Pretzel Shortbread Peanut Butter Brownies

Pretzel Shortbread Peanut Butter Brownies Recipe by The Wood and Spoon Blog by Kate Wood. This is a layered dessert made in a sheet pan. A salty pretzel shortbread crust with butter and brown sugar. There is a soft and creamy peanut butter cup filling. The whole thing is topped with a chocolate chip brownie made from melted chocolate bars and chips. Adapted from ina garten's brownie recipe. This serves a crowd and is great for a party barbecue or gathering. Recipe at

This past weekend, I traveled to Orlando to visit family one last time before I’m due to crank out this baby. At 33 weeks pregnant, waddling around the airport with a wiggly toddler and a carry-on bag full of snacks, diapers, and a well worn copy of “Goodnight Moon” made me a sight to see. By the time we arrived to the sunshine state, Aimee was covered in Goldfish crumbs and chocolate, I was covered in Aimee’s Goldfish/chocolate drool, and we both were in desperate need of a little personal space.

Winding down the last few weeks of pregnancy is a lot like the last couple weeks of school before summer break. I have a never-ending checklist of things to do, things to buy, things to make, and things to wrap up. Baby items to purchase, baby room decor to hang, and a baby quilt to finish sewing. Recipes to test, blog posts to write, photos to take, and groceries to buy. Start a load of wash, make dinner, go to the grocery store again, and do more wash. Feed toddler, bathe toddler, play with toddler, change toddler’s diaper. Go to work, work out, go pee for the millionth time, and try to remember to shave legs/ bathe/ put on deodorant sometime before my husband comes home.

Never. Ending.

Pretzel Shortbread Peanut Butter Brownie

Meanwhile, my pregnancy app on my phone keeps saying, “Relax! Put your feet up! Pamper yourself! You’re glowing!”

What? Is that supposed to be a joke? Ain’t nobody got time for that. And if by “glowing”, you mean “sweating like a pig” then OK, yes, you’re right.
My hand is tempted to write that being a mom or being pregnant is hard work because those are two incredibly true statements, but really what it boils down to is that being a grown up is tough stuff. People expect things of us, we expect things of ourselves, and with a to-do list longer than the Mississippi River, it’s easy to get bogged down. There’s no pause button, much less a rewind option, and life can sometimes just wear us in ways that affect us from the inside to the out. 
If you’re experiencing even a taste of this nowadays, take heart, because you are not alone. If you’re feeling behind on your check list, or even behind on life in general, you are not alone. Life is beautiful, but it’s also hard work and I think that sometimes we need to be okay with being a little bit of a mess. And when things get to feeling out of control, out of order, or out of service, we may just need to stop the grind and go back to what makes us happy for minute.
Kinda like these pretzel shortbread peanut butter brownies. Admittedly, these brownies will not help me fold another load of wash or soothe a crying baby or make my to-do list one inch shorter. But baking these buttery, fudgy, little bars of goodness and eating their warm crumbs straight from the pan alongside a big glass of milk feels a lot like a big hug from life. Some days, that’s just what we need.
 Pretzel Shortbread Peanut Butter Brownie
So let’s break down these bars. We have a pretzel shortbread crust and a peanut butter cup filling, all topped with a dark, rich brownie and an extra sprinkling of chocolate chips. The shortbread is modified from my brown sugar shortbread cookies and the brownies are adapted from Ina Garten’s outrageous brownie recipe. The peanut butter filling tastes a lot like the inside of a Reese’s cup mixed with a little fairy dust and tiny food angels, which I think is pretty much the same thing as being next level delicious. Plus, this recipe makes a substantial batch of pretzel shortbread peanut butter brownies which makes it a shoo-in recipe for parties, a crowd, or even just a quiet weekend at home alone after a really hard week. The whole recipe can be whipped up in a food processor which makes cleanup a whole lot more simple than most other layered desserts.
Give pretzel shortbread peanut butter brownies a try and then just give yourself a mental pat on the back. You probably deserve both. 
 Pretzel Shortbread Peanut Butter Brownie

Pretzel Shortbread Peanut Butter Brownies

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This bar has three layers that consist of a pretzel shortbread crust, a creamy peanut butter cup filling, and a rich, chocolate brownie on top. They are sweet, salty, decadent, and everything in between.

  • Author: Kate Wood
  • Prep Time: 45
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes


For the pretzel shortbread

  • 4 ounces (about 2 cups) salted pretzel crumbs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter

For the peanut butter filling

  • 3/4 cup of peanut butter (creamy or crunchy is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 11/4 cup confectioners sugar

For the brownie

  • 2 sticks (1 cup) butter
  • 8 ounces chopped semi-sweet chocolate
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup of mini chocolate chips, divided


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan (15″x10″x1″) with parchment paper and spray the sides with baking spray.
  2. In a double boiler or a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, prep the brownies. Cut up butter and chocolate into small pieces and places these in the bowl, allowing to melt while you prepare the other layers of this bar. Be sure to check in on it every couple minutes or so, stirring as needed. Once melted, remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly. Keep on the stovetop only as long as the chocolate and butter is continuing to melt.
  3. Meanwhile, in a food processor, pulse pretzel crumbs until they are the consistency of sand. Add the flour, brown sugar, and salt, pulsing briefly to combine. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and pulse the food processor until a dry, crumbly dough comes together. This took about 1 minute of pulsing on my machine.
  4. Pat the dough out into the prepared jelly roll pan and bake in the oven for ten minutes.
  5. While pretzel shortbread is in the oven and the chocolate and butter is melting on the stovetop, combine the peanut butter and milk in the same bowl of your food processor. (It’s not necessary to wash it out yet- hooray!) Whiz in the food processor until smooth and combined. Add the confectioners sugar and pulse until thick, dry clumps come together. This mixture will appear similar to the inside of a peanut butter cup. Set aside in another bowl.
  6. Back in the same food processor bowl, add the eggs, vanilla, and sugar for your brownie layer. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the slightly cooled chocolate mixture to the eggs and pulse to combine. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the food processor and mix just until combined. Remove from machine and stir half of the chocolate chips in by hand.
  7. Sprinkle clumps of the peanut butter filling evenly over the top of the shortbread crust. Pour the brownie batter over top of the shortbread and peanut butter clumps and smooth out evenly in the pan. Your pan will be full. Sprinkle the remaining mini chocolate chips over the top of the batter.
  8. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. At 20 minutes, carefully rap the pan on the rack of the oven several times to help air to escape the pan. Continue to bake for another 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted to the center comes out with barely moist clumps on it. Do not overbake.
  9. Allow to cool on a cooling rack for 20-30 minutes and then cool completely in the fridge before slicing.

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6 thoughts on “Pretzel Shortbread Peanut Butter Brownies”

  1. Made these brownies and my dad says they are the best brownies he has ever had. Thanks for the great recipe, Kate. These are definitely a new family fave and will be in my baking rotation for sure.

  2. A year ago this Friday we were blessed to meet the talented Kate Wood. Not knowing what to expect when her sweet husband called for an appointment, we were more than impressed with her genuine love for people, as well as her ability to create beautiful food. Happy Anniversary Kate – you are truly special.

    1. Such kind words, Nell! I so enjoyed working with you all and am grateful for the opportunity you all afforded me with! What terrific luck to have found you all. Hope to see you soon!

  3. These may just be all my favourite things wrapped up in one epic brownie – whoa. Post Passover, I am totally whipping up a batch. Your words in this post are truly beautiful, and so easily relatable. No babies over here (yet), but the constant pressure to do everything and be everywhere and the to-do list that only seems to get longer is something that I’m sure we can all relate to – so thank you.

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