Yesterday may have been the first day of spring, but I think someone forgot to tell Mother Nature as our forecast this week calls for snow. Needless to say, I’m really starting to yearn for lighter meals and all of that wonderful fresh spring produce, but while the threat of waking up to the white stuff and temps in the 30′s exists, comfort food is still very much a part of the plan over here. One of my quintessential comfort food choices is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich – it’s a childhood favorite and you can’t beat the simplicity. That said, I can’t remember the last time I had a PB&J; we don’t keep bread in the house very often so it’s rarely an option. I suppose when a PB&J craving struck recently I could have baked a loaf of bread to make sandwiches, but instead, I went looking for a dessert option that would fit the bill. You’re not surprised, are you?
While I certainly acknowledge that it’s easier to grab two pieces of bread and slather them with peanut butter and jelly, these shortbread wedges are worth the extra effort, and truthfully, they’re about as simple as dessert gets. All you need are a couple of pantry staples, and a few minutes to mix the dough (there is an hour of chill time so plan ahead accordingly). Straight from the oven I thought the wedges looked a little like another comfort food favorite – pizza – with their crisp shortbread edge and jam and crumble topping. You can use your favorite jam or jelly for the recipe – I went with raspberry, and I thought it paired perfectly with the crisp peanut butter shortbread, which is just slightly sweet. My craving was definitely satisfied!
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup jam or jelly (I used raspberry)
Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and peanut butter on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Mix in the sugar and salt and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Blend in the vanilla and then add the flour and beat on low speed until it is just incorporated.
Remove 1/3 cup of the dough from the mixer bowl. Form a disk with the dough and wrap in plastic wrap. Freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Transfer the remaining dough to the prepared springform pan. Press into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Use an offset spatula to spread the jam over the dough, leaving about a 1/2-inch border around the outside edge. Pop the springform pan into the fridge to chill while the disk is in the freezer. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 F.
When the disk is firm, remove it from the freezer and break it into small pieces. Distribute them over the jam and shortbread crust. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the shortbread is golden brown. Remove the pan to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing the shortbread.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature.