Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars…. even the name of them makes my mouth water. Joe’s boss is obsessed with them, my coworkers and students are as well. This week, Joe’s boss requested that I make them and of course I obliged. I’m the one known for making these bars around Joe’s restaurant, but strangely enough the first time I experienced them was when another manager’s wife made them for her son’s first communion. The recipe actually comes from Martha Stewart, and was used on Barefoot Contessa by Ina Garten. Their recipes have a few subtle differences, and I have kind of modified them as well – mainly in procedure and not so much in ingredients. Look for the recipe at the end of this post.
Like all bars, I start with a parchment lined 9×13. This one calls to be buttered and floured. When I do a parchment lining, I use some of a leftover stick of butter and rub it in the bare pan.
Then I add the trimmed parchment – the butter helps the parchment to lay flat. There may be a few bubbles and that’s ok.
Then I butter the parchment with the leftover stick and flour it over the sink so that I don’t completely filth up the countertop 🙂
At this point I already had all of my ingredients mise en place. I started by creaming the butter and sugar in my stand mixer with the paddle attachment. I always cut up my stick of butter before creaming so that it doesn’t get too stuck in the paddle.
Cream until the butter and sugar are smooth, sticking to the sides of the bowl and light yellow in color. I’ll mention now that I scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula between each step.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping between each addition. This pic has one egg already mixed and the second egg added to the bowl.
Then add in the peanut butter… yes 2 1/2 cups!!! And as Ina would say “how bad could that be?” I figured I could throw in one of her lines since it is sort of her recipe after all! On a side note, that is a 1 1/2 cup measuring cup. My husband got me off-size measuring cups and spoons a few years ago, and they are AWESOME to have!
PB pre-mixed. I could almost jump in that bowl. I seriously have a peanut butter addiction, get me help!
The second Sawyer heard the peanut butter jar he came running. He is just like his parents (aka me and Joe), so I filled up his kong. Within minutes he had devoured it and came back in the kitchen licking his chops and begging for more!
I denied him more and just went ahead and added half of the flour. Then the other half. The next pic has half the flour already mixed and the second half just added. Then all mixed in with the vanilla hanging out to be mixed. And then…. ready to go!
Press 2/3 of the dough into the 9×13. Save the other 1/3 for the top.
Spread on the jam. I always use Raspberry Preserves with seeds. Strawberry is recommended, but I’m partial to raspberry.
Here’s where I veer off from Martha and Ina (sorry ladies). They say to crumble the rest of the dough on top, then sprinkle on the chopped peanuts… yeah, I ended up losing like 50% of the peanuts when I went to cut the bars. Kind of a waste? So, I played around and am very happy with what I have come up with. Sprinkle 1/2 of the peanuts right on top of the jam.
Then crumble 1/2 of the remaining dough. Top that with the rest of the peanuts.
Then crumble the rest of the dough on top. This seals in the peanuts and you will lose very few if any when cutting. Gently press on the top of the dough just to set it all together.
Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes. Mine only took 45. They will be lightly browned and a toothpick will come out clean.
Let them cool completely to room temp. For best cutting, I like to refrigerate for about an hour before I remove them from the pan. They will come out of the pan really easy and will slice well without falling apart. Martha says the recipe makes 36, Ina says 12 (huh?) I usually do 32 – 8 cuts along the length and 4 cuts along the width.
One bite and you’ll be sold, I promise 🙂 Unless of course you have a peanut allergy or something!
Here’s the recipe:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars adapted from Martha Stewart and Ina Garten
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature + more to grease pan
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter (I use Jif – not sure how naturals would work)
3 cups all-purpose flour + more for flouring pan
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup jam/preserves (raspberry with seeds = best)
3/4 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350. Parchment line, butter, and flour a 9 x 13 pan.
2. Cream butter and sugar using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping bowl between each addition.
4. Add peanut butter and beat until combined, about 2 minutes.
5. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add to mixed in two additions, mix each time until just combined.
6. Stir in vanilla extract.
7. Press 2/3 of dough into the bottom of the prepared pan.
8. Spread jam over dough. Sprinkle jam with 1/2 of the chopped peanuts.
9. Crumble half of the remaining dough on top. Sprinkle with the remainder of the chopped peanuts. Crumble remaining dough on top and press down gently.
10. Bake for 45-60 minutes rotating the pan after about 25 minutes. Remove when lightly browned and a toothpick comes out clean.
11. Cool in pan on a wire rack to room temperature. Run a knife around the edges of the pan and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
12. Remove bars from pan and cut into 32 bars. They are best stored in the refrigerator so they don’t get too gooey. **Martha says an airtight container for up to 3 days**
Any favorite recipes that you are continually asked to make? If so, share in the comments section!!