So-Easy-It’s-Nuts Peanut Caramel Bars
These easy-to-make bars have three layers: buttery shortbread cookie dough, gooey caramel studded with crunchy roasted peanuts, and a generous coating of milk chocolate. Sound familiar? That’s because these peanut caramel bars are basically homemade Snickers!
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Make-at-home makeovers of our favorite store-bought stuff almost convince us that we could survive on a desert island… except we know for a fact that we wouldn’t last long without dessert! This recipe strikes a realistic medium: yes, we’re going to make our own candy bars… but let’s be honest, we’re still going to hack the recipe and use pre-made cookie dough. Because the time saved gets us that much closer to the part where we actually get to eat ’em! (Of course, we’ll be duly impressed if you go all the way and make your own shortbread or sugar cookie dough for the bottom layer, and it certainly won’t hurt the recipe.)
When you see how simple this recipe is, you’re gonna go nuts. (Get it?) It manages to create that interplay of salty and sweet, smooth and crunchy that lights up our taste buds — with only six ingredients! But what really makes us crazy about these bars is this:
Makes 12-14 bars
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
- 1 pound shortbread or sugar cookie dough, store bought or homemade, softened
- 1 (11 ounce) bag caramels (35-40 caramels)
- 1-3 Tablespoons heavy cream
- 1½ cups roasted peanuts (lightly salted if desired)
- kosher salt (optional)
- 1 cup chocolate chips (semisweet, milk, or dark), melted
- Preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C.
- Line an 8- or 9-inch square cake pan with lightly greased parchment paper. Use a piece of parchment that is large enough to fit the bottom of the pan and also reaches up the sides of the cake pan. This will make it easier to remove the finished bars later.
- Press the cookie dough into the lined cake pan in an even layer. Use a fork to poke holes all over your dough. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the dough is light golden brown and cooked through. Allow the cookie dough base to cool completely.
- In a microwave safe bowl, melt the caramels in the microwave with one tablespoon of heavy cream. Heat the caramels in 20-30 second intervals, stirring in between intervals, until they’re completely melted. If needed, add additional cream to helploosen the caramel, one tablespoon at a time.
- Add the peanuts and salt, if using, to your melted caramel and mix to combine. Spread the caramel peanut mixture in an even layer over the cooled cookie base.
- In the microwave or a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt the chocolate chips until they’re smooth. Pour the melted chocolate on top of the caramel, and use a spatula to spread it into an even layer. Place the pan in the refrigerator for one hour, or until the chocolate is set.
- Once set, remove it from the cake pan, peel off the parchment paper, and cut the block into individual bars. Store in an airtight container.
Learning how to make homemade versions of your favorite store-bought stuff from scratch is so satisfying! If you’re on board, check out our copycat chocolate syrup, and fresh, natural versions of the take-out we can’t live without, like orange chicken and Mongolian beef.