When my dad was growing up, his mom and grandma were lunch ladies in the local school cafeteria. This was back in the days of from scratch cooking, where everything was homemade and nothing was frozen. Dad still looks back fondly on his memories of school lunch. How could he not with two of the best cooks he knew preparing the food? More than anything else, he remembers the peanut butter bars. All these years later, they are still the treat he requests for his birthday and special occasions.
About 13 years ago one of my closest friends, Angie, gave me her recipe for peanut butter bars. I took it to Grandma for approval and she gave me the lunch lady thumbs up, which if you didn’t know is kind of a big deal! Since then, I’ve made them so many times that I could do it in my sleep. Tweaking things here and there over the years to make the frosting a bit richer for my liking, and adding a bit more peanut butter to please my dad.
I’ve received so many requests lately for the recipe that I thought I’d share it here on the blog, along with my little tips and tricks for making sure they come out delectable every time.
So without further ado, here is dad’s favorite treat!
Tips & Tricks
- Before pressing dough into the sheet pan, spray your hand with cooking spray or rub it with the butter wrapper. This will keep your hand from sticking to the dough.
- Don’t over cook the cookie base! No no no! These peanut butter bars should be soft and chewy. They should NEVER be crunchy! Bake until light golden brown and then pull out of the oven. In my old electric oven they cooked for 10 minutes. In my new gas oven I keep them in for 12. After making them a couple times you’ll get a better idea of how hot your oven is and how long to cook the cookie base for.
- Use a large frosting spatula to spread the peanut butter on the warm cookie base. If you tear the top of the dough a bit, don’t stress! Just fill it with peanut butter. Frosting is going on the top so nobody will know. Sometimes when I’m feeling extra generous, I add more than a cup to make the peanut butter layer extra thick. That’s my favorite.
- Make sure to cool the peanut butter bar base well before you spread on the frosting.
- My secret for awesome frosting is to beat the heck out of it on high speed with my hand mixer. Making it nice and whippy gives it this light texture that I love.
- These peanut butter bars are especially delicious on the second day. The oil from the peanut butter seeps into everything and makes it all gooey and fantastic.
Speaking of the oil from the peanut butter… before anybody gets mad, let me just put it out there that these lunch lady bars are NOT diet food. They are completely addictive and, as such, insanely horrible for your waistline. Consider yourself warned and don’t come crying to me when your favorite skinnies don’t fit. These are old fashioned peanut butter bars and no doubt would never be allowed in Michelle Obama’s school lunchrooms! But to steal from politically correct Cookie Monster, these cookies are a sometimes treat.
I’ve decided that you just gotta live a little once in a while and eat an incredibly fattening peanut butter bar.
Life’s too short to live on celery sticks and tofu alone!