Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bar from a Jar

As April has officially arrived (and I still keep writing "February" on my checks) and we were treated to a day of mostly sun today--aside from a couple torrential showers and hail spells--it seems that local, fresh produce and canning season are actually going to come back.  I always get scared every year, underneath the chronic gray that takes over, that I've seen my last tomato.  Luckily so far I've been proven wrong. 

If you spent the last couple years canning up jams, pickles and other fun projects, odds are you still have leftovers hanging around your shelf.  I mean, really.  How many pints of raspberry jam can people go through in 12 months?  This week, I've decided to reinvent and use up some of these past projects.  It seems apropos, as I finally finished up my personal essay on canning.  What else can I finish up around here? 

Here is a jar of strawberry jam from a couple years ago (don't worry, jam stays shelf safe for 2 years, as long as you've sealed it properly.  Always check your lids and seals, and trust your instincts.  If it doesn't look or smell right, throw it away.  Then you've cleaned your shelf, problem solved, and no botulism.  Hurray. 

I was screwing around with my iPhone Martha Stewart Bakes Cookies app, which allows you to leisurely scroll through cookies, bars and other delicious treats while you're stranded in an airport or whatever.  It was after I'd nixed Peppercorn Shortbread and Bacon Ginger Cookies that I swiped over to Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars.  It's like deconstructing a traditional pb&j.... or reconstructing it... whatever they're doing at Clyde Common these days. 

The best tip for bars, one that Martha includes on all of her recipes... always line the baking pan with parchment paper.  The tiny extra step will save you so many headaches trying to chisel baked-on goodies out of a stubborn pan, and when it's empty and you're left with a barely-touched pan to wash, you'll just want to travel back in time and worship your savvy self. 

Not only does the recipe call for the better part of a jam pint, you will essentially use an entire jar of peanut butter.  Instead of trying to measure out 2 1/2 cups of peanut butter, which just makes a mess, I'd just empty the jar into the creamed butter and sugar mixture. 

These bars took me maybe 15 minutes to put together, and assembly is just about as easy as putting together the more traditional sandwich version.  You create a thick layer of batter on the bottom, add a layer of jam above and then create another thin crust of peanut butter "cake" right above.  Strawberry jam is great, but you could use any berry jam you have leftover--raspberry would be delicious, too.  If you like it on white bread, you'll like it here. 

50 minutes later, I had a gigantic pan of bars that... I can't eat.  Luckily, that's what co-workers are for.  Tomorrow we'll put some Peach Jam to good use in a pork roast, and I'll look for something to do with all that Blackberry Preserve I thought was super-necessary in 2008.

Martha's iPhone Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
    • 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


  1. Zack would love these. What a great way of using up jam.

  2. yumm! I love how your write about food. I don't even care about peanut butter but what a great kid friendly food...gotta start flagging those in my archives now!:)