Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
I never thought we’d see the day, but March is here. Which means we’ve almost survived what feels like the longest and most painful winter ever. The one weather-related thing I remember from elementary school is that March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. Let’s hope this March comes in like a well sedated lion that’s been hit with a tranquilizer shot, because I am all set with any more winter storms. I’m happy today’s predicted snowstorm of death now is being reported on Boston.com as “you won’t even need a shovel for this one.” In order to fully embrace the impending spring, I did some major spring cleaning today. The condo is sparkling and my closet and drawers have 5 trash-bags worth less clothes, which means Goodwill is getting a nice donation and now I have plenty of room for new clothes to shop for. Win win in my book.
So being someone who plans things for a living, you’d think I would plan my cookie recipes more than a day in advance. I usually just look for cookie inspiration during the week, or frantically empty my baking cabinet Sunday afternoons trying to find some good ingredient combo. Lucky for me, this week inspiration just fell into my hands (or actually, right on my desk) Friday morning. I came into the office Friday morning to a little blue present bag on my desk, with two jars of jam in it. My friend (and coworker) Jess got married last November and her thank you present was these cutely decorated jars of jam. Jess married Mike, so that’s what the J&M is. One jar was strawberry and the other is blueberry.
So obviously my first thought: peanut butter and jelly. I saw this recipe on one of the baking blogs I like My Baking Addiction who found this recipe on the Barefoot Contessa blog. I spent my week writing up recommendations for A/B testing for online advertising, so since each jar of jam was a little under 1 cup and the recipe called for 1/2 cups, I figured it would be perfect to do half blueberry and half strawberry.
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup chunky peanut butter
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 1/2 cups jam of your choice ( I did half blueberry and half strawberry jam)
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together butter and sugars. Add in eggs and vanilla and mix well.
Step 2: Add in both types of peanut butter and beat on high until well incorporated. A trick to measuring PB is to spray the measuring cup in advance with nonstick spray.
Step 3: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and then add to the wet batter and mix on a low speed (or prepare to be covered in flour). Important next step, taste test this dough. It’s perfect.
Step 4: Line a 13×9 inch glass baking dish with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray. If you don’t have parchment, that’s okay just grease it up nice and good. The parchment just helps when you’re trying to get these out of the pan without crumbling. Spread 2/3 of the dough in the bottom of the dish and pat it down to ensure it’s even.
Step 5: Spread the jam evenly over the dough.
Step 6: Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the jam. It won’t cover it a hundo percent, but that’s okay because it spreads when its baking. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
It was really hard to let these cool, but you need to do it because they are way too ooey gooey to cut into right away. Unless you have no shame and like eating them with a fork straight from the pan, then have at it. Lucky for my coworkers, I’ll be working from the Boston office tomorrow morning, the first Monday in a couple weeks, so these bad boys will be up for grabs in time for breakfast. If you’re a milk person, I think one of these and a tall glass of milk does the trick. Me personally, I am a Diet Coke girl, because it basically negates the calories of this cookie, right?
This weekend was nice and low key. The calm before the storm that inevitably is March when the sun starts staying out a little longer and we all come out of this winter thaw, and suddenly your social calendar is jam packed with people wanting to leave their houses at night again. We dominated our tennis match yesterday against the #2 tennis team in our league, sprained ankle and all. Colleen’s birthday is Tuesday this week (Happy Birfdey Jiggity!) so we have a fun-filled weekend ahead of us. St. Patrick’s day in Southie is just two weekends away, and then we close out Q1 with the best day of March – my birthday on the 31st. Right now I am just trying to embrace all the good things about March before I get all ladybrains about turning 29, which is the final frontier before I officially hop the Acela express to spinsterhood next year.
I had dinner on Wednesday with one of my favorite friends from high school who also went to BC with me, Ania, which was just great. I think I have a pretty solid group of friends, but I am always so happy when I get together with a friend that I don’t get to see as frequently and you’re able to just pick right back up. Ania was one of my original taste testers back in my high school baking days, where Funfetti cookies were a Friday night staple and we’d play pool in my parent’s basement. One time I threw Ania and my friend Katie a joint surprise birthday party since they both have birthdays in May. I convinced Katie she was “in” on the surprise for Ania and vice versa, and I have this picture of both of them coming down the stairs looking at eachother to say surprise, and there I am in the background just laughing since I crushed it. Those were the days.
One funny thing about last week, is that I was a guest speaker for a business class at Boston College Monday night. I took the class back when I was a senior at BC and so the professor has brought me in a few times to give a few talks, which is always nice. Normally, I don’t feel that old, but when I walked into the class, I asked the kids (yes, kids) what grade they were in back in 2007 (when I was a senior) and they said 7th grade. I refrained from telling them how we had landline phones in our dorms and no wireless internet or smartphones, after one girl told me she didn’t know how we survived college without the app that tells you when the buses came or when the laundry machines were free. We froze our butts off waiting for buses, that’s how. Officially old status over here. Anyways, it was nice, they laughed at my jokes so at least I guess I’m not that old yet. They are living the dream right now. I was jealous when I was walking around campus before the class right around sunset and Gasson Hall was lit up all nice. At least some things don’t change. For Boston, for Boston …