Yikes. This post marks the latest of three consecutive recipes featuring peanut butter as a main ingredient. Although this repetition was not my conscious intention, I doubt that any of you are complaining… am I right?! [Unless you have a legume intolerance/allergy, in which case I am very, very sorry].
Clearly I have an
affinity for obsession with the rich, creamy, slightly sweet, and down-right delectable condiment. There are currently five opened jars in our kitchen, and I enjoy a spoonful or so of peanut (or other nut) butter nearly every day. Slowly melting into a steaming bowl of oatmeal, stirred into a cup of yogurt, spread on top of a thick slice of whole wheat toast, smeared onto a banana, or simply eaten straight from the spoon, peanut butter is hands-down one of my favorite foods.
I always get excited about a recipe that showcases one of my favorite foods, but when a recipe features two such ingredients, I am borderline ecstatic. Thus is the case with these Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars. I know I don’t have to write it, but I will anyways… peanut butter & chocolate just might be the ultimate flavor combination.
These bars can best be described as a hybrid of chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter blondies. Semi-sweet chocolate chips are embraced by a rich peanut butter batter that bakes up into soft, thick, and perfectly sweet cookie bars with a tender crumb. I healthfully adapted this recipe from the original by subbing in unsweetened applesauce for half of the butter, by using half whole wheat pastry flour & half all-purpose, and by cutting out half of the granulated sugar. The lower amount of sugar allows the peanut butter flavor to truly shine, the applesauce lends moisture without fat, and the whole wheat pastry flour offers fiber without being detectable.
Even though everything about the taste of these cookie bars screams “decadent”, they are a lighter way to indulge my peanut butter & chocolate fixation. If you share with me this proclivity to crave both peanut butter and chocolate, then I can assure you that this recipe will become a quick favorite.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
makes 16 cookie bars
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (such as Peanut Butter & Co.)
- 1/2 cup evaporated cane juice or granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup chocolate chips (such as Sunspire)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Coat an 8 x 8 inch square pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper so the ends hang over the edges of the pan. Coat parchment paper with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, salt, and baking powder.
- In a large bowl, beat together the butter, applesauce, and peanut butter using an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in both sugars until well-mixed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Beat in vanilla extract.
- Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir the flour mixture into the peanut butter mixture until well-incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 28-30 minutes, or until the top is light golden brown. Let cookie bars cool for 10 minutes in pan.
- Remove the cookie bars from the pan by picking up parchment paper ends and transferring to a cutting board. Allow to cool completely
- Cut into 16 bars.