No-bake peanut butter bars usually go something like this: peanut butter bottom, chocolate top. This recipe flips the script, thanks to a lot of Oreos. The bottom is a buttery Oreo crumb crust. The top is light, moussey peanut butter fluff, sweetened by Oreo creme fillings (yes!). And the tippity top is crumbled Oreos (think hack streusel), because you can never have enough. Serve these bars straight from the fridge on a hot day, preferably with iced coffee alongside. —Emma Laperruque
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No-Bake Peanut Butter Bars With Oreo Crust
4 hours 45 minutes
(1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
kosher salt, plus more to taste
full-fat cream cheese, broken into a few pieces
(about 1 ½ cups) creamy, sweetened peanut butter (I used Jif)
Line an 8x8-inch pan with parchment, leaving an overhang on two sides.
Add 18 Oreos to the bowl of a food processor. Put another 12 Oreos on a cutting board or clean work surface: Split open each cookie, use a butter knife to remove the creme filling (trying to get as few crumbs attached to the filling as possible), then add the filling to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Now add the naked chocolate cookies to the food processor, along with the salt.
Pulse the food processor until all the Oreos have become as fine as possible, almost like cornmeal. Remove the lid and add the melted butter and a pinch of salt. Pulse again until the butter has evenly saturated the crumbs. If you pick up some of the mixture in your hand and squeeze it, it should easily hold together.
Dump the crust mixture into the lined pan. Use your hand to evenly distribute the crumbs around the pan, then use a measuring cup to firmly press it into an even, flat layer. (Packing the crust tightly helps it stay together once you cut it.) Stick the crust in the freezer to firm up while you make the peanut butter topping.
Add the cream cheese to the bowl of the stand mixer with the Oreo creme filling. Beat until smooth, scraping down as needed. Add the peanut butter and beat again until smooth, scraping down as needed. Now add the cream and beat until very fluffy, like frosting, scraping down as needed.
Remove the chocolate crust from the freezer—it should be very firm. Scrape the peanut butter mixture on top of the chocolate crust and use an offset spatula to smooth into an even, flat layer. Crumble the remaining 6 Oreos all over the top.
Cover the top of the bars with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or until the top feels firmish to the touch. Use the parchment to carefully remove the bars from the pan, then cut into 16 squares and serve cold.
Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.