H.B. Reese, the creator of the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (originally named “Penny Cups” for their price of one cent), arrived at this ingenious combination of ingredients while trying to support his wife and 16 children. He was almost as good at making sweets as he was at making kids. Little did he know that his successful basement experiment would go on to become one of the most popular candies in the U.S. And little did you know that you can make an indulgent chocolate peanut butter treat of your own in about 12 minutes prep time. You don’t even need a truck load of kids to help you.
There are plenty of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup knock-off recipes out there, but that’s not what this is. Oh no no. I consider this to be a more grown up version of the famous novelty, made with higher quality ingredients. The best part though? No fussy molds to deal with. If you can operate a microwave (and a spoon) then you can make these delicious bars.
Given the simplicity of this recipe I feel like I should issue a warning to my readers. These are good. Damn good. You will eat more than
one five of them. I cannot be held responsible for any self induced tummy aches that may occur as the result of gorging on these addictive confections. But… is that really a warning though? Maybe it’s more of a tease, gently beckoning you to enjoy these decadent bars with a glass of cold milk. I won’t notify anyone if you slice the pan in half and tell your friends you only ate “one”.
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 8 ounces unsalted butter
- 1 pound powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang at the edges so you can easily lift the fudge out when it sets.
- Microwave peanut butter with unsalted butter for 2 minutes.
- Stir well and microwave 2 more minutes. Mixture will be molten hot so be careful with it.
- Add vanilla and salt, stirring to combine.
- Combine peanut butter mixture with powdered sugar and stir well with a wooden spoon. Mixture will be incredibly thick.
- Spread mixture across the bottom of the prepared pan. I like to lay another sheet of parchment on top and use my hands to help level it out.
- Transfer to the refrigerator to chill while you prepare the ganache.
- Heat the cream to just below a simmer. If you have a thermometer and want to be more precise you're aiming for around 185F. You can do this in a saucepan on the stove, but a couple of minutes in the microwave should do the trick. Just watch it closely to make sure it doesn't boil.
- Pour the hot cream over the finely chopped chocolate and walk away for 10 minutes to give the chocolate time to melt. Gently fold the chocolate and cream together until smooth and glossy. If your chocolate wasn't chopped finely enough you may have a few stubborn pieces that refuse to melt. Pop the mixture in the microwave at 10 seconds intervals until the ganache is smooth.
- Spread over the peanut butter fudge. Sprinkle the top with sea salt if desired. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are quite salty, so I find this adds a pleasant finish that people love. Return to the refrigerator to finish setting up completely. The bars are not too thick and tend to be ready to eat in an hour or so.
- Run a sharp nice around the edge of the pan to loosen the fudge if needed. Using the overhanging parchment, gently lift the bars out. Slice into squares and serve.
- Calories vary depending on the size of the bars. Cutting into 20 squares puts it at 256 calories each, cutting into 40 smaller sized pieces would put it at 128 calories each.
- As an optional step, sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the peanut butter layer before you've added the ganache. Gently press them into the fudge to keep the bars flat and smooth on top. The texture of this ends up being akin to chocolate chip cookie dough and is so good!