Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

Last week, Lil Sis and her husband welcomed a baby, Lil J, into the world.   It is very exciting for the Pierogi side of the family, especially because Lil J is the first grandbaby/nephew.  We cannot get enough of him!  He does this little thing where he closes one eye and scrunches up his face, like he’s giving you the stink eye…hilarious!

When Lil Sis and family got home from the hospital, I knew the last thing they’d feel like doing is cooking (even though she is pretty much as obsessed with food as me).  So, I made them some dinner and decided to try a new dessert: peanut butter and jelly bars.  With peanut butter and chocolate, they sounded pretty rich, so I reasoned I could easily divide the 8×8 pan worth of bars between Lil Sis and myself.  Doing so would be a win-win for me because BK and I don’t have to eat all the bars all by ourselves, but I also don’t have to face him asking me, with puppy dog eyes, why I gave all his treats away…do I not love him?

Well, clearly I should have made two pans worth.  Lil Sis called me, as we were turning off of her street after dropping the bars off, and said “These are delicious!!!!  We’ve eaten a third already!!!”  Turns out that even though they have peanut butter and chocolate, the jelly adds this great fruitiness that makes them almost light.  And even though the bottom layer sounds heavy, the crackers and nuts provide crunch and break up the decadent chocolate.

A couple notes: BK suggested making them without the jelly, and you certainly could, but I think it will make them much richer.  Could be a good or bad thing depending on what you are going for.   Also, I was worried about the bottom layer coming together because there wasn’t enough chocolate to really make everything stick together in the bowl.  Don’t worry — it will solidify when pressed down in the pan and refrigerated.  Finally, the bars soften up very quickly, so serve/eat them right out of the fridge.


For the base:
1 stick unsalted butter
⅓ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 large egg, beaten
1 sleeve saltines (40 crackers, regular or whole wheat), finely crushed
¾ cup roasted peanuts, finely chopped

For the filling and glaze:
½ cup grape jelly
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped


Make the base: Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, extending it over the sides.  Put the butter in a medium heatproof bowl; position the bowl over a saucepan of barely simmering water (the bowl should not touch the water). Once the butter melts, stir in the sugar and cocoa.  Whisk in the egg and cook until the mixture is warm. Remove from heat and whisk until the mixture is the consistency of hot fudge, about 6 minutes.  Mix in the saltine crumbs and peanuts.  Press the crust into the pan.  Set aside the saucepan of water.

Make the filling: Spread the jelly over the crust in the pan; place in the freezer for a few minutes.  Beat 3 tablespoons butter, the peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar with a mixer until light.  Spread over the jelly layer; return to the freezer while you make the glaze.

Make the glaze: Place the chocolate and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a heatproof bowl; set over the pan of simmering water and stir until the chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat; stir until smooth. When cool but still runny, spread the glaze over the chilled peanut butter layer. Freeze for another 30 minutes.

Use the foil flaps to remove the bars from the pan; cut into squares while still cold.  Serve cold and keep leftovers refrigerated.

Slightly adapted from Sarah Copeland, via the Food Network.


5 responses to this post.

  1. My son (peanut butter lover) and I are drooling over these right now! Looks perfectly addicting.


  2. These look so delicious, Perfect combination. Thanks for sharing!


  3. Wow, these look totally delicious! And chocolate to top it all off? YUM!


  4. […] Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars « the little kimchi pierogiJul 8, 2011 … So, I made them some dinner and decided to try a new dessert: peanut butter and jelly bars. With peanut butter and chocolate, they sounded … […]


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