I have an addiction. You guys, I’m hopelessly addicted to those chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels from Trader Joe’s. Luckily I don’t live super close to a TJ’s but when a bag of that chocolate crack does make its way into my house it doesn’t last long at all. I recently finished a bag that had miraculously lived a week in my house, that required a lot of discipline and self-sacrifice. When it was all gone and I stared at the crumbs at the bottom of the foil bag, I realized I had to transform those pretzels into a full-fledged dessert. Something with all the elements that make them so dang good.
That’s how these Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cheesecake Bars came to be! I *love* the chocolate-peanut butter combination but when you add in the salty-sweet element with pretzels AND turn it all into cheesecake, it’s pure bliss for me. I think these cheesecake bars will be pure bliss for you too! By the way – that ganache drizzled over the bars is chocolate PEANUT BUTTER ganache. You can thank me (or maybe curse me) after you’ve inhaled a giant spoonful of the stuff.
What treats or snacks are you addicted to at the moment?
Taste: Like a peanut butter chocolate covered pretzel, but with tangy cream cheese!
Texture: The crust is ultra crunchy yet buttery, the filling is creamy and rich, and the ganache is ultra luscious and thick. There’s a hidden layer of chocolate on top of the crust and before the cheesecake as well.
Ease: Much easier than making a full on cheesecake, though you will dirty a few dishes.
Pros: Fun salty-sweet dessert with all my favorite flavors.
Cons: None! Maybe the delayed gratification in having to wait for the cheesecake to cool then chill.
Would I make this again? Oh yeah.
How to make Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Cheesecake Bars
Yield: 9 large bars or 16 smaller bars
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook: 4 hours
For the pretzel crust:
4 cups pretzels, crushed into fine crumbs (about 1 1/2 cups crumbs)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
For the cheesecake:
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
For the chocolate peanut butter ganache:
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8 by 8-inch baking pan with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine the pretzel crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan, using the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to pack very firmly into the pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the chocolate chips. Bake for another 2 minutes. Remove from oven and smooth the melted chocolate chips with an offset spatula. Let cool completely.
For the filling:
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Add in the peanut butter, vanilla, and salt and beat until just combined. Pour over the cooled crust.
Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes, or until the cheesecake is set at the edges but ever so slightly jiggly in the middle. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Cover and chill the cheesecake in the fridge until very cold, at least 3 hours. The cheesecake can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.
For the topping:
Place the cream in a glass measuring cup. Microwave for 25 seconds, or until steaming hot but not bubbling. Add in the chocolate chips and peanut butter. Let sit for 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Remove to a zip-top bag, snip a very small hole in one corner, and drizzle over the cheesecake. Serve or refrigerate.
© Handle the Heat - handletheheat.com