Sunday, June 12, 2011

School Lunch Peanut Butter Bars


(This was one of the first recipes I ever posted, but I didn't post any pictures, so I decided to do a re-do!)

So, I know that most people haven't been completely obsessed with food their entire lives like I have been...but do you remember eating peanut butter bars in elementary school? I totally do. They served them as dessert with school lunches. I remember thinking that one bar was just not enough, and searching for ways to get more.

Well, then when I grew up, I worked with this nice woman who was a former lunch lady. She took the cafeteria's peanut butter bar recipe, and scaled it down, and came up with this gem. They are the best peanut butter bars I have ever tasted. Ever.

This recipe makes an entire cookie sheet full, and I can only make them if I have a place to take them and share. I could pretty easily down the whole pan by myself without really trying. They're kinda dangerous...at least in my chocolate/peanut butter loving world.













School Lunch Peanut Butter Bars

1 1/2 C Flour
1¼ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Baking Soda
¾ C Butter
¾ C Sugar
¾ C Brown Sugar
1 ½ tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 C Creamy Peanut Butter (split)
2 Eggs
1 ½ C Quick Oats

Frosting:

½ C Butter (1 stick)

3 ½ C Powdered Sugar

2 T Cocoa

¼ C Milk (I use whatever I have in the fridge)

1 tsp. Vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, mix together flour, baking soda and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugars, 3/4 C peanut butter, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add dry ingredients, just until incorporated. Then, stir in the oats. Spread onto a greased 11 x 15 Jelly Roll Pan (cookie sheet). Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes.

The frosting is a two step process. First, whip the remaning ¾ C Creamy Peanut Butter until it becomes lighter colored and fluffy. Carefully spread the whipped peanut butter over the pan cookie.

Then, add butter to a small sauce pan and melt the butter. Add the milk and cocoa. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Heat just until boiling. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Then, gradually add the powdered sugar. Stir until thickened. Pour over the peanut butter and gently spread over the cookie. Cool completely, and slice into bar cookies.

66 comments:

Becca said...

I love that you guys had these in California too! My elementary school always served them with fish sticks, and only with fish sticks.

My best friend's mom worked in the front office of our elementary school, and she also got a scaled-down recipe from one of the lunch ladies. If I weren't so lazy I'd get up and grab my recipe to compare it to yours.

I think this will be another perfect peanut item to make for the family now that Riley isn't allergic. Before I could only make them for potlucks.

Purabi Naha said...

This recipe looks delicious and you seem to be a great shutterbug. So happy to stop by at your blog and wish to visit here again! Do visit mine as well.

James and Cassidee said...

My aunt Julie is a lunch lady and has been all my life. She makes us peanut butter bars all the time and this is the same recipe! She makes the full scale recipes which is 5 large cookie sheets or something like that. Anyways, these bars freeze really well so I always freeze them in bags with 3-4 and its a easy treat to pull out of the freezer.

Lauralee said...

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Vic Lic said...

That looks absolutely amazing. I am not sure if I should try to make them, given the chances of me eating the whole tray myself, are...humongous.

JLM said...

I have been trying to locate this recipe for years... trying all sorts of variations. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting it!

surroundedbywieners said...

Oh how I LOVED those bars from elementary school! I feel like my boys have been robbed!!!!

Tracey M said...

Are these the ones that are very light and fluffy, almost like a whipped texture? I have been looking for years for a that recipe. They were almost to the point where you couldn't even pick them up they were so creamy.

Aubri said...

Tracey - these bars are not creamy. The bottom is almost like a soft peanut butter cookie. You would probably want to search for a no-bake peanut butter bar recipe to get that creamy texture. I used to have one in a Mrs. Field's cookie cookbook...but have since given that away, otherwise I'd send it to you! Good luck with your search!

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this recipe! I was the same way- these were my absolute FAVORITE in school. But I had a hard time finding a recipe. Making these tonight. Thank you again!

Unknown said...

Made these the other day... They are DELICIOUS! I had been looking for a "School Lunch" recipe and this is perfect! Thank you so much!

Kyle N Amy said...

THANK YOU for posting this! And Thank you to who ever pinned it on pinterest for me to find! These are so yummy and easy to make. Our lunch ladies use to make these too. I'm glad I grew up when I did to have such good food at school. Thanks again!

wrk2liv said...

They are cooling right now. They look and smell wonderful. Thank you for the recipe. My schools didn't have anything so good as these, but I'm sure I'll be making up for it now. :)

Megan said...

These look great! Found your blog from Pinterest and now I am hungry. Thanks for sharing,

Deanna @ Sentimental Redo said...

Did you have the PB bars with Cheerios in them? If so does your lunch lady friend have that recipe?

Deanna @ Sentimental Redo said...

Did you have the PB bars with Cheerios in them? If so does your lunch lady friend have that recipe?

South Your Mouth said...

Our peanut butter bars were more of a whipped fudge HOWEVER, between your recipe and everyone's enthusiasm, I'm definitely going to have to make them! Thanks for sharing.

Chris said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I, too, have obsessed over this one! I even went so far as to call my elementary school a few years back to see if they had the recipe, to no avail. I am so excited to make this! My mouth is watering at the thought! Thank you!!!

blondie said...

Ours were the fluffy ones, too...but these do look nice! Besides, pb and chocolate can never be wrong!!

bren yule said...

One of my all time favs as a kid too!!! I can't wait to tey them!

Dairy Free said...

Thank you, my son loves peanut butter bars. We can't wait to try these!

SPG said...

These look amazing. We always had them on voting day when we picked up a sack lunch and ate at our desk. The sack lunch was always the same. Peanut butter and honey sandwich (apparently a theme!), potato sticks, peanut butter bars and an apple. Our peanut butter bars had a peanut butter frosting. Perhaps peanut butter, butter and powdered sugar? Does anyone have the peanut butter frosting recipe?

Anna said...

I used to buy a double lunch just for the peanut butter bars!

Sue from Oregon said...

I can not wait to try these. Hope they are as good as I remember~

Kris said...

Thank you for posting this! Just the other day I was talking with the hubs about the "school lunch" peanut butter bars and how I missed them. Now I can make them in my own kitchen! Thanks!

jklentz said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I am a teacher and our lunch ladies make these for us. They are my absolute favorite!! I cannot wait to make these :) Thanks again!!

Shirlee Smith said...

to SPG, ours did not have the chocolate either. I think if this recipe is like the ones we had at my elementary school in San Diego, the bottom will taste the same and your modification for the top should work. Let me know if you try it.

Does anyone know how to make that really light and fluffy cheesecake they made in middle and high school? They were only a quarter a slice in the 70s, and I would use my buck 25 at lunch to buy 5 slices. Yes, I was gluttonous on Thursday's.

Mary T said...

Thank you so much for posting this - I've looked for the recipe for years.

Our lunch ladies were such great cooks. My favorites were the breads, these peanut butter bars, and the baked egg sandwiches (on homemade bread, no less!)

If anyone has the egg sandwich recipe, I'd love to have it!

b.marie said...

Well you've made my kids very happy! I made this a couple days ago & it was a huge hit at our house. Thanks for sharing this! YUM!

Stoneygirl76 said...

I, too, recall fondly the days of limitless white rolls and butter, along with the decadent peanut butter chocolate bars which were school lunch.

I don't recall ours having oatmeal, however. I've tried several recipes sourced online and none of them are quite right.

I remember the peanut butter layer of ours being more fudge-like, closer to Reese's peanut butter cup filling.

I think I am doomed never to have the real deal on this confection again.

Tara said...

Can you use margarine?

Aubri said...

Hi Tara! I'm sure that it would work with margarine, although I've never tried it. I'm strictly a butter gal myself (haha!). Let me know how it turns out! I would definitely NOT suggest using low fat margarine. Just a thought. Thanks for your question!

TamS said...

Making this now for the second time. Living in South Africa, we never had these at school, but they sounded so yummy I just had to try them. Needless to say they were a huge hit!!:) Thanks so much!

Kimberlina said...

Thank you so much for this! I actually converted these to gluten free for my husband and they were a huge success! I was so excited I blogged my changes and a link to your original recipe. (http://welcometotowerland.blogspot.com/2012/12/gluten-free-baking-victory-peanut.html)
Thank you again, this was so easy to convert to gluten free and they were incredible!

Greg and Sophia said...

I made these for a church function a few months ago- and every single person asked for the recipe they were so good. I'm sending them all your way! Thanks for posting!

Chad & Bonny Day said...

Just made these last night! Really liked them although next time ill probably leave the oats out I didn't like the texture!

mTm said...

Salivating! I am going to try these gluten free. I hope they work!

Susan said...

I have tried many different peanut butter and chocolate recipes over the years, but just not the same as our "peanut butter surprise" that we had in our school lunches...I am excited to have found this recipe!

Sara Flores said...

Thank you so much for this recipe!
I have searched for this recipe since school as well. I always went back for more or asked for my friends. This is the best thing ever!!! :)

Zimms Zoo said...

I only got to buy a lunch one day a week. I would get the newspaper on Sunday and look what day they were having the peanut butter bars. I loved those things and have always wanted to make them again!! Thanks so much!

GoldenBlogger said...

Oh my goodness ... I LOVED these in school and I always wanted to find ways to get more too (but everyone else loved them too, and no one was trading, or if they were, the competition was fierce ... why wasn't I savvy enough back then to befriend a kid who was allergic to peanuts or something, LOL). Anyway, I"ve been trying for about 20 years now to recreate them, always unsuccessfully. My aunt told me last Thanksgiving (when I described the flavor) that they must use cocoa in a cooked recipe for the chocolate layer. I hadn't gotten around to trying since then, but I'm glad it finally dawned on me to search for "school recipes" ... THANK YOU for posting this! I'm going to try as soon as I'm brave enough (to believe I will actually FREEZE the extra, instead of eating it all myself!!!" :)

GoldenBlogger said...

Oh my goodness ... I LOVED these in school and I always wanted to find ways to get more too (but everyone else loved them too, and no one was trading, or if they were, the competition was fierce ... why wasn't I savvy enough back then to befriend a kid who was allergic to peanuts or something, LOL). Anyway, I"ve been trying for about 20 years now to recreate them, always unsuccessfully. My aunt told me last Thanksgiving (when I described the flavor) that they must use cocoa in a cooked recipe for the chocolate layer. I hadn't gotten around to trying since then, but I'm glad it finally dawned on me to search for "school recipes" ... THANK YOU for posting this! I'm going to try as soon as I'm brave enough (to believe I will actually FREEZE the extra, instead of eating it all myself!!!" :)

Our Crazy Life said...

I stick of butter is a 1/2 cup. Do you use two sticks of butter or one?

Aubri said...

Our Crazy Life - Are you asking about the amount of butter in the frosting? For the frosting it's 1/2 C butter, which is equivalent to 1 stick of butter. The amount of butter in the cookies is listed under the cookie instructions. Hope that helps!

Brittany Reich said...

OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I am so happy I found this!! I am 5 months pregnant and for the past couple weeks these bars are all I could think about! We actually had these in high school, I was seriously debating trying to sneak back into school for a lunch period just to get some of these bars! Thank you thank you thank you! You have made a pregnant lady very very happy :)

Sunflower-6 said...

Made these Gluten Free and they were a huge hit! Thanks for sharing. I shared the GF version on my blog and linked back to your recipe.

http://glutenfreegood.blogspot.com/2013/02/peanut-butter-bars-school-lunch-style.html

FarSeaShore said...

Everyone loved these. My husband couldn't stop eating them. The recipe sure makes a lot! Thanks for sharing.

AngieH said...

I loved these as a kid. I added m&m 's to my bars huge hit with the kids!

Jill Hansen said...

I made these tonight! Wow it truly is THE lunchlady recipie. Brings back so many memories! My only advice is to have ur offset spatula ready as soon as u pour the warm frosting on them. Cuz it sets quick!! By the time I found mine it had a crust on it. I don't even care tho cuz these are the BOMG DIGGITY!!! Thank u for sharing it!

h2osmom said...

Ours had a fluffy peanut butter frosting and not the chocolate one on the top. I need to try this version....

Jules said...

So excited for this recipe!!!

For those of you looking for a Peanut Butter Frosting recipe:

2/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/3 cup powdered sugar
adding heavy cream until it reaches a frosting consistency (3-5Tbs.)
*cover top of the bowl with damp paper towels if there is a lag in time as it will harden.

Chazlyn said...

I just made these the other day and they turned out great! Although, when I added the powdered sugar to the chocolate frosting, the frosting became thick. I had to add a little extra milk to bring it to a pouring consistency. Not sure what I did wrong there. This recipe is definitely a keeper! Thank you for sharing!

Chazlyn said...

Just made these over the weekend and they turned out great! The only trouble I had was when I added the powdered sugar to the chocolate frosting, it became thick. I had to add a little extra milk to make the frosting a pouring consistency. Not sure what I did wrong there? But they still turned out great! This recipe is definitely a keeper! Thank you for sharing.

Amy May said...

Tried this Recipe Yesterday And It Was A Huge Hit!! Thank You So Much For Sharing It With Us! :)

Chantell Filiaga said...

what kind of cocoa do you use?? is it the unsweetened cocoa or something else?

Chantell Filiaga said...

what cocoa did you use?? the unsweetend cocoa or something else?

Gary and Shelice Murphy said...

So yummy! Thank you for making them twice and posting a picture. I totally choose your version because of the picture...it looked just like I remember when I got to be a lunch room helper...when lunch was still really made in the schools. Love your blog. I'll be back!

Heidi Miner said...

I Can see where is says to add eggs, but I can't see how many eggs to add??

Denise said...

We did not have these in canada, but I made your recipe and they are wonderful.

I made mine GF and they were fab!


Thank you.

Ammie said...

I made these today and have a few questions. I whipped the peanut butter for the frosting but it never got fluffy. It became runny and glossy but not what I'd consider fluffy. I'm wondering if the brand of peanut butter I used would make a difference (Skippy), if I should have added a bit of powdered sugar to it, or perhaps we just have different definitions of fluffy? :) It tastes delicious but your peanut butter layer does look thicker than mine. Also, the chocolate looks so shiny & pretty in your photos. Mine had more of a matte finish. Did I do something wrong? They taste amazing even if they aren't my prettiest bars. Thanks for sharing your recipe and thanks in advance for your help!

Aubri said...

Ammie - They really aren't the prettiest bars, so don't stress about that. As far as the peanut butter goes, I use JIF Natural peanut butter (or the Walmart brand natural PB). Whipping it will definitely change the texture, but I don't recall mine going runny. As far as the chocolate layer goes...if you spread it once the frosting has cooled and set up, it will go to more of a matte look. If they tasted good, you must have done it right, so I wouldn't stress too much! Glad you liked them!

Anita said...

Found this via Pinterest. All I can say is two things: 1- You had good desserts for lunches at school and 2- They are easy and oh so good! Thank you for posting with photo!

CurshDude said...

Aubri, thanks for posting this recipe. Will be trying it this weekend.

-- Joe

Declan Joseph Hunt said...

Mine came out hard on the edges and a little softer in the middle but now chewy like I remember. Not sure what I did wrong.

Aubri said...

Declan Joseph Hunt - I'm not sure what could have gone wrong. My guess would be that they didn't cook evenly in your oven?? They tend to be more of a chewey texture, and might be a little crisp around the edges, but I've never had them come out hard. Hmmmm...

Nate and Amber said...

So delicious and addictive! Thank you!