightly but no longer looks wet.
- If the edges of the cookie puff up, press down on them using a metal spatula so that your bars are flat. That will even out the cookie so that your layers of caramel and chocolate look more even.
Topping your peanut butter cookie bars with caramel and chocolate:
- For the caramel layer, you'll simply spread a 13.4-ounce can of Dulce de Leche over the cookie. It's that easy!
- If you are using a larger jar (14-15.8 ounces) of Dulce de Leche, feel free to spread the entire jar over the cookie bars. Your caramel layer will be slightly thicker and no one will complain about that!
- To make chocolate ganache the easy way, just combine heavy whipping cream with semi-sweet chocolate (either finely chopped bars or chocolate chips) in a small saucepan.
- Allow the chocolate to melt slowly over LOW heat until 75% of the chocolate has melted. Then, remove the pan from the stove and stir allowing the residual heat to continue melting the chocolate.
- It is important to use low heat. If you overheat the chocolate, your ganache will become grainy or greasy.
- It should only take about 3-5 minutes for 75% of the chocolate to melt.
- Don't walk away or if you do, set a time.
- Stir the chocolate every minute or so.
I topped these cookie bars with peanut butter cups and peanuts. The toppings look and taste great.
You can use any nuts, candy bars, or sprinkles that you like. Just be sure to add the toppings while the chocolate ganache is warm. It begins to firm up rather quickly.