peanut butter and jelly bars with a twist

Jessica made this bars last week and when I saw the pictures I got hungry and had an idea. I make cookies for my Entrepreneurship class every Monday night as 1. advertising for my business plan, 2. to experiment with new recipes and get feedback and 3. because my teacher has created a kitty to fund my creations every week. Neat, huh? I had made those bars before from an Ina Garten recipe and remembered how good they were so yesterday I made them again, but with my own twists.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars (makes 24-36 bars)

adapted from Ina Garten

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 smashed banana (a scant 1/2 cup)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

18 oz creamy peanut butter (I used Whole Foods 365 brand)

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

10 ounces strawberry jam

1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)

1/3 cup salted peanuts + 1/3 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter 9x 13 inch pan.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until it’s light yellow before adding the maple syrup.

3. Add the smashed banana and then the vanilla and peanut butter. Mix until combined.

4. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and add the mixture slowly to the peanut butter mixture. Mix just until combined.

5. Spread 2/3 of the dough into the prepared pan and spread over the bottom until smooth. Spread the jam evenly over the dough and then sprinkle the chocolate chips.

6. Drop globs of the remaining dough evenly over the jam and then sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

Look at those layers!

7. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.

8. Cool before cutting into bars. Then try not to eat the whole pan 😉

To make it vegan: use 2 sticks of non-dairy butter and use carob chips. The recipe will work just as well.

I love these just for the flavor combination. It reminds me so much of a childhood favorite even though truth be told, I only ate peanut butter sandwiches with no jelly. Oh well! I also loved how well the banana worked in the recipe. I liked my bananas ripe and these were a medium-ripeness I guess, but added another sweetness to reduce the sugar. Next time, I’m going to try to use applesauce instead of sugar and see what happens. That’d cut both the sugar and the butter.  Oh future experiments!

What’s your favorite childhood flavor combination and what’s the story behind it?


7 responses to “peanut butter and jelly bars with a twist

  1. So glad they turned out! I think I would LOVE them with banana in them. And of course – chocolate. 🙂

    • Me too! The banana and maple syrup give it another dimension than just sugar. I think it’s going to be a change that sticks this time 🙂

  2. Those look fabulous! Will definitely be trying them as soon as I get into baking mode.

  3. Bars looks amazing. Too bad we can not have peanut butter 😦 Yum yum though.

  4. Say what? PB and Jelly bars, I NEED these!!

  5. Pingback: easy roasted chicken breasts | one girl - three loves

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