I first found this recipe on Joanne’s blog, who in turn adapted the recipe from the magical Barefoot Contessa. (On a sidenote, Joanne is always cooking up something fabulous. And healthy–you should check her stuff out.)
As I mentioned just the other week, the very evening I made these bars, a Bon Appetit magazine turned up in our mailbox and–lo and behold–there was another recipe for PB&J Bars!
The fates were telling me to spread the love. So let me tell you a few things about these bars: if you love a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, you will love these. If you’re not such a PB&J fan, you won’t like ’em. It’s that simple. They really do taste like the sandwich, but chewy and sweeter.
My husband liked them okay, but wasn’t absolutely thrilled either. “They just taste like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” he explained. So there’s the evidence to consider before jumping in and making these.
They’re very sweet, so (unlike Joanne, heh heh) I’m not tempted to eat many–a small bar satisfies me, and I need some milk to wash it down. My favorite way to eat them is alongside a nice, tart apple. The apple/peanut butter combination is timeless, and it’s the best way to enjoy these little guys. In my humble but correct opinion.
Oh no! “My humble but correct opinion” is another motherism! According to the speed at which I’m becoming my mother, my name should be ‘Twinky’ in about 5 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days!
And yes, my mother’s name is ‘Twinky.’ The name fits her personality 100%–cheerful, bright, energetic–and sparkly. Very sparkly. Love ya, Mom.
Anyway, this is a great dessert to bring to a party or potluck, and I would imagine it’s also a very kid-friendly dessert. Oh, and pantry-friendly! So let’s go.
(Makes about 24 small bars)
1 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, room temperature
18 oz creamy peanut butter
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
18 oz raspberry jam
2/3 c chopped lightly salted peanuts
First, preheat the oven to 350.
Grabe a 9×13” cake pan and grease it. I like to unwrap the butter we’re about to use:
And use the wrappers to get the greasing done.
Line it with parchment paper, then grease it again.
The butter on the wrappers was running thin, so I gave it a healthy dose of baking spray to finish the job.
Your next mission is to make sure your eggs are room temperature. I will never, ever remember to set them on the counter hours in advance, so I use the old trick of running warm water over them for a few minutes.
Like a charm!
Now it’s time to get mixin’. Combine the butter and sugar in a mixer bowl.
Cream the butter and sugar together for about 2 minutes, until fluffy and light yellow.
Now add the vanilla
and the eggs
and the peanut butter.
Mix until all ingredients are combined.
After about 2 minutes, you should have creamy swirls of delight:
Grab a separate bowl, and sift together the flour . . .
. . . the baking powder . . .
. . . and the salt.
Turn your mixer on low speed, and slowly add these dry ingredients to the peanut butter batter.
Mix until it’s all combined–by the end it will be quite thick.
Spread 2/3 of the dough into the parchment-paper lined pan, using your fingers to press it into the corners and create as even a layer as possible.
Now spread on the jam with a spatula or spoon.
Get it on there nice and even.
I really enjoyed the jam, so I’m thinking about upping the quantity from 18 oz to 23 oz next time (the size of a large jar at my grocery store).
Drop globs of the remaining dough over the jam. Try to get them distributed evenly. I used a spatula to kind of press them down at the end:
Now sprinkle on those peanuts. I didn’t chop mine, but I definitely recommend that you chop yours! More crunchy peanut coverage = very desirable.
Looks like we’re ready to toss this in the oven.
Bake for 45 minutes–by the end it will look very similar to the uncooked product (a toasty, golden brown).
Let it cool on the counter, and then cut it into squares.
As discussed, I like tinier squares, though you wouldn’t be able to tell from these pictures.
They’re a little sticky, so make sure to have a napkin on hand when you eat them.
Who knows where my newfound baking impulse will lead me next!
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