Grab a jar of peanut butter and a jar of jam, and turn them into layers that bake up into these sweet and tasty bar cookies that will satisfy a PB&J craving anytime.
One Dough, Two Uses
Smooth peanut butter is the base for an easy dough that does double duty as both the crust and the crumble topping layer. In the middle goes Concord grape jelly, but you can of course substitute your favorite jelly instead if grape isn't your thing.
How to Win the Bake Sale
If you need to contribute to a bake sale or potluck soon, these bar cookies are just the ticket since the layers bake up into one big slab. I like to cut it into fairly small pieces, as these bar cookies are rich and a small piece is quite satisfying. Even if you don't have a lot of mouths to feed, these PB&J bars freeze so well that you can stow them away and pull some out when you want a snack. I've been known to pull just one bar from the freezer, and 20 minutes later, I'm a happy camper with my sweet treat and a cup of tea.
PB&J Crumble Bar Cookies
Cooking spray or butter, for coating the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups natural creamy peanut butter (no sugar added), at room temperature
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups Concord grape jelly, at room temperature
2/3 cup coarsely chopped salted, roasted peanuts (optional)
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350°F. Line the sides and bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan (preferably metal, but glass will also work) with aluminum foil, then coat the foil with cooking spray or butter; set aside.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed until combined, then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until lightened in color and creamy, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the paddle and sides of the mixer with a rubber spatula.
Add the peanut butter and beat on medium-high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until completely combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the paddle and sides of the mixer with a rubber spatula.
Return the mixer to low speed and gradually add the flour mixture, stopping when the flour is almost incorporated (do not overmix). Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the remaining flour by hand with the rubber spatula.
Sprinkle 1/2 of the mixture in the baking pan and press into an even layer. Bake until the top is light golden-brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
Dollop the jelly over the crust and spread into an even layer as best as you can without disturbing the crust. (Do not worry if the jelly doesn't spread much, it will melt in the oven.) Sprinkle evenly with the chopped peanuts, if using. Using your hands, crumble the remaining dough into pieces about the size of almonds and sprinkle evenly into the pan.
Return the pan to the oven and bake until the top is golden-brown, about 20 minutes more. Remove the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. To serve, grasp the foil in the middle of the pan and lift the bar cookie slab out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into 32 bars.
- Storage: Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. The bars can also be wrapped tightly in foil and frozen for up to 3 months. Let sit at room temperature or in the refrigerator to thaw.