I’m partnering with Bob’s Red Mill® to bring you today’s recipe! I absolutely love all of their products and use them every day. Bob’s Red Mill products are so perfect for baking!
During my junior year of high school, one of my close guy friends planned a special Valentine’s Day date for his girlfriend. Since I knew her really well, he shared his thoughts with me ahead of time to double check she’d appreciate his surprises: a bouquet of red roses, a dainty gold necklace, and a giant cookie cake from Mrs. Field’s.
I immediately reassured him that she’d love all of them, so around midday on Valentine’s Day, I headed over to the mall with him to pick up the special dessert. When we walked up to the bakery’s register, someone brought out a huge red box from the back and flipped open the lid to show us his customized treat.
They had scripted “I love you” along with her name across the center of the massive cookie cake in red icing, piped white frosting ruffles around the edge, and sprinkled the border with teeny heart-shaped sprinkles. I looked at my friend and smiled, quickly telling him that she would absolutely adore his sweet cookie cake gesture.
As we carried it back to his truck, he mentioned that he had a tough time picking out the cookie flavor. He debated between plain chocolate chip and peanut butter with chocolate chunks, but in the end, he thought the simplest option would be best.
I nodded my head in agreement. Classic flavors always taste delicious, especially when they’re as soft and chewy and gooey as that oversized store-bought cookie…
But I still secretly wondered how the peanut butter version would’ve turned out.
The other thing I thought about that afternoon? How smart it was to bake cookie dough in a cake pan! Up to that point in my life, I had always assumed homemade cookie dough needed to be prepared exactly as cookbook recipes instructed, as individual mounds of dough on the baking sheet… And a single massive cookie, like the one he had custom ordered, could only be made by fancy bakeries.
Yet when I considered how much easier it’d be to skip shaping individual cookies from homemade dough, I decided to try baking my own jumbo chocolate chip cookie in a cake pan back at my own house. I used the ingredients list from an older cookbook on our shelf, and although it wasn’t one bit healthy, that big cookie still tasted delicious, especially the center squares… Those slices were so ooey, gooey, and massively chewy — exactly the way I love my cookies!
And now, far too many years later, I finally created a healthier version: these healthy chocolate chip peanut butter cookie bars! They’re incredibly soft and chewy with lots of sweet peanut flavor and rich chocolate morsels. They’re also really easy to make — no mixer required!
Unlike the store-bought version, these healthy cookie bars contain no traditional flour, eggs, dairy, butter, oil or refined sugar… And you only need 20 minutes to get them in the oven!
I confess… I immediately reached for a second bar the moment I polished off my first. They’re that good!
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE HEALTHY CHOCOLATE CHIP PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE BARS
Let’s go over what you’ll need to make these healthy one-bowl flourless chocolate chip peanut butter cookie bars!
In your mixing bowl, you’ll start by adding homemade creamy peanut butter and unsweetened cashew milk. This is my homemade creamy peanut butter recipe. You just need 2 ingredients (peanuts + salt), 5 minutes, and a blender. It’s so easy to make! And unlike many store-bought peanut butter options, your homemade version contains no added sugar, oil, or any other funky ingredients.
Unsweetened cashew milk is actually one of my favorite non-dairy milk options! Many of my family members are lactose intolerant, so unsweetened cashew milk and unsweetened vanilla almond milk are my two standards. While we love both, I think that unsweetened cashew milk has a thicker and creamier texture, close to that of whole milk. It’s also just 25 calories per cup!
Both of these first two ingredients work double duty in this recipe! In addition to that irresistible nutty flavor, the homemade creamy peanut butter replaces the butter and oil in these healthy flourless chocolate chip cookie bars. The unsweetened cashew milk adds moisture and also replaces the eggs.
Tip: Any milk will work! But… By using cashew milk (or almond milk!), these healthy flourless chocolate chip peanut butter cookie bars are dairy-free, egg-free, and vegan!
Once you’ve stirred those two ingredients together into a thoroughly creamy mixture, you’ll stir in a pinch of salt, vanilla extract, liquid stevia, and pure maple syrup. No refined sugar in these healthy chocolate chip peanut butter cookie bars!
Yes, you do need both the liquid stevia and pure maple syrup. Here’s why!
If you just used pure maple syrup as the sweetener, then you’d have to add about ¾ cup to the cookie dough to make these healthy cookie bars taste as sweet as traditional recipes. However, that would add way too much liquid to the bowl, and your cookie dough would have the same texture as muffin batter. That would make your cookie bars turn out bready and cakey. Not good!
But if you scaled back and only added enough maple syrup to give your cookie bars the perfect soft and chewy consistency, they wouldn’t be nearly sweet enough. They’d taste more like bread or dinner rolls. Also not good!
So that’s where the liquid stevia comes in! Liquid stevia is highly concentrated. By adding a mere 1 teaspoon of liquid stevia, you add the sweetness equivalent of ½ cup of maple syrup!
When you use the combination of pure maple syrup and liquid stevia, your healthy chocolate chip peanut butter cookie bars are perfectly sweet, soft, and chewy. It’s the best of all worlds!
Tip: Many stevia products have different sweetness levels, so they’re not necessarily 1-for-1 substitutes for each other. This is the one that I use, and you’ll use it in all of these recipes of mine too!
Something else to keep in mind… Pure maple syrup isn’t the same thing as pancake syrup! Pure maple syrup comes directly from maple trees, and the only ingredient is — you guessed it! — maple syrup. (No corn syrup or artificial flavorings!) It usually comes in thin glass bottles or squat plastic jugs like this.
Instead of the refined flour found in those store-bought cookie cakes, you’ll use Bob’s Red Mill® Whole Grain Oat Flour. I’m obsessed with it! It’s literally made by finely grinding whole oat groats. Nothing added and nothing removed!
Hint: Groats = the whole grain, including the oat’s germ, bran, and endosperm. It’s just a fancy way of saying you get all of those added health benefits and micronutrients from the whole grain oats!
In other words, Bob’s Red Mill® Oat Flour is basically just finely powdered whole grain oats, but… Somehow, “powdered oats” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as “oat flour.” 😉 As a result, I’m never sure whether to call these healthy chocolate chip peanut butter cookie bars “flourless” or “practically flourless”… But either way, they’re extremely delicious!
Before you stir the oat flour into your bowl, sprinkle a teeny bit of baking soda on top! I recommend sprinkling it, rather than dumping it all in one place, because this helps prevent clumps. Clumps of baking soda lead to uneven baking, but if you sprinkle it over the flour and stir both of them into your mixing bowl at the same time, your healthy flourless chocolate chip peanut butter cookie bars should bake evenly and beautifully!
But of course, you still need to add the chocolate! I use mini chips (I love these!) so that every bite contains multiple morsels of chocolate. I also reserve some to press into the tops for a pretty presentation. I think it makes them look even more irresistible!
Although… That might be dangerous. 😉
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY CHOCOLATE CHIP PEANUT BUTTER COOKIE BARS
I have a two quick tips to about how to make the best healthy chocolate chip peanut butter cookie bars.
First, do not overbake these cookie bars! They’ll actually be done when the edges look firm but the center still looks glossy and a bit underdone. The heat from the pan will continue to cook the center all the way through while you let the pan cool completely to room temperature on the counter.
And since these don’t contain eggs or traditional flour, it’s totally fine to underbake them — in fact, that’s what I usually do!
Second, you must let them rest for at least 6 hours once they’ve reached room temperature. I know. It feels impossible. And like pure torture.
However! These healthy chocolate chip peanut butter cookie bars actually turn fudgier and chewier the longer you let them rest. (If you cut into them too early, they’ll be more cake-like.) I promise that ooey gooey brownie-like texture is totally worth the wait!
Then if you figure out how to stop at just one, please tell me your trick… Because I definitely failed at that! 😉
And when you make your own, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amys.healthy.baking IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy one-bowl flourless chocolate chip peanut butter cookie bars!
Healthy Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookie Bars
- 5 tbsp (80g) homemade creamy peanut butter (see Notes!)
- 6 tbsp (90mL) unsweetened cashew milk, room temperature
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp liquid stevia
- ¼ cup (60mL) pure maple syrup
- 1 ½ cups (180g) Bob’s Red Mill® Whole Grain Oat Flour (measured like this – and use their Gluten Free Oat Flour, if necessary)
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 3 ½ tbsp (49g) miniature chocolate chips, divided
- Preheat the oven to 300°F, and coat an 8”-square pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl, stir together the peanut butter and cashew milk. Stir in the salt, vanilla, stevia, and maple syrup. Pour in the oat flour, and sprinkle the baking soda over the oat flour (to prevent it from clumping!). Stir in the oat flour and baking soda until just incorporated. Stir in 3 tablespoons of miniature chocolate chips.
- Spread the mixture into the prepared pan. Gently press the remaining miniature chocolate chips on top. Bake at 300°F for 12-15 minutes. Cool completely to room temperature in the pan, and let the bars rest for at least 6 hours once at room temperature for the best taste and texture before slicing and serving.
This post was sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill®. As always, all text, opinions, photographs, and recipe are my own. To find Bob’s Red Mill® products at a store near you, use their handy store locator here!
Hint: I’ve used Bob’s Red Mill® Whole Grain Oat Flour in many of my recipes! Truffles (here and here), other cookie bars (here and here), cookies (here, here and here), cookie dough bites (here and here), and more. Their Gluten-Free Oat Flour works just as well in all of those recipes, too!
You may also like Amy’s other recipes…
♡ Healthy Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookie Bars
♡ Healthy Chocolate Chip Blondie Bars
♡ Healthy Raspberry Crumble Bars
♡ Healthy Peach Crumble Bars
♡ Healthy One-Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookies
♡ Healthy One-Bowl Chocolate Chunk Brownies
♡ Healthy Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies
♡ Healthy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
♡ …and the rest of Amy’s healthy dessert bar recipes!