Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

You know how children grow up to be adults and then they blame their parents for their faults? For example, if your mama gave you cough syrup while you were a baby that would explain why you’re addicted to drugs. Or maybe your daddy gave you a time out one time and now you’re an ax murderer and clearly it’s all his fault. Right? People do that. I’m about to do that. Bear with me.

I was a kid once (shocking, right?) and my parents had their work schedules set so that one of them was always home with my brother and me. Sounds nice, right? Well, I’m sure it was lovely and all, but they didn’t plan for one very important thing. Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches.

You see, with one parent always home that meant that one of them was always cooking us meals. How selfish of them, right? My dad tended to grill hamburgers and hot dogs (and cornbread, lots and lots of cornbread) for lunch and my mama liked to make shake ‘n bake pork chops and frozen pizzas (and lima beans, lots and lots of lima beans) for dinner.

Do you see the problem?

There was no room in there for the peanut butter and jelly. Sure, I could have taken it in my school lunches, but by the time I hit school I had never had one and so I stuck with turkey sandwiches, something that did make the lunch/dinner rotation every now and then.

It’s almost like I didn’t even grow up in America, y’all.

I was married to my husband the first time I tried a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. True story. He still makes fun of me for that. He even calls me un-American!

Because I am a loving mother and don’t want to deprive my children of a childhood lunch classic, I make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches quite often. It has nothing at all to do with the fact that they are quick, easy, and cheap. It’s all about making sure my children have a proper American childhood.

And, okay, so they’re quick, easy, and cheap.

I decided to mix it up today and make a real lunch, one where I had to use the stove and everything, and save the PB&J for dessert.

My kids were not one bit disappointed and my husband? Well, I don’t think he’ll call me “un-American” again for a very long time.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
slightly adapted from Ina Garten

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups peanut butter (I used creamy, chunky would be fun, too)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups raspberry jam or other jam (or more, if you’re a jam lover)
  • 2/3 cups salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper, grease and flour parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light yellow. Beat in vanilla, eggs, and peanut butter on low speed until everything is combined.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.

Spread half of the dough in the bottom of the prepared pan. Spread jam evenly over the top of the dough. Use your hands to make large balls of dough with the remaining half of dough, then flatten them out and place them over the jam. The dough will spread a bit in the oven, so it’s okay if there are bare spots. Sprinkle with the chopped peanuts and bake for 45 minutes.

Cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.