Monday, March 28, 2016

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

 Whenever my friend Katie comes over, I always try to find a new and yummy peanut butter recipe to make for her. I swear to you, I don't know of another human being on the planet who loves peanut butter as much as Katie does. Not even kidding. Anyway,  I wanted something that was an easy picky-uppy dessert (that's an official culinary term, btw), so I thought of maybe doing something PB&J. It didn't take me long to find this recipe from Martha Stewart, so I decided to go with it since I already had just about all the ingredients on hand. Perfect!
 They're simple to make, they're absolutely delish, and they SCREAM for an ice cold glass of milk. And best of all, they're Katie-approved! You should definitely make 'em!

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups strawberry jam, or other flavor
2/3 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped 
Heat oven to 350ºF. 
Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with butter, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the parchment, and coat inside of pan with flour; set aside. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, add eggs and peanut butter; beat until combined, about 2 minutes. Whisk together salt, baking powder, and flour. Add to bowl of mixer on low speed; combine. Add vanilla. Transfer two-thirds of mixture to prepared pan; spread evenly with offset spatula. Using offset spatula, spread jam on top of peanut-butter mixture. Dollop remaining third of peanut-butter mixture on top of jam. Sprinkle with peanuts. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool; cut into about thirty-six 1 1/2-by-2-inch pieces. 
Instead of greasing and flouring the pan, I just sprayed the pan with cooking spray, lined it with parchment, then sprayed the parchment with baking spray (which is cooking spray with flour in it). It's much easier and quicker!
The key to any peanut butter recipe (in my humble opinion) is the addition of salt. Make sure you don't forget it! It's the combination of salty and sweet that makes all the difference!
I used grape jelly because I just happened to have some homemade jars in my pantry, but use whichever kind of jelly you like! Also, I think I might add a little extra jelly next time. Just sayin!
Oh, and one other thing.. the recipe says to cut into 36 pieces, but I cut mine into 24 brownie-sized squares. More is more!

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