Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are about as simple as it gets, right? Not something someone can really mess up? Well, I thought so too, but I have come to realize that it is trickier than you might think. You see, I have discovered that I like my PB&J just so – the ratio of filling to bread has to be just right (definitely more filling than bread), and the proportion of jelly to peanut butter is even more crucial (always err on the side of more jelly). I realized this one day when Ben so generously offered to make me a quick sandwich for lunch when I was rushing out the door for work. I felt a little bit crazy later while I was eating my lunch and kept thinking he had made it all wrong – is that even possible? As it turns out, I am not the only one that feels this way. My coworker completely agreed and we had several good laughs about it. Apparently there is a right and wrong way to make PB&J – at least to us!
As a joke, I brought in these cookies for her the following week. Definitely an appropriate treat, though their awesomeness is anything but a joke. The classic flavor combo is fantastically paired here in a cookie that is not overly sweet, and easy to eat in its cute little wedge shape. My only change to the recipe? To double the jelly, of course! Just as it should be. And a little side note – even though Andrew is not quite to the age of being able to bake with me, I think these would be a perfect treat for making with kids. With minimal ingredients you are likely to have on hand and requiring just a few minutes to mix together and assemble, the simplicity is perfect for your little helpers. Be sure to have a glass of milk ready!
Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup sugar
Pinch of coarse salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup jam (strawberry, grape, or whatever flavor you prefer)
Lightly spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray, or grease lightly with butter. (A 9-inch round cake pan would work too.) Beat together the butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Mix in the sugar and salt and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Blend in the vanilla. Beat in the flour on low speed just until incorporated. Reserve 1/3 cup of the dough, flatten into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Freeze until very firm, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, press the remaining dough into the prepared pan, leaving ½-inch border to create a lip around the edge. Spread the jam in an even layer over the dough, reaching to the raised edges. Refrigerate until the dough disk is firm.
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Break the frozen dough disk into small crumbles and sprinkle evenly over the layer of jam. Bake until the edges of the dough are golden brown, about 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before cutting. Slice into wedges and serve.