From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...I made these peanut butter bars for the nursing staff, but they never made it to the hospital. The bars were too crumbly to transport, so, I sent them down the hill for my teen taste testers to sample. They were gobbled up, and their mom asked for the recipe, so I know the cookies were a hit, at least with the younger set. The cookies are very easy to make and the cranberries make them a bit unusual. When soaked and added to the batter, they taste like tiny pockets of jelly that have been folded into the cookie dough. There are no tricks or pitfalls associated with making these bars. The recipe was developed in the test kitchens of Better Homes and Gardens, so it has been thoroughly tested. They, however, caution against using natural peanut butter to make these bars. There are additives and emulsifiers in the commercial product that affect the taste and way the cookies bake. I have never had natural peanut butter break or separate when I cook with it, but I have found it to be less sweet than its commercial cousin. I suspect their caution is based on one of those two factors. This is a cookie of substance and not one you'd want to serve with tea. The bars, however, would be wonderful for a picnic or family movie night. I do hope those of you with children or grandchildren traipsing through the kitchen will give these a try. They will immortalize you name. Here's the recipe.
Peanut Butter Bars...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup boiling water
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely chopped peanuts
2 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup chunky peanut butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1) Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Grease an 8 x8 x 2-inch baking pan; set aside. In a small bowl combine cranberries and water. Cover and let stand 20 minutes. Drain well.
2) In a large mixing bowl beat butter and 1/2 cup peanut butter with an electric mixer until well combined. Beat in brown sugar. Beat in flour on low speed (mixture will be crumbly). Stir in peanuts and drained cranberries. Reserve 1 cup of crumb mixture. Press remaining crumb mixture into bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes.
3) Meanwhile, for filling, in a medium bowl beat cream cheese and granulated sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg, 2/3 cup peanut butter, and lemon juice; beat until well combined. Spread evenly over crust. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over top, pressing lightly into filling.
4) Bake about 25 minutes more or until top is lightly browned and edges are puffed. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Makes 16 bars.
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