Project PB&J: These Babies Are All About Inner Beauty

Last night was a hot mess. Lots of stomping about, lots of glowering.

I usually try not to put important tasks on my to-do lists for weeknight evenings because desk life takes the pep out of my step and I don’t want to do much but eat and read and sleep when it’s over. But this week we are preparing for Will’s dad to be in town next weekend and that means lots of cleaning/organizing.

Last night wasn’t filled with cleaning/organizing, though, but all tasks I had put off from the weekend that now had to be crammed into one evening because the rest of the week has been dedicated to putting on the parent-friendly house (the Fake House). The first hurdle required a management-qualifying test that was timed and made me feel like an absolutely idiot. Remember the SATs? Not my best moment so I choose not to remember and this was an univited flashback. My 40 minutes ended with a mini breakdown. Real life comes with calculators, people! It’s called my iPhone and it’s always with me when I need to calculate profit margins. But I digress…

My other task, thankfully, was a fun one – baking. Yay! I don’t bake a lot these days just because I would be the only one eating it but when Cindy from OnceUponALoaf invited me to be part of Project PB&J, I wasn’t going to turn down the offer for fear of ending up with my own personal tray of cookies. And PB&J cookies, at that! Count me in!

I’ve mentioned it briefly before – everything I make these days is vegan. I don’t scream that at the top of my lungs and generally don’t tell people unless they ask but I’ve been consistent with this for about 6 months now and I really love both the challenge and how I feel as a result. So when browsing recipes for my PB&J goodies, I knew my biggest challenge would be veganizing what I did.

This isn’t new territory for me and that’s why I know that all baking should be approached with caution. It’s no longer just follow the recipe and blame the altitude adjustment when things don’t turn out fluffy.

Well, in Monday’s case, things turned out sandy.

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All was well during the baking process. Fats and liquids mixed, dry items were incorporated, PB-smelling crust firmed nicely.

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Check

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Check

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Check

Baking smelled heavenly! Ah, success!

And then I removed my creation from the oven and knew immediately another mini breakdown was about to ensue.

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Too much flour, not enough fat = sand.

There was really no going back on the way it looked. I cut up the squares, piled them on a plate and was determined not to think about it too much for the time being, lest the bad mood get worse.

But at least they tasted good. When I’m just cooking for me, that’s really all that matters but this recipe needed to be good enough to share with all my new virtual friends.

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Anni did her best to distract me and after a real dinner, I decided to put the sand behind me.

I’ve given it 24 hours, eaten more sandy bars than I care to admit (and they do taste amazing!), and made it to the other side of the hormonally-induced basket case extravaganza that was Monday night. I’ve also adjusted the recipe to remove the excess “sand” but left the original in case sandy happens to be how you roll. Who am I to judge.

PB&J Bars

Adapted from Bon Appetit

* 1.5 C whole wheat flour 3/4 C whole wheat flour
* 1/2 TSP baking powder
* 1/4 TSP salt
* 3/4 smooth peanut butter
* 3/4 C lightly packed light brown sugar
* 1/2 C coconut oil 1/3 C coconut oil
* 1 flax seed egg (1 TBS ground flax with 2 TBS hot water, let sit until congealed)
* 1 TSP vanilla extract
* 3/4 Raspebrry jam (or other jam/preserve with strong flavor)

* 2/3 C coarsely chopped peanuts

1. Preheat over the 350.
2. Mix water and flax for the flax egg and set aside.
3. Line a baking pan with tin foil or parchment paper. Use a long sheet so that the foil/paper sticks over
the edges on all four sides. I used an 8X8 inch pan but you can use a larger pan for skinny bars or a loaf pan for big fat ones.4. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.
5. In a stand mixer, combine room temperature peanut butter with room temperature coconut oil with the brown sugar. Mix until combined, stopping to scrape the edges if needed.
6. Add you flax egg and mix until combined./
7. Add dry ingredients in three parts, mixing each time until combined.
8. Pour 2/3 of the mix into your prepared pan and the other 1/3 goes into the freezer to sit for at least 10 minutes up to a half hour. You want it to to be firm, but not become a rock.
9. Spread the mixture in the pan into an even layer, pushing firmly to form a solid crust.
10. Spread jam in an even layer over crust.
11. After remaining dough is chilled, incorporate chopped nuts and sprinkle the mixture on top of the jam layer.
12. Bake for 30 minutes.

Life doesn’t always turn out the way you wanted it to and that’s equally true in baking and especially true with vegan baking.

But that’s the fun part.

And even when things don’t end up looking the way you had imagined, it doesn’t mean all hope is lost.

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They still taste great and, in my book, that’s a kitchen victory!

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2 thoughts on “Project PB&J: These Babies Are All About Inner Beauty

  1. Pingback: Project PB&J

  2. Pingback: Easter Baking: Carrot Lemon Muffins « Creature of Habit

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