Chocolate Chip Cookies, plus fudgy brownies, and peanut butter cups make these outrageous goodies the ultimate dessert bar!
Some days I like to share my favorite healthier recipes with you.
Today is not one of those days.
Kevin is especially excited about this recipe. He’s been asking me for the past 10 days when I’ll be posting it. You see, these ridiculous dessert bars are his concoction. He likes to call them Monster Bars because well… they’re quite monstrous.
“Sally, can you please make a chocolate chip cookie layered with peanut butter cups and then brownie batter on top with chocolate chips?”
Kevin also encouraged me to make my Peppermint Crunch Puppy Chow, which was the most popular recipe in 2012 and the 30 Minute Homemade Soft Pretzel recipe is a recipe from his family. I think I need to listen to this man’s requests more often!
Let’s take a brief moment to reflect on what these insane dessert bars actually are. Are they a brownie? A cookie? A sugar bomb? Your dentist’s worst nightmare? Yes, all of the above.
Today you’re getting a dessert trifecta: chocolate chips cookies + peanut butter cups + brownies. I made the chocolate chip cookie layer from scratch and the brownie layer from scratch and I highly recommend you do the same!
You have a soft-baked chocolate chip cookie layer on the bottom. But not just any cookie recipe – you have to make sure that the cookie dough you use on the bottom produces an extra thick and extra soft cookie bar or else you’ll end up with crunchy, crispy, and thin layer on the bottom since the bars are baked for a long period of time in the oven.
I am never a fan of crunching into a chocolate chip cookie. I turned to my favorite soft chocolate chip cookie recipe for the bottom layer. This is the same cookie you guys rave about! Have you tried my soft & thick chocolate chip cookie recipe yet?
Once you make the chocolate chip cookie dough, spread it across your 9×13 inch baking pan. I used a rubber spatula sprayed with non-stick spray to make this step easier. The cookie dough is extra sticky, so I recommend you do the same.
What’s next? The peanut butter cups. I used a combination of Reese’s unwrapped mini peanut butter cups and Trader Joe’s mini peanut butter cups. They are two different sizes, but both mini versions. You may use regular size peanut butter cups in this layer and even chop them if you’d like. Go for about 2 heaping cups of mini peanut butter cups.
Can I just eat the cookie dough & peanut butter cups with a spoon please?! ↓
And finally, the motherload of all layers: rich, fudgy brownies with dark chocolate chips inside the batter. I’m obsessed with dark chocolate morsels these days! I use dark chocolate morsels more often than semi-sweet or milk chocolate (both of which could substitute by the way).
I used a homemade brownie recipe for the top layer. If you’re feeling lazy and short on time, use a box mix – but only in an emergency! My favorite boxed brownie mix is Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate boxed brownie mix. The chocolate flavor doesn’t necessary taste like “dark chocolate,” it is just very rich and fudgy. However, nothing compares to a homemade brownie, especially if the homemade brownie layer is as easy as mine.
I have two homemade chocolate brownie recipes on my website. One recipe uses melted chocolate and another recipe uses cocoa powder. Some may not agree here, but I truly don’t have a preference over cocoa powder or solid chocolate. It’s chocolate either in solid form or unsweetened powder form. Mix it with butter, and you have something amazing. For the top layer, I used the brownie recipe calling for melted chocolate because it makes a larger batch than my brownie recipe using cocoa powder. You need a brownie recipe to cover a 9×13 pan.
The homemade fudge chocolate brownie layer is insane. It is so dense that it tastes like pure fudge. Sprinkled with dark chocolate chips on top, and mixed with melty peanut butter cups and a soft chocolate chip cookie layer on the bottom – you have pure monstrosity here people!
This recipe makes a large batch – about 24 decent sized and very thick bars, which is perfect for parties, larger families, or pure chocoholics. I brought a plate of leftovers into work and they were gone by 9:15am. It’s what I like to call a breakfast of champions.
Do you like homemade chocolate chip cookies or brownies better? Who cares! You get two favorites in every single bite!
Step aside, skinny jeans. Sweatpants are in style now, right?!
Fudge Brownie Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Bars
Makes 24 generously sized, thick squares.I used homemade cookie dough and brownie recipes.The chocolate chip cookie dough must produce soft and thick cookie bars to avoid becoming too thin and fragile for the heavy batter on top. Feel free to use a boxed brownie mix for the top layer, but nothing from a box tastes like homemade brownies.Be sure to use a recipe that will cover a 9x13 pan.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips (or semi-sweet or milk chocolate)
- 2 cups mini peanut butter cups (or 2 cups chopped peanut butter cups)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 8 ounces coarsely chopped semi-sweet chocolate, such as Bakers brand
- 1 and 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips (or semi-sweet or milk chocolate)
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Spray 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
Make the brownie layer first, even though it will go on top: melt the butter and semi-sweet chocolate in a medium saucepan on medium heat, stirring constantly (about 6 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature (about 15 minutes - you may use this 15 minutes to make the chocolate chip cookie layer). Stir sugar into cooled chocolate/butter mixture until combined. Add in the eggs one at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla. Gently fold in the flour and salt. Then, fold in the chocolate chips.
Make the cookie layer: in a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Mix in egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. On low speed, mix in flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate chips. Dough will be thick and sticky. Using a rubber spatula sprayed with cooking spray (to reduce sticking), spread the cookie dough all over the prepared baking pan. The layer will be thin, but will puff up as it bakes. Top with peanut butter cups, then pour the brownie batter on top and smooth with a knife or rubber spatula.
Bake the bars for 35-45 minutes, or until the center no longer jiggles and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out relatively clean (a few brownie crumbs may remain).
Allow the bars to cool completely, at least 2 hours, before cutting into squares. Bars remain fresh at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
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This ain’t my first rodeo. Consider me a layered dessert connoisseur.