BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

A Recipe is a Terrible Thing to Waste

40 Comments

New cookbooks are born every day and the internet is flooded in a sea of recipes, free and for profit, good and bad, garnering raves and rants alike. Still, it seems that the hunger for more can never be satisfied, and the quest to continue creating is never ending. For as many recipes as I make, some get lost in the shuffle, or forgotten in the archives like that lone jar of mustard pushed to the back of the fridge. Luckily, in this case at least, these things don’t go bad. No matter when they’re rediscovered, they taste as fresh as the day they were made. When it comes time to clean out the shelves, or the digital file cabinet, there can be all sort of delightful surprises.

However, I might argue that these dead-easy cookie bars are better than finding a half-used jar of old mustard. Both creamy and crunchy, sweet and salty, and chocolatey all over, the combination of these few ingredients tastes something like a cross between peanut butter cups and party mix. Invented on one cold day in the college dorms when few ingredients could be scrounged up, these humble pantry staples were all I had to work with, but did they ever exceed expectations. Sliced into generous chunks and left on the kitchen table to share, not a crumb remained by nightfall. I like to think that these crowd-pleasing treats won me a couple more friends that day.

Rediscovered and revamped to better suit my current baking style, this seemed like the perfect time to bring these sweet squares back to life and into the public eye. What might have spurred on their overdue reveal? Why, the Earth Balance Spring to Life Contest! Made with their creamy peanut butter, I can’t imagine a more rich, nutty topping to crown these jewels. Though the competition is already underway, the entry period for desserts will be opening on Monday, April 30th, and now I’m ready to join the fray with this stunningly simple recipe. Bake up a storm this weekend and join me- Of course I’d love to win, but moreover, I want new winning recipes to add to my collection!

Peanut Butter Fudge Pretzel Bars

Pretzel Crust:

3/4 Cup White Whole Wheat or All Purpose Flour
3/4 Cup Coarsely Ground Pretzels
1/4 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
1/2 Cup Earth Balance Buttery Spread
2 – 4 Tablespoons Water

Peanut Butter Fudge Topping:

12 Ounces (2 Cups) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips or Chunks
1/4 Cup Light Agave Nectar
1 Cup Earth Balance Creamy Peanut Butter
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Roughly Crushed Pretzel Twists

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 8 x 8 inch square baking pan.

Mix together the flour, ground pretzels, and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in the margarine until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle in the water, one tablespoon at a time, until the crumbs come together into a cohesive dough. Transfer to your prepared pan, and press the dough firmly and evenly into the bottom. Bake for 20 – 24 minutes until golden brown all over. Allow to cool for at least ten minutes before proceeding.

Place the chocolate pieces and agave in a microwave-safe container. Heat on full power for one minute. Stir vigorously, and add the peanut butter. Heat once more for about 30 seconds and stir again thoroughly, until completely smooth. If the chocolate hasn’t all melted yet, continue heating in 30-second increments on half power until the mixture is perfectly smooth. Mix in the vanilla, and quickly pour over the cooled crust. Sprinkle the crushed pretzels evenly over the top, and be generous! It may seem like a lot, but you want to almost completely cover the fudge layer. Use the palms of your hands to gently press the pieces in so that they adhere.

Refrigerate for about 1 hour, until firm. Slice into bars or squares, and let come back up to room temperature before serving. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature, in one layer. Though the fudge is firm enough, stacking squares is a bad idea because they’re likely to smear and become extremely messy.

Makes 12 – 16 Bar Cookies

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah (BitterSweet)

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

40 thoughts on “A Recipe is a Terrible Thing to Waste

  1. Well if you don’t win the grand prize you should at least win something for best use of a pretzel!

  2. Oh, it’s just decadent!
    Gorgeous!

    You’re too talented, I’m a fan and I remain a fan of your work! ♥

    Have à nice week

  3. I am looking forward to making these Hannah. Truly. I will be using light spelt flour as usual, but it generally works. This recipe is simple enough for me and the results look delicious. Gotta go get some pretzels…

  4. I love sweet & salty things. Pretzels and chocolate are two ideal food partners!

  5. These sound so good. Next time I have a celebration/party/etc., these are going on the list to make.

  6. How I would love to taste one of those….

  7. You are too good – what else can I possibly say? :D
    These bars look revamped exceptionally!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  8. Very nice! I’m a huge fan of those PB-filled pretzels from Trader Joe’s that are horribly addictive. I’m not sure these bars would be healthier but perhaps they’re rich enough to keep me from eating all of them in one sitting!

  9. I can’t wait to bake up a batch of these! Those stinkers over at Luna Bar recently created a peanut butter, pretzel, and honey concoction that I’ve been bummed isn’t vegan, but who needs a Luna Bar when I have a Hannah recipe?!

  10. These look absolutely delectable! That fudge layer is just insane! Thank you!

  11. oh my the sweet and salty combo really is pure heaven, I know I’d love these!

  12. Hannah these look ridiculously good… sweet, salty, crunchy and they pack the winning combo of PB and chocolate…I am so in!!!

  13. Oh my gosh my mouth is watering!! Those look and sound so delicious!

  14. Stop the contest even before it starts … this is a true winner!

  15. These look divine! Do you think honey would work instead of Agave (not a big fan of agave)?

  16. I’ll definitely occasionally find recipes in my digital archives from months (and maybe even YEARS past). It’s always such a fun throwback..and makes me want to get back in the kitchen and revamp them so they’re more in tune with my current baking/photography style. these look pretty timeless though…i can’t imagine them ever “going bad”.

  17. Salty and sweet and chocolate. I think those are at these 3 of the main food groups right?? I’m sold.

  18. Yay, a recipe simple enough for even the likes of me. I’ll definitely have to give them a try, they look so yummy! Best of luck in the contest! :-)

  19. I’m on the prowl for gluten free pretzels so I can make this…always wanted to try a pretzel treat…something about the sweet/salty combo really intrigues me!

  20. nice! i love salty crunchy and chocolate together. i have a bunch of drafts waiting to be completed too.. some days you need some other motivation to get them out the door!

  21. I absolutely HAVE to try this!!

  22. These little guys make me curious, especially the pretzels.
    Two or three months ago, I understood that I liked to put salt into sweet recipes, to be precise, it was the day I made a vegan version of a Britanny cake recipe, usually made with salted butter. So I included an enormous amount of salt, so as to reproduce the salty taste. And boy, it was a success !
    Then it reminded me of salted caramel, which is another common treat both sweet with pinches of salt here & there.
    Anyway.
    Those pretzels with chocolate surely taste really good – I am not a huge fan of PB (despite my no-bake cheesecake recipe yup), but I guess it is probably well-balanced, especially since the chocolate layer is pretty thick compared to the crust.

  23. These look and sound so good! I seriously want to make them right now.

  24. I’ll give you the no. 1 Star Star prize if i could :D

  25. oh I think I must make these today. they look divine!!!

  26. My husband has a gig next Monday, and I think that I feel like bringing these instead of my usual cupcakes. Maybe I’ll bring both. I’m assuming that I can get away with the recipe NOT having a microwave?!!

  27. these look amazing. Anything with chocolate & peanut butter is a winner for me, but with throwing in the pretzels you take these to a whole new level!!!!! thanks for the great recipe! :-)

  28. I’ve only recently started to actually write all of the recipes down in one big notebook that is always planted somewhere in my kitchen! I just never did that do recreating something that I had not blogged about was simply not possible. Looks delicious these bars!

  29. Oh yum those look amazing! I know what I’m making for the next get-together at my vegan friend’s house! (If I don’t lose this link, that is…)

  30. How about that chocolate souffle recipe you posted a pic of back in 2009? Did that one get lost too?? ;) ;) ;)

  31. Wow, these look great! thanks for the recipe. I have been slightly obsessed with chocolate and peanut butter lately.

  32. Pingback: Bitter Sweet's Peanut Butter Fudge Pretzel Bars | Killer Bunnies, Inc

  33. Pingback: Peanut Butter Fudge Pretzel Bars | joanna vaught

  34. Pingback: Austin’s Worldwide Vegan Bakesale is coming this weekend and we need your help! | Lazy Smurf's Guide to Life

  35. Do you think coconut oil would work instead of the smart balance butter stuff? Or just real butter if you didn’t need it to be vegan?

    • Unfortunately, this is one situation where the margarine really can’t be substituted easily. I’ve never worked with butter before so I can’t say how the results would come out, and can’t recommend it.

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