Peanut Butter Bars/Balls

One of my long-standing standbys when people want me to bring food are my peanut butter bars. Peanut buttery with a crunch, it’s something that people tend to remember. The hint of chocolate and occasional hit of salt makes it quiet enjoyable. It started out as balls, but has since migrated to a much easier to handle bar format.

This cookie is something I learned long ago in my youth as an “energy cookie”. The reason I identified it as this is that the four base ingredients all hit you at different points allowing you to avoid the “crash” assorted with most sweets, instead giving you a multi-hour energy high. It’s a fairly simple recipe that requires no cooking (hence why it was something I made in my youth). Over time it’s become more elaborate with little tweaks here and there.

The pictures are from a half batch I made recently for this year’s Thanksgiving (since there was already so much food, I didn’t want to make a full batch).  So for smaller gathering you just cut it in half, although the cinnamon, nutmeg, chocolate, and salt tends to stay almost about the same since those parts are “to taste”.  ;^)

(Side note… they work great in other forms such as these peanut butter balls.  Each one is about the size of a golf ball.  Bars are much easier to do than rolling each individual ball.  I actually prefer the ball format to the bars, but your own milage will vary.)


  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 16oz bottle of corn syrup
  • 1 48oz  jar creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon nutmeg (freshly grated if you have it)
  • 1 Tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 large box corn flakes (about 8 cups)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons salt (preferably sea salt, but kosher will work too)

Grease up some baking dishes. I tend to use 2 8″x11″ pans. This tends to make a cookie about 1 1/2″ – 2″ cookie. You don’t want it too thin as it will crumble. Although then you will have a great ice cream topping.

Place sugar and corn syrup in a microwave safe bowl. This all is made in one bowl so make sure there is room for the corn flakes. Heat for about a minute, and give it a stir. Place back in the microwave for another 2 minutes. The sugar should at this point be completely mixed in with the corn syrup. It shouldn’t be bubbly, but instead pretty transparent. You can do this on the stove, but you will have to keep a careful eye on the sugars as it can easily get over cooked which will turn the final product more into a brittle than a chewy cookie.

From this point forward time is important. If you let the mixture cool, you won’t be able to place it back in the microwave as the peanut butter will get tough when heated. The residue heat will allow it to mix properly. Place the peanut butter, cinnamon and nutmeg in the bowl and stir to combine.

Stir in the corn flakes a little at a time until you have added it all. The exact amount will vary depending on humidity, heat, and how chewy you like your peanut butter bars. You are looking for a constancy where all the flakes are covered and sticking to each other with a little pressure. Place peanut butter corn flake mixture into the greased baking pans.

Lightly press down on the mixture. One relatively flat, sprinkle the chocolate and salt along the top. You are not looking to cover the entire surface, but instead adding an extra hit of flavor to the final cookie. The residual heat should lightly melt the chocolate, allowing it to bond with the rest of the mixture as well as giving additional stickiness for the salt to bind to. Procedure to lightly press down on the top to further compact the cookie. Again, your level of enjoyment will vary depending how you like your cookies.

Once mostly cooled, invert onto a cutting board and cut into bars. Enjoy.

Some things about this dish:

  • The basic recipe I started with was just the sugars, peanut butter and corn flakes. Everything beyond that just adds to the flavor profile of the cookie, so you can skip any of those if you really want to.
  • You can skip the chocolate if you’re not a chocolate person but how doesn’t like chocolate and peanut butter. You can add more or less, but I find that a small amount of chocolate gives a good contrast a posed to completely covering it in chocolate. You can mix the chocolate in before the corn flakes for a more chocolates tasting, but I find the contrast in favors is one of this cookies best parts.
  • You can also omit the salt, but most sweet things work better with a pinch of salt. We found this out while making these for a scuba dive, and the saltiness of the ocean on our lips paired great with the chocolates peanut butter. Sea salt tends to be a bigger flake (as does kosher salt) compared to table salt, so you get a salty flavor without having to add too much. Again you can vary it to your taste. I normally just eyeball it.
  • Last thing to note… You might want to eat a bunch of these, but the tend to be quite filling. Not right away, but after a little bit you’ll be aware of just how many extra you’ve had.
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