Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip & Pretzel Bars

Hello from the land of the drugged and living, but barely standing.

We had a completely fantastic cookie swap yesterday. Enough people came (plus a set of 5 month old twins!) to perfectly fill the house and use up exactly all the glasses and mugs, without having to struggle to find spare surfaces for more cookies. It was perfect. Except that at some point yesterday morning my back decided it had had enough, perhaps rebelling against all this baking – for the Upscale Bake Sale, and the Swerve Christmas party Friday night, then the 14 dozen I was making for another swap last night in unison with about five varieties I wanted to try for yesterday’s party – and deteriorated quickly over the course of the afternoon. As a result I hobbled slowly from room to room, periodically moaning for no particular reason, which probably made other cookie revellers wonder what was up in my brain.

I missed last night’s party, unable to sit, stand, lie down, curl up in the fetal position, or breathe, really. I sent Mike over with the jarred cookies I had yet to decorate and label. I’m now in a weird position in bed, propped up with pillows and heating pads and loaded with painkillers, but Mike still had to rescue me from the bathroom this morning, and brought me coffee in W’s old sippy cup.

Which is all to say I haven’t made it to my desktop yet to upload all the photos. So I’ll tide you over with one recipe – these chewy, chocolate chip cookie-like bars topped with bashed pretzels glued on top with chocolate and peanut butter. That’s my favourite part, the topping – the last version I saw had chocolate and peanut butter splattered overtop separately, but if you zap equal amounts of chocolate and peanut butter together it keeps the chocolate from seizing, and stirs into this smooth mixture you could likely do all sorts of things with. Like glob it in heavy spatters over other cookies. Or into your mouth. If you’re into that sort of thing.

I also am very excited to share the pecan pie brownies, changed a bit from Gwendolyn’s version (I ditched the bourbon and cinnamon – I’m a brownie and pecan pie purist) – I will do so just as soon as I can hold a camera. And of course all the recipes from yesterday – most everyone brought their recipes along, and no two cookies were the same. I can’t wait to show & tell.

Meanwhile, if you’re participating in the virtual cookie swap, I’d love to hear what you’re making. I’ll scare up some prizes, even. Let us know here – post recipes or links to your own blogs – let’s swap!

Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip & Pretzel Bars


Yields1 Serving

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1-2 cups chocolate chunks or chips
1 1/2 cups mini pretzel twists, coarsely broken (divided)
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter a 9×13" pan.


In a large bowl, beat the butter with both sugars at until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and stir until almost combined; add the chocolate chips and 1 cup of the pretzel pieces and stir just until blended.


Spread the batter evenly in the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden. In a small bowl or saucepan, melt the peanut butter and chocolate chips in the microwave or over low heat, stirring until smooth. Sprinkle the bars with the remaining crushed pretzel pieces and drizzle with the peanut butter-chocolate mixture. Let cool until set, then cut into squares or bars.


 3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
 1 cup light brown sugar
 1/2 cup sugar
 2 large eggs
 2 tsp. vanilla
 2 cups all-purpose flour
 1 tsp. baking soda
 ½ tsp. salt
 1-2 cups chocolate chunks or chips
 1 1/2 cups mini pretzel twists, coarsely broken (divided)
 1/4 cup peanut butter
 1/4 cup chocolate chips



Preheat the oven to 350°F and butter a 9×13" pan.


In a large bowl, beat the butter with both sugars at until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and stir until almost combined; add the chocolate chips and 1 cup of the pretzel pieces and stir just until blended.


Spread the batter evenly in the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden. In a small bowl or saucepan, melt the peanut butter and chocolate chips in the microwave or over low heat, stirring until smooth. Sprinkle the bars with the remaining crushed pretzel pieces and drizzle with the peanut butter-chocolate mixture. Let cool until set, then cut into squares or bars.

Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip & Pretzel Bars

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29 comments on “Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip & Pretzel Bars

  1. natalie - ga
    December 11, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Rest up! I hope you feel better soon.

  2. Sandy
    December 11, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    So sorry to hear your life has caught up to you and that you had to miss out on some activites, Julie. I had no idea you were under the weather yesterday – you kept it hidden well. Take it easy and get better soon. Thanks again for hosting a great cookie party!

  3. CanadyAnna
    December 11, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Oh no! Having been bucking pain in my leg since last March (so I guess we could call it chronic now) you have my upmost sympathy. Once I was young and prone to over commitments too – at least when you are young you still have the energy for it. But now I find I have to be a little more careful of how I spend my personal resources…hence why I just couldn’t face 3 round trips to Calgary in one day yesterday. I am sorry to have missed it though.

    Take care – and let hubby and son ply you with cups of tea and cocoa regularly along with some of the left over cookies – food for your spirit! And maybe a bowl of French School Kids’ Zucchini soup just so you don’t feel guilty.

  4. Krista
    December 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    As a fellow back pain sufferer, my sincerest sympathies! Try a hot soak in the tub first, then a GENTLE hamstring stretch (by the sounds of it, you may need Mike to help with this). Start slowly but you may find it helps the spasm in the back release a little. It’s amazing how the leg and pelvic muscles affect the back! Good Luck! And if all else fails…booze!

  5. suchalab
    December 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I am so sorry you are in such agony after the fantastic cookie exchange you hosted and ended up in bed instead of at the next fete! I was thinking you did end up with the 14 dozen cookies still at your house, thank goodness for Mike.

    It was so much fun to be at yours, exchanging cookies and hanging with other devout foodies such as you and the other guests. Thank you and feel better, hugs.

  6. Carol SB
    December 11, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    Julie, I guess you know how sorry I am that your back is mad at you.
    And… I brought Meringues (and some other stuff..) to the cookie exchange. So many reasons to make meringues, guys: they are pretty, sweet, not too filling… and, whatever your(or your guests’) dietary restrictions may be, the chances are excellent you can eat these (fat free; no dairy or gluten…).
    If you have a mixer, these are easy peasy. Otherwise, they’ll be a bit of a workout (notes to follow):
    3 egg whites
    3/4 cup sugar
    Vanilla &/ or other flavouring (I used coffee essence, and put a coffee bean on the top of each before baking)
    -Line a cookie sheet or two with parchment paper (Whatever did we do before parchment paper?!)
    Beat egg whites until foamy, then gradually add sugar. Add flavouring(s). Continue to beat on high speed(use wire whisk for this if your mixer has one) until soft peaks form. Spoon by teaspoons onto prepared cookie sheet. You can give them a bit of pizzazz at this point by putting on a few silver dragees, a coffee bean, or whatever you fancy. Bake at 225 F (yes, you read that right! you’re drying them out as much as cooking them…) for ~ 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Turn off oven and let them sit in there overnight. Package airtight; if they get damp, they’re… different. Chewy. Deflated, too.
    **And a few notes for these sweet kisses: everything has to be scrupulously clean (no oil residue; no soap; clean and dry). When I separate the eggs, I use an extra little bowl: I separate them one at a time into that bowl, then slip each one into my mixer bowl. If you get even a tiny speck of yolk in, it’s game over. So the little bowl is to contain any ruptures that may occur.
    I use the yolks in a recipe for (e.g.) lemon squares or brownies, anything that has a couple of eggs and is quite dense; the three egg yolks, for me, sub in for one egg in a recipe like that. Or you can tip them down the sink if you like!
    The coffee essence I used for these was sort of homemade: I stirred some instant espresso powder into a tablespoon of Tia Maria. They’re great with orange flavour instead; or just plain vanilla meringues. In fact, if you make them just vanilla, you could make “Eaton Mess” with some of them for your New Year’s dinner:

  7. CathyH
    December 11, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    I am so sorry to hear of your back pain. As a former back pain sufferer, I know it is worse than childbirth. Well, almost.Hope you feel better soon. I always make my Mom’s refrigerator cookies. Not fancy, just a good old basic cookie that you can add anything you like to. There are 9 variations in the original recipe, but I will give you my standard Glace cherry version.My brother and I used to steal them from the freezer and eat them frozen.

    2/3 c. butter
    1 c. brown sugar
    1 egg
    1 tsp. vanilla
    2 c. flour
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. baking soda
    red and green glace cherries, chopped – about a cup, or whatever you like
    ( I usually double or triple this recipe)
    Cream butter. Add sugar.Blend. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. Add remaining dry ingredients. Mix in chopped glace cherries.
    Roll into approx. 1 1/2 “logs. Wrap in plastic wrap. Chill a few hours or overnight.
    Slice into 3/8 ” slices. Bake on Silpat or greased cookie sheet 350 for 7 – 10 minutes.
    You may substitute these for the cherries: orange or lemon rind, add chopped nuts, roll the logs in colored sugar before slicing, make “turtles” with pecan pieces for the appendages and head, add crushed candy canes, add cocoa or melted chocolate chips, sandwich two cookies with icing between, or bake them plain as one of my daughters loves.

  8. bev
    December 11, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Ok, do NOTHING that hurts your back, including posting anything. All we care about is that you are feeling ok. I am sending tons of well wishes and chocolate thoughts your way!

    Having begged for a virtual cookie exchange, I realize…I only make YOUR cookies! So here is what I am baking besides… Having used an adapted Julie Child’s boeuf bourguignon, I hauled the beef out, shredded it, and added hoisen, Bragg, garlic, ginger, and chinese 5 spice. I then thrust little bits of it into white bun dough, rolled it and painted it with egg wash and poppy seed before baking it. Yummmm!

  9. Carolyn
    December 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    If I could have attended your party, this is what I would have brought. I would have packaged them in bags. This recipe is over 100 years old. My grandparents (Oma & Opa) brought it from Russia when they immigrated to Canada in the early 1920s. I remember them making these every Christmas. They are a labour of love and I had no appreciation until I started making them how remarkable it was that they still made these when they were in their late 80s.
    Because this recipe is so big, I usually make half a batch. These keep very well and improve with age.

    2 lb creamed style honey
    2 lb white sugar
    1 lb lard or shortening
    1 cup cream (half & half)
    3 tbsp baking soda
    1 tsp ground star anise
    1/2 tsp ground ginger
    1 tsp ground cloves
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1/2 tsp cardamon
    1/2 tsp nutmeg
    1 tsp salt
    In a large saucepan, heat honey, sugar and lard until sugar is disolved. Disolve soda in a little water and add to honey. Add spices and cream.

    When honey mixture has cooled slightly, add flour to make a soft dough. (A stand mixer will make this task much easier.) Form dough into smaller balls and refrigerate for at least 18 hours.

    Remove dough from fridge about 1 hour before using to soften dough slighly. (Dough will be very hard when it comes out of the fridge, but it needs to be cool when you roll it.)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into long thin logs (about 1/2″ in diameter); cut into 1/2″ lengths. Place on parchment paper or silpat lined baking sheet, about 3/4″ apart. Bake about 8 minutes. Let cool on pan and then store in air tight container.
    Makes approx 2400 (very small) cookies!

  10. Carolyn
    December 11, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Oops… My recipe excluded the flour — 16 cups all purpose flour.

  11. Teri
    December 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    So sorry to hear about your back. If I’d been doing that much I’m sure I would have had problems too. These bars look divine. Take care.

  12. Glenda
    December 11, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    Take care of yourself and your back! I made these yesterday and everyone loved them! The chewy, crunchy, salty combo was terrific. My hubbie made another batch to share after choir practice. No leftovers for sure!

  13. Julie
    December 11, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    Hope you feel better soon! Your regular life sounds like enough to knock a person out, never mind when things ramp up for the holidays.

    On that note, are you telling me there’s a woman out there with 5 month old twins who’s got it so together that she’s baking cookies for an exchange? Kudos. Kudos I say.

    You are both amazing and Inspiring!

  14. Lucianna
    December 12, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Rest up! You have such a busy lifestyle (how do you do it!!seriously!) maybe it’s not such a bad thing to have some recovery time! Speedy recovery and best wishes for the back pains nonetheless! I’ve found yoga does complete wonders to sort out any aches and pains.

    Some running friends and I made the choco-pretzel-PB-bars last night. We ate them probably less than 5 minutes out of the oven, because we couldn’t wait. When they were baking the smell filled the entire apartment! All three of us were in dreamland. More so when we had the first bite… we were debating about having seconds but of course there was no other option! We’re glad we did, they were fantastic. I brought some for my roommates and one of them promptly declared ‘These are going to be the death of me!’ Best served with a glass of ice cold milk 🙂

  15. Lucianna
    December 12, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Am currently baking another batch… This time with almond extract instead of vanilla, chocolate covered pretzels instead of normal ones, and a bit of almond butter mixed in with the PB! (to finish off the jar!).

    Final-exam-studying procrastination at its best 🙂

  16. renee@sweetsugarbean
    December 12, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    So sorry to hear about your bad back. Wishing you a speedy recovery!
    I make these chocolate crackle cookies every year, just because they look so pretty and are full of chocolate. I added some espresso powder this year just to go wild and crazy.

  17. Sue (London, ON)
    December 13, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Oh Julie! I feel your pain. I’m having back issues for the first time ever. And I had my first massage last week and I’m telling you, it did wonders. I hope you can get some rest and feel better. I think my favourite cookie this year is the Linzer cookie recipe in One Smart Cookie. Pretty & delicious!

  18. Ashley
    December 14, 2011 at 7:09 am

    I love chocolate and pretzels together! These bars look so good. I hope you’re feeling better!!

  19. Melissa W
    December 21, 2011 at 9:16 am

    Right, so I made these. And they were indeed delicious!
    The problem I ran into is that once cooled, when I went to cut them – all of the delicious topping of chocolate and crushed pretzel came right off. It stuck to the knife when they weren’t quite cooled – so I chilled the pan.
    That resulted in the topping just falling right off when I cut them into squares.
    It doesn’t look like this was an issue for you, given your photo – so I’m not sure what I did wrong…unless my peanut butter:chocolate ratio was off.
    In any case – my tummy didn’t care what they looked like, and they WERE delish 🙂
    Thanks for the recipe!

  20. Joann@womaninreallife
    December 23, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Good old fashioned Nova Scotia date squares are my favourite treat. I just put the recipe on my blog. Merry Christmas everybody!

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