Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Wait, what?

Every once in a while, I get the idea in my head to make something that doesn’t involve chocolate.

I’ll give you a minute to pick yourself up off the floor and sit back down.

The Hubster and I were going to one of the many boat concerts (literally we watch a concert while sitting on a boat.  It’s a summer tradition here and we love it), and I like to bring a treat for the gang when we go.  This time around, I whipped up these peanut butter and jelly bars.  I thought it would offer a nice change from my usual chocolate-laden fare. 
These were pretty good.  The peanut butter parts were moist and flavorful.  I used strawberry jam in mine, because that’s what I had on hand, but you could use pretty much any flavor you like.  The original recipe calls for raspberry, and it does note that you should use preserves or jam, but not jelly, because it won’t have sufficient flavor to stand up to the peanut butter.  Whatever combo you would like in a sandwich will work for this.
The only reason I say these were only “pretty good” was that I found myself wishing they were peanut butter and chocolate.  I guess my hankering only went as far as making, and not as far as eating.  Oh well.
I have one note for you about making bars in advance.  Since bars have to cool completely before you can cut them, I often make them the day before I need them.  When I do this, in order to keep them as fresh as possible, I don’t cut the bars until right before serving.  After they have completely cooled, I will wrap the bars in the foil sling, and then either in plastic wrap or a large zip lock back, and store them in the fridge.  This works well for me, and if they aren’t cut yet, it keeps me (and others) out of them until it is time to serve them.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
Source: America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook
Makes 16 bars
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
¼ cup crunchy peanut butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup salted dry-roasted peanuts, chopped coarse
1 cup strawberry jam

1.       Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line and 8-inch square baking pan with an aluminum foil sling and coat lightly with vegetable oil spray.  Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
2.       In a large bowl, beat the sugar and butter together using an electric mixer on medium speed until uniform and creamy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in egg, followed by the peanut butter and vanilla, until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture until just incorporated, about 30 seconds.
3.       Reserve half of the dough for the topping.  Using damp hands press the remaining dough evenly into the prepared baking pan. Bake until the crust is light golden, about 20 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Meanwhile, stir the peanuts into the reserved dough for the topping.
4.       Transfer the pan to a wire rack and spread the jam evenly over the hot crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides  (fp note: good luck with that. I think the heat of the crust made mine ooze all over).  Drop small pieces of topping evenly over the top. Bake the bars until the jam is bubbling and the topping is golden, about 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
5.       Let the bars cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Remove the bars from the pan using the foil, cut in the 16 squares, and serve.

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