I know you all will forgive me when I say….it’s peanut butter jelly time! Now that we’ve got that out of the way, and an earworm working on you, it’s time to talk bar cookies. That taste like a timeless classic of a favorite sandwich. I’ve been wanting to make these for a while now and since I couldn’t find hazelnuts the other day when shopping for this week’s recipes (According to my produce guy, they’re only available during Christmas. Say huh? Whatevs, Produce Guy.), we decided to fall back on simpler ingredients my poor area store could handle.
If you bake at all you’re likely to have the basics for this recipe already, and if you like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, you’re probably already stocked on that end as well. Hoorah, cookie makers!
The dough for this starts off much like any other cookie, with the creaming of things like butter, sugar, eggs and the like. The peanut butter is thrown in here as well. It’s starting to smell a lot like somebody’s fave sandwich! If kids start flocking to you like hungry little sheep, do not be surprised. I mean, even if you don’t have kids. Just warning ya.
Aaaand here is the dough after the flour mixture has been added in. You get a very thick, peanut-buttery mixture that feels and tastes very much like a yummy cookie dough. And you get a lot of it. If you sample it we won’t tell, not a soul.
So you spread about two thirds of it into a prepared pan (which we just prepped with Baking style Pam spray) and just kind of mash it into all corners as evenly as possible. You could use your hands at this point of you wanted to, wetting them slightly of the dough tries to stick to your fingers.
After spreading on your jam/jelly/preserves (it helps to take them out of the jar, place in a bowl and stir a little before this) sprinkle the rest of the dough on top in clumps. According to the recipe, the dough spreads while baking and will cover the jam, making for a nice top layer.
One last step before baking – sprinkle on some salted peanuts to give it all a little crunch. I would say you could leave this step out if you preferred to, but we enjoyed them.
And here is one of your favorite sandwiches made into a cookie! As you can see, the top layer did spread, if only a little. Enough to cover the jam and form that necessary top layer.
Who’s ready to try some? Form a line, kids!
This is definitely a tall glass of milk type of dessert. It’s kind of like the PB&J version of a brownie, mixed with your favorite jam or jelly and a smattering of little crunch from the whole peanuts. Which makes Ina Garten, and others who have a version of the same idea, geniuses. Now, I wouldn’t make these all the time (the butter, yes, there’s a lot of it, as with many cookies), but they are certainly fun and tasty for the occasional treat. Enjoy them for what they are, a fun twist on a classic household staple.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 45 minutes Level: Easy Makes: About 24 bar cookies, depending on size cut
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (recommended: Skippy)
- 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
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed 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.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.
Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough (you may want to put the jam in a bowl and stir it to loosen it up first). Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don’t worry if all the jam isn’t covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares.
As noted above, we didn’t use parchment paper, we just sprayed the pan with Pam spray for baking, which has flour in it. Worked just fine.
It’s a little hard to get the first couple of bars out of the pan just because the pan isn’t lined with foil to help pull them out. I cut a couple of rows into bars then carefully wedged a butter knife in between a couple of them and was able to lift them out enough to grab one. This enable me to then have enough room to scoot my spatula down under others.
This makes a lot of bar cookies. I usually cut these type of cookie into about a 3 inch square, but since they’re pretty rich and I was taking them to work, I cut them into about half that size. How many you get will obviously depend on how big you cut them.
While I thought we’d gotten two thirds of the dough into the pan for the bottom layer it was probably closer to half. We feel like this worked out pretty well, otherwise the top layer of dough may have been too thin. This way it ended up looking a lot like an actual PB&J.
We used a blackberry jam in ours; you can use whatever flavor you prefer.