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Saturday, March 24, 2012

peanut butter and jelly bars.

How can you go wrong with peanut butter and jam, seriously. And if you happen to throw in shortbread and streusel into the equation, how can it not be a recipe for success?

This predictable combination surprised me a little- the peanut butter layer wasn't dense and heavy like typical peanut butter fillings, but rather, a little mousse-like and silky. I guess that's a little magic no-bake versions can't pull off.

One improvement I would like to make to the recipe is regarding the oat streusel. I followed the ingredient list and quantities stringently but instead of sprinkling the streusel in its powdery crumb like form, I pressed the clump together and broke off large chunks. This, I feel, provides much better texture.

I also took the easy way out with the shortbread and pressed the dough straight into the pan instead of chilling and rolling it. I made 1/4 of the recipe so it wasn't such a hardship but I wouldn't think that this is such a good idea if you're making the full quantity. Shortbread being, well, short, the dough crumbles easily and is quite inflexible. I won't lie- it took me a bit of time and patience to press down the dough evenly but it's still way faster than rolling.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
adapted from Baked Explorations
makes 15 large bars or 32 more manageable squares

Update: I tried one warm and it was outta this world! Think warm gooey molten peanut butter with a bit of crunch and sweetness. It's like a hot peanut butter sandwich but made with cookies instead of bread.

For the sweet pastry dough:
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
1 large egg

For the peanut butter filling:
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 3/4 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the crumb topping:
3/4 cups plain flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup rolled oats
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, diced

For assembly:
2 heaping cups good quality jelly or preserves

For the sweet pastry dough: Combine the sugar, flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until sandy. Add the egg, yolk and white whisked together beforehand, and add to the flour mixture. Pulse until the dough begins to come together. Form the dough into a disk, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Line a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Roll out the dough and fit into the bottom of the prepared pan. Place the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375F. Remove the pan from the freezer, place a large sheet of aluminum foil on top of the dough and fill it 3/4 full with pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the foil and weights, and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325F.

To make the peanut butter filling: Beat the butter until completely smooth. Add the peanut butter and beat until combined. Add the icing sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Turn the mixture out onto the crust and spread it out into an even layer. Chill the peanut butter layer while you make the crumb topping. (Or you could make it the night before.)

To make the crumb topping: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, brown sugar and oats. Cut in the butter until loose crumbs form.

To assemble the bars: Spread the jelly evenly on top of the peanut butter filling. Sprinkle on the crumb topping.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting. It would be easier to cut after refrigeration.

Can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days.


  1. wow they turned out perfect! the pastry dough looks really soft I would love to try them

  2. You definitely can't go wrong with a pb&j combination in any form. These bars look lovely and I can't wait to make these. They'd be perfect for my drive to work :)

  3. ina garten made a peanut butter and jelly bar with shortbread crust that looked delicious. these do too with more peanut butter. yum!

  4. Talking of peanut butter jelly, you might like this quote. Janet Evanovich Quote