When I came across this recipe over at Vegan Good Things back in May, I very swiftly bookmarked it. Anything with peanut butter in it is pretty much awesome in my books. But PB&J? That’s even better. I never thought that it would take me this long to get around to making this recipe, but it seemed like every time I went to make it, I was missing one of the rather basic ingredients. Peanut butter… Jelly… heck, I didn’t even have an 8×8 pan until last week. But finally, the stars have aligned because today I decided to finally make these little babies.
Modifications to the Recipe
- I used coconut oil instead of the margarine (and nonstick vegetable oil spray). I think coconut oil is a much healthier option and I’ve had so much success baking with it that I don’t really buy margarine anymore. The trick is to chill your coconut oil beforehand, so that it has the same consistency as margarine/butter.
- I used whole wheat flour instead of unbleached all purpose flour to make the bars even healthier still.
I went with raspberry jam on this one because I’ve always loved raspberry jam in cookies and other baked goods. Speaking of jam, I absolutely love St. Dalfour jams. They come in cute little glass jars, and the best part is that they’re vegan and contain no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors. Check-out the 3-ingredient list: raspberries, grape juice and fruit pectin. Awesome! Oh, and it turns out that a jar contains about a 3/4 cup of jam – which is exactly what this recipe calls for. It’s jelly destiny!
As for the bars, they taste like a gooey PB&J sandwich, yet they’re a little bit crumbly too. It is well advised to serve them with a big ol’ glass of (non dairy!) milk… but if you want to get really serious, a scoop of (non-dairy) vanilla ice cream would be out of this world.
October 8, 2011 – I cut these guys right from the counter top last night, but I realize now that they would have been easier to cut had I put them in the fridge for about 20 minutes (after they had cooled completely on the counter). This is because the coconut oil really firms up when cold. I stored the bars in the fridge overnight and a little taste-test this morning (hey, no one said running a food blog would be easy!) tells me that’s the way to store these guys, especially if you make them with coconut oil. ALSO, after eating a few of these, I’ve realized that they’re quite sweet. So if your jam is very sweet, you could probably reduce the sugar to 1/2 cup. Hope this helps – let me know if you make them!
- ½ cup + 1tsp coconut oil, hardened in fridge until the consistency of soft butter
- 1½ cups whole wheat flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ cup smooth peanut butter
- ¾ cup (packed) brown sugar
- 1 vegan egg (such as Ener-G Egg Replacer)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¾ cup jelly or jam (raspberry or strawberry)
- ⅓ cup coarsely chopped salted dry-roasted peanuts
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 8 x 8 x 2-inch metal baking pan with heavy-duty foil, leaving 2-inch overhang around edges and pressing firmly into corners and up sides of pan. Coat foil with 1 tsp coconut oil. Set aside.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, and ¼ teaspoon salt in small bowl. Using electric mixer, beat peanut butter, sugar, and remaining coconut oil in large bowl until smooth.
- Add vegan egg and vanilla; beat on low speed until smooth.
- Add flour mixture; beat on low speed just to blend.
- Transfer half of dough to prepared pan (about scant 1½ cups). Place remaining dough in freezer for 10 minutes. Using fingertips, press dough evenly onto bottom of pan. Spread jelly over in even layer. Remove dough from freezer; using fingertips, break into grape-size pieces and scatter over jelly layer. Sprinkle chopped nuts over.
- Bake bars until top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool bars completely in pan on rack.
- Using foil overhang as aid, lift bars from pan. Gently peel foil from edges. Cut into 16 squares.
- MAKE AHEAD: can be made 3 days ahead. Store in an airtight container in fridge.