Mom’s ‘Cafeteria’ Peanut Butter Bars

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Growing up in a typical, middle-class American family, my mom had always worked at least part-time while my sister and I were young. By my 4th grade year, my mom decided to take a part-time job working in the elementary school cafeteria. Needless to say, my younger sister and I were thrilled because she brought home some of the amazingly scrumptious dessert recipes (but not so happy about the vegetables).

Now that I’m in my mid-30s, there’s one recipe that rose to the top and has become a family favorite and a yearly tradition – Mom’s “Cafeteria” Peanut Butter Bars. (Think Reese’s cups on a much grander, richer scale.) I anticipate the day my mom gets the huge jar of peanut butter out, because I know what’s to come. Soon, the house is filled with the mouthwatering aromas of melted chocolate chips and peanut butter. Just like the “old days.” I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as we do!

Mom’s “Cafeteria” Peanut Butter Bars

Mom’s “Cafeteria” Peanut Butter Bars

Photos: My Retro Kitchen


  • ½ cup butter (or margarine, whatever you have)
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar (light or dark, again whatever you have)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups peanut butter
  • 2- ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Place peanut butter, butter, and brown sugar in a large microwave safe bowl. Microwave until butter and peanut butter are melted, one to two minutes (time will vary by microwave).
  2. Remove from microwave and use a large spoon to stir all of the ingredients together (except chocolate chips) until they form a ball of dough that leaves the side of the bowl. Pat into a 9×13 pan.
  3. Pour chocolate chips into another microwave safe bowl and microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring after each, until completely melted. Spoon over top of peanut butter mixture and spread evenly.
  4. Allow to cool completely at room temperature until chocolate hardens again or place in the refrigerator for faster hardening. Cut into squares and serve!

Recipe by Nancy Graham