PB+J Bars

May 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

The peanut butter + jelly sandwich is, for most, an integral part of the childhood experience. Maybe it was a staple in your lunch box: sitting around a white table in the cafeteria with your friends, the sun shining through those big glass windows as you’d unhinge your Spice Girls or Power Rangers lunch tin and take out the juicebox, the apple, the saran-wrapped PB+J your mum packed for you that morning…

Or maybe it was your favorite afternoon snack.  The worksheet- and algebra-laden day behind you, you’d happily pull open the fridge door, the white light from within beaming down upon the shiny jelly jar on the top shelf. Grab the jelly, the bread, the Skippy (or, for the health freaks, the organic unprocessed stuff).  Watch that shiny silver knife magically cut through, slowly sinking down, down, down into the depths of the PB jar and come out deliciously thick, the nutty aroma wafting into your nostrils. Slather it on, press it down, watch the contents ooze out from within the bread and onto the plate (countertop?). Two hands, ready before your mouth, and go: Let your teeth descend – down, down, down – past the fluffy bread, the cool and refreshing jelly, the sticky creamy PB…

I can only imagine. I never had PB+J sandwiches as a child. In fact, I didn’t eat a lot of those ‘classic’ things. No soda, no candy, no real sugar (yes honey! yes maple syrup! NO refined sugar!), and peanut butter was a big no-no. Did you know PB is a legume – not a nut – and really difficult to digest? No matter. I eat it now (duh), but my mamà and pappa gave me almond butter instead (have you tried raw almond butter yet? OmghellosogoodgobuysomeNOW).

So, my initiation into the World of Peanut Butter is, alas, a recent one. But I’m catching up. Here, a more involved take on the classic PB+J.

This is the ultimate heart-stopper (in every sense of the term). Better to underbake than overbake. Happy mixing.

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
18 oz creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
18 oz strawberry jam (or your fave)
1 1/2 cups salted peanuts

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º F.  Butter a 9×13-inch cake pan (or line with buttered parchment paper).
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fully incorporated.  Add vanilla, eggs, peanut butter, and 1/2 cup peanuts and mix until all ingredients are combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Slowly add this dry mix to contents of wet. Beat!
  4. Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan, making sure it’s distributed evenly. Spread jam evenly over dough.  Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over jam.   Sprinkle with the remaining peanuts.  Bake about 40 minutes, or until top is golden brown.  Let cool and cut into squares.

inspired by Joanne’s original recipe!

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