Seeing all my friends’ kids’ back-to-school photos these last few weeks, I’ve been reminiscing about my own school days. I don’t know that we took First Day photos (my parents rarely remembered a camera), but that’s okay because all my first days were pretty similar. I mean, I went to the same school K-12 and wore the same uniform for all but one semester of that time.
(Like many recovering private school kids, I have spent the last 15 years working through an aversion to plaid. I’m glad to say I’m making progress 😀 )One of my childhood chores was to pack my own lunch. I was/am skeeved out by lunch meat and was not yet allowed to cook with any regularity, so I packed a peanut butter & jelly sandwich damn near every single day.You don’t need me to explain the magic of a PB & J to you. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, salty, gooey, and satisfying. After thirteen years of eating them five days a week, I don’t eat many peanut butter & jelly sandwiches these days, but when I do, I fall in love all over again.Today’s recipe, Peanut Butter & Jelly Blondies, is a sweet little ode to that school lunch classic ❤ These fabulous layered bars begin with my tried-and-true peanut butter blondie base before being topped with a layer of jelly (or jam) and crispy, crunchy peanut crumble. They’re a texture-lover’s dream!The blondies are baked for 35-40 minutes before being cooled and sliced. I like mine a little on the underdone side, but you can bake them a few minutes longer if that’s not your thing. Either way, you’ll be rewarded with a pan of rich, dense, peanut butter & jelly deliciousness.I find that chilling these bars in the fridge (or even the freezer) makes them easier to slice. The jelly layer will never be completely firm, but it shouldn’t be too messy to work with. And even if it is, who cares? It’s peanut butter & jelly—getting a little on your fingers is all part of the fun.
Peanut Butter & Jelly Blondies
makes one 8-inch pan, about 16 blondies
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural)
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 cup jelly, jam, or preserves (I used strawberry)
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup roasted salted peanuts, roughly chopped
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat your oven to 350F. Line an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving some overhang on two sides. Grease with butter. Dust lightly with flour and discard any excess. Set aside.
Place butter and peanut butter in a small microwave-safe bowl. Melt together in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Transfer to a medium-large mixing bowl. Stir in light brown and granulated sugars, followed by egg and yolk and vanilla. Stir in flour and salt.
Spread the blondie batter in prepared pan. Drop spoonfuls of jelly over the top of the batter. Use an offset knife (or the back of a spoon) to spread it to the edges of the pan. Layer may not be perfectly even—this is okay. Set aside.
Make the peanut crumble. In a small-medium mixing bowl, use a fork to whisk together oats, flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and chopped peanuts. Pour in butter and stir until everything is moistened and clumps begin to form. Scatter mixture over the jelly layer, covering as much as possible.
Bake 35-40 minutes, or until golden at the edges. Jelly will still be jiggly. Let blondies cool completely in the pan on a rack. Refrigerate until cold (I froze mine for an hour).
Use foil to lift blondies out of pan. Peel off foil and transfer blondies to a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice bars. Serve.
Leftover blondies will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.