Wow, these are great, and sooo sweet. I usually don't like it when people modify recipes, but I did it this time myself, by making a chocolate graham cracker crust, instead of using regular graham crackers (really because when my daughters and I went to the grocery store, my daughters were asking for so many things and I kept saying no, no ,no, because they had gotten things earlier in the week, so I was trying to get out of there as quickly as possible-thus no crackers) but I did have the chocolate ones at home. Well anyway, all the peanut butter lovers I had try this, loved it! A real winner. I also used loe fat peanut butter, but after everything else that we put in these I thought.
These are the BEST bars I have ever had! The peanut butter filling is really the show stopper. I used creamy instead of chunky peanut butter and it had a fabulous texture. Very sweet, very rich, and very peanuty. It seems lots of similar recipes lose one of those features but this had all three. I also liked the semisweet chocolate instead of milk chocolate used in many chocolate/peanut butter recipes, it was a richer taste and had better contrast with the peanut butter. Lastly, I really liked the crunch of the whole graham crackers for the crust -- it reminded me a little of Peanut Butter Twix. You'd lose that if you used the graham cracker crumb crust mentioned by many reviewers. When cutting it might help to cut while the chocolate is warm and also cut along the cracker divisions if possible. Also, I increased the recipe by 50% and it fit perfectly on a cookie sheet with 15 whole crackers (didn't have the jelly roll pan mentioned).
Peanut Butter Cup Pretzel Cheesecake Bars
1 and 1/2 cups (120g) very finely ground salty pretzels (about 3 cups whole pretzels)
3 Tablespoons (35g) granulated sugar
7 Tablespoons (100g) unsalted butter, melted
Peanut Butter Cheesecake Filling
16 ounces (448g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature (not fat free)
Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line bottom and sides of an 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides. Set aside.
For the crust: In a food processor or blender, pulse salty pretzels into a fine crumb. See photo above for how it will look. Stir the pretzel crumbs, sugar, and melted butter together in a medium sized bowl. Press evenly into the lined pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to slightly cool as you prepare the filling.
For the filling: Beat cream cheese, egg, sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla extract together with a hand or stand mixer until smooth and creamy, about 3 full minutes. Fold in the chopped Reese's cups and spread the mixture over crust. Bake for 28-32 minutes, or until the cheesecake has set up and the edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool completely in the refrigerator for at least three hours. Lift the foil out of the pan and cut into squares.
For the drizzle: Melt the peanut butter and chocolate chips together in a small bowl in the microwave. Stir until smooth and drizzle over squares.
Store bars in a covered container for up to 10 days in the refrigerator. Recipe can easily be doubled and baked in a 9x13-inch pan, baking time will vary - about 45-55 minutes.