Peanut Butter Millionaire Shortbread Bars

The only thing in this world better than chocolate and peanut butter… is chocolate, caramel and peanut butter.

And that’s exactly what you get when you take a classic millionaire shortbread recipe and add a heaping scoop of peanut butter.

Peanut Butter Millionaire Shortbread Bars

You’d think peanut butter caramel would be more of a thing, because the two go together so well. But when you add to that a layer of buttery, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread and top it all with a double thick layer of chocolate ganache? You get one one extremely happy girl.

Peanut Butter Millionaire Shortbread Bars

It’s pointless to reinvent the wheel, so I adapted the billionaire bar recipe we’d developed for the Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook (billionaire because with the extra layer of cookie dough, they are so much richer than regular millionaire bars).

This version, in comparison, has a thicker caramel layer with added peanut butter, some salted peanuts for crunch, and a double layer of soft chocolate ganache layer in place of the chocolate glaze.

Peanut Butter Millionaire Shortbread Bars

I wanted to try to make a caramel similar to the million other millionaire shortbread recipes out there: a sweetened condensed milk-based caramel (also known as dulce-de-leche), which most people seem to consider easier to make than traditional caramel.

Apparently I am not most people.

Peanut Butter Millionaire Shortbread Bars

Here’s the thing. I have no issues making legit caramel, and yet can’t seem to make the shortcut kind to save my life.

I made 4 batches (FOUR!) of gross, grainy, separated caramel before I finally gave up. I’d rather make (and probably should have made) a real caramel, hot liquid sugar and all, than make another batch of that freaking stuff. No matter what I tried (stovetop/microwave, various heat levels, more/less butter, stirring like my life depended on it) it always seems to separate into a less-than-appetizing mess. And if I can’t get it to work, well, no way I’m going to assume you will.

Peanut Butter Millionaire Shortbread Bars

Once I had finally run out of sweetened condensed milk (and patience), I turned to plan C: the cheater’s cheater caramel, and you’ll be happy to hear it’s even easier than the supposedly easy version, with pretty much zero chance of failure (I’m not saying definitively zero because I have no idea what kinds of shenanigans go on in your kitchen).

But basically, all you have to do is melt down some caramel bits, thin them out a bit, and pour it onto your shortbread. Soft caramel candies will also work, though it’s a pain unwrapping them which is why I love the baking bits, despite their oddly bean-like appearance. Taylor seriously thought I was baking with garbanzo beans (ew) until I made him taste one to prove they were indeed caramel.

The ratio of caramel to peanut butter is important here, as, peanut butter being a very strong flavor, would easily overwhelm the caramel in no time. Three tablespoons is all it takes to give these bars just the right balance of peanut butter and caramel, so both flavors shine in perfect unison.

Peanut Butter Millionaire Shortbread Bars

Yield: 16 bars

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

For Shortbread:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole milk

For Peanut Butter Caramel:

  • 7 oz. caramel bits or soft caramel candies, unwrapped
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 tablespoons creamy salted peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanuts

For Chocolate Ganache:

  • 5 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-by-8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang on two sides.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add vanilla and salt and mix until combined. Mix until flour until incorporated; mixture will appear slightly crumbly. Add milk and mix until dough comes together. Press into prepared pan in a thin even layer, then prick all over the surface with a fork or a skewer. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until edges are lightly golden. Remove from oven and set on a wire rack to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, unwrap caramel candies and place in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Add milk and sweetened condensed milk and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth.
  4. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over cooled shortbread, then pour hot caramel mixture over top, spreading to the edges and corners if necessary. Refrigerate until set, at least 30 minutes.
  5. Place chopped chocolate in a bowl. Heat cream and corn syrup together in a small saucepan set over low heat until it just begins to bubble. Pour over chopped chocolate; let sit for 30 seconds and then gently whisk until smooth. Pour over caramel layer, spreading into a smooth layer with an offset spatula.
  6. Chill until set, at least 30 minutes.
  7. Using parchment paper, carefully lift the entire bar out of the baking pan. Cut into 2-inch squares. Squares will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container or or wrapped in aluminum foil, for up to 3 days.

Did you make this recipe?

Let us know what you think!
Leave a Comment or share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #loveandoliveoil.

Recommended for this recipe:

(may include affiliate links)

That's My Jam: Spring edition Now Available!

38 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Peanut butter anything is ok in my books . Your photographs of the triple threat of short bread, caramel and Chocolate; drool!!! 

  2. Caramel definitely takes some practice. Don’t give up! It doesn’t look like this recipe suffered in any form with the substitution though. I’m a sucker for peanut butter so yeah, this looks dangerous :-p

  3. The only thing better than millionaire’s shortbread is millionaire’s shortbread with PEANUT BUTTER. Best idea ever and just look at those perfect layers.

  4. These look beyond amazing.  And dangerous. Love the layers of perfection!

  5. These look fabulous! Love the photos, so gorgeous.  It was so fun meeting you this weekend!

  6. I’ve had similar caramel struggles myself, so much so that I think there should be a support group :). It seems like an obvious answer, but what prevents the peanut butter/caramel from seeping into the shortbread? How long do you wait for it to cool before you add on the caramel?  My favorite part of the recipe (besides the ganache) is the peanuts included in the caramel. Genius! Great Recipe!

  7. Great recipe! How did you get those perfect “teeth” bite mark on the cookie? It surely could not have been a real person’s bite?!

  8. Sorry you had so much caramel struggle! Luckily, the end product looks beyond perfect. I want a square with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As in, three squares, please!

  9. Oh my goodness, these look AMAZING! I love peanut butter but layer on shortbread and chocolate? SOLD.

  10. These look incredible!! That perfect bite is just calling my name today. Love it!

  11. these look so fantastic and your pictures are just gorgeous!! I love these!! 

  12. No words. I am just sitting over here drooling!!!

  13. Your photography never fails to leave me jaw-dropped.   And hungry.  Those bars with the teeth marks, makes me wish that it was my bite!  I’m seriously drooling.

  14. haha i like how you think. that is the only combo better than chocolate & PB!

  15. These look incredible!!! I made a version of these bars a couple years ago that I called PB Twix Bars because that’s what they tasted like to me….I used jarred caramel sauce from Trader Joe’s for them and the only downside is that it’s a little runny. I love how perfect the texture of your caramel looks! Like just soooo tooth-sinkingly perfect!

  16. These photos are stunning, Lindsay! What gorgeous, delicious looking bars :) 

  17. I agree! No substitutions for the chocolate and peanut butter combo but will gladly welcome a threesome with caramel, better still if it is salted caramel. 

  18. Whoa! Amazing photos! I am drooling over these yummy bars :D

  19. Gosh, do they look just perfect! I saw it on IG when Julie at The Little Kitchen shared it. Can’t wait to try this recipe!

  20. Caramel and peanut butter really are a match made in heaven! Chocolate and shortbread just sweeten the deal. I’ll definitely have to make these one day soon!

  21. Well, these look amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  22. “You’d think peanut butter caramel would be more of a thing, because the two go together so well. But when you add to that a layer of buttery, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread and top it all with a double thick layer of chocolate ganache” – dear lord you’re making me salivate at the thought of these delicious textures all in one!

    -Kelsey

  23. Peanut butter, caramel, and chocolate sound sinfully and ridiculously good. Wish I had some right about now! 

  24. This looks perfect! I think peanut butter makes everything better, so can’t wait to try your version! Thanks, Lindsay and Taylor!

  25. Yum! This look so nice, can’t wait to try them :D

  26. Peanut butter caramel!!! Oh my gosh, YES!!

  27. So many layers of love right here!  (And I agree—unwrapping caramels has to be the worst kitchen task ever, next to dishes. I’d rather make it myself too!)

  28. Ohhhh girl. You are speaking my language with this one!!!! Everyone is all “Chocolate and Peanut Butter” “NOOO Chocolate and Caramel”… I’m all “How about Chocolate and Peanut Butter AND Caramel” :)

  29. I love those layers! The salty and the sweet together look so good!
    Kari

  30. I love this idea!  I make the billionaire bars for my husband’s poker club on Thursday nights but never added peanuts or peanut butter to them.  They will be getting a surprise this week!  Thanks for sharing!

  31. I agree – with everything!  They look amazing and pinning to Pinterest!

  32. Wowza! These would prove dangerous in my house. They would definitely push my willpower to the limits. Pinned.

  33. I think I just gained 5 pounds! Thanks for the Cat Tax with the newsletter ;-)

  34. How exactly did you cut them up without them  breaking and making a mess? They are cut too perfectly so there must be some trick to cutting them. ? please share.

    • Be sure they are completely chilled, and use a large sharp knife. Cut in a single motion, no sawing or slicing. Wipe off the knife between cuts. That, and a bit of practice. :)

  35. Anything with peanut butter and chocolate is a must try! Great recipe!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *