This may be American home baking in its truest and finest colors. Take a bite of these and you’ll be your third grade self all over again, hand over heart reciting the pledge of allegiance, seeing visions of freckles and missing teeth, salad bowl haircuts and stick-on earrings. When did we stop eating peanut butter & jelly for lunch? Like so many of our saddest transitions into adulthood, this one probably happened gradually and went unnoticed, until one day there was no more PB&J, only grownup sandwiches like cream cheese and lox or avocado BLTs. Well here’s PB&J for grownups–to relive our cherished sack lunch memories in dessert form.
For my foreign readers, I know you have an unnatural suspicion of peanut butter. This I will never understand–but I’ve eaten your ketchup-flavored Pringles and your curry doughnuts, your tapioca ice cream and your curdled yogurt. I’ve even liked them. So the least you can do for me is try one of the pinnacle flavor combinations of American culinary tradition.
(Although grape jelly doesn’t really exist outside North America, as far as I have seen, strawberry or blueberry jam could make an acceptable substitute. It’s not really the same at all, but I suppose that’s the price you pay for living abroad.)
NOTE: I followed Bon Appetit’s recipe to the letter, and I personally found the bars were missing just a bit of sweetness, so you may want to increase either the peanut butter or the sugar to a full cup.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
lightly adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2011
- 1 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 3/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (reserve the wax wrapping to grease the baking pan later)
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup grape jelly
- 2/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
- Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. In separate large bowl, beat peanut butter, sugar, and butter until smooth using an electric mixer. Add egg and vanilla, beat on low speed until smooth. Add flour mixture, beat on low speed just to blend.
- Grease a 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with the butter wrapper. Transfer half of dough to pan and press evenly into bottom of pan. Spread jelly over in an even layer. Place remaining dough in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Remove dough from freezer, break into grape-sized pieces and scatter over jelly layer. Sprinkle chopped nuts over.
- Bake bars at 350 F until top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cools bars completely before cutting and serving.