Peanut Butter Bars with Sneaky Beans
I know the name of this recipe sounds so weird, but hang in there, okay? I’m clearly not the best at naming recipes and normally just use descriptive titles. I’m just not a cutesy person. I’m not into pink or frilly (shiny is a whole different story!) and coming up with adorable names does not come natural. I’ll work on it, I promise. Until then, you’re stuck with sneaky beans.
This recipe has been a long time coming for me. In middle school and high school, the cafeteria served these super delicious peanut butter bars. They had a fudgey chocolatey top, thick and sticky peanut butter filling, and a firm slightly cookie-like bottom. I knew I could easily recreate that fattening deliciousness if I loaded up on butter, but I really didn’t want to do that. Instead, I skipped all butter in the topping and crust (except for the peanut variety, of course) and used whole wheat flour.
But the sneaky beans? Those are blended right into the peanut butter. At this point you’re either A. running in fear or B. totally intrigued. I don’t think there is a middle ground when it comes to beans in desserts, except for the unsuspecting roommates, boyfriends, coworkers, children, etc. who don’t even know they’re there. Promise, promise, promise me that if (when!) you try out these bars, you’ll puree the heck out of the beans. You don’t want any traces of bean bits or weird peel to take away from the creamy, creamy peanut butter texture that beans naturally have when blended up– and please don’t try to use a can of refried beans Those would not mix nicely with PB!
- 2 c white whole wheat flour (or GF mix)
- ½ c sugar
- ¾ – 1 c unsweetened applesauce
- 1 tsp butter flavoring (optional)
- (Peanut butter filling)
- 1 can white beans (I used pinto), well rinsed and drained
- 2 tbsp almond or other milk choice, if needed
- 2 heaping c creamy peanut butter
- 1 c powdered sugar
- ½ c oat flour
- 1 tbsp honey or agave
- (Chocolate topping)
- 1 c semi sweet chocolate chips
- ¼ – ½ c peanut butter
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF and spritz a 9 x 13” baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Combine the crust ingredients. Start with ¾ c applesauce and work up to 1 c, if necessary, to incorporate all of the flour. A crumbly batter is preferred, but not necessary.
- Press the dough into the prepare pan. Poke all over with a fork and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.
- Using a food processor, blend the beans very well, adding milk if necessary to get a smooth and creamy texture. This will take anywhere from 5 – 15 minutes, depending on the size and quality of your food processor. You want no bean pieces to remain.
- In a large bowl, combine the bean puree and all other peanut butter filling ingredients. Stir until well combined.
- In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the chips for about 30 seconds. Stir until mostly smooth and add the remaining peanut butter. Stir until smooth, microwaving in 15 second bursts, if necessary.
- Allow the crust to cool slightly (a little heat will help spread the PB). Drop the filling by spoonfuls and spread evenly. Pour chocolate over top and spread evenly.
- Let cool on the counter for ~ 30 minutes. Cover loosely and chill in the fridge for ~ 2 hours before cutting and serving.