Each bite of these peanut butter and jelly bars will take you back to childhood. A chewy base loaded with peanut butter topped with grape jelly and chunks of dough. Simple to prepare and bars can also be frozen.
Growing up, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were an everyday staple. I would make them for my Dad everyday for lunch before he went to work. I piled on the peanut butter and countered it with grape jelly which would wobble all over the peanut butter until I broke it up with the knife. My Dad said every time he took a bite, a blob of the peanut butter and jelly would fall out. I guess I had a habit of overfilling them. He was grateful and I didn't change the way I made them. He just learned to eat them over a plate! But, this isn't a sandwich, these are peanut butter and jelly bars. Jelly falling out isn't an option.
I wanted the bar to be chewy, but using all brown sugar made it too soft. I added regular sugar to provide a stronger texture for the bar. The bar needs to be perfectly sweet, but because the jelly already adds sweetness, I didn't want it to be candy sweet. Finding the right proportions entailed so much trial and error, but it was worth it in the end.
You can make these bars with grape jelly or jam - my fruit preference, or any fruit flavor that pleases you. I find jam is easier to spread. As for the peanut butter, don’t use the natural kind where the oil and peanut butter separate. Those will result in a crumbly bar that doesn’t hold its shape well. Been there, done that. I use Skippy for best results and you can use a crunchy version if you like.
I usually like to keep things easy without taking out the stand mixer, but for these bars it’s necessary to use a mixer for best results. There’s a lot of oil in the peanut butter and mixing it with melted butter didn’t work for me.
The dough is thick and I find using a heavy duty spatula for separating and scraping perfect. You would think the dough would be sticky and messy, but it holds perfectly together. Reserve a third of the dough for the topping. After the jelly is spread onto the base, drop pieces of the reserved dough evenly over the jelly. You can sprinkle some chopped up salted peanuts to the top too. If I have them in my pantry, I add them.
Here they are - peanut butter and jelly bars. The base is chewy but is strong enough to hold the jelly and topping without crumbling into pieces. There’s just enough jelly without it dripping down when you take a bite. The topping is perfectly uneven and crumbly but stuck on the jelly.
Give these bars a try and with every bite it will spark a memory of childhood and that old standby lunch we had growing up.
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Life is too short for mediocre food.
Peanut Butter and Jelly BarsPrint Recipe Pin Recipe
- 2 ¾ cups flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 cups creamy peanut butter*
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 ½ cups jelly or jam
- ½ cup salted peanuts roughly chopped, optional
- Preheat oven 350 degrees.
- Butter or spray a 9 x13 pan. I use a Pyrex baking dish.
- Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
- Using bowl for mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars until creamy and light in color - about 3 minutes.
- Add in the peanut butter and vanilla beat until smooth.
- Beat in eggs until combined.
- Add in the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
- Divide the dough into thirds. Evenly spread ⅔ of dough into pan. Use your hands or spatula to press dough into pan.
- Spread the jelly or jam evenly on top.
- With the remaining dough, break off pieces and scatter them on top. Top with chopped peanuts, if using.
- Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown.
- Let cool on rack then cut into squares.
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