Few moments make me happier than the one just waking up, before I open my eyes, when I hear the soft, constant tapping of rain.
I know, I know. Most people are shuddering at the mere suggestion of a drizzle. But, for me, this moment I’m talking about is a savory one. Rain means a brisk morning walk and the smell of eucalyptus trees in Golden Gate park. Salty air on the beach. Afternoon board games. Plump swollen blueberries and fragrant blooms at the next farmer’s market. Buried in blankets with a movie or book. Early bed time. Hot chocolate. Home.
Perhaps more than anything, in a world where we are constantly connected, rain means a reason to shut out the chaos and just be. Stay in the house, cancel plans, forget errands, do nothing. A couple Saturdays ago was a timely example of this wonderful kind of respite. The week prior had been a work nightmare, without a free evening or a moment to breathe. I had a nasty cold and was (not) looking forward to setting out on a lengthy business trip the next day. Friday night I made a daunting list of errands, calls, and all sorts of miscellaneous (yet totally unnecessary) tasks that one always feels mandatory to complete before leaving for any length of time. Yet when Saturday morning rolled around and the alarm clock blasted me awake, rain came as a blessing, lulled me back to sleep, nudged me in the gentlest of ways to take a break.
Of course, in my world, this kind of rain and this kind of break most importantly means baking.
Being a single gal, dinner often means a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich and cuppa tea. Well, it was breakfast on this particular morning, in bed, and it also served as the inspiration for my afternoon project. The way the hot bread melts the peanut butter. Swirls with the jam. The crisp light crunch of the toasted crust. Simple. Familiar. Comfort food.
This recipe is a translation of my family’s favorite peanut butter cookie. A layer of homemade strawberry jam and a sprinkling of peanuts roasted in sea salt and, well…. just make sure you have a tall glass of milk on hand.
- 2 cups smooth peanut butter
- 1 cup melted butter
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups jam (homemade or from farmer’s market is preferred)
- 1 cup roasted, salted peanuts (if you can find them roasted in sea salt, that’s the best…), chopped roughly
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9x13x2 inch pan.
- Beat together the melted butter and peanut butter in a large bowl until well blended. Then add both sugars and beat until light and fluffy, approximately 3-4 minutes.
- Add vanilla, and then eggs and beat again until fluffy.
- In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
- Mix gradually into the butters with an electric mixer.
- Pour about 2/3 of the dough into the pan and spread evenly. Spread the jam on top of this.
- Drop the rest of the dough mixture on top of the jam layer. It’s best to crumble with your fingers, so you don’t disrupt the jam layer beneath.
- Lastly sprinkle the chopped peanuts on top.
- Place in the oven and bake 45-50 minutes. Turn about halfway through so the top browns evenly.
- Bars are much easier to slice when they’ve been in the fridge for a few hours, but you can store them in or out at room temp. Enjoy!
A note about these photos ~ The recipes on The Weekly Spoonful are meant to be easy to follow, so I believe in taking real photos that maintain the integrity of the food. So, I would feel guilty if I didn’t tell you that I took these pictures the day after I made them, and the jam wasn’t very gooey anymore after sitting in the fridge over night. I wanted to exaggerate the runny jam so you could see that beautiful ruby color, so I sliced open the bars horizontally and added a bit more. So, point is yours will still be gooey, but not to worry if they don’t look quite like this. Although, the extra jam certainly doesn’t hurt…