A Panacea for Post-Finals Doldrums

26 05 2008

Over the span of 7 hours, I was violently assaulted (to put it mildly – Victor would say ‘raped’), first by Niels Bohr at 8 in the morning, then again by Siegmund Gabriel at noon. I came out of both exams satisfied with my expression of creative wit as most of my answers sounded like this: “The answer has not yet been revealed to man” or “Man is not meant to know” or “Still awaiting divine intervention.” So all in all, I had done terribly and felt as much. The BART ride home was melancholy and pitiful as I reminisced over the ups and downs of the semester. And there was nothing to cure my low spirits… well, almost nothing.

So for two days, I drowned all those worries and fears under the sand, under the waves, under the skies and stars. The raging red of the setting sun, the glaring blood-orange of the rising moon as it peaks over the edge of the water. Such were my days filled, numbing it all away. And still I was not yet ready to face reality, so I hid myself in my comfort zone, the fervor and frenzy of my kitchen. And the bi-product? Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars – the ultimate comfort food, reminiscent of those sweet elementary school lunches tucked inside my plastic Animaniacs lunch box. Those were the days…

Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars
This recipe can be found on Martha Stewart and also in Martha Stewart’s Cookies.
Ingredients
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

Directions
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-13-inch pan with butter, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the parchment, and coat inside of pan with flour; set aside. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, add eggs and peanut butter; beat until combined, about 2 minutes.
2. Whisk together salt, baking powder, and flour. Add to bowl of mixer on low speed; combine. Add vanilla. Transfer two-thirds of mixture to prepared pan; spread evenly with offset spatula. Using offset spatula, spread jam on top of peanut-butter mixture. Dollop remaining third of peanut-butter mixture on top of jam. Sprinkle with peanuts.
3. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool; cut into about thirty-six 1 1/2-by-2-inch pieces.

Now, I have fed these to a few people at this point and the general consensus is, why eat these bars when a pb&j sandwich will suffice? As Kari put it, these bars are the sum of parts, no more and no less. That translates to not spectacular, but then again, they disappeared fairly quickly, so who knows? Piggy requested more jam, so next time I would definitely add more jam. In addition, the bar’s base is not very satisfying, so next time I might try playing around with my Smitten Kitchen Peanut Butter Cookie dough for a base.

Kitchen time is my ultimate cure-all, and just an hour of making these bars was enough to bolster my spirits for a few days. Tomorrow is Memorial Day and it looks like I have a full day at Ici Ice Cream (click for a virtual tour). This upcoming week will be consumed by Ici as well as long hours in the lab. I have a lot to do before I leave for my 3-week sojourn to Australia in July, but hopefully I will have plenty of chances to update often. So please check back soon, and can’t wait until we next meet again!

Happy cooking!

—Anh—

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11 responses

26 05 2008
chiff0nade

Oh my God. My brother and I were raised on peanut butter and jelly!

My poor mother Aida was a factory worker in Brooklyn, NY. After my worthless father (a milkman) ran off with a 19-year-old floozie when I was only 12 years old, my mom could only afford to feed us P&J sandwiches.

They didn’t have welfare and food stamps then, like I get now.

Your post reminded me of those bad and those good days:

BAD, because my mother Aida recently died of neglect in a nursing home.

GOOD, because I simply love peanut butter and jelly.

Thanks for the memories.

26 05 2008
Wunami

Hmm…I wonder if you could make sandwich cookies using peanut butter cookies and some sort of jelly/jam filling. It’d be hard to get it so the filling doesn’t squeeze out.

27 05 2008
Carole

Even though we may say terrible things to one another in the privacy of our homes and daily lives — using it as mindless comedy (and we do it all the time, even as mild as saying “I’ll kill you” when we’re mad) — please reconsider posting that “Victor would say you were raped” after a final. It’s not appropriate for a food blog. I know it’s your blog, your choice. But gosh, it sure did make me wince, and I’m a hard ass. Imagine someone who is more sensitive, when they thought they were just coming to read a recipe. Ouch. Wince.

27 05 2008
grace

cooking is my cure-all too. so is eating, so that works out well. :) your bars looks delicious!

27 05 2008
cookiejarconfessions

I apologize if my choice of diction and use of hyperbole offended anyone. That was not the intent…

“If we shadows have offended, think but this; and all is mended that you have but slumbered here while these visions did appear and this weak and idle theme no more yielding but a dream. Gentles–do not reprehend if you pardon, we will mend. And, as I am an honest Puck if we have unearned luck. Now to scape the serpents tongue. We will make amends ere long else the Puck a liar call. So–goodnight unto you all. Give me your hands if we be friends. And Robin shall restore amends.”

27 05 2008
DocChuck

Golly, I personally wasn’t offended.

I thought it was a great post, but then I am not overly “politically correct” . . . perhaps that comes from being a professor of Higher Education.

You do NOT owe anyone an apology, in my humble opinion . . . but then, I am just a lowly Ph.D.

Carry on cookiejarconfessions.

We still have the right of “freedom of speech” in this country, albeit that right is becoming more and more endangered under the present political leadership of bible-thumping, hypocritical, Constitution-be-damned idiots that have infiltrated our once-great Republic.

DocChuck

27 05 2008
Kate

The bars look great! They remind me of what our high school cafeteria ladies served to us at lunchtime.

As for the comment by Carole, and then by DocChuck, I don’t see where Carole asked for an apology at all, nor would there be any reason to ask for an apology. She just made an observation, and I can understand why. I really love the beautiful prose you shared in response, and see the “lined out text” (which doesn’t really do anything except call more attention to it).

So yeah, not the best choice of words for a publicly shared blog, but since it’s obvious no malice was intended in the post, I think the observation by Carole was, accordingly, pretty gentle and didn’t involve bible thumping or pose a threat to our once-great republic.

28 05 2008
Kevin

Peanut and jelly bars sound so good!

30 05 2008
Judy

Are you going to feed me these sweets all summer?

9 06 2008
DocChuck

If I might chime in again….

As you can see from the credentials I have posted, I have several PhD’s from “leading” universities. In addition, I am a well-traveled and impeccably well-bred with a vibrant wife who is much younger than me. In fact, you remind me of my wife, who I met while she was a wee undergraduate and I was her sophisticated, older “Thesis Advisor.”

Ours is a May-December relationship, indeed!! And I enjoy every minute of it.

We have traveled around the world and in such travels have visited countries where one would simply NOT be able to state that they were “raped” by Neils Bohr (a brilliant physicist, if I do say so myself) without suffering severe social repurcussions at the least. And lashes and perhaps even jail or worse.

One example I might offer is in the UK. My young wife and I are frequent visitors there as we both enjoy the climate and the lovely food. My wife has expanded her successful chain of laser hair removal facilities to include several in London, if that excites you. We will be traveling to London in several weeks to check on her salons as well as to see the Wimbledon tennis championship and to visit my wife’s 3rd cousin who just happens to be Lady Camilla Parker Bowles.

It would not be socially acceptable for my wife to use the term “rape” in a conversation there, even if it were merely used as a metaphor. And certainly not with the Lady Parker-Bowles!!

Your cookies look delicious. In the past when we have visited the Lady, we have brought baked goods and delicacies from the US. I am going to ask my wife to whip up a batch of these cookies to bring as a gift when we travel there this year. PB and J — what could be MORE American?

13 01 2009
shalomd

Wow! this looks so great and remembering that used to go to school day in and day out with peanut butter with or without jelly. this brings back memories.
I must say the photography is real good – after all we are talking about the basics.. well with this photography the basics look mmmmmmmmmmmm!!

Thanks

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