Pay Day candy bars are one of my guilty pleasures. When we take a road trip, there are three things that we have to grab at a quick pit-stop before getting on the highway: A bag of Funyuns, a Diet Pepsi, and a PayDay. When it comes to sitting in the car for hours, I prefer to spend the time honing my “empty calorie intake” skills.
It ain’t fancy. It’s probably more than a little shameful. And it’s a lot salty. But it’ll serve as lunch between here and Austin, a trip that takes far too long when you’ve got a big bowl of Kerbey Queso in the front of your mind and a teething toddler in the backseat.
These Salted Caramel Peanut Bars are a dressed-up version of a treat we saw in an issue Everyday Food a while back. We used homemade salted caramel that was studded with pretty flecks of vanilla bean, added more peanuts, and added a chocolate layer. It’s fancier. And still probably more than a little shameful. But it’s delicious.
Salted Caramel Peanut Bars
A simple candy bar gets a makeover with salted caramel, chocolate, and vanilla bean.
- 2 1/2 cups roasted/salted peanuts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 recipe caramels (or see note below)*
- 6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
- Cooking spray
- Liberally grease the bottom and sides of an 8x8 pan.
- Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of peanuts over the bottom of the pan (the bottom should almost be completely covered).
- Pour caramel sauce over the peanuts, tilting the pan to spread it evenly.
- Heat chocolate in the microwave in 30 second bursts until completely melted. Pour over the caramel layer and spread evenly.
- Immediately top with remaining peanuts and let completely cool. Cut into 8 bars (or 16 squares) and store individually wrapped for a to-go treat. (I kept them in the fridge.)
Estimated time: 30 minutes
*If you want a faster version, the original recipe called for cooking 50 unwrapped caramels, 1 cup mini marshmallows, and 1 Tbsp of water over medium heat until melted and combined. You can still add a pinch of salt and vanilla bean scrapings to the quickie version for a more flavorful caramel.