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God bless America…My home, sweet home.

May 13, 2010

Certain foods are like time machines.  One bite and you’re swept away in a whirlwind of childhood memories to a simpler time.  Barbie & G.I. Joe.  Hide & Go Seek.  Saturday morning cartoons – real cartoons.  You know the kind I’m talking about – Elmer Fudd hunting that rascally rabbit, Bugs Bunny?  Wiley E. Coyote using Acme anvils to try to nab himself a tasty Roadrunner dinner?  Pepé Le Pew’s eternal pursuit of Penelope and Penelope’s constant struggle to avoid the white stripe?

For me, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches do just that… even though I didn’t care for them when I was younger.  (Of course, now I love them!)  I feel like I’m 7 years old again and at Grandma’s house, watching the Price is Right (with Bob Barker!) listening to the whistling rattle of her pressure cooker in the kitchen.

I hoped to send a piece of that childhood bliss to Richard with my Operation Baking GALS package.  Obviously peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were unlikely to make it… so I found a bar version Melissa from Lemons & Love had made.  I crossed my fingers and hoped they worked.

To say they worked would be an understatement…I think they were a huge success!  I had Mr. S taste-test for me and he said they taste just like a pb&j!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Source: Ina Garten, via Lemons & Love

  • 1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 t. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 c. (18 oz) creamy peanut butter (an entire jar)
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 t. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 c. (18 oz.) jam (I used strawberry and used the whole container)

 Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Prepare a 9″x13″ pan.  (Ina says to grease, line with parchment paper and then grease and line the paper!  I used a tin foil pan lightly sprayed with cooking spray.  I did put a piece of parchment on the bottom but only because I intended to pop the whole thing out of the pan once done.)

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow using the paddle attachment.  Turn mixer down to low speed and add vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter.  Mix until all ingredients are combined before slowly adding the flour mixture.  Mix just until combined.

Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and press into a fairly even layer (I used my hands, but you could use a knife or spatula.)  Spread the jam evenly over the dough. (I bought the jam that came in a squeeze container with a wide-slotted top, thinking that would make this a cinch.  I don’t think it did me any good because I ended up spreading the jam with a spatula anyway.)

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.  (This is where Ina, Melissa, and I split paths.  Melissa and I had similar experiences; my dough didn’t “spread” like Ina said it would.  Neither did Melissa’s.  Because I wanted the bars to look nice, I rolled the remaining third of the dough between sheets of parchment paper and then cut out star shapes with a cookie cutter.  I layered large and small stars.  It turned out awesome, but once you cut them apart, you can’t really tell they were stars.)

Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown.  Cool and cut into squares.

These were great.  I’d make them again in a heartbeat, even though my idea of rolling and cutting out the top layer to cover the jam quickly became tedious.  Before cutting into bars, however, it was completely worth it because the layers of stars looked pretty cool.

But there wasn’t any room for fault where the taste is concerned!  The flavors were spot on.  It was like eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the bread sticking to the roof of your mouth or teeth… you got all the great taste of the sandwich without the “I can’t talk right now because the roof of my mouth is covered in gooey peanut-butter-covered bread” hassle.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 3, 2010 11:01 am

    I love the stars! What a great idea.

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