Friday, February 11, 2011
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
My brother is not a seasonally appropriate person. He isn't aware of the fact that strawberries shouldn't be eaten in January. Or that beef stew actually tastes best when the temperatures are below 50.
Which may or may not be because he doesn't like stew.
We are obviously barely from the same gene pool.
Anyways. As a result, he is often confused about what things should be eaten when. Which occasionally makes for some awkward conversations when he requests things at completely inappropriate times.
Case in point.
Approximately two days before Christmas, the boy calls me and says, "I want peanut butter and jelly bars."
He, apparently, had seen Ina Garten make them on the Food Network and got inspired. (No surprise there. Can anyone watch Ina and come away without even a hint of awestruck behavior? Only the cold-blooded and pulseless.)
At this point in my life, I was knee deep in rainbow cookie batter. My fingers were stained all sorts of different colors. And my kitchen had little pink, green, and white crumbs in every nook and cranny.
It was not the time for random requests.
So I was forced to inform him that PB&J bars were not holiday-appropriate and could he please pick something else to obsess over. Perhaps something that in some way resembled a Christmas cookie? Maybe? Please?
And that was the end of that. Or so I thought.
Approximately a month and a little bit later, I found myself poring over cookbooks trying to figure out what exactly to make for the Superbowl when the sugar coma still left over from Christmas finally lifted. My thoughts suddenly felt very inordinately lucid. And I remembered.
My brother was so excited that when I called him to tell him, the only reply he could muster was, "It's about time."
Ain't he charming?
I'm not gonna lie. Even though I made these bars "for him", I found them to be one of the most amazing things that have come out of my kitchen. I'm not even going to tell you how many I ate. You would recoil in horror.
My advice? Make them only when you know they are going to leave the house within about five minutes. And don't tell yourself it's a good idea to keep a few at home for your "roommates" to eat. You'll only be lying to yourself.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
Makes 24, adapted from Ina Garten
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
18 oz creamy peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural!)
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
18 oz raspberry jam
2/3 cup salted peanuts
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9x13-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease it again.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.
3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour to the peanut butter mixture and mix until combined.
4. Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan, making sure it covers the entire surface evenly. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Sprinkle with the peanuts. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool and cut into squares.