Did You Know? The world's largest peanut butter and jelly sandwich was created in Oklahoma City, OK, on September 7, 2002 by the Oklahoma Peanut Commission and the Oklahoma Wheat Commission. The PB & J sandwich weighed in at nearly 900 pounds, and contained 350 pounds of peanut butter and 144 pounds of jelly. The amount of bread used to create the sandwich was equivalent to more than 400-one pound loaves of bread.
I don't know if I ever mentioned this before, but when my best friend Chris came home from a semester in New Zealand last Summer, his teaching goals had somehow evolved into a baking career. And apparently I was to be his business partner. So ever since then, we've pretty much been all talk. We came up with a name for our bakery, Sweet Inspirations (Chris is a Philosophy Major), are working on a logo (thanks Jeff), we have this little website of mine, but we hadn't actually baked anything together...until now.
I have been meaning to make these bars ever since I saw them on Martha Stewart. Peanut butter and jelly has always been my favorite flavor combination, although the PB has been put on the back burner for my preference for almond butter. But that's besides the point. Any nut butter mixed with a fruity jam is an unstoppable combo. Throw in some butter and sugar and turn it into a bar-type cookie, and I'm in PB & J heaven.
We made these so that Chris would have something to present to his family for Easter a few Sundays ago. We're always talking about the bakery with them, convincing our future investors that we'd make a great investment, so we thought it was about time to show them what we're all about. The sticky-sweet jam sandwiched between peanut-buttery shortbread brought the classic lunchbox staple to new levels. Sprinkled with roasted peanut pieces, this bar was the ultimate in sweet and salty. Although we couldn't help but to try a piece straight out of the oven, I'd recommend letting them cool before slicing. The warm pieces sort of slid apart, but the oozing peanut butter and jam was something I just couldn't wait to dive into.
I'm known for "healthing" up a lot of the recipes I make, so I can't wait to try some more variations on these. I wanted to keep this first go from the book, so we followed Martha's suggestions to the T. I'd love to do an almond butter and banana version or maybe almond butter and fig jam. Ashley from Sweet & Natural did an awesome job using more wholsesome ingredients when she conquered these bars, too. I'd better go write some of these ideas down before I forget...Enjoy!
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Holiday Cookies 2001
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups strawberry jam, or other flavor
2/3 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with butter, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the parchment, and coat inside of pan with flour; set aside.
Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, add eggs and peanut butter; beat until combined, about 2 minutes.
Whisk together salt, baking powder, and flour. Add to bowl of mixer on low speed; combine. Add vanilla. Transfer two-thirds of mixture to prepared pan; spread evenly with offset spatula. Using offset spatula, spread jam on top of peanut-butter mixture. Dollop remaining third of peanut-butter mixture on top of jam. Sprinkle with peanuts.
Bake until golden, about 40-45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool; cut into about thirty-six 1 1/2-by-2-inch pieces.