Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars


Is there any sandwich out there as iconic as PB&J?  I know it was my sandwich of choice growing up, and Caroline and Smith seem to be falling in line as well.  It's been Caroline's go-to lunch for the past few years, and lately she's taken to replacing the bread with graham crackers to make pb&j crackers.  Smart girl, that Caroline.

I thought that the first day of school deserved a special after school snack, so I baked these up for her on Monday afternoon while the boys napped.  They start with a base of peanut butter cookie dough.  A thick smear of jelly tops the bottom layer, and then more peanut butter cookie dough is dolloped over the jelly.  A big handful of chopped peanuts tops it off, and then they're baked.  The jelly seeps into the peanut butter layers, and you're left with a truly indulgent, nostalgic dessert.

I've been making these bars for the past 6 years or so, so I've adapted them a bit to my tastes and preferences.  First, I increased the jelly.  I really love peanut butter, but I prefer a pb&j that's heavy on the jelly.  Feel free to use any flavor you want - I love raspberry, strawberry, and blackberry.  This time I used grape to turn them into a true throw-back dessert.  I also like to use half roasted peanuts and half honey-roasted peanuts.  Because when are honey-roasted peanuts a bad idea?

 Caroline loved having such a fun treat for a snack, and she thought it was pretty cool that I turned a sandwich into a dessert.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars 
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa at Home
makes 24 bars
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups creamy peanut butter (18 ounces)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour,
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2  cups jam, jelly, or preserves any flavor 
  • 1/4 cup salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup honey-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x13 inch pan with foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang on all sides.  Spray with cooking spray.

Using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, vanilla, and peanut butter, and mix until well combined.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add to the peanut butter mixture, and mix until just combined.

Spread 2/3 of the dough in the prepared pan, using a knife to spread it evenly. Spread the jam over the dough, and drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Sprinkle the peanuts over the top and bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely, and cut into small squares.  They cut much cleaner if they are chilled, so I usually cool them to room temperature, then put them in the refrigerator for a few hours before slicing and serving.  They also taste great chilled!


Warm Vanilla Sugar said...

This looks like such a fabulous bar!!

Joanne (eats well with others) said...

I've made these and they are pretty much one of my favorite desserts. Ever.

Sam Wizzor said...

Yes, the recipe is good, that simply Yum

Title Boxing Club Downers Grov said...

Looks like a perfect after school snack :)

Laura Campbell said...

What a gorgeous recipe Josie. Definitely agree, pb and jelly is such a winning combination. it just makes me feel... happy and childlike... whenever I eat it! Trying this hon xx

Helen said...

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