Peanut Butter Cup Caramel Shortbread Bars

When I became pregnant with my son, I had been more or less eating very healthy for three years. I had maybe one candy bar a year and that decision was always made with a great deal of consideration, weighing potential options, alternatives, and consequences (um, what happened?).  One night in the middle of my second trimester, my husband and I were driving home at about 9:00 pm when we drove past a gas station.  I ordered him to immediately pull into the parking lot. He obliged because he learned not to mess with pregnant me after the time I came home from Arby’s and discovered they had forgotten my curly fries and a lot of yelling, cupboard-slamming, and swearing ensued.  He was scared.

Anyway, I’m sure he thought that the gas station stop had something to do with some form of pregnant lady bodily function. Imagine his surprise when I came out with a whole bunch of Twix bars. Yep, after years of healthy eating, Twix bars were my downfall. To me, they’re like those toxic boyfriends you keep going back to–we can’t be around each other without things ending in some kind of self-loathing.

Which is why, when presented with the opportunity, I made a whole pan of homemade Twix bars. Only to make matters worse, I topped them off with melted Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (my other ultimate weakness) instead of regular chocolate.  Just call me Chelsea from Teen Mom 2… (for going back to my toxic “boyfriend”; I’m not implying that she eats a lot of Twix bars).

While it does take some time to make these, they’re actually super easy; most of the time is letting things cool down and set up.  You’ll need softened salted butter, flour, powdered sugar, vanilla, caramels, cream, and mini Reese’s Peanut Butter cups.  And just FYI, I’m pretty sure if I made up my own version of “My Favorite Things,” it would probably involve everything in that ingredients list.

Preheat your oven to 300.  Then spray a 9×13″ pan with non-stick cooking spray and set it aside.

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a heavy duty mixer), combine the flour, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla. Mix until it is combined–it may start out stiff, but it will all come together. Gently press it into the prepared pan

then prick the dough with a fork to prevent bubbles from forming while it’s baking.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the cookie crust is light golden. Remove it from the oven and let it cool completely. This can be done a day ahead of time.

When the crust is cool, place the caramels in a microwave-safe bowl.

Okay, I’ve modified the caramel directions from when I originally posted this recipe. I changed things because when I added 3 tablespoons of cream, the caramel melted everywhere, but it seems like a lot of people have run into hard caramel issues. So I recommend adding the 3 tablespoons with a warning that if you’re at a very low elevation, the caramel may end up being on the very soft side. So if you’re very worried about that (like if you’re bringing these to a bake sale and can’t keep them refrigerated), keep that in mind. But better too soft than breaking a tooth, right?

That’s right, if anyone asks you why you’re adding cream to your caramel, tell them you can get a note from your dentist that it’s totally necessary.

Melt the caramel in the microwave for 3-4 minutes or until smooth, stirring each minute.

Spread the caramel over the cookie crust and then place the pan in the fridge to help the caramel set up quickly.

When the caramel is solid, place the peanut butter cups in a microwave-safe bowl

and microwave for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and melted, stirring every 45 seconds.  Spread it over the cooled caramel layer.

Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until the chocolate layer is solid (you could also pop it in the freezer for less time to hurry things along).

When the chocolate is set up, carefully cut into bars. Eat one. Pour a glass of milk. Go back for more. Wonder if Chelsea will ever learn her lesson and kick Adam to the curb forever. The end.

 

woman in denim shirt holding a salad bowl
Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. OMG! This looks amazing!!! i’m addicted to twix and my bf loves resse’s almost as much as i do!! i really need to make this sometime! 🙂

    1. I’m so glad to read all these comments from other watchers of Teen Mom! I feel less alone in the world now! 🙂

  2. OMG! YOu could not have created a better combination cookie/bar!! And I think you are my evil twin – separated at birth, after hearing your pregnancy story!!! Totally happened to me too! (minus the healthy eating previously part)
    Thanks for this recipe! Can’t wait to make it.

  3. Melted Reese’s PB cups?! Sign me up… oh wow those bars could definitely bring me down any day!

  4. These look so good! I saw mocha Twix bars at the store the other day. I can’t believe I resisted the temptation to buy one, but now I can’t stop thinking about them! Might have to take your recipe and throw in some espresso powder….

  5. I need to lose my pregnancy weight fast so I can kick my diet and start baking again. I should probably also take a break from your blog until then too, to avoid the temptation.

    1. No, no breaks! 🙂 Just browse the healthy stuff instead. 🙂

      If it’s any consolation, I’m busting my butt to lose the baby weight, too…only my baby is 3…

  6. yum, I have all the ingredients except the recees cups…I never keep candy at the house because, well, it wouldnt be there long anyways. if i dont have it i cant eat it lol and it sure takes a lot of energy to get in the car and go get a candy bar so i usually dont ..so that tactic works for me haha. I do have some things to get at the store later and I doubt I can resist picking up a certain item to make a certain dessert 🙂

  7. Oh man…i could totally do 5 points, thanks for adding it up! You guys are truly the best!

  8. Guess who will be buying caramel and Reese’s pb cups at Target today? I also might try the PB Twix version. My mom has a recipe for homemade Reese’s that uses PB and graham crackers… Oh decisions, decisions….

  9. Ok, I cannot even concentrate on the receipe, because just seeing Chelsea again and thinking about the fact that she went back to Adam just makes me mad all over again! I mean, I KNOW she’s a child, but really, what is she thinking? He’s a scum bag. Does she really want her daughter to think him treating her like that is ok? GRRRRR.

  10. WOW!!! These look amazing! I might have to make these….today! Or just stop by and help you finish off the pan! 😛

    1. Erin–I’m dead serious, please stop by and get some! I don’t need them in my house! 🙂

  11. *First off, when Chelsea said they were back together on the reunion show I seriously wanted to reach through the screen and throttle her. What the heck is wrong with that girl!?!?! I literally cried when he viciously made fun of her stretch marks on 16 and pregnant. He is a HORRIBLE person.

    *Second, why on earth are you doing this to me?! I started weight watchers almost 2 months ago and have been doing really well. Until now. I think you may be my downfall.

    *Third, I am making these. Today. Right now. Because they look like just about the best things ever created. Sugar on top of sugar with a little sugar thrown in? My kind of dessert for sure!

    1. Heather.

      First, I KNOW, right?! He’s horrible. Horrible horrible horrible.

      Second, I just calculated them because I had one for breakfast (eek!) and it was 5 WW points. So not GREAT, but not the end of the world, right? Of course, that’s if you cut 35 bars…if you cut less, you might be in more trouble, haha!

      Third, go for it, girl! 🙂

  12. I really just want Chelsea’s dad to lay down the law. Adam is a punk, and that baby deserves better. Love this recipe by the way. 🙂

  13. Can’t wait to try them! Twix are my ALL TIME FAVORITE candy bar! 🙂 And I doubt Chelsea will ever wise up!

  14. Those Twix bars haven’t made a dent in your beautiful figure. Well we both know every calorie counts but you’re still gorgeous just with curves! Now for more serious business. How come you don’t make these with the bigger peanut butter cups if you want more peanut butter to chocolate ratio? Will they set up properly or do you just not get enough chocolate flavor that way? I guess if the aim is to make something close to a Twix bar then you would need more chocolate. For the really hardcore candy maker, I would use a true peanut butter layer thickened with graham cracker crumbs maybe and then top it with a chocoate layer of melted chocolate chips. What do you think?

    1. Marjorie, I did worry about things not setting up quite right with the bigger PB cups because they have more peanut butter and less chocolate, but you could ALWAYS try it–they just might be a little softer. And yes, you could do an amazing PB layer and then use chocolate chips–that would be awesome! 🙂

  15. WOW, I’m not sure I could stop after eating one or even two. I could easily eat the whole pan. Well probably not in one day but eventually. 🙂 Those are all of my favorite things as well. Thanks for this yummy recipe.

  16. OH MY HECK!!! YUMMY! You ladies sure know how to keep us girls in our fat jeans LOL. I’m not complaining, believe me. Besides, aren’t sweat pants the new “in”? If they aren’t, I believe they should be. Thanks, again!

  17. Ooohhhh. I really like the idea of topping with the peanut butter cups since my favorite are actually the peanut butter twix, not the caramel ones. When Twix came out I had braces for 6 years, so couldn’t have the caramel ones, so peanut butter was the next best thing. After finally trying caramel, I still prefer the peanut butter ones. A layer of a peanut buttery filling in there too, yummy! But I need no more sweets in my house right now, I’m still surrounded by cupcakes. lol

  18. I’m new to your site, and I just love it! It seems as though you have hit all of my own weaknesses! I love twix, I love peanut butter cups and I am pregnant! BAD COMBO, but boy does this sound good! Thanks for the recipe! I will have to try it ASAP!

  19. Ooooo. I was just thinking about attempting homemade Twix bars, you’re my new best friend!

  20. How am I supposed to stay on my diet, with recipes like these? 🙂 Twix are also one of my downfalls; these look even better.

    Also, finally received your cookbook a few weeks ago. Can I just say…FABULOUS! I have been raving about it to everyone. My mom and best friend just ordered one as well. Thanks, gals!