Chocolate Peanut Butter Dream Bars


INGREDIENTS:
one 16-ounce package peanut butter sandwich cookies (like Nutter Butter Cookies), divided
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
one 3.9-ounce package JELL-O Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix (not sugar-free)
1 1/2 cups cold milk (use cow's milk; pudding won't set up with soy, almond, cashew milk. I used 1% cow's milk)
4 ounces PHILADELPHIA cream cheese, softened (not lite)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
heaping 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (not 'natural')
one 8-ounce tub COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed and divided
1/4 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup peanut butter chips 

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. To the canister of a food processor, add 24 peanut butter cookies and process on high speed until broken down into very fine crumbs; set aside.
  3. To a small microwave-safe bowl, add the butter and heat on high power to melt, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the melted butter to the peanut butter cookie crumbs and process on high speed to combine, about 30 seconds.
  5. Turn mixture out into prepared baking pan and using the back of a spatula, hard-pack the mixture to form a even, flat crust. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove pan from oven; set aside to cool. While crust bakes, you can move onto steps 6 and 7.
  6. Add remaining 8 peanut butter cookies to food processor and pulse to break up cookies into bite-sized chunks, about 10 pulses or as necessary. Reserve cookie chunks in a small covered bowl or ziptop bag for use as a topping.
  7. To a medium bowl, add the pudding mix, milk, and whisk vigorously for at least 1 minute, making sure powder is fully dissolved and mixture is smooth. Place bowl in fridge to chill.
  8. To a large bowl, add the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, and beat for about 1 minute using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, or until smooth and combined.
  9. Add half the tub of COOL WHIP and beat for about 1 minute using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, or until smooth and combined; set aside.
  10. To the crust (make sure it's cooled), add the pudding (make sure it's thick and set up) in a smooth, even layer.
  11. Add the cream peanut butter mixture in a smooth, even layer. I find it easiest to add it in golf ball-sized dollops staggered around the pan and then using a spatula, blend the dollops together to create a seamless layer. Take your time so you don't disturb the layers underneath.
  12. Add the remaining half tub of COOL WHIP in a smooth, even layer.
  13. Cover and refrigerate pan for at least 2 hours, or until dessert is fully set-up. I made it 4 days before a party and placed dessert in the freezer at this point, and 2 hours before the party, I took it out, garnished with the remaining ingredients, and served.
  14. Before serving, evenly sprinkle with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and reserved Nutter Butter cookie chunks. Dessert will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months, noting that crust and sprinkled cookies on top may loose crispness as time passes.


Original Recipes visit: Chocolate Peanut Butter Dream Bars @ averiecooks.com

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