As temperatures start to rise, I’m looking to no-bake recipes to get my snack fix. These PB&J bars are so easy that you might just want to have your kid make them—although you may want to supervise during the melted chocolate step. I like that these are not only easy, but also salty and sweet, with a touch of bitterness from the chocolate and a dash of joy from the colorful sprinkles. Graham crackers give the peanut butter layer a pleasantly toothsome feel, much like a peanut butter cup. They are hands-on for only a handful of minutes, although you do need to cool the first two layers about an hour each before moving on. They can be stored in the fridge or freezer between layers of waxed paper, or covered on the countertop for up to 2 weeks—but they won’t last that long!
1 cup butter (room temperature!)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs (from about 16 crackers)
2 cups powdered sugar
1 ¼ cups peanut butter
½ tsp sea salt
2/3 cup jelly
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 bag chocolate chips (I like bittersweet ones in this recipe)
Line a 9×13” cake pan with parchment paper, going at least an inch or so up the sides, and set aside. Crush your graham crackers in a ziplock bag if you don’t have crumbs already.
Dump all the filling ingredients into a bowl. Using a mixer, a wooden spoon, or your clean hands, mix the filling until it is uniform in color and no streaks of butter or peanut butter remain.
Smooth the filling evenly into your cake pan. Sprinkle with sea salt, then cover with wax paper, pressing the paper gently onto the surface. Chill at least 1 hour.
Microwave the jelly for 30 seconds and stir. If no lumps remain and jelly is liquidy, pour it over the cold peanut butter layer and smooth it out evenly. Chill 1 hour (don’t cover it this time, you want the jelly to get very cold and tacky so you don’t end up with a huge mess when you try to spread the chocolate on top).
Melt chocolate chips and peanut butter together in a microwave-safe bowl, microwaving 45 seconds, stirring, then microwaving 30 seconds more. If your chocolate isn’t melted yet, stir again and try another 20 seconds until it is all melted. Pour the chocolate over the jelly layer and gently smooth it to cover.
It’s a good idea to cut these about 3-5 minutes after you spread the chocolate out, when you start to see the chocolate setting up. If you don’t cut them now, the chocolate layer may shatter a bit when you cut them later. Don’t worry, that doesn’t affect the TASTE of these magical bars, it just gives them a bit more… character.
Once the chocolate is set, these bars are ready to eat! Pull bars out in one piece by the parchment, then break apart. These go well with a big glass of milk, just like a real PB&J!