In honor of Friday being the best day of the work week, and this one not being part of the American work week thanks to Independence Day, here’s a recipe for an incredible dessert that’s easy to make (so don’t get intimidated if you’re not a baker). Presenting Ina Garten’s peanut butter and jelly bars.
Now I do like to bake, and so I resist making these bars because they don’t challenge my baking muscles at all. They’re very simple–the hardest part is measuring the peanut butter because then you have to scrape out the measuring vessel (I have one of these which helps with that issue but then is a pain in the butt to clean and when did my life get so hard?). The peanut butter and jelly bars are a quintessentially American treat, perfect to bring with you to a Fourth of July celebration this weekend. They taste like the best PB&J you’ve ever eaten. You can customize them by using any type of jelly you want. I like raspberry or strawberry, where my husband goes for the classic grape. You could do a fancy version too with a more upscale jam, but just make sure that whatever flavor you choose can stand up to peanut butter. Something delicate like a marmelade would probably not be a good choice.
Happy Friday! Happy Fourth of July!
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups (18 ounces) creamy peanut butter (recommended: Skippy)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups (18 ounces) raspberry jam or other jam
2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch cake pan. Line it with parchment paper, then grease and flour the pan.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light yellow, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter and mix until all ingredients are combined.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.
Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared cake pan and spread over the bottom with a knife or offset spatula. Spread the jam evenly over the dough. Drop small globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam. Don’t worry if all the jam isn’t covered; it will spread in the oven. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown. Cool and cut into squares.