If making candy sounds like an intimidating project, allow me to introduce you to my new friends: no-bake peanut bars. They’ll remind you of a PayDay bar, but they also share some DNA with Rice Krispies treats.
There’s no fussy caramel to make, and you don’t even need a thermometer. Or multiple bowls! Everything comes together in a single pot in mere minutes.
The double dose of peanuts in the form of whole nuts and peanut butter means these bars are really filling, even in small portions. (You could easily cut more than the suggested 24 bars and still have a satisfying bite.) They’re perfect for a protein-packed morning or afternoon pick-me-up. Eat with a glass of cold chocolate milk if you want to get that whole peanut butter cup thing going.
A note on the peanut butter: Be sure to use a creamy peanut butter labeled as “natural,” without additives. When we tested this with regular creamy peanut butter, the bars were too greasy.
Mini Peanut Bars
Servings: 24 bars
Adapted from “Mom’s Sugar Solution: 150 Low-Sugar Recipes for Your Kids’ Favorite Foods, Sweet Treats, and More!” by Laura Chalela Hoover (Adams Media, 2018).
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
8 ounces (about 1 cup) natural creamy peanut butter
14 ounces (1 can) sweetened condensed milk
2 cups mini marshmallows
16 ounces unsalted roasted peanuts
Make ahead: The bars can be refrigerated in an airtight container (between layers of parchment or wax paper) for up to two weeks.
Line a 9-inch square baking dish with plastic wrap, leaving enough overhang to be able to lift out the slab for easy cutting.
Combine the unsalted butter and peanut butter in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the mixture is smooth and well blended. Stir in the sweetened condensed milk and marshmallows; cook for about 3 minutes, stirring, or until smooth. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the peanuts so they are evenly distributed. Working quickly, pour the mixture into the baking dish, smoothing it evenly into the corners. Let cool for 30 minutes, then transfer to the freezer for another 30 minutes to firm up.
Use the plastic wrap to lift out the slab of peanut butter bars. Cut into 24 equal pieces and serve or store in the refrigerator (see MAKE AHEAD, above).
Nutrition | Calories: 240; Total Fat: 16 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 5 mg; Sodium: 30 mg; Total Carbohydrates: 18 g; Dietary Fiber: 2 g; Sugars: 12 g; Protein: 9 g.