Keep in mind when you're gandering at the ingredient list that these should be cut fairly small without worry that they won't be sufficient... so, no heart attacks when you see the lavish amount of butter combined with gobs of creamy peanut butter!
As you can imagine then, the base layer of these bars is quite decadent - the good news is the dough is a snap to prepare and quite easy to work with. Once brought together, the mixture is actually split up to be used in two ways. Over half of the stiff tan dough was separated out and pressed into the bottom of the baking pan - after smoothing it out, the top is anointed with your favorite type of jam. We used strawberry as we like that pairing with peanut butter (and come on, they've even made that combination into an M&M!), but I wouldn't hesitate trying blackberry, grape or raspberry.
Now that the dough was capped with that jeweled-toned topping, the rest of that indulgent dough is crumbled all over, creating lumpy nuggets of peanut butter goodness (there's that word Jeff loves to use again...). To give these bars some crunch and reinforce the nuttiness, we scattered over coarsely chopped peanuts before baking these bars off. Do yourself a favor and use salted nuts - while there is plenty of salt in the bars, the nuts (and frankly the bars as well) need the boost to cut some of the sweetness and not come across as being flat on the tongue.
There isn't much to do when checking for doneness of these bars - when the scent of peanut butter starts to fill the room and the top takes on a definite golden hue, they are good to pull out. After slicing the first row of bars, I noticed how they exuded the essence of richness by just their appearance of being thick, dense and frankly, like they should be illegal! Saying that, you can be sure they weren't too intense that I put away two bars in a short amount of time. I'm curious about one thing though... while I love peanut butter and jelly, I wonder how these would work if one would trade the jam for say, that groovy hazelnut spread that we all know and love as Nutella?
Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars