Monday, February 15, 2010

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars (with a touch of chocolate)

It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

I don't know about you, but I never grew out of my love for peanut butter and jelly. Conveniently, Zack never grew out of it either so peanut butter and jelly is often a staple around here. Of course the sandwich now is not the same as when we were kids. Now we use all natural peanut butter and organic fruit spreads on double fiber bread. When I was a kid it was JIF creamy peanut butter (which is the peanut butter I bake with still) and Smucker's Grape Jam on white bread. Every now and then for an extra special sandwich when I was little my mom would sprinkle a few chocolate chips in between the layers. If you have not tried this you definitely should because it really takes peanut butter and jelly to the next level, and that is what I tried to do with these bars. Martha's recipe would have been great on its own, but I wanted to recreate that childhood favorite of mine. I used JIF creamy peanutbutter, Smucker's Grape Jam, and instead of sprinkling the top with peanuts, I used mini-chocolate chips. If you are a peanut butter and jelly lover than you will love these.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
adapted from Martha Stewart Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups grape jam, or other flavor
1 1/2 cups miniature chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with butter and coat inside of pan with flour; set aside. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, add eggs and peanut butter; beat until combined, about 2 minutes.

Whisk together salt, baking powder, and flour. Add to bowl of mixer on low speed; combine. Add vanilla. Transfer two-thirds of mixture to prepared pan; spread evenly with offset spatula. Using offset spatula, spread jam on top of peanut-butter mixture. Dollop remaining third of peanut-butter mixture on top of jam. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.

Bake until golden, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool; cut into about thirty-six 1 1/2-by-2-inch pieces.

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