Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

It was National Peanut Butter Day last Thursday. Did you know this? I found out when the day was almost over but you know I still had to participate anyway by making a peanut butter dessert. Yes, I was supposed to be studying. And yes, I know I have a baking problem. But I was starting to freak out about my exam the next day and making these PB&J bars helped calm me down. Sort of. Or I just wanted to make and eat a dessert and I used that as my reason to put off studying. Maybe.

Anyway…yea peanut butter is delicious. In fact, I wish I had a spoon of peanut butter right now. I’m hungry and these pictures aren’t helping. Sigh.

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Smucker’s Special Reserve Strawberry Preserves & the unbaked peanut butter base – I’m usually an apricot jam kind of gal, but this is what we had, and frankly, the sweetness of the strawberries was exactly what needed to be paired with the peanut butter base.

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Baked and ready for consumption!

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Interestingly, the crumble top which is the same dough as the bottom, became nice and crispy and had this lovely pie crust texture about it – like the best crispy yet melt in your mouth peanut butter cookie. I was pleased with the outcome. And so was everyone else I shared these with. These disappeared within a day.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups peanut butter (I did 1 1/2 cups Chunky from Skippy and 1 cup Smooth from Justin’s – note: don’t judge, but that’s not even all of the types of peanut butter I have in my house right now. lol.)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 – 2 cups strawberry jelly/jam/preserves, or other flavor

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan/dish with butter (I like to use the butter I will use in the recipe and just slide it around the pan a few times), and line the bottom with parchment paper. Cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add eggs, vanilla extract, and peanut butter(s), mix until thoroughly combined.

Whisk together salt, baking powder, and flour. Add to the wet ingredients. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Spread approximately two-thirds of mixture in the prepared baking pan/dish; spread evenly with offset spatula or press down with your palm. Spread the strawberry preserves on top of peanut-butter mixture. I like to have multiple chunks of strawberries spread all around the dish, so you may want to add more or less jelly, depending on your desire. Dollop/break apart remaining third of peanut-butter dough on top of jam.

Bake for about 40 – 45 minutes, or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. (If you have corners that are a little dark, don’t fret – those parts will be extra crispy and taste quite a bit like pie crust!).

Cut into squares and store in an airtight container. Or eat straight out of the dish and hide the remnants for later consumption. Your choice. I’m totally okay with either.

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Oh hey, it’s a sleeping cat with his favorite stuffed bunny pal. Hi Max!

On another unrelated note, today is the 200th anniversary of Pride & Prejudice, one of my favorite books. EVER. NPR had this lovely little cartoon version of the story. It’s short, but it definitely hits all the important parts of the story. I now have an overwhelming desire to read the book, watch the BBC mini with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle (aka the only version worth watching), and drink a cup of tea, all at the same time. You should totally make these pb&j bars, a pot of tea, and sit down to watch Pride & Prejudice. I will happily join you πŸ™‚

Happy Monday!

xx

-C

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