Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

Cookie, Desserts / Saturday, November 14th, 2009

When I made these bars during the Barefoot Bloggers’ “Week of the Contessa,” I wasn’t sold on them. Then I realized that, like the mogwai in “Gremlins,” Ina Garten’s crank-it-to-11 Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars have rules:

1. Never eat them straight from the oven. They smell like peanut butter cookies, but hot jelly is a bad experience. The bars are much, much better cold. Straight from the fridge, even.

2. Pick a jelly with some bite, like raspberry, grape or blackberry. The peanut butter portion of these bars is stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth rich, so you want something that can stand up to that. Hint: not strawberry.

3. Always have a glass of milk nearby. Preferably large and ice cold. Maybe two.

These bars completely lack in subtlety. They couldn’t find it with Google Maps, GPS and a compass. But what they deliver is a full-tilt, no-holds-barred, peanut butter and jelly experience. If that’s your kind of thing, you’ve met your match.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

From Ina Garten (“The Barefoot Contessa,” Food Network)

Makes 24 bars

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) raspberry jam or other jam
  • 2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter. Mix until all ingredients are combined.
  4. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.
  6. Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula.
  7. Spread the jam evenly over the dough.
  8. 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.
  9. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares.

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21 thoughts on “Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

  1. Husband has declared these "God's most perfect food," and commissioned me to learn how to make them. He thinks they'd make the perfect breakfast as well as a wonderful desert topped with ice cream and hot fudge sauce. His downtrodden face at only being given one when you made them originally was heart breaking.

    1. They're super-easy. I cut the recipe in half and made them in an 8" square pan, and they turned out perfectly, so you don't HAVE to make a ton. I think they're better cold. Taylor might be on to something with the breakfast idea.

  2. You know I've never had PB & J. My mom just never made them for us and to be quite honest I don't recall my friends eating them either. Is it a regional thing?

    You think these would turn me on to PB&J sammies?

    1. What?!? I've always thought PB & Js were just an American thing. Moms usually make them for the kids because they're CHEAP, and kids love them.

      These bars would be PB & Js with the volume cranked all the way up. Have the milk ready!

  3. Nice! I would humbly suggest something pretty strong in the jam variety, Concord Grape or Black Berry would work here.

    I tried out a batch of these, and they did not last the night out on the counter! LOL

    1. I completely agree about the jam. I used strawberry for the first batch, and the bars were way too sweet. They need a jam with bite.

      Your counter sounds like mine! Things just seem to disappear … ;)

  4. Wow Rebecca, great idea! I am getting so tired of the usual chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies (but the kids love them soooo much). May have to get them addicted to these for a little while. Delicious idea!

  5. Nice! I can't believe how much I liked these. The second time I made them I used nutella hazelnut spread instead of jelly, came out great! thanks for a new favorite recipe!

  6. These were awesome as I already had EVERYTHING in my pantry. My mom is moving today, so I made these as a "Welcome to your new home" gift. I cut the recipe in half and made them in an 8 inch pan with apricot preserves. They are fantastically easy. Hoping some will still be around to sample on day two. I will make the full recipe next time and hide half from my hubby. Thanks!

  7. These are my go-to. I've been making them for years. I have to say I disagree about eating them hot – I eat them the second they're done and don't stop for days. Except for when I lived in a house with seven roommates, and then they didn't last long at all!

    They're open to any variations you want, and I usually tweak things a lot, but this is one recipe that was perfect as Ina made it.

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