Thursday, May 13, 2010

[Cookie 075] Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

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Well I did it. I am officially halfway through my college career. Does that freak me out? Yes. But I try not to think to hard about it; instead, I subconsciously revert to all of my old childhood habits. No, I didn't buy back all my old My Lil' Ponies or start watching Sesame Street (though, I might), but I definitely am keeping my eye out for some butterfly barrettes and jelly sandals to add to my wardrobe. And I made sure to rewatch The O.C. (season 1, please) as well as Ratatouille, which is actually a seriously amazing movie. And obviously, I made these Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars to celebrate the end of my sophomore year in college. Talk about a serious throwback.

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Eating these is like revisiting your childhood, but on crack. Okay, let me explain that. These bars are really intense and delicious, but have this hidden quality to them that makes them bizarrely addictive. Addictive like...GET THESE OUT OF MY KITCHEN BEFORE I EAT THE ENTIRE BATCH. I honestly would have done that. It's terrible, actually.

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The crack-cocaine

I think I first realized that I had reinvented crack-cocaine about 15 minutes into the preparation of the recipe. It's once you mix together all the wet ingredients: butter, peanut butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. That's the drug part. That's the dangerous part. If there was one thing I could eat without feeling any regret/gaining any weight, it would be this. Hook me up to an IV of it, put it in a trough by the dining room table, whatever. Just gimme gimme.

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So, if you have enough willpower to actually add the dry ingredients without eating all of the crack-cocaine, you'll begin to realize that you have an absolutely massive amount of dough. I think I realized this when I finished measuring out 3 whole cups of flour. That's a lot. So I mixed it all up, which was a work out in itself considering I don't have a mixmaster, and then ate some more of the dough. Gotta get my fix.

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Anyway, I forgot to mention that this recipe is really great for cleaning out your fridge, which is why I made it (I was moving out of my dorm, so had to get rid of a bunch of food). You can use any kind of peanut butter, even though the recipe calls for creamy, and you can use any kinds of jelly. I had a bunch of almost empty jelly jars in the fridge, as well as some cranberry butter, so I mixed them all together and made a very nice jelly to spread on top of the dough.

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Once the baking dish was all prepared, I had to move it to the oven. Obviously. Well, I lifted up the baking dish, and I almost blew out my knees in doing so--it was crazy heavy. I stumbled over to the oven, managed to open it, and placed the dish inside. Set the timer. Went and took a nap (duh, by this stage I was officially 6 years old). Woke up, strained to lift the monstronsity out of the oven, and set it on a cooling rack.

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Okay, here's the important part. You really need to wait for this to cool and set. You're supposed to let it cool entirely on the cooling rack, then slice it, and then refrigerate it for 2 hours. But remember, I was a 6 year old by this point. A 6 year old with no patience. So I refrigerate it for about 20 minutes and then decide to serve myself a slice. WHAT A DISASTER. Messiest decision 2010. The dough was completely unset and gloppy and totally delicious. But also a little gross in its total over-the-top intense, heart attack nature. Back into the refrigerator.

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Once they are actually set, however, they are really way better. I could eat these for a long time. I did. I ate a lot. Then I had a juice box and took another nap (I wish I was lying). And then I promptly gave the rest away. The first step was admitting I had a problem. The second step was passing my problem off to someone else. I'm a recovering addict, but I don't think I've really learned from my mistakes. Whatever. Call me a 6 year-old drug addict trapped in a 20 year-old's body. Woof, that'll give you nightmares.

Anyway, I bet you're like, "I don't want to be a drug-addled child!!!" Yeah you do, it's great. Make these, trust me. What's better than nostalgia paired with uncontrollable, manic eating? Nothing! So get to it, folks!

P.S. Get ready for a whole lot more posting! Summer = No work = More baking = Awesome


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Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
Makes about 3 dozen

Ingredients
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups strawberry jam, or other flavor
  • 2/3 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with butter, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the parchment, and coat inside of pan with flour; set aside. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, add eggs and peanut butter; beat until combined, about 2 minutes.
  2. Whisk together salt, baking powder, and flour. Add to bowl of mixer on low speed; combine. Add vanilla. Transfer two-thirds of mixture to prepared pan; spread evenly with offset spatula. Using offset spatula, spread jam on top of peanut-butter mixture. Dollop remaining third of peanut-butter mixture on top of jam. Sprinkle with peanuts.
  3. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool; cut into about thirty-six 1 1/2-by-2-inch pieces.

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{End Results}
Baking Difficultly: 3/5
Ingredient Accessibility: 4.5/5
Tastiness: 4/5
Attractiveness: 3/5
Is it worth it?: If you're taking advice from an addict, you need to reevaluate your judgement. That being said, YES YES BAKE THEM AND GIVE EM 2 ME PLZ.

{Pairings}
Drink: A juice box, durrr.
Song: Little Child -- The Beatles
Activity: Snack time, followed by nap time.

13 comments:

Erin at The Healthy Apron said...

talk about giving me a craving!!

Sara said...

Haha, what a champion! juicebox followed by a nap! those bars call to me. i would pawn them off on others immediately, because i would make blasphemous decisions.

that being said, i plan on making them next week.

ali said...

Oh my gosh, I'm so salivating right now!

Lyndsey G said...

Those look delicious and the photography is great as well!

robin @ penny pinching provisions said...

YUM!

Anonymous said...

It's so good it's like crack cocaine and yet you only gave it a 4/5 for tastiness???

Heather I. said...

I just found your blog through foodgawker and I love it- awesome photos! PB&J is the best, can't wait to try these!

Mattbarry said...

can i trade you everything in my lunchbox for these bars!?

Helen said...

That first picture is amazing. I want to make these asap!

Erin at The Healthy apron said...

I am definitely making these tonight! It's official!

The Nielsens said...

I found your blog through tastespotting and made these immediately! The kiddos and the husband gave them a big thumbs up. I was happy to finally find a Martha Stewart recipe that was worth a hoot. Maybe she's better at baking... I never have any luck with her other recipes.

בצק אלים said...

these look hot!

just found it this recipe is almost the same recipe as Ina Garten's peanut butter jelly bars. not very slick, martha people!

Bake a Little said...

These look amazing! I created a PB& J Bar that has a quite similar to this recipe however I substituted a large portion of the butter for applesauce so its only got about 1/4 of the butter of the original recipe! I totally agree though, the PB&J combo is ADDICTIVE- Lock the snack cabinet!