Becky and I are PB&J kids. We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches just about every day from approximately first grade through, well, last year. On wheat bread, english muffins or bagels (never white bread), toasted if we were at home, peanut butter on both sides to keep the bread from getting soggy, with strawberry jelly. If we didn't have strawberry, it was raspberry for me; grape for Beck.
Then, one day, it occurred to us that we were basically eating sugar for lunch. We were no longer dancing eight hours a day. Instead, we were sitting in desk chairs on our bums, and those bums were getting bigger and bigger.
So, our beloved PB&J was banished from the lunch-sphere and into the realm of treats.
And boy, are these PB&J bars a treat.
Do you remember that Peanut Butter Jelly Time video from 2002? The one where a banana bounces around the screen rapping about peanut butter jelly and a baseball bat? Remember how in your face it was?
Yeah. These bars are kind of like that.
In fact, if your taste buds could talk, they might say a bite of these bars is like getting hit with a...wait for it...peanut butter jelly baseball bat.
The dough for these bars comes together really quickly, and smells absolutely fantastic. But my favorite thing about this recipe is that if you buy an 18 oz jar of peanut butter, you don't even have to deal with the annoying mess of scooping peanut butter into and out of measuring cups; you just dump the whole jar in.
One recommendation: Because these bars are so sweet, definitely use raspberry jam or another jam with bite (i.e. not strawberry or grape). Otherwise, you'll be on such a sugar high that you'll start bouncing around like the dancing banana.
Gone are the days of Jif and Smuckers for lunch, but Becky and I always have been and always will be PB&J kids. Are you a PB&J kid, too? If so, make these bars and have a grand old peanut butter jelly time.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
adapted from Ina Garten
Makes approximately 36 bars
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (I used one 18 oz jar Jif)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) raspberry jam or other jam
2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan, or spray with baking spray.
3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside
4. Cream the butter and sugar on medium speed with mixer until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.
5. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.
6. Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a spatula or your fingers. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don't worry if all the jam isn't covered; the dough will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts.
7. Bake for about 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on wire rack, then chill in refrigerator until ready to cut. Lift bars out of pan onto cutting board using parchment and cut into squares. Store at room temperature or in the fridge.