We are now at month seven of the Improv Cooking Challenge which is hosted by Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. As always I looked forward to participating and finding or coming up with a great recipe which included the two theme ingredients. This month the participating bloggers were asked to make any recipe of their choosing using the two given ingredients of peanut butter & jelly. Some months I see the two ingredients and know immediately what I’m going to make but this month peanut butter and jelly just didn’t call to me and I didn’t have any recipes in my “need to make” file that fit the bill so I went on a little online search and found a recipe which I thought would work well. On Averie Cooks, a new-to-me blog I found a recipe for Caramel Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars which sounded really good. The recipe Averie posted was already gluten free and vegan so Maisie “safe” with her allergies to wheat, egg whites & dairy and with just a bit of tweaking I could easily avoid using processed sugar with the substitution of coconut palm sugar so I set off to make the bars. I did make just a couple of other changes from Averie’s recipe as I used coconut oil in place of her Earth Balance Buttery Spread and when substituting the coconut palm sugar for her white and brown sugar I cut way back on the total amount of sugar used. I also chose not to include the caramel as I was going after the peanut butter and jelly flavor and didn’t think that the addition of caramel was necessary for me.
The bars were chewy delicious and really had the taste of peanut butter and jelly and were a big hit with not only Maisie but Eammon, myself and also friends who tried them. I kept the bars sealed in a container on the counter for about a week and they got softer and less chewy as the the week went on. Maisie liked them on the softer side but honestly, I preferred them a bit chewier but wouldn’t pass on them when soft as they were delicious both ways. The one change I will make to this recipe when I make it again, and I will, is to cut the sugar as the bars were very sweet and while delicious, we just didn’t think that they needed to be so, so sweet.
Melted coconut oil, peanut butter, palm sugar, cinnamon & vanilla extract mixed together.
Press 3/4 of the mixture into the bottom of a Slice Solutions pan.
Spread the jam on top of the pressed down oat mixture.
Top the jam with the remaining oatmeal mixture.
If using a Slice Solutions pan insert the divider.
When I first pulled the pan from the oven I had my doubts as the bars looked like one hot greasy mess.
After five minutes I removed the divider grid and things looked a little better and once fully cooled, the bars were awesome!
My previous Improv Cooking Challenge entries:
March 2012 Potato & Cheese: Loaded Potato & Buffalo Chicken Casserole
February 2012 Ginger & Carrots: Shrimp & Avocado Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing
January 2012 Lemon & Sour Cream: Ponderosa Lemon & Sour Cream Tart
December 2011 Eggnog & Cranberries: Eggnog Popovers with Cranberry Butter
November 2011 Pumpkin & Cream Cheese: Praline Pumpkin Cheesecake
October 2011 Caramel & Apples: Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies
Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars (Adapted from here)
- 1/4 c coconut oil
- 3/4 c peanut butter , melted
- 1 c coconut palm sugar, packed (next time I will cut this down to 1/2 cup)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 TBS. vanilla extract
- 2 c Old Fashioned oats
- 1/2 c jam (I used raspberry preserves)
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large microwave-safe bowl add the coconut oil & peanut butter and microwave for about 45-60 seconds. Stir to combine. You will have a very runny liquid. Add the palm sugar, cinnamon & vanilla extract and using a hand mixer, blend until combined and crumbly. Stir in the oats. It will seem crumbly and messy and may not appear to combine well but that’s ok.
Place 3/4 of the mixture into a foil-lined (I forgot the foil) and spayed 9x13 inch pan or as I used, a Slice Solutions Pan. Press the mixture firmly, packing it down to create the base layer. Spread the jelly over the top of the base layer. Take remaining oatmeal/peanut butter mixture and crumble lightly over the top.
Bake at 350F for 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. The jelly that’s peeking through and on the edges will be bubbling and look like a hot mess and the bars may still look underdone, but that’s ok because they will continue to set up as they cool. If using a divider insert, remove after five minutes but if using a regular pan, allow to cool completely before slicing. Store at room temperature in a sealed container.Enjoy!