Oh. Dear. God.
In the United Kingdom, peanut butter gets a bad rap. If you’ve ever tasted British peanut butter, you’d know why. It comes in teeny tiny jars and it’s a dry, pasty smush of who knows what. So it’s no real mystery why the jars are kept small. Like anything in the kitchen, you put bad stuff in, you get bad stuff out. In London, we can only get the major brands, which are what we use by default. Oddly enough, we can also get Goober, that ungodly squirt of peanut butter and jelly in a jar. One day we told a customer about an item with peanut butter, tolerated the predictable grimace, looked over their shoulder, saw the Goober sitting on the shelf, and the light bulb went off. Besides, who doesn’t like a silly name for something so delicious?
There are plenty of fantastic peanut butters back home. Any would work for this recipe. Those with chocolate, those with spice, those with honey, etc. Natural peanut butter works, too, but drain off some oil before plopping it into the mixing bowl. Smooth? Crunchy? Strawberry? Grape? Four-berry? If you’re lucky, you’ll use jam from scratch. Totally up to you. Hell, we’ve used a jar of Goober itself and that even works.–David Muniz and David Lesniak
LC Goober Note
“Oh. Dear. God.” is right. This recipe, from David’s favorite bakery in London, essentially remakes a PB&J as peanut butter blondies with a layer of jam smack in the middle. Makes us feel like a kid again.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the pan
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 cups peanut butter
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups jam (any flavor)
- 2/3 cup salted peanuts roughly chopped or unchopped
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or roasting pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Coat the sides of the dish with flour and tap out any excess.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, peanut butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, followed by the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture just until combined. The dough will be quite stiff.
- Using your fingertips, gently press about 2/3 of the dough into the dish. Schmear the jam in a thin layer over the dough, and then crumble or dollop the remaining dough on top of the jam. Sprinkle the top with the peanuts, gently pressing them into the dough so they don’t fall off later.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the goober is golden on top. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 3-inch squares.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I should be the last person on earth to make Goober Bars. Give me anything but jelly on my peanut butter sandwich (honey, pickles, jalapenos, the list goes on) and I’m a happy girl. BUT, these Goober Bars are darn good. The peanut butter part is very substantial—this is a thick bar—and just peanutty enough. I used a 16-ounce jar of creamy Skippy, which turned out to be a tad less than 2 cups. The dough held together when squeezed, so it patted nicely into the pan and crumbled on top of the jelly layer. Speaking of jelly, I used a 12-ounce jar of Concord grape jelly, which comes in at only a cup rather than 1 1/2 cups. Since that’s all I had, I went with it. The jelly layer was a bit thin but it was acceptable. I’m sure if you were using jam, marmalade, or preserves, the pieces of fruit would add bulk, getting it to 1 1/2 cups. I threw the peanuts on just half the bars and found I preferred them without. They get a little soft when the bars are covered and stored. One more thing: These bars may take an additional 5 or 10 minutes of baking. They’re pretty thick, and for the center to be set it takes a while.
These PB&J bars make for an irresistible sweet treat. The layering of the creamy peanut butter base, gooey jam, and crunchy peanuts produces a pleasing dessert “sandwich.”
It’s hard to flour only the sides of the pan. I ended up flouring the bottom some too. Maybe there’s a trick to this, but I don’t know what it is. Having the parchment floured didn’t seem to cause a problem, though.
There wasn’t enough jam to completely cover the dough. I covered the surface as best I could without pulling up the peanut butter dough underneath. I think I might use some extra jam next time to get coverage closer to the edges of the dough.
The yield amount is accurate vis-à-vis the size of the pan, but I personally prefer smaller portions of these. I found them to be very sweet. They taste good, but only in small amounts. I could see cutting each bar into three 1-by-3-inch strips as part of a dessert sampler. I roughly chopped most of the peanuts. I left some of the small peanuts in halves instead of chopping them. I’d thought they’d at least somewhat adhere to the bars, but mostly they’re loose and scatter when the bars are picked up. I’ll try pressing them down next time to see if that helps. The creamed peanut butter portion of this was beautifully light and fluffy and I couldn’t help but try some from the beater…delicious.
These are a nice change of pace from chocolate brownies, cookies, or cake. The recipe is straightforward and works as written. My dough actually came out a bit like a shortbread dough would. I pressed it into the pan, topped it with jam, and then spooned the remaining dough on top with 2 spoons, much like scooping cookie dough onto a baking sheet. This worked well for me. Everyone loved the finished result. The cookie base baked a bit like shortbread but was much easier to cut. The spooned topping was light with some crispness like a cookie. The peanut butter flavor is strong but not overwhelming. The jam (I used raspberry) adds just the right amount of sweetness. They’re chewy but firm. My recipe yielded 16 generous 3-by-3-inch bars.
I’d serious doubts as to whether these would work about halfway through making them. My concern arose at the point where I’d fully incorporated all the ingredients (including the “no-stir” Skippy Natural Creamy Peanut Butter I used) and found the resulting batter to be more of a crumble than a spreadable or pourable batter. At this point I double-checked all my measurements to make sure I hadn’t screwed up, but all seemed to be in order.
Rather than try to futz with things by adding more egg, butter, or peanut butter for moisture, I just dumped the crumbled dough into the prepared pan and pressed it into place as you would with a press-in pie crust. I finished the recipe as written, topping the bottom layer with 1 1/2 cups Smucker’s Red Raspberry Jam (next time I’d use an additional 2 to 4 ounces because I’ve always enjoyed a high J to PB ratio in my PB&Js), and then topped it all with the remaining “crumble” and peanuts before saying a long prayer and popping it into the oven.
I’m happy to report that my prayers were answered. What was once a pressed-in crumble came together nicely as a terribly delicious and cohesive bar.
Those of you prone to sweet addictions, beware—this sugar-amped taste of your childhood will get a grip on you and not let go until the entire batch is gone. As I mentioned, for my taste, I’d add a bit more jam, but even as written this is a seriously tasty treat that’ll surely become a staple in your kitchen.
These are great. They’re easy to make and taste fantastic. I used 13 1/2 ounces flour and I still obtained a doughlike consistency. My baking time was closer to 55 minutes. I covered the edges with foil, leaving the middle open in order to let it continue to darken.
Originally published October 01, 2013