Peanut Butter Cup Caramel Shortbread Bars

CATEGORIES: Bars and Brownies, Kate

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.



  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

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