Shortbread Week—Day 3: Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

Today’s recipe was the one that the judges at the Gay Lea holiday cookie bake-off selected as their fave. Robert Maxwell of Liaison College beat out three other representatives from culinary schools across Toronto for the title with this cookie.

Pair it with a cold glass of milk and you’ll know why— it is the classic sandwich in dessert form. What could be better?

The recipe calls for blueberry jam, but you could use grape jelly or strawberry jam. You can also leave the peanut butter out if it is being served to someone with a peanut allergy.

Quick tip: Always use unsalted butter unless the recipe calls for salted. Softened butter should be pliable without being melted or greasy. If you don’t have a food processor, you can simply use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

Shortbread:
1 cup         unsalted butter, softened
1 cup         granulated sugar
1                 egg yolk
1/2 tsp      vanilla extract (optional)
2 cups       all purpose flour
1 tsp          baking powder
1/4 tsp      salt

Filling:
3/4 cup     blueberry jam
1/2 cup      smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup      icing sugar
2 tbsp        unsalted butter, softened

Instructions:

1 In a large bowl, beat the butter with the sugar and egg yolk, using an electric mixer, for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl blend together flour, baking powder and salt until well combined.

2 Divide the dough into two equal portions and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for 1 to 4 hours.

3 Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9 x 13-inch (3 L) baking dish with parchment paper; reserve. Remove dough from fridge. Shred dough using a coarse grater or food processor, fitted with a metal shredding blade; replace one portion of shredded dough to the fridge.

4 Arrange remaining dough in an even layer in the prepared baking dish; lightly pat the dough down.  Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges; cool for 20 minutes.

5 Meanwhile, blend the jam with the icing sugar and butter until smooth and well combined. Spread the peanut butter over the shortbread base in an even layer.  Drop spoonfuls of the jam mixture over the peanut butter and gently spread in an even layer.

6 Remove the remaining dough from the freezer and scatter over the jam layer.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is set and lightly golden brown. Transfer pan to a wire rack and cool completely; cut into bars.

Makes 24 bars.

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