A little while ago I woke up with a deep yearning to make a cookie-like dessert that wasn’t a regular cookie. I was torn between making mini lemon meringue pies and making peanut butter and jelly bars. So I went over to the Framed Cooks Facebook page and asked folks to help me decide. The mini lemon meringue pies won in a landslide, and so that’s what I made that day, and if you’d like to take a look at these cute little pies, click here.
However, the minority voters for the pb&j bars were passionately enthusiastic. (These voters included the teenager, who is away at college. She voted for the pb&j bars, but then told me I wasn’t allowed to make them since she wasn’t home to eat them. This is the kind of input I’m not sure what to do with.)
Anyway, I couldn’t leave the pb&j fans hanging, and so please don’t tell the teenager, but I went ahead and made ‘em. A whole, glorious 13×9 inch pan of ‘em.
Obviously, this recipe calls for both peanut butter and jelly, and I have strong feelings about both. For the peanut butter, it’s Skippy all the way. Other members of my household feel the same way I do.
(Don’t you just hate it when you are licking out the empty peanut butter jar and you can’t quite reach all the way to the bottom of it? It’s SO frustrating. Jeesh.)
As for the jam, there is only one jam for me in the entire world, and that is the jam from Stonewall Kitchen. Those jams have ruined all other jam for me for all eternity. I used their red raspberry jam for this particular recipe, but I always have at least three or four jars of all their flavors in my fridge at all times, including this guy.
Anyway, this recipe calls for making a completely decadent peanut buttery/regular buttery dough, spreading most of it in a parchment-lined pan (don’t skip the parchment, it will make your life SO much easier when it comes time to take these OUT of the pan), spreading lots of jam over the dough, dropping big clumps of the rest of the dough on top of the jam, and then scattering chopped peanuts over the whole thing.
Trust me when I say you should cut them into the smallest squares possible. I cut them into 12 large squares, then once they were out of the pan and cooled down I cut those squares into halves or quarters. A little of this pb&j scrumptiousness goes a long way.
So, my beloved pb&j fans, this one’s for you! And I guess I will make them again when a certain someone is home from college…because no matter how old you get, there’s always time for pb&j.
Serves: 12 to 24 bars, depending on how small you cut them.
- 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1½ cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups creamy peanut butter
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1½ cups jam (your choice of flavor!)
- ½ cups salted peanuts, chopped into small pieces
- Preheat the oven to 350.
- Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray, line it with parchment paper, and then spray the parchment with cooking spray and flour it.
- Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Turn the mixer to low and add the eggs, vanilla and peanut butter and mix until combined.
- Sift the flour and baking powder together. Turn the mixer back on to low speed and add the flour mixture until just combined.
- Spread ⅔ of the dough into the baking pan, spreading to the edges (use your hands, it's easiest that way!) Spread the jam evenly over the dough.
- Drop small chunks of the remaining dough over the jam. You'll have some spots where the jam shows through, but don't worry about that. Scatter the peanuts over the top and bake for 45 minutes or until the dough is golden brown.
- Cool completely and then cut into squares.
Recipe adapted just slightly from Ina Garten’s version