Friday, August 31, 2012

Cubicle kitchen: PB&J Fluffernutter Bars

I'm pretty proud of my treat this week.  This is the first time that I've made something that is more my own than someone else's.  The various elements are borrowed from others, but the construction of them all together was all me and my own tasty genius.

I told you when I made my own marshmallows that my mind was bursting with ideas.  Well, like Athena popping out of one of Zeus' migraines, this delicious dessert came from that inspiring brainstorm.  Fluffernutters are an instant association for me when thinking about marshmallows.  And adding the eternal pairing that is peanut butter and jelly just seemed too perfect to pass up, especially in the first week of school.

So I decided to take a simple crust of crushed cookies and melted butter, layer that with smooth peanut butter, grape jelly, and then top it off with a gorgeously grape marshmallow.  Oh yes, you're with me, aren't you?  In case you're still on the fence, here's a close-up of those resulting layers:
Okay, so because this is more my own recipe than any one other person's (thought shout-outs go to Crazy for Crust and this Bukisa article), I'm going to try and write it all out for you:

First, for the crust:

  • 20 peanut butter sandwich cookies, crushed (I used a mix of Girl Scout Do-Si-Dos that I had in the freezer and some Nutter Butters)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
Either in a food processor or in a manual show of aggression, crush the sandwich cookies and mix with the melted butter.  Press this mixture into the bottom of a 9" x 13" pan lined with parchment paper.

On top of that, you'll spread:
  • Creamy peanut butter (as much as you like)
  • Grape jelly (again, as much as you like)
Let this chill in the fridge.  You can either start making the marshmallow immediately, or wait a little while.  When you're ready, take:
  • A 3 oz package of Grape Instant Jello mix
  • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 Tbl corn syrup
  • 1 cup sugar
In a medium saucepan over heat, whisk together the boiling water (I went ahead and heated the water in the microwave beforehand), the Jello mix, and gelatin.  Make sure everything dissolves completely, then add the sugar and corn syrup, continuing to whisk until everything has mixed together.

Pour this mixture into a fairly large bowl and place it in the fridge to set just a little.  I gave it 30-60 minutes, you just want it thickened a little, cooler to the touch.  Then, using an electric mixer, whip the mixture until soft peaks start to form.  It's going to grow (hence the large bowl) and turn white.  This will take several minutes, just keep checking every so often until you get those soft peaks.  Then pour the whipped mixture into the pan and spread it evenly over the top.  Put the pan back into the fridge to set for at least a few hours, or overnight.

The cutting into squares part is perhaps the most tedious.  Take hold of the parchment paper and lift the bar out of the pan and onto a cutting board.  With a sharp, non-serated knife, carefully cut into squares.  You'll likely need to wash off the knife every so often to avoid sticking.  As you cut squares, coat the sides of the marshmallow layer in powdered sugar, either rolling them or dusting on each side with a sifter.  This keeps them from sticking when you put them into whatever container you choose.

And depending on your generosity in sizing the squares, you will have many wonderful bites of deliciousness like this:
I recommend keeping them bite-sized, just because the marshmallow layer is so much softer than the cookie crust, so getting multiple bites can be a little tricky.

For anyone with childhood memories of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, there's an element of nostalgia that plays perfectly with the fun of the marshmallow.  I'm really happy with the way these turned out, it's definitely not the last of my marshmallow experimentations.

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