Thursday, December 9, 2021




Now that it's December, a person could be forgiven for thinking about Christmas baking and cookie exchanges 24/7. Last year when we were in deep lockdown, a few  of our neighbors dashed furtively from door to door during the holidays with cheerful tins of homemade cookies interspersed with chocolate truffles.  We did the same!  It cheered us up deliciously.

These easy-peasy little bars were part of one cookie bonanza and  I managed to get the recipe. Only six ingredients and no baking! They took very little time to make if you don’t count the time I squandered trying to open the new jar of peanut butter. I substituted a powdered low-carb sweetener instead of regular confectioner’s sugar and added the chopped peanuts to dress up the bars a bit. They will be a hit around here and would be a good contribution to a cookie exchange.  I’ll add them to our chocolate gingerbread loaves, meringues, sugar cookies and other family faves that have been on Mystery Lovers Kitchen. In fact, the blog is a treasure trove of holiday treats from all of us. How about you, do you have a cookie exchange? Or a family tradition of holiday cookies?  Do you always bake the same things or do you like to mix it up a bit?  





1/2 cup salted butter, melted

1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 8 full sheet graham crackers if you can’t find crumbs in the store).

2 cups Swerve confectioner’s sugar substitute – or 2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 cup + 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, divided

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped peanuts


Line a 9×9 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. overlapping at the ends to give you a ‘handle’.  Set aside. You could use an 8 x 8 pan and the bars would be thicker. I may try that the next time.

Make graham cracker crumbs in food processor if necessary. 




Mix the melted butter, graham cracker crumbs, and Swerve or confectioners’ sugar together in a medium bowl.

 Stir in 1 cup of peanut butter


 Blend well, then press evenly into prepared baking pan.


Melt remaining 2 tablespoons of peanut butter with the chocolate chips in the microwave or on the stove. 


This took nearly two minutes in mine but microwaves vary so check every twenty seconds or so.  Stir until smooth. 

Spread over peanut butter layer.



Add the chopped peanuts evenly over the top. 


Chill in the refrigerator until completely firm, at least 2 hours. Keep cool until serving.


Cover leftover bars tightly and refrigerate for up to 1 week. They freeze well and can be frozen in the cookie tins until ready to give!   They make a nice little gift.

 I tested them on my hubby, son-in-law and grandson and all they said was ‘Can I have another one?’


Mary Jane Maffini is the award-winning author of three and a half mystery series: the Camilla Maffini mysteries, the Fiona Silk capers and the Charlotte Adams organizer mysteries – number six coming soon! With her daughter Victoria Maffini, MJ collaborated on The Book Collector Mysteries as Victoria Abbott. Victoria Abbott spent several happy years on Mystery Lovers Kitchen. MJ  is very glad to be back and Victoria is waving at you all!


The first five Charlotte Adams are being reissued by Beyond the Page Publishing. Recipes have been added and of course, the organizing tips continue! The Charlotte Adams books have recently been optioned for television films.  The pooches on the covers look a lot like guest posters Penny and Ivy.

Organize Your Corpses was re-released as an e-book and a trade paper on May 18. There's a great deal for the e-book.   You can order it HERE!

The Cluttered Corpse was reissued on June 15th and Death Loves a Messy Desk arrived on July 13th. 

Closet Confidential was out in August.



Jordan Bingham has a tough time: she's the first person in her large family to go straight. She has learned some useful skills from her crooked relatives but she's trying to hang on to a legit job working for a curmudgeonly book collector. But of course, the bodies keep piling up.  There's lots of fun in the book collector series from Victoria Abbott.

Don't forget to check out MJ's Canadian books:  Camilla MacPhee features a fortyish widowed lawyer who runs an advocacy agency for victims of violent crime, in Ottawa, Canada's capital city. Life would be easier if she didn't have the world's worst office assistant, the world's bossiest sisters and, arguably, the world's greatest stubborn streak. If you like your mysteries a bit edgy with a side order of humor, these could be for you.  

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  1. Thank you for the wonderful sounding recipe. I will be trying it - soon.

    Although not in a cookie exchange, cookies are a big part of the goodie boxes I make to share during the holidays.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Thanks, Kay! I love giving and receiving cookies. I like the sound of those goodie boxes. Hugs. MJ

  2. These sound wicked tempting!
    You can customize them with your choice of chips, dark, milk, white chocolate.
    Well done, Mary Jane!

  3. Great ideas for customizing, Libby! I love white chocolate (although that is a polarizing topic, lol). Thank you for coming by. Hugs. MJ

  4. These look delicious. I need to take a dessert for a get together on Saturday (I've promised it won't be fruitcake!) and these would be perfect.

    1. I hope they do the trick, Peg! Have fun at the get together. I love this season. Hugs. MJ

  5. Molly you know a lot about yum, so thanks for the kind words. Hugs. MJ

  6. Sounds like a great recipe to add to my tbb (to be baked) list! I love trying new recipes and sharing with everyone, after all I can't eat it all and my hubby says that he doesn't need to eat it all LOL. Thank you for sharing your recipe and Merry Christmas!

  7. As someone who is only sporadically motivated to cook and much less often motivated to bake, this time of the year is a challenge. I'm not a naturally gifted baker at all but when I see the holiday recipes I usually decide to try one or two and usually it ends up a disaster but I love reading about cookie exchanges, candies, etc. In our family our youngest daughter (okay, she's 47) is the kitchen wizard so I furnish the ingredients and she works the magic. Thank you for sharing this recipe. It has all of our family's favorite things!