Monday, October 17, 2011

The Ultimate PB&J Bars

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We've instituted a new policy with The Kid, who is reaching that stage of life known as food pickiness. She can either eat her dinner, or she can make her own. At almost-4, the only thing she can really "make" is a PB&J. And say what you like about this classic, but there's something great about the peanut butter and jelly combination.

But I wanted to go a step above, so I created the Ultimate PB&J bars. Creamy peanut butter, homemade jam, a squeeze of honey, and a sprinkling of mini peanut butter cups will make these stand apart from the classic staple.

First, grab some softened butter. And don't photograph it.

Spray a measuring cup with cooking spray.

Then fill it with peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, your choice.) The cooking spray will make it easy to get the peanut butter out of the measuring cup.

Put the butter and peanut butter in a bowl and mix 'em together.
A little brown sugar and honey will sweeten the deal.

Add an egg, to bind the dough.

Flour and baking soda will add substance to the bars.

Sorry about the light here. Every other surface in the kitchen was full, and the sun was shining oddly here.

And don't ever forget to add vanilla.

Press about 2/3 of the dough into a greased 8x8 square pan.

Make sure it's pressed down evenly.

Now for the jam. If you want to go classic, choose strawberry or grape jams. I'm using a jar of 4-Berry Jam from my Etsy site. It's got strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.

Spread the jam over the pressed-down dough. I used a whole half-pint jar. For extra jammy goodness, use a jar and a half.

Use your fingers to break up the remaining dough and scatter it over the top of the jam. If you find the dough to be really soft and unworkable, toss it in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes. The cold will help the butter and peanut butter set, which will make crumbling it a bit easier.

I could have stopped there. But then I remembered that I had some mini peanut butter cup chips that I bought a few months ago.

I sprinkled a few on top of the bars. Not too many--just enough to enhance the already-great peanut butter flavor.

Chopped peanuts, chopped candy bars (mmm...Snickers...), or chocolate or peanut butter chips would be delicious too.

About 40 minutes in the oven, and the bars are ready!

By the way--if you miscalculated and had too much leftover dough for the topping, just press it down into a cookie shape and bake it. Instant peanut butter cookies!

These bars are enhanced by just the right PB&J flavors. You get a bit of the jam, a bit of the chocolate, a hint of honey, and an intense peanut butter flavor. Kids and adults alike will love these, I guarantee!

Recipe: The Ultimate PB&J Bars

1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. peanut butter
2/3 c. brown sugar
2 tbsp. honey
1 egg
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 half pint jar (1 c.) jelly
1/2 c. peanut butter chips, or mini peanut butter cups

In a large bowl, whip butter and peanut butter together until fluffy. Add brown sugar and honey, and mix again. Add egg; mix again.

Add flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir until just combined. Stir in vanilla.

Spread 2/3 of the dough into a greased 8x8 or 9x9 pan. Press mixture evenly in pan. Spread jelly over peanut butter dough. Break the rest of the dough into small pieces and scatter over the top. Sprinkle chips or cups over the dough.

Bake in a 350F oven for 40 minutes or until fully cooked. Let cool before serving.


  1. Am totally going to use this recipe and soon!!! LOOOOOOOOVE pb&j!


  2. Yum! These look so good! I'm gonna make them this weekend!

  3. Psyc! I don't have an 8x8 pan :(

  4. Got a pie tin or cake pan? Or you could double the recipe and make it in a regular cake pan. Or make mini ones in a muffin tin! Just be sure to adjust the baking time :)