Happy Friday Everyone! How was everyone’s week?? It’s officially summer!! And the heat that has shown itself these past few days has proved it. The Third Coast is already warm making it perfect for our upcoming beach soirees and I could not be happier about it. It’s super dark and rainy today, though, and I’m ok with that. Aside from waking up with pink eye (gross), I have a boatload of editorial/organizational/content work that feels like an anvil on my shoulder, and today feels like the perfect day to bite the bullet. Then the weight will be off and I’ll be locked and loaded to head down to the water next week when the sunshine returns.
Let’s talk these bars, though…
Does anything scream comfort like the straight up combo of PB and J?!? Not for me. There’s something nostalgic about sweet grape jelly and salty peanut butter on the softest of white breads that takes me back to those sticky faced days of summer at the beach with my mom. It wasn’t the Big Lake beach, but it was a beach nonetheless and I have very fond memories of digging to China in the sand and climbing on the smooth dolphin statue that heated up in the sun and warmed me as I got out of the water. Side note, I also have a very specific food memory of opening up my saran wrapped sandwich one day to find that mom had made me a mustard and bologna sandwich on SEEDED rye bread. And then a frustrated me picking out all of the seeds and throwing them to the birds. My poor mom. I love Jewish rye bread, but I still don’t care for the seeded kind.
So these bars…
They don’t use grape jelly, but they do use salty peanut butter. My hands down favorite PB will always be Smuckers because I have yet to find another peanut butter that rivals the perfect saltiness it has, and it’s slightly gritty texture. For some reason, I have a problem with my peanut butter being so smooth that it almost tastes peanut flavored, rather than like ground up peanuts. To me, Smuckers doesn’t try to be something its not and I LOVE that about it. But use whatever is your favorite, obviously.
My friends at Bonne Maman sent me a little gift box a couple of weeks ago and it seemed like the perfect time to break into the strawberry jam since strawberries had just come into season around here. So I boiled down some jam with some fresh picked berries and used that as the base to swirl the peanut butter into. These bars were salty, sweet, soft, and comforting….all things reminiscent of those childhood PB and J’s. And now they are just….gone. ENJOY!!!
Peanut Butter and Strawberry Preserves Oatmeal Crumble Bars
- 1/2 cup coconut butter, or unsalted butter
- 1 cups quick cooking oats
- 1 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup salted natural peanut butter
- 1 cup strawberry preserves
- 2/3 cup fresh strawberries, diced
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8 by 8 baking pan with baking spray.
- In a medium bowl, combine the coconut butter (or butter), oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar using a pastry cutter or your hands until the mixture comes together like small peas.
- Press 3/4 of the mixture into the bottom of the pan evenly, reserving the 1/4 cup for the topping.
- In a small saucepan, heat the strawberry preserves and fresh strawberries over medium heat until bubbling. Continue cooking while stirring occasionally until the strawberries break down and the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and pour evenly over the crust.
- Use a regular sized spoon to place dollops of peanut butter over top of the strawberry layer and swirl them together with a bbq skewer, toothpick, or sharp knife. Bake for 12 minutes.
- After 12 minutes, remove from oven and evenly sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over top the peanut butter and berry layer, then bake for another 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares and serving. ENJOY!