Posts Tagged ‘peanut fudge bars’

Back in my advertising agency days, I worked with a rather unpleasant young woman who was rather full of her own self importance. One day she was going on and on that her client PayDay, that peanutty candy bar, was the #1 selling non-chocolate candy bar in the country. I replied, “What’s Number 2?” I may have smirked. She left in a huff, muttering unpleasant names at me. Fair enough, I deserved that. But in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king, right? 

Now, don’t get me wrong, I adore PayDays. Love them! But every time I eat one I am reminded of this story and laugh. I can’t help it and my fondness for that candy bar hasn’t diminished one bit. That salty-sweet-fudgy-crunchy combination is my ideal. In fact, my PayDay love inspired Day 11 of the 12 Days of Cookies. Eating copious amounts of leftover Halloween candy will do that sometimes. Our base cookie dough forms a crunchy buttery cookie layer that’s topped with a peanutty fudge. It’s quite delicious and very PayDay-like. Salty-sweet-fudgy-crunchy really is my thing.

A key part of this peanut fudge part is sweetened condensed milk that’s cooked down to a caramel, a dulce de leche actually. For both size versions, I recommend cooking the full 14oz can because it’s easier even though for the smaller 9”x9” pan you’ll only need half of it. I’m sure you’ll find a use for some extra caramel. Can you skip a step and use purchased dulce de leche? Probably. I didn’t test it but it would probably work just fine. It’s not so important how you get there just that you get there.

12 Days of Cookies from years past:

FruityJam ThumbprintsJam Streusel TartsRaspberry Linzer SquaresLemon Poppyseed ButtonsOrange Sesame CrispsCranberry Pistachio CoinsAlmond Raspberry StripsOrange Sandwich CookiesApricot Rosemary ShortbreadCoconut Lime SticksBourbon Glazed Fruitcake ButtonsLemon Cornmeal BiscottiBlueberry Lime ButtonsDate Swirls

NuttyMexican Wedding CookiesRussian Tea CakesPecan TassiesMaple Black Walnut CookiesPB&J Sandwich CookiesPecan Triangles

SpicedCinnamon Sugar PinwheelsCandied Ginger Spice ButtonsCardamom Rose CoinsBrown Sugar Wafers with Lemon Lavender Glaze

ChocolateBasic Chocolate Butter Cookie DoughMexican Chocolate CrinklesChocolate Cocoa Nib Wafers,Raspberry Chocolate DropsChocolate Hazelnut ButtonsDark Mocha Sandwich CookiesEspresso CrinklesCranberry Cocoa Nib WafersChocolate Dulce de Leche Sandwich CookiesChocolate LebkuchenFudge TartsChocolate Marzipan DropsChocolate Coconut BullseyesChocolate Peanut Butter Sandwich CookiesChocolate Almond CrescentsChocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

BarsRum Butter BarsPeppermint Brownie BarsBanana Walnut BarsChocolate Banana Petit Fours

Holiday ClassicsCream Cheese WreathsClassic Molasses CookiesPeppermint Candy CanesAndes Mint Chip CookiesHoliday Mallomars

This year:

Basic Butter Cookie Dough for all recipes

Day 1: Sparkly Sugar Cookies

Day 2: Pecan Praline Bars

Day 3: Earl Grey Sandwich Cookies

Day 4: Butter Brickle Cookies

Day 5: Maple Glazed Spiced Sweet Potato Cookies

Day 6: Garam Masala Shortbread

Day 7: Magic Cookie Bars

Day 8: Rocky Road Bars

Day 9: Rum Raisin Squares

Day 10: Iced Coffee Cookies


Base Butter Cookie Dough – recipe here

  1. For the caramel: Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a 9”x5” loaf pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Place in a larger deep pan, like a 9”x13” baking pan, and pour water in the larger pan until it reaches about halfway up the loaf pan.
  3. Bake 1 hour. Remove from oven and cool. (You can do this step up to 2 days ahead.) Note: if making a 9”x9” pan, you’ll use half of this caramel – 6oz. It’s easier to cook the full can and extra caramel is never a bad thing.
  4. For the cookie base: Line a pan (with at least 2” sides) with a crisscross of aluminum foil, pressing to make as smooth as possible. Parchment will work but foil is better.
  5. Turn the base cookie dough into the pan and spread to form an even, level layer, pressing down to compact. The easiest way to do this is to crumble the dough into the pan, starting with the corners, and press to form an even layer. Then top the dough with a scrap of parchment and smooth with your fingers. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  7. Bake the crust for 20-25 minutes, until it’s set around the edges and beginning to brown on the top. Remove from the oven, and let cool completely. 
  8. For the topping: reserve ¼ cup of the peanuts for the top and set aside until needed.
  9. In a heavy-bottom saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the marshmallows and stir until melted.
  10. Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the peanut butter and caramel (reminder: use half the caramel – 6oz – if making a 9”x9” pan).
  11. When the mixture is combined and smooth, remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the sifted powdered sugar and ¾ cup of peanuts.
  12. Quickly pour this mixture over the cooled cookie base and smooth with a spatula. 
  13. Sprinkle the reserved ¼ cup peanuts evenly over the top, pressing gently into the caramel. An easy tip is to place a piece of parchment or plastic wrap on top and gently press down.
  14. Allow the bars to set for 1 hour on the counter or refrigerate 30 minutes.
  15. Using the foil to remove the bars from the pan, transfer to a cutting board. Cut into small squares or bars with a sharp knife.
  16. Do ahead: the bars can be baked and frozen, uncut, up to 2 months tightly wrapped.

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