These bars taste just like the original Cherry Mountain Bar that you'll find at most candy counters. I loved this recipe from the start, and I now make it every Christmas. When I first made it, I couldn't find cherry chips anywhere, so I used the alternate white (vanilla) baking morsels with cherry extract and red food coloring, and it was great. I've made it many times over the years now, usually with vanilla baking morsels. But I've used cherry chips a few times when I was able to find them in gourmet shops. It's always great either way!
Line a 13x9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil (leaving 1 1/2 inches on edges for easy removal). Lightly butter the foil; set aside.
In large saucepan, combine sugar, milk, 1/2 cup butter, marshmallows and salt. Bring to boil over medium heat; boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add cherry chips (or vanilla chips, cherry extract and red food coloring) and stir until chips are melted. Remove from heat, then add vanilla. (Taste mixture and if you like, you can add a little extra cherry extract and a few more drops of red food coloring for a deeper red shade and a bolder cherry taste.) Stir until mixture is smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Set aside.
In 4-cup measuring dish, melt chocolate chips in microwave oven on High for 30 seconds. Stir, then microwave an additional 30 seconds. Stir until melted. (Be very careful, as chocolate will burn easily.).
Stir in peanut butter, chopped peanuts, and 1 tablespoon butter, mixing well. Spread chocolate mixture evenly over top of the cherry layer.
Allow to sit at room temperature until completely set and firm.
Once set, lift candy from pan using foil edges, and place on cutting board. Cut into 1-inch squares. Store in cool place.