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Salted Peanut Butter Caramel Bars with Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread Crust

Peanut butter was named one of the Top 5 Foods That Should Have A Place Your Diet by CNN.

Whoever wrote that probably wouldn’t have wanted you to mix it with butter and sugar, but regardless of the increased amount of calories and fat, you can still feel good about giving yourself a healthy dose of antioxidants. And eating a Super Food that has protein and fiber,  lowers cholesterol and your risk of heat disease.

Because, like I told you at the beginning of the year, I’m trying to seek a balance in my life. If I am going to have a fabulously delicious dessert, I also want it to have some good stuff in it too.

I have also decided to cut food dyes out of my diet all together by the end of the year. Because, unlike peanut butter, they have zero benefits, lots of risks and are known carcinogens. I’ll write more about that later once I’ve figured out how to conconct an all natural red food dye.

I don’t want to be perfect, I just want to find a balance in my life. Peanut butter caramel bars are a great balance, giving you a dose of healthy goodness with an incredible dessert. But don’t misunderstand me, this is in no way a diet food. They are high in calories and a treat that you should enjoy every once in a while, but at least you have the peace of mind that there are also health benefits.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Shortbread:

For the shortbread crust:

¾ cup Brown Sugar

1 sticks of Butter

½ cup Creamy Peanut Butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp Salt

2 cups Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

1 ½ cups Dark Chocolate Chips

Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce:

1/2 cup heavy cream

¼ cup Creamy Peanut Butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1 stick of butter

½ tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp course sea salt

Line the bottom of an 11 x 7 inch baking dish with parchment paper, allowing the paper to go up and over the edges of the pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and beat on high until well combined. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, and baking powder, stir to combine. Add the flour mixture to the stand mixer and beat on medium speed until mixed well with the butter mixture, scraping the bottom of the bowl occasionally. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Press the shortbread into the bottom of the baking dish in one even layer. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350. Bake for 25 minutes or until the edges have turned a golden brown and have started to look dry. Allow to chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.

In a pot over medium high heat, add the peanut butter and the cream. Stir continuously until the peanut butter has melted and is well combined with the cream. Remove from heat, add the vanilla and set aside.

In a separate pot over medium high heat, combine the sugar, & corn syrup. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Allow to boil, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 230 degrees, about 5 minutes. While the caramel is cooking, do not stir, but swirl the pan every 30 seconds to redistribute the caramel sauce evenly. Once 230 degrees is reached, add the butter, stirring to allow it to distribute and melt, then remove from heat. Stir in the peanut butter cream, adding slowly as it will bubble up furiously.

Pour the caramel over the shortbread and refrigerate for 4 hours, or until set. Sprinkle the top with the sea salt. Remove from pan using the parchment paper and cut into squares. 

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cassie March 19, 2012 um 12:34 pm

I definitely need more balance in my life. Cutting out dyes is a great way to go too. These bars sound so good, and right up my alley!


Tina@flourtrader March 19, 2012 um 1:07 pm

Ha-good to know about peanut butter. Especially since I have 2 jars (one crunchy and one smooth) in my house at all times!
These layers do look delicious. I am really intrigued by the pb caramel on top-no doubt that tastes amazing by itself! Creative and tasty. Buzz buzz!


Carolina March 19, 2012 um 2:16 pm

Oh. My. Gosh. These look incredible!!!!! I can’t wait to try them!!!


Colleen Bierstine March 19, 2012 um 2:25 pm

Eeeek I want one right now! Actually, that’s a lie. I don’t want one.


Jackie March 20, 2012 um 8:47 am

You so funny…


Erin March 19, 2012 um 2:31 pm

Just another reason to love peanut butter! These bars look incredible!


Maggie @ kitchie coo March 19, 2012 um 2:38 pm

Oh my word! I am in love. Thank you for this recipe (or maybe not, we’ll see how my clothes fit a couple weeks). These are truly divine.
Way to go on cutting out artificial colors too. I’ve heard that you can use beets for red food dye, but I’ve never tried it myself. That is all the help I can give you on that one, but way to go!


Jackie March 20, 2012 um 8:47 am

I’m going to try beet powder, but I’m a little worried about the taste. I’ll let you know how it goes!


Michelle March 19, 2012 um 4:57 pm



Liz March 19, 2012 um 6:03 pm

Oh, yeah, these bars are winners! I’ve never heard of a pb caramel sauce, but I’m certain I’d love it!!! And, BTW, I think you can use beet juice as a red food coloring :)I get a bitter taste from red and black food dyes…a good reason to avoid them.


Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious March 19, 2012 um 6:30 pm

Peanut butter will definitely have a place in my diet, starating with these gorgeous babies 😀


Deanna March 19, 2012 um 6:33 pm

Oh my word. How could these bars not be winners? I need them in my life stat!


chinmayie @ love food eat March 19, 2012 um 9:08 pm

These look so drool worthy!


Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. March 19, 2012 um 9:34 pm

I understand where you are coming from with the food dyes. I try to avoid it whenever possible.

These bars look AMAZING!! PB, caramel, what a great combo!


Jess Wakasugi {Life’s Simple Measures} March 20, 2012 um 7:14 am

Came across this post at TasteSpotting and I just love your blog! These bars don’t look half bad either 😉

Glad to be your newest follower!


Julie @ Table for Two March 20, 2012 um 7:25 am

this looks delicious!! the flavors are all my top favs 🙂


amy @ fearless homemaker March 20, 2012 um 7:57 am

this sounds absolutely delicious + that’s definitely a great goal to get more balance in your life! by the way, have you tried using beets for a natural red dye yet? i haven’t, but i’ve had some friends who have!


Jackie March 20, 2012 um 8:43 am

Thanks Amy! I bought beet powder and I’m going to mix it with raspberry juice and see what happens. I’m a little afraid that it will turn out purple, but we’ll see!


Bree March 20, 2012 um 9:59 am

These look awesome!


Lynn @ I’ll Have What She’s Having March 20, 2012 um 2:33 pm

These bars would bring a lot of balance to my life!


Baker Street March 21, 2012 um 9:18 pm

I love the caramel topping and the shortbread crust. These look divine Jackie! 🙂


Choc Chip Uru March 21, 2012 um 11:00 pm

The name itself is enough to have me drooling away – you are a genius, these look decadently perfect!

Choc Chip Uru
Latest: Double Nutella Cheesecake Brownies


Patricia Scarpin March 22, 2012 um 1:01 pm

Those bars look amazing! I love peanut butter, especially paired with chocolate.


Baking Serendipity March 24, 2012 um 9:44 pm

Peanut butter and caramel are two of my favorite things! This looks absolutely perfect 🙂


Meghan March 25, 2012 um 3:19 pm

You got me with that sprinkle of sea salt on top! These bars look amazing!


Tish March 25, 2012 um 5:09 pm

Where is the facebook love button ?!!


Tara Noland April 2, 2012 um 3:58 pm

Those look so good!!


Miss Diane April 6, 2012 um 4:43 pm

This is too much! The man at home loves peanut butter while I fall for chocolate! One "gourmandise" to fit both our tastes!

Les Carnets de Miss Diane


Nicki Minaj April 18, 2012 um 6:42 pm

Pretty! This has been an extremely wonderful recipe. Thank you for posting it.


Taylor @ greens & chocolate April 19, 2012 um 5:33 am

These look absolutely amazing!! Love peanut butter, love chocolate, LOVE salted caramel!!


Daryl Galley October 31, 2012 um 1:06 pm

What is your measurement for 1 stick of butter? 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup?


Jackie October 31, 2012 um 1:49 pm

The standard US measurement for a stick of butter is 1/2 cup or 8tbs. If you ever see "1 stick of butter" that is the right conversion.


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