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Peanut Butter Coconut Bars

peanut butter bars
For a few years now, these have been my go-to cookies. (Alright. One of them.) You can almost make them in your sleep. In fact, I've often been half-asleep, standing at the mixer at 11:00 pm, making cookies for a potluck I forgot about or a school bake sale I foolishly agreed to contribute to. Peanut butter (the bad, hydrogenated oil kind), coconut, butter, maybe some chocolate chips. They're what I like to call "sleeper cookies," in that they look disappointingly dull.  Like, "Who made those for the bake sale?" No one will swoon when you walk into the room with your Saran wrap-covered platter.  But they'll be your BFF after that.

Maybe you can bring these to the Halloween party you forgot about. Growing up (and this is a long story I won't tell), our family was one of those weird ones that had harvest parties instead of going trick-or-treating. So I am bound and determined that my children will go trick-or-treating, get as ghoulish as they want, and dive into the ridiculousness of Halloween with gusto. And if that means cookies and candy, so be it.

Peanut Butter Coconut Bars
Adapted from my Gourmet cookbook. You really do want the bad kind of peanut butter here, not the good-for-you, stir-it-up kind. Other than that, these cookies are a blank slate. I've made them without the coconut, subbed oatmeal for the coconut, added chocolate chips or not, put salted peanuts on top or not. The best pan to make them in is an aluminum  1/4 sheet (half the size of a regular baking sheet). If you don't have one of those, a  9 x 13 will work.

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2  cup white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut or oats (or 1/2 and 1/2)
1 c. chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup finely chopped salted roasted peanuts for the top (optional)

In a bowl with an electric mixer cream the butter with both sugars and beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Add the peanut butter, beat the mixture until it is combined well, and beat in the egg, the vanilla, and the salt. Add the flour, beat the mixture until it is just combined, and stir in the coconut and/or oats, and chocolate chips. Spread the mixture evenly in a buttered jelly-roll pan, 15 1/2 by 10 1/2 by 1 inches, sprinkle the peanuts over it (if using), pressing them into the mixture lightly, and bake the mixture in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean. Let the mixture cool completely in the pan on a rack, cut it into 24 bars, and cut each bar in half diagonally to form 2 triangles if you want (I usually don't.)

Reader Comments (8)

It's always the unassuming looking treats that end of being the best! And peanut butter and coconut?! We're sold.

October 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Blue-Eyed Bakers

enjoy these cookies and candy for me. I have to say I laughed about the Harvest Party thing--I only grew up trick-or-treating, but now there is the "harvest party (as if anyone is harvesting anything)" option and I ponder on what I will do with my girls. Right now, they don't know anything about Halloween, so we will most likely stay home--don't know what that says about me.

October 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKamille

*YUM* i ate some from the very batch pictured and they were perfectly awesome. i just wanted to make them too, so thanks for posting this today. :)

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbethany

Boo! Peanut butter, coconut, and chocolate...three of my favorite ingredients. I hope your children have a "spookylicious" Halloween!

October 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLori

how do i not know these?! that's is soon to be remedied. oxox

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjordan

Well.....it doesn't appear you have let the cat out of the bag. Tell all!!!! Remember, you're not hiding your light under the bushel anymore. Let everyone know who just chose your blog to be featured on their website. And oh yes, there is more to follow, stay tuned!

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermfm

Amen, Peg!

October 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEm

I'm just going to echo Jordan, up above, there. (And hallelujah to you for banishing my ignorance!)

October 30, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermolly

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