There aren’t many combinations that go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Well, I could name a few others.. lemon and lime, sour cream and onion, butter and garlic, sea salt and caramel, chocolate and peppermint, french fries and milkshakes. But don’t we all agree that peanut butter and chocolate tops ALL of those? No. French fries and milkshakes might be the best actually. But that’s really another category. That just slipped into the list when I got carried away.
This Four Layer Peanut Butter Brownie recipe is fun because it adds a layer to the traditional peanut butter bars. Well, two layers actually = brownies and ganache. It’s essentially two desserts in one and I ain’t complaining about that!
I am usually all about making everything from scratch, but honestly, when you are craving peanut butter and chocolate, time is of the essence! One of my favorite boxed brownies is the Ghiradelli version that has chocolate chips in the batter. They are suspiciously similar to homemade brownies. So I am using these in the recipe below but you are welcomed to make them from scratch using my Dark Chocolate Brownie recipe (skipping the sea salt). But since there are four layers to these Peanut Butter Brownie Bars, I didn’t want to overwhelm with soooo many ingredients and steps. That’s no fun. What’s really fun is getting to the finish line as fast as possible so you can be eating these babies in no time.
For all of your peanut butter + chocolate desires, allow me to introduce you to these other pb+c fantasies:
1) The ganache layer is important as it acts as the glue between the brownies and peanut butter layer. Without this, the layers won’t adhere and you will end up with two detached desserts.
2) Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
3) A 9×9 inch baking pan is used, you could also use 9×13 or similar sizes but it will result in the bars being a bit thinner/more flattened.
4) The only special tools I use in this recipe is food handling gloves (like usual for any
recipe that requires getting “handsy” with my food) and an offset spatula. You can still make this recipe without these items.
Four layers of peanut butter + chocolate heaven. Thick and decadent brownie base, topped with chocolate ganache, peanut butter bars and a crunchy chocolate shell, garnished with peanuts.
Brownies + Ganache
- Ghiradelli Double Chocolate brownie mix, 20 oz box (plus the box required ingredients)
- 4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Peanut Butter Bars + Chocolate Topping
- 1/2 cup salted butter and melted
- 1/2 cup saltine crackers, crushed
- 1/2 cup graham crackers, crushed
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter, divided
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Chopped peanuts, optional
Brownies + Ganache
- Pour brownie batter in a 9×9 square baking pan. You may want to reserve about 1/2 of the batter to prevent the brownies from being too thick and baking uneven (the box mix is made for 9×13). Bake the brownies following the instructions on the box. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes. Chop the chocolate chips for the ganache and add it to a large heatproof bowl. Set aside.
Pour the heavy whipping cream into a microwave safe bowl (I like to use a glass measuring cup) and heat in the microwave for about 45 seconds-1 minute. Make sure to keep an eye on it so it doesn’t bubble over in the microwave. Pour the warm heavy whipping cream over the chocolate, cover with saran wrap and let it sit for 2-3 minutes.
Start whisking slowly and gently in the middle of the bowl, and continue whisking in one direction until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Whisking abruptly will cause air bubbles. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes. Using an offset spatula, spread ganache evenly over the brownies. Cover pan and set aside in the freezer while preparing the peanut butter layer.
Peanut Butter Bars
- Mix together the saltines, graham crackers, melted butter and powdered sugar together in a medium bowl. Stir in 1 cup of peanut butter and vanilla extract and combine. Carefully press the peanut butter mixture evenly over the ganache layer. I use gloves for this step.
- Melt remaining 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter with 1 cup chocolate chips in the microwave for 30 second increments until 70% melted. Stir until smooth and spread over peanut butter layer evenly. Top with peanuts (optional)
- Chill in the refrigerator until completely firm, at least 2 hours. Allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve chilled to ensure the bars are firm. Setting them out for a few hours at room temperature for serving is OK. Cover leftover bars tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
- Prep Time: 30 mins
- Cook Time: 40 mins
- Category: Dessert
Keywords: dessert, peanut butter, chocolate, brownies, ganache