Dynamic Duo

Throughout time there have been many outstanding duos: Simon & Garfunkel, Darla & Spanky, Romeo & Juliet. For me the most notable twosome is peanut butter and jelly. The perfect combination of salty and sweet, this duo has been gracing sliced bread since the 1940’s.

I had wanted to make Ina Garten’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars since my first flip through her Barefoot Contessa At Home cookbook. A few months ago on a chilly Friday night, a friend and I baked these for our evening activity. After eagerly waiting for the bars to cool, we cut into them ready to indulge. Much to our dismay, it was a pan of mush. Confused by what went wrong, I opened the book to mentally check off all the added ingredients. As I read “3 cups of flour” it dawned on me – we had forgotten one of the most important parts! Turns out my friend and I were not such a dynamic duo in the kitchen.

Last weekend was Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars, take two! This time around the finished product was perfection. The classic sandwich meets confectionery is a delicious treat for adults and children alike.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

What you need:

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 (I used about half this amount)

What to do:

– Peheat the oven to 350° 

– Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake 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. 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.

Note: My bars baked for 40 minutes. The bars need to be fully cooled before cutting or else they do not hold together.

PB & J Bars

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