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    Chocolate Peanut Squares

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    Chocolate Peanut Squares

    There is something appealing, particularly in the heat, about the combination of salty and sweet. In truth, this is nothing more than an elaboration of millionaire's shortbread, suggested to me by a Saturday night spent lying in bed watching The Bone Collector on TV while eating clumps of peanuts out of my left hand and slabs of chocolate from my right. Who wouldn't be inspired by that heavenly mingle in the mouth? Ambrosia from the Gods.

    • Vegetarian
    • Preparation time: 40 minutes
    • Cooking time: 40 minutes, plus cooling and setting
    • Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes, plus cooling and setting 60 minutes 20 minutes

    Makes: 16 - 24


    • Peanut Filling
    • 200g soft butter
    • 397g tin condensed milk
    • 4 tbsp golden syrup
    • 250g dry-roasted salted peanuts
    • Shortbread Base
    • 225g plain flour
    • 75g caster sugar
    • 175g soft, unsalted butter
    • Topping
    • 250g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids) plus 75g milk chocolate (or 325g dark chocolate alone), broken into pieces


    1. Preheat the oven to 160°C, gas mark 3. Line a 23cm square brownie tin with baking parchment.
    2. Make the shortbread base the agreeably lazy way by dumping the flour, sugar and butter into a food processor, and processing until you have a sandy mixture that's starting to clump up. Turn into the lined tin and press the mixture in with your fingers or the back of a spoon. Smooth it either with your hands or a spatula. Prick it at regular intervals with a fork and cook in the oven for 5 minutes, then lower the oven to 150°C, gas mark 2 and cook for a further 30-40 minutes until it is a pale gold and no longer doughy. Remove to a wire rack and let cool in the tin.
    3. For the peanut-caramel filling, melt the butter in the microwave (this should take 2-3 minutes), then add the condensed milk and golden syrup. Whisk the mixture well until everything is combined and stick the bowl back into the microwave. Cook on a medium heat for 6-7 minutes until boiling, removing it very gingerly every couple of minutes to give it a good stir. It's ready when the gooey mixture has thickened and turned a light, golden brown. Stand to cool for a minute or so, then whisk a bit to disperse the heat. If you don't have a microwave, put the butter, condensed milk and syrup into a saucepan, melt over a low heat, then increase the heat slightly and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat again and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the mix thickens and turns a luscious golden colour.
    4. Stir in the peanuts then pour over the cooled shortbread, spread evenly, and leave to set.
    5. Melt the chocolate in the microwave, or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Pour and spread it over the peanutty caramel mixture in the tin. Leave it to cool.
    6. Once set, cut the chocolate peanut block into squares or, for a picnic, pack the tin, and a knife, and cut on site.

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