Does any other combo sound as comforting as peanut butter and jelly? Doubtful, maybe macaroni and cheese, or mashed potatoes and gravy, but that's about it. Peanut butter and jelly, the classic combination, it just works. It works on a sandwich, works with pancakes, works with ice cream, and works in these delicious cookie bars by Ina Garten that just happen to be our first Barefoot Bloggers Challenge of November. This month we are doing something new, trying to cook a week of Ina Garten recipes, one dish a day. Doesn't that sound like fun? I don't think I'll get to all of the selected recipes but I think I will try to incorporate one Ina recipe in each day this week for our meals.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at 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 (recommended: Skippy)
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 -- I skipped these
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper -- I used Reynolds Wrap aluminum foil, then grease and flour the pan.
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. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.
Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. 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. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts (I skipped these) and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares.
What did we think? These were ultra rich and delicious. I noted a lot of reviewers on the Food Network site had a problem with these being over done on the edge of the pan and a little underdone in the middle. I would have to say that I did notice that, but just a little bit -- after letting them set up I think they were perfect. They are definitely in the 'ooey gooey' bar cookie category, and you most certainly need a glass of milk or two with these. Before I made them, I was thinking they might be more crispy crunchy, but that's just not how this bar cookie rolls :) This recipe makes a huge batch so you will have plenty to share.