These No-Bake Peanut Butter Cup Squares are peanut butter cups in homemade, square form. Nothing extra in these ones. Just pure buttery and sweetened peanut butter and chocolate deliciousness.
Happy Peanut Butter Lovers Day! I have to admit, I'm not a huge follower of these "national food days", but when I happened to see that this one was coming up, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to share one of my favourite guilty pleasures - these No-Bake Peanut Butter Cup Squares.
I have made a lot of peanut butter and chocolate squares over the years, but I always come back to this one. Why? Because it's pure, unadulterated peanut butter cup goodness. No extra stuff in these ones. Just silky smooth, sweetened butter peanut butter with a chocolate topping. And in classic go-big-or-go-home fashion, these have an added swirl of more buttery peanut butter.
The only downside to these squares is that while they are certainly slicable, as you can see, they need to be refrigerated and even at that, they are on the soft side. That is owing to the fact that there's not extra stuff in there to make them stiffer. But again, that's a good thing. The peanut butter cup flavour you crave doesn't have that other stuff in it.
So given their softness and their need for refrigeration, these are probably not the squares that you should make for a bake sale or to take to the folks at the office. These are the squares that you make and keep in your fridge as a special, family treat, for whenever the need arises :)
These will keep in the fridge at least a week, probably two (but they never last that long here!).
Cook's Notes for No-Bake Peanut Butter Cup Squares
I like to use unsalted butter for these and add salt to taste. If you are using salted butter, you won't need to add additional salt to the peanut butter layer, but taste your filling and decide. As these are no-bake, the filling flavour isn't going to change.
Speaking of salt, I will often sprinkle the top of these with flaky salt (fleur de sel or Maldons) while the chocolate is still wet. If I know I will be doing that, I keep the salt in the peanut butter layer a little lower, to keep that perfect sweet/salty balance.
Like the salt, you'll want to adjust the amount of icing sugar added to the peanut butter layer to your taste. I've used anywhere from 1 1/4 cups to 2 cups. I personally find the 2 cups a little too sweet for my taste, but your mileage may vary. I usually land in the 1 1/4- 1 1/2 cup range. In any event, the amount of icing sugar you use doesn't significantly change the finished texture of the squares, so experiment to find your sweet spot here.
I use one of those dollar store plastic squeeze bottles to do the swirl thing (to make the lines), then run a skewer through them. When running the skewer through, be sure your don't go too deep (into the peanut butter layer), as it makes a weak spot that may cause your squares to split in the wrong places.
You don't have to get that fancy if you don't want. Simply dropping a line from a spoon works too, or just drizzle. You can do a marble effect to, by topping with drizzle, then swirling a skewer through it. And all that said, if you're not feeling the extra step of the swirl, you can just skip it altogether.
No-Bake Peanut Butter Cup Squares
Peanut Butter Layer:
- 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (not natural)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/4 - 2 cups icing/confectioners' sugar (*See Notes)
- 1 pinch Salt (or more, to taste OMIT IF USING SALTED BUTTER)
- 6 oz semi or bittersweet chocolate (chopped, about 1 cup)
- 4 Tbsp butter
Peanut Butter Swirl:
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 2 Tbsp butter (melted)
- Spray and 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray, then line with a sheet of parchment paper that covers the bottom and two sides, extended a few inches over the edges. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, stir together the 1 1/2 cups peanut butter with the 1/2 cup melted butter. *Note, it doesn't come together easily at first, so start stirring slowly to avoid splashing out. Add vanilla and stir to combine. Add icing sugar 1/2 cup at a time, stirring in until smooth each time. Transfer to prepared pan and spread to an even layer. Smooth top as well as you can.
- Place chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir, then microwave for a further 20-30 seconds. Remove and stir until smooth and glossy. Pour chocolate over peanut butter layer, pouring into the centre and spreading out to the edges with the back of a spoon.
- In a small bowl, combine 2 Tbsp melted butter with the 1/4 cup peanut butter and stir until smooth. Let stand to cool and thicken slightly, 3-4 minutes. Using a spoon or a squeeze bottle, make 1/4-inch thick lines with the peanut butter mixture about 1 inch apart. Using a skewer, run lines in the opposite direction, about every 1/2-inch apart, making sure you only run through the chocolate layer and not down to the peanut butter layer. *If desired, you can sprinkle top of chocolate with finishing salt such as Fleur de Sel or Maldon's.
- Place pan in refrigerator and chill at least 4 hours, preferably overnight before removing from pan and slicing. Cut into squares about 5 squares per side (25 squares total)
- Keep refrigerated and serve cold.