I seem to have a propensity for picking recipes that include combinations that I ordinarily wouldn’t like. For example, although I love peanut butter, I don’t like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
I blame the gazillion of them I ate growing up. In fact, I prefer my peanut butter straight up, or possibly swirled with nutella (oh, nutella, the nectar of the gods. Let me sing your praises . . .) and delivered to my mouth via spoon. No bread required, thankyouverymuch.
But peanut butter and jelly bars . . . I just had to try them.
You start out by making a sweet pastry dough for the bottom crust. I had a bit of problem here. The ingredients called for one egg, but the instructions tell you to “whisk the eggs.” Not sure if I should be using one or two eggs, I started with one, but the dough looked very dry, so I added a second egg. This gave me a very wet dough which baked up into a fairly tough, dense bottom crust. Now I’m thinking that it should only be one egg, but I think some internet sleuthing is in order.
Once the pastry dough has chilled, you roll it out, fit it the bottom of your pan and blind bake it. My dough shrank and never got brown in the middle, although the edges were quite brown. I decided to use it anyway.
Next up is the peanut butter filling which consists of peanut butter, butter (as in two TWO! sticks of butter), vanilla and powdered sugar. This gets beaten until smooth and then spread over the cooled crust. Next comes a layer of preserves. I went with seedless blackberry. Finally, you make an oatmeal crumb topping (flour, rolled oats, more butter, leavening, brown sugar and cinnamon) and sprinkle that on top. The bars are baked for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the top is browned. I baked my bars for something like 40 minutes, and the top never got quite brown.
I didn’t like these bars when they were warm, but I liked them a whole lot at room temperature. As I mentioned above, the bottom crust was very hard, but the peanut butter layer, with just a bit of the preserves, was so flavorful. And I loved the oats in the crumb topping. These are pretty rich, so a small piece went a long way.
One other thing to be aware of: These are full of butter, in the crust, in the peanut butter layer and in the crumb topping. I literally had butter running out of the bars when I took them out of the oven. As they cooled, most of the butter seemed to get re-absorbed.
Note: After typing up this post, I emailed the guys at Baked to ask them about the eggs. None other than Matt Lewis himself replied. According to Matt, the ingredient list is correct, only one egg is called for. So, start with one egg, and if you find that your crust is still too dry and crumbly to hold together, add a teaspoon or two of water.