Peanut Butter Shortbread Bars are similar to Millionaire’s shortbread, only with a rich fudgy peanut butter filling instead of caramel! Made with a buttery shortbread-style crust and crowned with a rich dark chocolate ganache (and a sprinkle of sea salt), these are totally addictive treats.
We are back at it with the peanut butter again today!
Peanut Butter Shortbread Bars are a hybrid of my popular Buckeyes and my Millionaire’s Shortbread (have you tried those yet? soooo good!). These peanut butter chocolate treats are easy to make and the combination of the snappy shortbread crust, the peanut butter bar filling and the decadent dark chocolate ganache, all topped off with a sprinkle of sea salt is rich, decadent, and absolutely addictive.
I actually like to cut my bars into bite-sized pieces because of the decadence of the combination. They’re rich, but not overly sweet (the sea salt on top helps with that), a very satisfying after dinner treat.
The shortbread crust is not a “true” shortbread, let’s just get that out of the way right now. “Real” shortbreads are generally made with just butter, flour, and sugar, but I found that to be a bit too crumbly for the hefty peanut butter and chocolate toppings on these peanut butter shortbread bars, and so I made a few changes.
We’ll add some brown sugar and an egg yolk (for moisture and flavor) and a splash of vanilla extract to our dough. Take care when mixing everything together that you don’t over-mix the dough as you want it to still be a bit dry and crumbly. This will make it much easier to spread into the bottom of your 9×13 pan.
Make sure to let your shortbread cool completely before adding your peanut butter fudge topping, or it will just melt all over the bars — you want it to be firm and sliceable.
The chocolate ganache adds a nice, pretty top layer to these peanut butter shortbread bars (and I personally believe that peanut butter should always be accompanied by chocolate, so of course I had to include it). I generally use semisweet or dark chocolate for my bars, but milk chocolate chips would work well here, too.
These bars absolutely join the ranks of my other peanut butter/chocolate favorites including my buckeye brownies, scotcharoos, and peanut butter chocolate cake, and I think they’ll be a favorite of yours, too!
Peanut Butter Shortbread Bars
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened (226g)
- ⅓ cup sugar (70g)
- ⅓ cup light brown sugar tightly packed (70g)
- 1 large egg yolk
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (260g)
Peanut Butter Fudge
- 2 cups creamy peanut butter (475g)
- ½ cup butter cut into about 8 pieces (113g)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 ¼ cups powdered sugar (260g)
- 1 Tablespoon milk (15ml)
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (340g)
- ½ cup heavy cream (120ml)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- sea salt for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 350F (177C) and line a 13x9 baking pan with parchment paper.
- Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until well creamed, about 30 seconds.
- Add egg yolk and vanilla extract and stir well, pausing to scrape down the sides and mixing until ingredients are well-combined.
- Add flour gradually (about ½ cup at a time), pausing to scrape down sides of bowl. Halfway through the addition of the flour, sprinkle in the salt with the beater still running.
- Don't over-beat the dough, you want it to be slightly crumbly to make it easier to press into the pan.
- Drop dough over prepared pan and gently, evenly, press dough into the bottom of the pan. To make it easier, I usually lay a piece of wax paper over the dough and use the palm of my hand to smooth the surface (and then discard wax paper).
- Bake on 350F (177C) for 20-25 minutes -- edges should be lightly golden brown.
- Allow to cool completely before adding peanut butter fudge
Peanut Butter Fudge
- Combine peanut butter and butter in large heat proof bowl and microwave at 15-second increments (stirring between each) until butter is completely melted.
- Stir in vanilla extract.
- Gradually stir in powdered sugar.
- Add milk and stir well. Mixture should be fudgy enough that you can mold pieces into a ball, but not too stiff that you won't be able to spread it over the brownies (feel free to add additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, if mixture is too stiff, or more powdered sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time if mixture is too soft).
- Drop peanut butter mixture by heaping spoonfuls over the cooled brownies and use a knife to gently spread until the shortbread layer is evenly covered with a thick layer of fudge.
- Combine chocolate chips and heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat.
- Stir frequently until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
- Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Allow chocolate to cool for about 15 minutes, and then evenly spread over prepared caramel layer. Wait several minutes and then sprinkle with sea salt.
- Allow chocolate to harden (I recommend placing in refrigerator for about 30 minutes -- my family prefers these treats refrigerated anyway) before cutting and serving.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
Hi! Is the butter for the PB layer supposed to be salted or unsalted? Softened or not? Thanks! Looking forward to making these!
Hi Kate! You can use either salted or unsalted butter in the peanut butter layer. It doesn’t matter whether it has been softened or not as you are melting it anyways. 🙂
Overly sweet. None of my family could eat it. And i put half the sugar. Don’t waste the time.
I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy! The fudge layer is fairly sweet, but I find it’s offset by the shortbread layer and the ganache.
Made these with Orgran’s gluten-free flour and ABSOLUTELY LOVED THEM!! Made them for my Dad and he RAVED.
Thank you so much!!
I’m so glad everyone enjoyed them so much, Evie! 🙂
Love the recipe! one of my new favorite but i did have one issue. i’m having some trouble with having the peanut butter layer stick to the shortbread, when i cut it the pb tends to fall off and i just put it back on. any recommendations/tips for this?
Hi Kiki! Are you using a natural peanut butter that could be causing this? Or maybe there is too much powdered sugar in the peanut butter that makes it too stiff. The peanut butter layer shouldn’t just slide off. Refer to step 4 for instructions on how thick the peanut butter mixture should be. 🙂
I also had the problem with the peanut butter falling off, but they are delicious. I have made both versions, the caramel and the peanut butter and love them both! My friends at work said the peanut butter version was like a Reses on top of a cookie and they were gone in minutes.
I had the same issue but only in the middle. These are my husbands new favorite bar though!
Just made this today & it’s amazing 😁 It’s rich but not sweet. I couldn’t get chocolate chips so used 60% dark chocolate instead
Thanks for a brilliant recipe
Sugar Spun Run
Thank you so much, Graham! I am so glad that you enjoyed the Peanut Butter Shortbread Bars. 🙂
Something was off with the proportions for the chocolate— it never set, even when I froze it.
Sugar Spun Run
Hello, Alice! The chocolate is like a ganache so it won’t ever set to the point where it is rock hard or brittle. Is that what you were thinking? Either way, I hope that the peanut butter shortbread bars were tasty! 🙂
hi Sam this bars are so good and tasty- what brand of chocolate chips did you use- i used the Costco’s brand they only have them seasonal- so i buy for the year. thank you i give it 5 stars and also the shortbread millionaires.
Sugar Spun Run
I am so happy that you enjoyed the Peanut Butter Shortbread Bars, Adela! Thank you for your review and comment. I typically use Nestle or Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips. 🙂
Just wanted to say that I’ve enjoyed the recipes of yours that I’ve made so far :). I think I may have found a typo in the PB Shortbread Bars from May 29th. Should the weight by 260 g, not 360 g for 2.25 c of powdered sugar?
Thanks, and I look forward to more amazing recipes!
You are absolutely right, yikes!! I just fixed the typo, thank you for bringing it to my attention Catherine!! <3