Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars

I have been meaning to make a new version of my Chocolate Fudge Walnut Brownies since I posted the original recipe back in May.  I thought about a Chocolate Raspberry Brownie, or a Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownie, but I decided that what I really wanted was a bar that combined two of my favorite ingredients: chocolate and peanut butter. (I even decided to make my own peanut butter for these bars, which only added an extra couple minutes to the process and produced delicious leftover peanut butter for sandwiches)
These bars are pretty radical, but you'll have to trust me that the end result is delicious.  The secret ingredients in these are garbanzo beans (cooked chickpeas) and butternut squash.  The garbanzo beans allow this dessert to be a gluten-free treat (as long as your oats are labeled gluten-free), and the butternut squash purée substitutes for butter or oil.  These bars are also dairy free, though they aren't vegan because they contain two eggs.
The result is a moist, fudgy peanut butter bar with bites of chocolate chips within the batter and a crunchy peanut and chocolate chip topping.  You don't have to tell anyone how healthy they are, at least not before they try one (or two).

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Bars (Makes 12 bars)
1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans (or 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas), drained and rinsed well
½ cup butternut squash purée (canned or fresh) 
1/3 cup turbinado sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup natural peanut butter*
2 large eggs, preferably organic
½ cup old fashioned oats **
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus about 2 tablespoons extra for the topping
¼ cup chopped dry roasted peanuts (lightly salted or unsalted with a pinch of salt mixed in) 

*If you want to make sure your peanut butter is really fresh, you can easily make your own peanut butter in the food processor before you make the bars.  Just buy a bag of dry roasted peanuts, reserve 1/4 cup for the topping, and then add the remaining nuts to the food processor with about 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.  You'll want to process the peanuts long enough for them to form a ball, and then let the machine run until the ball breaks down and you're left with smooth peanut butter in the bottom of the food processor bowl.  Keep 1/2 cup peanut butter for the bars and store the rest in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  No need to clean the food processor if you're making the bars right away.  Completely unnecessary, but it's a nice way to make some fresh peanut butter for this dessert and for your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the next couple weeks.
**If you're planning on serving these to someone who doesn't eat gluten, make sure your oats are labeled "gluten-free." They sell gluten-free oats at Trader Joe's and other grocery stores.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 8-inch or 9-inch square glass baking pan (or a rectangular pan about the same size) by spraying it with cooking spray and then laying a piece of parchment inside the pan.  (See picture below). This will allow you to pull the bars out of the pan to cool and slice.
1. Add the garbanzo beans, butternut squash purée, sugar, salt, cinnamon, vanilla, and peanut butter to the bowl of your food processor fitted with the chopping blade.  Process the ingredients until the mixture is completely smooth.  
2.  Add the eggs and process until they are incorporated into the batter.  Remove the blade and fold in the oats and chocolate chips with a spatula.
3.  Pour the batter into your prepared baking pan and smooth the top of the batter with a spatula.  Sprinkle the reserved chocolate chips and chopped peanuts over the top.  
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, until center is just set (test by shaking the pan - the center shouldn't move if they're done).  You don’t want to overcook these, because the texture is supposed to be fudgy rather than cakey. 
 Allow the bars to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.  Then grab the parchment paper, and pull the whole bar out of the pan in one piece and set it on a cooling rack.  Allow the bars to cool for another 15-20 minutes before slicing for best results.  

As hard as it is to resist, I recommend letting these cool completely before serving (though the smell will tempt you for sure).  I actually prefer these cold, and so after I cut them into 12 individual bars, I layer them with pieces of parchment in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator.

Nutrition facts for one bar, assuming you get 12 total servings.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 82 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrates
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin A 7%Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 3%Iron 6%


  1. This looks great. I'm going to give this a try. Just brought home butternut squash today. Thanks, Lisa Vincent

  2. I think you might be the most healthy-cooking-baking attorney I've known. Case closed. (from your most healthy-cooking-baking nurse-friend)

  3. I'm trying to print this out so I can actually bake this. Help! Looks amazing. Love discovering this blog.

  4. You are awsome! Thank you for sharing.

  5. do you think i could replace the squash with a couple of bananas? i know it sounds lazy but would save me time making puree from fresh! love your recipes!

    1. I definitely think you can replace the squash with mashed bananas. Not lazy at all. I'd love to hear how they turn out! Good luck!