As much as I love to make fancy desserts, I prefer to eat slightly more, er, pedestrian ones. When it comes to sugary treats, give me the greatest hits. Chocolate and caramel make my heart sing, an entire bag of wine gums is my idea of luxury, and chocolate and peanut butter? Well, I can’t think of anything better. When it comes to dessert, I don’t show up to be challenged, I show up to play. I want something that is simple and pleasurable. Something over-the-top but blissfully familiar. I want something like these Peanut Butter Sesame Bars.
So what are you looking at here? Well, let’s start at the bottom and work our way up, shall we? The base of these Peanut Butter Sesame Bars is a graham cracker crust accented with crushed sesame snaps. The crust holds a creamy peanut butter filling spiked with toasted sesame seeds. And finally, the top is a thin semi-sweet chocolate layer swirled with honey-sweetened tahini and sprinkled with peanuts, dark chocolate chunks, and toasted sesame seeds. Yeah, these bars take no prisoners. This is one aggressively indulgent dessert.
Growing up, tahini was one of those things I’d only find in hummus. The concept of using sesame seed paste in a dessert was not something that crossed my mind. Yes, I was sadly unacquainted with halva at the time. In fact, the only sesame-centric treat I was aware of as a kid were sesame snaps. A fixture by the cash of every corner shop I entered. I never thought much of those snaps. They always paled in comparison to the brightly colored gummies I was partial to. I was a teenager before I even bothered to try one and from that point forward I was hooked.
I’m not sure how common it is to be a sesame snap lover. But if you’ve never bothered to snag a pack at your convenience store, I strongly encourage you to grab one at your earliest, well, convenience. They are sweet with a satisfyingly brittle crunch and the toasted sesame seeds bring a nutty depth to what otherwise would be a far too sweet one-note treat. The way they crumble made me want to crush them into a crust of sorts. But I figured they would have trouble forming a cohesive crust on their own. So I invited the old reliable graham cracker to the party.
The crust for these bars comes together as any pat-in-pan crumb crust would. Simply add melted butter to the graham cracker crumbs and busted sesame snaps and stir until the mixture resembles wet sand. Then pat it into your 8×8 pan and pop it into the oven. Yes, these are not no-bake bars, but this is the only point in the recipe where you will need the oven. Once the crust is golden, just set it aside to cool slightly. It doesn’t have to be completely cool before you add the filling. This is a very forgiving recipe.
Now, let’s move on to the filling. I want you to brace yourself here. There is a fair amount of butter, both peanut and otherwise, and powdered sugar in this recipe. What can I say? I wanted the filling to mimic the interior of a Reese peanut butter cup as closely as possible. And this was the price I paid. If it’s any consolation, these bars are so rich that a small square will more than satisfy your sweet tooth. And you can stash these guys in the freezer and eat them over the course of a month. So yeah, they’re practically diet food.
Now, let’s talk about the finishing touches. I know the swirled surface looks ornate but it really easy to pull off. All you need is a toothpick. Start by melting down some semi-sweet chocolate chips and pour them over the peanut butter filling. You don’t have to let the filling set by the way. You can pour, smooth it, and top it right away, no chilling required. Once the chocolate is on there, add your honey-sweetened tahini. You don’t have to be dainty about it, spoon globs of it all over the surface of the chocolate.
Here’s where the toothpick comes in. Drag your toothpick through those gobs of tahini to create pleasing swirls of tahini and chocolate. Once your masterpiece is complete, finish the bars with dry roasted peanuts, dark chocolate chunks, and a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds. Place the bars in the fridge and just like that, you’re two hours away from dessert.
So that’s everything you need to know about these Peanut Butter Sesame Bars. They bring you all the nostalgia of a peanut butter cup but with a little more depth and a colossal crunch.
Peanut Butter Sesame Bars
- 1 8×8 pan
Sesame Graham Cracker Crust
- 1⅓ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 4 (30g) packs sesame snaps crushed
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted
Sesame Peanut Filling
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup smooth peanut butter **
- ⅓ cup toasted sesame seeds
- 1 cup icing sugar sifted
- ½ tsp kosher salt
Chocolate Tahini Topping
- 1 tbsp tahini heaping
- 1 tbsp water
- ½ tsp honey
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ¼ cup dry roasted peanuts
- ¼ cup dark chocolate chunks
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
For the Crust
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a greased 8×8 pan with parchment paper to fashion a sling. *** Set the pan aside.
- In a large bowl whisk to combine the graham cracker crumbs, sesame snaps, and salt. Pour in the melted butter and stir until the mixture resembles wet sand.1⅓ cups graham cracker crumbs, 4 (30g) packs sesame snaps, ¼ tsp kosher salt, ½ cup unsalted butter
- Pour the mixture into the center of your prepared pan. Using a 1/2 cup measure, press the mixture into the base and up the sides of the pan. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Set aside to cool slightly.
For the Filling
- Place the butter, peanut butter, sesame seeds, salt, and icing sugar in a bowl. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir to combine. Pour the mixture into the crust and smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Set aside.½ cup unsalted butter, ½ cup smooth peanut butter **, ⅓ cup toasted sesame seeds, ½ tsp kosher salt, 1 cup icing sugar
For the Topping
- In a small bowl, whisk to combine the tahini, honey, and water. Set aside.1 tbsp tahini, 1 tbsp water, ½ tsp honey
- Place the chocolate chips in the microwave and heat them in 30-second bursts. Once the chocolate has melted, pour it on top of the peanut butter filling. Smooth the surface with an offset spatula.1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Spoon the tahini mixture on top of the chocolate and, using a toothpick, create a series of swirls. Sprinkle the chocolate with peanuts, chocolate chunks, and sesame seeds. Transfer the bars to the fridge and chill for 2 hours before slicing and serving.¼ cup dry roasted peanuts, ¼ cup dark chocolate chunks, 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds