Can you believe it’s almost September? The summer seemed to fly by! But honestly, I love this time of year. Fall is just around the corner, and I’m a little envious of all the kids going back to school. Is it just me, or is shopping for school supplies a lot of fun? I don’t have a good reason to buy new pencils and notebooks anymore, but that doesn’t mean I can’t envelop myself in school nostalgia. And what better way to do that than with a classic lunchbox treat? These peanut butter & jelly bars do the trick! Enjoy the flavors of the classic sandwich that kids and adults love, but in dessert form.
I’ve actually teamed up with a few bloggers for a virtual back to school party! The idea is for each of us to Insta-bring what we would actually take to a real-life gathering. (Read about previous virtual parties here and here.) The peanut butter & jelly bars are my contribution. Lori from Pop of Gold made these hidden veggie blueberry muffins. Kirsten from This Celebrated Life baked up healthy banana bran muffins. Kathryn from Worn Slap Out made this healthy egg and vegetable breakfast bake. Taryn from Life and Sprinkles created unicorn yogurt breakfast parfaits. And Lori from Giggle Living styled a grab-and-go breakfast table. Be sure and check out their blogs for some back-to-school inspiration!
These peanut butter & jelly bars are very easy to make. The hardest part is waiting for them to cool. But the cooling time is very important, so don’t skip that step. The bars will bake for about 30 minutes, but then they’ll need to cool in the pan. Let them cool completely before cutting the bars into squares. It might take a couple of hours. If you need to cool them overnight, cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves! The first step is making the batter. (There are detailed instructions in the recipe below.) The batter will be thick once you’ve added all of the ingredients, almost like cookie dough.
Here’s a little trick for measuring peanut butter. Spray a glass measuring cup with cooking spray before scooping the peanut butter into it. That will make it easier to spoon the peanut butter into the batter and to clean the measuring cup later.
Reserve 3/4 of the batter for the topping. Press the rest evenly into the bottom of a 9 x 9 pan lined with parchment paper. Leave an overhang on the paper so that it’s easy to pull out later. I’ve found it’s easier using my hands to press it down, and a spatula to smooth it out.
Next, spread on the jelly. I used my mother-in-law’s homemade strawberry jelly, but feel free to customize with your favorite flavor! Or ask my MIL if she can make jelly for you. 😉
Top with crumbled pieces of the remaining dough and sprinkle on the butterscotch or peanut butter chips. Confession: The reason I used butterscotch chips this time is because I ran out of peanut butter chips. Both options are delicious, so choose your own adventure!
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the bars are almost set (they should barely move when gently shaking the pan back and forth). The bars will continue to bake in the warm pan.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and enjoy!
Tag me @rosesandwhiskers on Instagram if you try these peanut butter & jelly bars and use the #hashtag rosesandwhiskers. Happy baking! 🙂
Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars
- 1 1/2 cups gluten free 1 to 1 baking flour or substitute all-purpose flour for gluten-full bars
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2/3 cup strawberry jelly or substitute your preferred jelly flavor
- 1/4 cup peanut butter or butterscotch chips
- Line a 9 x 9 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving a little overhang on all four sides. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).
- Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg until incorporated. Mix in the peanut butter and vanilla. On low speed, mix in the flour until just combined. The batter will be thick, almost like cookie dough.
- Set aside 3/4 cup of the batter. Press the rest evenly into the bottom of the lined pan. I used my (clean) hands to do this part. Spread the jelly on next, and then top with crumbled bits of the remaining 3/4 cup of batter. Sprinkle on the peanut butter or butterscotch chips.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the bars are almost set (meaning they barely move when gently shaking the pan back and forth). Leave the bars in the pan to cool. This could take a couple of hours. If you need to cool them overnight, cover the pan with a clean dish towel.
- Once cool, lift the bars out of the pan using the parchment paper overhang. Cut into 16 bars with a serrated knife. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Enjoy!