Thursday, February 24, 2011

Peanut Butter and Jelly

Jam. One of the greatest bounties of the Earth.
     So, last night, I told you all about making pho. And, the pho was delicious (I had it again for lunch today). But, as is my wont, by midnight I was getting a little peckish again. I needed my sweet after my meal, and what sweet did I crave? Peanut butter and jelly. Peanut butter and strawberry jam may be one of the best combinations in the world (I'm sure someone disagrees and has some other jam of preference - but its still peanut butter and jam, and that is what is most important).

Making Peanut Butter even More Delicious.
     However, I didn't just want an ordinary PB and J. I wanted something special I had seen on Have Cake Will Travel. I love food blogs, don't you? They make such delightful things and give me so many great recipes. Well, this recipe sounded just perfect. It was for Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars: a layer of jam sandwiched between two layers of peanut butter cookie/cake-ness. It would only take half an hour in the oven and ingredients (with some substitutions) that I had on hand - and it sounded delicious.

     There was only one problem. I did not have that much jam left, and there needed to be enough for a substantial layer between the two peanut butter layers. Did that deter me? Of course not. What did I do? The only thing one could have done to this bar to make it more delicious. I made up my missing weight in jam with Nutella. Have you ever tried strawberry jam mixed with Nutella? With a spoon straight out of the mixture? I suggest you try it at least once in your lifetime. If you have a sweet tooth like mine, there is just nothing like a lick of that smooth sweet strawberry chocolate taste.

Ah, Deliciousness.
     So, how was my late night creation? Well, it was a layer of soft peanut buttery cookie, a sweet layer of chocolatey strawberry jam, and then more peanut butter cookie crumbled on top. Make your own conclusions people. Let me just tell you that I have eaten three - huge - pieces since it came out of the oven last night at 1 am. One of those pieces was my breakfast, and a most lovely breakfast it was. Try this with your favorite jam or other spread, obviously anything goes. But, please do try it because it is just full of comfort, happiness, and the absolutely perfect flavors of Peanut Butter and Jelly.

Peanut Butter and Jam Bars 
Adapted from Have Cake Will Travel 

1/2 cup Softened Butter or Margarine 
1/2 cup Sugar 
1 cup Peanut Butter (any kind) 
1 tsp Vanilla Extract 
1 Egg 
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour 
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt 
3/4 cup Jam or Jam + Nutella (I used 1/2 cup Jam, 1/4 cup Nutella, I believe) 

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter an 8 in Square Pan (or your loaf pan and prepare to make two batches.)

In a large bowl, mix the butter, sugar, peanut butter, vanilla and egg using an electric mixer. Then, add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir the mixture until it is just combined. Then, using your hands, spread 2/3 of the the dough into the prepared pan, pressing it down (or 2/3 of half the dough if you are using a loaf pan). Next, spread the jam evenly on top. Crumble the remaining 1/3 of the dough on top of the jam. Put the pan in the oven for 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Then, place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Finally, cut the square (or loaf) into bars, and carefully transfer them using a spatula onto a wire rack to cool completely. (Repeat for the other half of dough and jam if you are using a loaf pan.) Try to wait for them to cool before you eat! 

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