No-Bake Chocolate-Peanut Butter Dream Bars

published May 22, 2024
No-Bake Chocolate-Peanut Butter Dream Bars Recipe

Turn chocolate and peanut butter into the ultimate, no-bake summer dessert.

Serves12

Prep25 minutes

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angled shot of a tray of chocolate peanut butter dream bars, cut into slices and a few of them missing from the tray
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Just because your oven is OOO this summer doesn’t mean you can’t serve delicious desserts. No-bake desserts are ready to fill in when it’s too hot to bake. Scoop creamy ice cream to make an old-fashioned banana split, layer whipped cream and cookies for a classic icebox cake, or serve up a dessert with a flavor combination that knows no season: chocolate and peanut butter.

This recipe for chocolate-peanut butter dream bars is made by topping a buttery chocolate crumb crust with layers of rich chocolate pudding, peanut butter cheesecake, and whipped cream. Finish the dessert with chocolate curls and a peanut butter drizzle before cutting into bars and sharing with your friends. 

Why You’ll Love It

  • Peanut butter and chocolate are a perfect match. Layer an Oreo cookie crumb crust, rich chocolate pudding, and creamy peanut butter cheesecake filling for the ultimate flavor combination in every bite.
  • It’s a make-ahead dessert everyone will love. Layered, no-bake desserts like this are best when made in advance to give the layers time to chill and set.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Rachel Perlmutter

Key Ingredients in Chocolate Peanut Butter Dream Bars

  • Oreo cookies: Crushed Oreo cookies bind together into a no-bake crust with melted unsalted butter. 
  • Peanut butter: Use creamy peanut butter for a smooth and nutty filling. 
  • Chocolate pudding: Prepare instant chocolate pudding with 1 1/2 cups milk (this is slightly less than what is called for in the package instructions) so that the pudding layer slices neatly into bars.
  • Cream cheese: Use full-fat cream cheese in a block for the best texture and flavor.
  • Heavy cream: Make homemade whipped cream with heavy cream and powdered sugar to lighten the peanut butter filling and for the final layer. You can substitute with a tub of thawed frozen whipped topping to make this no-bake dessert even easier. 

No-Bake Chocolate-Peanut Butter Dream Bars Recipe

Turn chocolate and peanut butter into the ultimate, no-bake summer dessert.

Prep time 25 minutes

Serves 12

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces

    cream cheese

  • 1 (3.9-ounce) box

    instant chocolate pudding mix

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon

    cold whole or 2% milk, divided

  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick)

    unsalted butter

  • 26

    Oreo sandwich cookies (about 10 1/2 ounces)

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1 1/2 cups

    cold heavy cream

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons

    powdered sugar, divided

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon

    creamy peanut butter, divided

  • 1/2 (about 2-ounce) bar

    dark or milk chocolate (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place 8 ounces cream cheese on the counter and let sit at room temperature until softened, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile line an 8x8-inch baking pan (about 2 inches high) with 2 sheets of parchment paper, positioning them perpendicular to each other, so that the parchment hangs about 2 inches over all 4 sides of the pan to form a sling.

  2. Place 1 (3.9-ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix and 1 1/2 cups of the cold milk in a large bowl. Whisk until dissolved and the mixture is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Let sit to thicken while you prepare the crust and other layers.

  3. Place 6 tablespoons unsalted butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH until melted, 40 to 60 seconds.

  4. Break 26 Oreo sandwich cookies in half with your hands and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until fine crumbs form, 12 to 15 (1-second) pulses (about 2 3/4 cups). (Alternatively, place the cookies in a sealed zip-top bag and crush with a rolling pin into fine crumbs.)

  5. Drizzle the butter over the cookie crumbs. Add 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Pulse until it resembles wet sand and holds together when squeezed, about 5 (1-second) pulses. (If making by hand, transfer the crumbs to a medium bowl and add the melted butter and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture resembles wet sand and holds together when squeezed.)

  6. Transfer the mixture into the pan. Use the bottom of a measuring cup or your fingers to press the crumbs into an even layer, making sure to reach the edges and fill the corners. Refrigerate while you make the filling.

  7. Place 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream and 1/4 cup of the powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl if using an electric hand mixer). Beat with the whisk attachment on high speed until stiff peaks form, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to another bowl.

  8. Place the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup of the creamy peanut butter, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in the bowl of the stand mixer (no need to wipe clean). Beat with the whisk attachment on medium speed until light and very fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a flexible spatula halfway through, about 3 minutes total. Transfer 1 cup of the whipped cream to the peanut butter mixture and gently fold together with a flexible spatula until just combined.

  9. Dollop the chocolate pudding into the baking pan and spread into an even layer. Dollop the peanut butter mixture over the chocolate pudding and spread into an even layer. Dollop the remaining whipped cream over the peanut butter layer and spread into an even layer. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.

  10. When ready to serve, place the remaining 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon peanut butter, and 1 tablespoon milk in a small bowl and stir with a fork until smooth. Transfer to a small zip-top bag, press down into a corner, and snip the corner off of the bag. Drizzle the peanut butter mixture over the top. Use a vegetable peeler to shave 1/2 (about 2-ounce) chocolate bar over the top if desired. Grasping the excess parchment, transfer the slab to a cutting board. Cut into 12 pieces, wiping the knife between each cut for cleaner cuts.

Recipe Notes

Heavy cream substitution: Replace the homemade whipped cream (1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream and 1/4 cup powdered sugar) with 1 (8-ounce) container thawed frozen whipped topping, such as Cool Whip.

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.