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.
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
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!