Peanut Butter Chocolate Gluten Free Shortbread Bars

Peanut Butter Chocolate Gluten Free Shortbread Bars

Peanut Butter Chocolate Gluten Free Shortbread Bars

One of the most common questions I get in my (normal, boring) everyday life about both this blog and writing recipes for cookbooks is this: Wait—you write recipes for things. But how do you decide what to make up? Well, I’m not really one for crazy mashups of foods you’d never imagine together, so everything starts out pretty basic. Sometimes I just start with a flavor combination for something I really, really like and think you might like, too (here it’s peanut butter and chocolate). Or I have something in my pantry or my refrigerator I want to make use of (here, the million batches of homemade sweetened condensed milk I’ve made recently). Or both. I’ve always loved baking shortbread, too, since it’s one of the most basic cookie recipes you can imagine—flour, butter, sugar and salt. No eggs, no leaveners. Peanut butter shortbread isn’t too different, except, well, you add peanut butter. Just be sure to use the no-stir kind, which is the kind that doesn’t separate in the jar. No-stir almond butter would work beautifully, too. Add a layer of the simplest, smoothest fudge you can imagine, and you’ve got a seriously easy, gorgeously impressive dessert.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Gluten Free Shortbread Bars

I like the shortbread layer to be as thick as possible, so I bake it in an 8-inch square pan, but if all you have is a 9-inch square pan, no worries. Just watch the baking time, as it will be done at least 5 minutes earlier. We bake the shortbread in a low (325°F) oven so that it browns evenly without becoming too crisp on the bottom. Perfect.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Gluten Free Shortbread Bars

The crisp and buttery peanut butter shortbread layer is lovely enough, but pair it with thick, smooth chocolate peanut butter fudge (mostly chocolate, just with a couple tablespoons of peanut butter added for good measure)—the kind of fudge that is perfectly set up even at room temperature and leaves teeth marks behind? No one will ever believe how simple these bars are to make.

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 16 bars


Peanut Butter Shortbread Layer
2 cups (280 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (150 g) sugar

10 tablespoons (140 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup (128 g) smooth no-stir peanut butter (the kind that doesn’t separate in the jar)

2 tablespoons milk or cream, at room temperature

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge Layer
10 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips or chunks (I used Enjoy Life chocolate chunks)

12 ounces sweetened condensed milk, at room temperature (it’s less than a full 14 ounce can, by the way, if you’re using store-bought)

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons (32 g) smooth no-stir peanut butter


  • First, make the shortbread. Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with crisscrossed sheets of unbleached parchment paper, both hanging over the sides of the pan so that you can use them to lift the bars out of the pan after baking. Set the pan aside.

  • In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, salt and sugar, and whisk to combine well. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients, add the butter, peanut butter and milk or cream and mix until the dough comes together. It should be thick and smooth. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish and press into an even layer. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake until evenly golden brown all over the top (about 25 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the baking pan (about 20 minutes).

  • When the shortbread is nearly cool, make the fudge layer. In a medium-size, heat-safe bowl, place the chocolate chips or chunks. Place over a simmering pan of water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth (you can also melt the chocolate in the microwave on 60% power in 45 second intervals, stirring in between). Remove from the heat and stir in the sweetened condensed milk, salt and peanut butter until smooth. Pour the fudge immediately over the cooled shortbread (still in the pan) and spread into an even layer. Allow to set at room temperature for 10 minutes before transferring to the refrigerator to chill until completely set (about 30 minutes more). Take the pan out of the refrigerator and remove the bars from the pan by lifting up on the overhung parchment paper. With a sharp knife, slice into 16 equal squares. For the cleanest slices, wet the knife in between cuts. The fudge is stable at room temperature, so these can be served without chilling them.

  • NOTE: To make these dairy-free, too, try using the dairy-free sweetened condensed milk we made in the fudge layer, and try replacing the butter in the shortbread layer with half Earth balance buttery sticks, half Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening. And then let us know how it goes!



P.S. Which Gluten Free on a Shoestring Cookbooks do you have? Your support means the world to me!

Comments are closed.

  • Meleanie Guerrero
    October 11, 2014 at 12:16 AM

    Can these be made without any nut butter?

  • Connie
    October 9, 2014 at 5:15 PM

    Can these be made with a stand mixer? The look so good but my arms are pretty weak!

  • Leslie
    October 9, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    Hi Nicole,
    Is there another ingredient to boost the flavor profile in lieu of p.b. to make this a (peanut free-sigh) school-friendly treat? Or would that omission negatively impact the recipe all together? I’d love to try this but my daughters dislike almond butter, so that option is out. Thanks so much…

    • Sherry L
      October 10, 2014 at 8:11 AM

      If you want a nut-free option, my family’s favorite is the Sneaky Chef nut-free butter made with golden peas. It is a bit pricey,$5-$6/jar, but it is the best tasting(in our opinion) of the nut-free butters, WOW butter is our second favorite, and a couple dollars cheaper. I hope this helps.

  • Donia Robinson
    October 9, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    You had me at 50% “frosting.” (I know it’s technically fudge this time.) I am all about the frosting. I’m the person that WANTS the corner piece of birthday cake.

    I don’t know where my parents went wrong.

    Thank you for your DF note! You are a sweetheart!

  • thruby
    October 9, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    My stomach literally growled while reading this. I kid thee not. I cannot WAIT to get home and try this. Thank you for being a healthy genius :)

    • Donia Robinson
      October 9, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      Can we call this healthy? Awesome!!!!!

  • Sarah
    October 9, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    Is the 12 ounces of sweetened condensed milk by volume (as in 1 1/2 cups, which would be more than the volume in a 14 oz store-bought can) or by weight?

    • October 9, 2014 at 10:43 AM

      Fluid ounces are a volume measurement, Sarah. 12 ounces is by weight. So, it’s about 85% less than a full 14 ounce can. Hope that helps!

  • Mare Masterson
    October 9, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    I posted hubby’s reaction to this one on Facebook. I see this in my recent baking future!

    • October 9, 2014 at 10:41 AM

      I saw that, Mare! :)

      • Mare Masterson
        October 9, 2014 at 4:38 PM

        Shortbread is his favorite. He absolutely loves your shortbread cookies. I think this might actually top that because it has the chocolate and peanut butter too!

  • Lucy
    October 9, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    I used to make these all the time at Xmas and used a jelly roll pan. Glad I don’t have to convert the recipe, many thanks Nicole.
    Now to find non-GMO almond butter… yes still on the non-GMO hunt, if you wish to know all Bob’s Redmill is non-GMO :)

    • Donia Robinson
      October 9, 2014 at 1:03 PM

      You might see if you can get Woodstock brand where you are? (Canada is where you are, I believe? Not that I’m stalking you in the comments or anything…)

      • Lucy
        October 10, 2014 at 10:11 AM

        Thanks I’ll look into it :)

  • Potona
    October 9, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    Can I use almond butter instead of pb?

    • October 9, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      It should work just fine, Potona.

      • Donia Robinson
        October 9, 2014 at 1:05 PM

        My GF, DF, PF daughter prefers WOWbutter. It’s got that same smooth consistency you mention. If I make these, I will report back!

Back to Top

Where should I send your free guide?

By entering your email, you're agreeing to our Privacy Policy. We respect your email privacy, and will never share your information.