Are you getting steamrolled? I sure am. I'm almost breathless with all the work and holiday hoopla that's been going on.
So, I've really appreciated the nostalgic oasis that these peanut butter and jelly bars have provided. The scent of peanut butter and jelly has been transporting me back to a time when I ate peanut butter on bagels everyday for lunch and my mom included jelly-topped toast on her Saturday breakfast menu.
These bars are thick and chewy on the bottom but light and crumbly on top, with sweet jelly sandwiched in between the salty, peanut butter layers. Right now, packing these bars in my lunch is the best gift I can give myself.
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
(inspired by Martha Stewart's Cookies)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature*
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (1 12 ounces jar) strawberry preserves
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13x9 baking pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, use a mixer to combine the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, peanut butter and vanilla, and mix to combine. In a separate large bowl, whisk together flours, salt and baking powder. Then, combine flour mixture and butter mixture.
Spread two-thirds of peanut mixture in prepared pan. Spread preserves on top of peanut butter mixture. Crumble remaining peanut mixture on top of preserves.
Bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan. Bake for another 20 minutes. Loosely cover pan with aluminum foil. Bake for another 10 minutes. Run knife around the edge of the pan. Cool on a wire rack.
Makes 24 bars
* If you're like me, you might forget to set the butter out to thaw. In that case, heat a bowl full of water. Set a plate on top of the bowl of hot water, and then place the sticks of butter on the plate.