When I know I’m expecting a gaggle of teens, these soft cookie bars with peanut butter and chocolate are a fan favorite. These aren’t some wimpy peanut butter bar either. These cookies don’t skimp on peanut buttery goodness. That lovely layer of chocolate in there certainly doesn’t hurt either (throwing the chocolate chips on top of the warm bars, without having to fuss with melted chocolate, is a fun bonus).
Hey, this recipe for PB cookie bars from Favorite Recipes from Great Midwest Cooks even slices nice. How often does that happen? Of course, if you don’t cool them at all before digging in, they will crumble. Just ask my oldest son. He was so desperate to eat some before running off to tennis practice, he didn’t even care.
Zip down to the recipe for Peanut Butter Cookie Bars using the Table of Contents below or stick around for a little cookbook talk.
Favorite Recipes from Great Midwest Cooks
This book appeals to me for so many reasons. As you might know, I used to travel and write about Indiana towns. I wrote a book about small towns, appeared on Indiana PBS’ “The Weekly Special” in short, branded segments for a few years, and penned many an article for Indiana newspapers and magazines. It was wonderful. I loved it all: The people, the diners and ice cream shops, the stories. Just all of it.
But, I’ve since moved to Pennsylvania.
This Midwestern-themed cookbook reminds me of “home.” Sure, it includes a lot of non-Indiana locales, but even the front cover features a small town my sons and I enjoyed visiting (Metamora, in case you were wondering). Yes, things do look a bit different (this book does date 1992), but this gives me all those cozy feels just the same.
Favorite Recipes from Great Midwest Cooks is a wonderful, info-packed book for bakers, cooks, and cookbook readers alike, former Hoosiers or not.
Inside the “Favorite Recipes from Great Midwest Cooks” Cookbook
I know this looks like a super slim cookbook (and it is). At 9.75 x 1 x 10.25 inch, and a mere 144 pages, it isn’t the meatiest, weightiest cookbook you’ve ever owned. But it is readable AND cookable. This book includes recipes from the Midwest: Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
Chapters include: Introduction, Celebrations, Farms, Shops, and Marks. Each of these chapters are broken down and highlight special sections, like under the chapter “Celebrations,” you’ll find three subheadings: State Fair Winners: Blue Ribbon Recipes; Harvest Time in Cranberry Country, and A Harvest of Good Eating and Great Fun: Sweet Corn. These special sections add so much to the book. These are people profiles and their well-known or award-winning recipes centered around a specific food or event.
Every recipe includes an intro. Some are part of multiple page spreads that tell you plenty about the bakery or candy shop or wherever else the recipe is from. With color images throughout, with just about every recipe, plus pics of the destinations mentioned or the people or farm or whatever else, you’ll reach for this cookbook often.
Baking Peanut Butter Cookie Bars
If you have a stand mixer, this recipe will be a snap to prepare. The only thing you’ll have to do is soften the butter a good 30-60 minutes before you want to bake (depending on your kitchen’s temperature). I did make a minor change. If you want to know how to make great cookies, it’s all about the salt. A little more salt greatly improves their flavor. This recipe began with 1/4 teaspoon. I used 1/2 teaspoon. Nothing too drastic, but the flavor popped.
Spreading the batter around the greased 13 x 9 pan isn’t easy. Do the best you can to even it out and get the batter all the way to the corners. If it looks a little lumpy, bumpy; remember that there will be chocolate chips melted on there and a peanut butter icing. In other words: No one will know.
Now, and this is hard, believe you me: Don’t slice the bars until they cool down. Then, don’t cut the bars until serving, as cut edges dry bar cookies out faster than when they are left intact. Only slice what you need to keep the bulk of the bars soft. I stored my bars in the pan with the same rectangle of foil I reuse for such things until it wears out. I do wish my pan had a lid.
Peanut Butter Cookie Bars
Peanut Butter Cookie Bars
- 1/2 Cup Butter Softened
- 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
- 1 Large Egg
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1 Cup Flour
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1 Cup Quick-Cooking or Rolled Oats NOT Old-Fashioned Oats
- 1 Cup Chocolate Chips I use Milk Chocolate Chips
Peanut Butter Icing
- 3/4 Cup Powdered Sugar (also known as Confectioner's Sugar) If yours is clumpy, give it a quick whisk.
- 1/4 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
- 2 to 3 Tablespoons Milk
- 350* oven.
- Spray a 13 x 9 pan with Baker's Joy or Pam for Baking with Flour. Set aside.
Peanut Butter Cookie Bar Instructions:
- Cream the peanut butter and the butter in your stand mixer for 30 seconds. Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure even blending.
- Add in the sugar and the brown sugar. Combine until fluffy.
- Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract.
- First, combine the flour, the baking soda, and the salt together. Then, add them to the sugar and butter mixture. Combine until blended. DO NOT overmix.
- Stir in the oats.
- Spread the batter into the prepared 13 x 9 pan.
- Bake 350* for 18-20 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out NON goopy. The bars will have a light golden color and look like something you'd want to eat.
- Set the pan on a wire rack and sprinkle on the chocolate chips. Let the chocolate chips stand for 5 minutes and then spread the chocolate over the surface using a butter knife.
- Cool completely on a wire rack.
Peanut Butter Frosting Instructions:
- Beat together the butter, powdered sugar, and the milk so you can drizzle the icing over the cooled bars. Begin with using 2 Tablespoons of milk and add more if the mixture is too thick. For me, 2 1/2 Tablespoons seems to be the magic amount needed. Go slow with your milk additions, measuring over a measuring cup or bowl, to avoid adding in more liquid than you want. DO NOT drizzle the icing over warm bars or it will melt and you will be sad.
Get Favorite Recipes from Great Midwest Cooks (1992) by Midwest Living Magazine Cookbook
For a smattering of this and a smattering of that, this Midwest-themed cookbook offers up a variety of dishes. The features on various local food businesses and festivals, plus the recipes makes it a walk back in time. These are the kinds of recipes I love the most. Trusted, favored, and beloved.