Head Back To School With These PB&J Bars

Is there any lunch item more iconic than peanut butter and jelly? With back-to-school season in full swing, we’re giving a nod to the classic sandwich by flipping it into dessert form. And just because you’re not sitting through math class this fall, doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in this tasty treat. Whether you’re packing lunch, serving up a playdate snack, or gathering around the table with friends, you’ll want to make (and eat) our PB&J Bars all season long.

We’ve included a homemade jam in the recipe that’s super easy, but you can also use your favorite store-bought preserves to cut down on time. If you’re opting for store-bought, we recommend placing the reserves in a microwave-safe bowl, warming for 10-30 seconds in the microwave, and then mixing with the juice of one lemon to loosen them up for spreadability and bring down the sweetness.

PB&J Dessert Bars

For the peanut butter cookie base:
1½ cups light brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup tablespoons rolled oats
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1¾ cup peanut butter
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

For the jam:
4 cups strawberries
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
1½ cups sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup water

For the topping:
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened at room temperature
¾ cup rolled oats
¼ cup roasted, unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

2. For homemade jam, cut tops off strawberries and thinly slice into rounds. Add to a medium pot with ¼ cup water and sugar and heat over medium-high heat. Continue to cook until strawberries begin to break down, 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water and mix until smooth. Add to pot with strawberries and continue to cook, stirring occasionally to avoid the jam from burning on the bottom, and mashing any large pieces of strawberry with the back of a spoon, until thickened, about 20 minutes more.

3. Add peanut butter to a large microwaveable bowl and microwave in 10-second intervals until softened. Add all dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add eggs and vanilla extract and stir until smooth.

4. Spread cookie base in the bottom of prepared 9 x 13 baking dish in an even layer. Transfer to oven and bake until just beginning to brown and no longer soft to the touch, about 15 minutes.

5. While peanut butter cookie base bakes, clean bowl from cookie and add butter. Microwave in 10-second intervals until melted, and then mix in light brown sugar and cinnamon. Once combined, add flour, oats, kosher salt, and peanuts and stir to combine.

6. Once thickened, remove jam from heat and squeeze over lemon juice (be careful not to get any seeds in the jam!); stir to combine.
Spread jam over cookie base in an even layer, then top with peanut and oat topping in an even layer.

7. Transfer to oven and bake until topping is golden brown 20- 30 minutes.

Love this recipe? Check out a few of our favorite desserts:

Raspberry-Lemon Tres Leches Cake
Pumpkin Hand Pies
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Mocha Cheesecakes
Hasselback Apples

Recipe contributed by Plated Recipe Development Manager Grace Pescatello.

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