I've always been a night owl, going to bed sometime between midnight and 2 am has been the norm for as long as I can remember. But the past few weeks by the time 9 or 10 pm rolls around I find myself struggling to keep my eyes open. The shift seems to have coincided with the start of daylight saving time, so I don't know if that's it or if it has something to do with having cut caffeine out of my diet almost entirely. Maybe there's some other explanation I'm not thinking of. Or maybe I'm just getting old, who knows :)
What I do know, is that all this going to bed early stuff leaves me less time for baking. See, I'm a late night baker - it's not at all unusual for me to start pulling out the butter and eggs hours after we've finished dinner. But when you don't eat dinner until 7:30 (on a good day!) and you're going to bed at 9:30, it doesn't leave a whole lot of time to make things happen. I've been trying to do more of my baking on the weekends, but motivation is sometimes harder for me to find on Saturday and Sunday, so it's very much a work in progress.
When the urge to bake struck earlier this week I wanted something simple, and these peanut butter cup s'mores are about as easy as it gets. I was inspired by a recipe I pinned a while back, but rather than make that version, I adapted the super simple s'mores bars I posted last year. We adored that recipe with chocolate bars, and I knew it could only get better by swapping the chocolate out for peanut butter cups. The only component you have to prep is the cookie dough crust, which includes graham cracker crumbs to make this a s'mores treat in more than just name. After that you're home free - simply place the peanut butter cups on top of the crust, top with marshmallow creme and crumble some of the reserved crust as a finishing touch. Easy peasy!
It probably goes without saying, but these are completely, insanely, out-of-this-world good! As much as I like to complicate things, sometimes simple really is best. These bars disappeared in record time at Shane's office and I think we were both a little sad we hadn't thought to keep a few at home for ourselves :) I should note that the marshmallow creme isn't nearly as messy as it appears in that second photo. That one was sort of an anomaly in the batch. That said, if you want to be sure the marshmallow behaves, simply refrigerate the bars, they're delicious cold too!
It'll be months before we can get outside and make true s'mores, but in the meantime these will definitely do the trick. As I was working on these bars, I realized I've never made campfire s'mores with peanut butter cups and that's something I'm very eager to remedy this summer!
Peanut Butter Cup S'mores Bars
adapted from these Super Simple S'mores Bars (inspired by The Sweet Life)
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (from about 5 whole crackers)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
16 Reese's peanut butter cups
1 1/2 cups marshmallow creme
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on opposite sides to lift the bars out afterward. Spray the parchment and pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat to combine. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients gradually, beating just until the dough comes together.
Transfer the dough to the prepared pan, reserving 3/4 cup to use for the topping. Gently press the dough into an even layer over the bottom of the pan. Top the crust with the peanut butter cups in a 4x4 pattern. Spread the marshmallow creme over the peanut butter cups (this is kind of a pain as the peanut butter cups tender to shift around, but just do the best you can - as long as the peanut butter cups are mostly covered the fluff will spread and do its thing in the oven to finish the job for you). Top with the reserved dough, crumbling over the marshmallow creme.
Bake the bars for about 25 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Lift from the pan using the parchment "handles" and cut into squares for serving (I found these cut easily if I refrigerated them for a little while first).
Makes 16 bars