I’m really not too much of a ‘candy’ person anymore, with one very important exception: chocolate bars.
I don’t think I will ever stop loving chocolate bars. I still remember the first one that I was ever allowed to have as a kid: a Nestle Crunch Bar. After that, I think it was a Payday. I’m also a fan of Twix, 100 Grand, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s with Almonds, Hershey’s Cookies and Cream, Krackle, and Butterfinger.
Major pass on Almond Joy, Mounds, Milky Way and Three Musketeers. Those I don’t like.
You may have noticed one glaring omission from that list. It was intentional, for reasons that you’ve probably guessed. I’ve been considering making today’s recipe for several weeks now, but I was nervous about it. Finally, I made a split second decision and just decided to go for it.
And here we are. My tribute to the best, the ULTIMATE candy bar ever made.
I think I was nervous about trying this for several reasons: first, the candybar it’s inspired from is just so perfect all on its own. Nougat, caramel, peanuts and chocolate; why mess with that kind of sheer perfection?
Second, no matter how many times I’ve done it, and done it successfully, the process of making caramel still makes me nervous every time.
Still, since I had all the ingredients I needed on hand I decided to just go for it. Couldn’t hurt to try.
There’s not a whole lot of labor required for these, but I do recommend giving yourself time to do it in stages. Unlike our favorite candy bar, the first and bottom layer of these is a very rich cookie. The dough comes together in minutes. Once it’s baked and cooled off, you can move on to the tricky part: the caramel.
Here’s the thing about caramel: as much as making it makes me nervous, the truth is that if you have a working thermometer that you pay close attention to, you’ll be just fine. This one is far from the most difficult I’ve made and because we’re making caramel and not candy, it doesn’t take very long. After the caramel peanut layer has been given time to set, things get super simple. You melt some chocolate, spread it on top and sprinkle some peanuts on top of that and you’re done. Waiting for the whole thing to set up before cutting into it is the hardest part, honestly. Because these are very sweet and rich, a little bit of one goes a long way in satisfying a sweet tooth, which means there’s more to go around.
Snickers Cookie Bars
For Cookie Layer
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp and cubed
- 1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For Caramel Peanut Layer
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 cup, light or dark brown sugar, packed
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup salted roasted peanuts
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- One tablespoon of softened butter, cubed.
- A couple tablespoons of chopped peanuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8 or 9 inch square baking dish with parchment paper and spray well with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer or using a handheld one, cream together the butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla and mix until just combined.
Fold the flour in, in about 2 increments, mixing just until blended and a soft dough forms. Press the dough into a pan and use a spatula to make the top as smooth as you can.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and firm. Cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour while you make the caramel.
Melt the butter in a high-sided saucepan with at least 2 qt capacity. Add the corn syrup, brown sugar, white sugar and heavy cream. Cook, stirring frequently with a wire whisk until sugar dissolves completely and liquid comes to a boil.
Cook until caramel reaches temp of 235-240 degrees Fahrenheit. (I STRONGLY recommend a candy thermometer or an instant read thermometer for this). Remove from heat.
Stir in the peanuts. Spray a spatula with cooking spray and spread the caramel over the cooled cookie layer. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes (I let mine sit overnight just to be on the safe side).
Melt the chocolate chips over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and keep stirring until the butter dissolves completely. Spread the chocolate quickly and evenly over the caramel layer with an offset spatula. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts.
Let sit for an additional 2 hours to allow the chocolate to set and harden up before using the parchment paper to lift up out of the baking dish and cutting into squares.