Peanut Butter + Jelly Bars

 

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A good PB+J was hands-down my favorite childhood sandwich.  What’s not to love? Creamy, sticky peanut butter.  Sweet, fruity jam.  We were a Jif and white bread family.  And I always went for the grape jelly.  Unless there was a jar of my grandma’s homemade strawberry preserves in the fridge.  Smucker’s just can’t compete with that.

Throughout elementary school, the only sandwich I’d allow my mom to pack in my lunchbox was a PB+J.  By the time noon rolled around, it had inevitably gotten squished inside its Ziploc bag due to rough contact with a juice box or an apple.  Wonder Bread’s not really known for their sturdy slices after all. But I LOVED the squishing.  It turned my sandwich into a PB+J pancake – flavors mashed together, jelly oozing out the bread pores.  I loved it so much that I began to do some deliberate sandwich squishing.  When my packed sandwich wasn’t squished enough.  When I ate at home with no opportunity for naturally-occurring lunchbox squishing.  I thought I was genius.  Still think so.

My peanut butter and jelly taste has matured over the years.  Though I still partake in squishing from time to time, my current PB+J of choice is made with whole wheat bread, natural peanut butter and honey.  Much healthier and deliciously satisfying.  I’m still a huge fan.  So when Hayley suggested I make some PB+J bars, I was all over it.  She directed me to Ina Garten’s recipe, I made it Sweet + Natural and here you go…

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My version of Peanut Butter + Jelly Bars:

1/2 cup non-hydrogenated shortening

3/4 cup turbinado sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 cup natural peanut butter

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup 100% fruit strawberry jam

Preheat the oven to 350*F. Spray an 8 x 8-inch pan with cooking spray and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream shortening and turbinado sugar for about 2 minutes.  Add vanilla extract, egg and peanut butter and blend until well-combined.  In a separate bowl, mix together whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and blend until just combined.  Spread 2/3 of dough into prepared pan.  Top with jam.  Drop globs of remaining dough evenly over jam.  Bake for about 45 minutes.  Makes 16 bars.

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Why yes, that is gooey peanut butter and jelly goodness!

These bars rocked.  Perfectly peanut buttery and the jelly melted right into the cookie-ish layer.  No squishing necessary!  Be forewarned though…they may be made with natural and wholesome ingredients, but they are definitely a rich indulgence.  I’m already thinking about making a lighter version sometime in the near future…

Do you have a soft spot for PB+J? Have you ever made a peanut butter and jelly treat?

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25 Responses to “Peanut Butter + Jelly Bars”


  1. 1 Melissa April 10, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Those look like ooey gooey divinity! I bet they would be great with nutella too! Although I guess nutella isn’t quite so natural.

    Great job.

    PS what was the hair place you mentioned when we met at brunch?

  2. 2 VeggieGirl April 10, 2009 at 11:52 am

    HOLY YUM CLASSIC!! I practically grew up on PBJs, haha 😀

  3. 3 Sharon April 10, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    In high school I ate PB&J for an entire year for lunch. I’m… cool!

  4. 4 Jessica April 10, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    I’m in love with the looks of these!

  5. 5 Amelia April 10, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    I think I ate PB&J for lunch every single day all the way through high school! Those bars look delish! 🙂

  6. 6 Lauren April 10, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Ashley, these bars look so yummy! I absolutely have a soft spot for PB&J – I had an oatmeal version the other other day 🙂

  7. 7 Pearl April 10, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    omgod. a classic in bar form. wow!

  8. 8 Melissa April 10, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    I have a HUGE soft spot and those look DELISH!!!!

  9. 9 Kerstin April 10, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Oh yum – these look delicious! I still take peanut butter sandwiches to work for lunch once a week – they are just so good 🙂

  10. 10 Hangry Pants April 10, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    I personally do not like jelly, but my dad is a huge PB & J fan and I made him peanut butter muffins with jelly in the center for his b-day once. I bet he would like these bars. 😀

  11. 11 ttfn300 April 11, 2009 at 7:39 am

    i still LOVE pb & j 🙂 although as a kid i also loved the fluff, now i like to add banana– don’t like mine squishy though! These look fabulous, and definitely a must-try 🙂

  12. 12 Hayley April 11, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Ashley, you’re the best! These look amazing, and no lie, me and my friend were making these today for Easter at his house. How weird is that? He’s not really into the natural thing, but I’ll see how many ingredients I can get him to change, so I can enjoy too. Thanks again for taking up my offer, you outdid yourself!

  13. 13 sweetandnatural April 11, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Melissa – Nutella = genius. I will remember that idea for my non-blog baking!

    VeggieGirl – Didn’t we all?! 🙂

    Sharon, Amelia – Why mess with perfection? 😉

    Jessica – Thanks!

    Lauren – I saw that! It looked delicious!

    Pearl – Glad you like!

    Melissa – Thank you!

    Kerstin – I always eat them for a snack!

    Hangry Pants – Those sound awesome. 🙂

    ttfn300 – I love PB, honey and banana sandwiches! Grilled!

    Hayley – You’re too nice! Thank YOU for the suggestion! These were even better than I thought they’d be. YUM!

  14. 14 Gena April 12, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Hey dear!

    1) Ina Garten anything is bound to be good, and

    2) I have a total soft spot for PB + J! Mostly because my mother, for some mysterious reason, NEVER made them for me. I lusted for them as badly as I lusted for the cabbage patch doll she wouldn’t buy me. Seriously.

    Hope you had a good wkd…

  15. 15 Danielle April 13, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    I too only ate pb&j in school, and the squishing only made it better!
    These bars look fantastic, so moist!

  16. 16 lo! April 14, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Great blog!

    Peef is a big fan of PB&J — and he’d love these. Me… not so much. I’ll take a strawberry & cream cheese sammich instead, please 🙂

  17. 17 sweetandnatural April 14, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Gena – No PB&J?! You missed out on a key component of childhood! j/k j/k, you seem to have turned out just fine. 🙂

    Danielle – YAY squishing! Haha – so I’m not crazy! Or maybe we both are? 😉

    lo! – Thanks! Your sandwich sounds like a good bagel topping!

  18. 18 lauren (athlEAT) April 15, 2009 at 9:22 am

    oh wow – yum. I love PB & J – these look outstanding.

  19. 19 Amy April 15, 2009 at 9:40 am

    You have stolen my heart, Ashley. I can’t think of anything better in a baked good!

  20. 20 burpexcuzme April 15, 2009 at 10:39 am

    PB & J! the most classic combo! but can you believe I only first heard of it when I moved to America?

  21. 21 Jenn (eating bender) April 15, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    The way you described the PB&J sandwiches of yesteryear made me so happy! I totally felt the same way – white bread, grape jelly, and SMOOSHED sandwiches! The pancake with jam image made me want to make one all over again! Although I preferred Peter Pan peanut butter 😉

    Those bars look fantastic, and definitely rich! I’ve never tried PB&J out of sandwich form, so this is a definite must in my near future!

  22. 22 Celine April 16, 2009 at 12:56 am

    I came to PB&Js late in life since they’re not common in Switzerland, but it sure as heck didn’t take me long to get hooked on them.
    beautiful goodies!

  23. 23 sweetandnatural April 16, 2009 at 7:29 am

    lauren (athlEAT) – Thanks!

    Amy – It is a dreamy combination!

    burpexcuzme – I guess it is a very American delicacy! 🙂

    Jenn – I love that there are other smooshers around here! And to be honest, we went back and forth between Peter Pan and Jif, but I can’t even remember which was around the pantry more often!

    Celine – Thanks for stopping by! They are addicting, right? 🙂

  24. 24 April (Foods of April) June 28, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    This looks so good!! I’m obsessed with PB so I know I’ll love these bars!

    http://ajangel25.wordpress.com

  25. 25 Anca August 31, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Ashley, you have a lovely blog. These were delicious. Just made them, gave you kudos, & posted them on my amateur blog. Thanks so much!

    http://haystacksandchampagne.blogspot.com/2011/08/back-to-school-peanut-butter-jelly-bars.html


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