From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...These bar cookies are meant for adults who are embarrassed to be seen eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I think those of you who harbor pleasant memories of brown bag lunches and school cafeterias will enjoy them. They really do taste like PB and J's. I found the recipe in the summer issue of the Better Homes and Gardens Recipe.com publication. They credit The Food Channel for the recipe. I took it a step further and found that the recipe was developed by Ina Garten. I paged through the reviews of this recipe, which you can find here, and found that the bars were not universally liked. It seems that some folks found the cookies to be dry and impossibly crumbly. I can't speak to what their problems might have been, but I can tell you we enjoyed the cookies and I would make them again. Because the bars are expensive to make, I want to share some tips with you. The measurement of flour can be tricky because of the way we scoop it. In a perfect world, we'd all weigh our flour and results would be consistent from one kitchen to another. That's not going to happen any time soon, so, I wanted to let those of you who decide to make these know how I measured mine. I have for years been a fluff, spoon and level gal and I suspect the quantity of flour that I use is a smidge less then that used by those who fluff and scoop. That distinction can sometimes be important and probably explains why some folks ended up with dry and crumbly cookie bars. It is equally important to let these sit for at least an hour before you cut them. This is the type of cookie that improves with age, so I made mine the day before I cut and served them. Our bars were very moist and we really enjoyed them. These are not an everyday cookie and while they will never replace their chocolate chip or peanut butter cousins, they are a great occasional treat. Due to the richness of the cookie, I cut mine into a smaller pieces than recommended in the recipe. Here's how they are made.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Ina Garten
8 ounces unsalted butter, diced, at room temperature (2 sticks)
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups peanut butter
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 (16 ounce) jar strawberry or raspberry preserves
3/4 cup salted peanuts, chopped
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
2) Beat butter with an electric mixer until smooth; add sugar gradually until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter until combined.
3) Combine flour, baking powder and salt; gradually add to butter mixture and mix until just combined.
4) Spread 2/3 of the dough mixture into prepared pan; spread evenly with strawberry preserves and top with dollops of remaining dough.
5) Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake 45 minutes or until golden brown.
6) Place baking pan on wire rack to cool for about an hour. Cut into 12 even squares.
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