These Peanut Butter & Jelly Crumb Bars have a layer of PB&J in the middle, surrounded by a crunchy oatmeal crust. The bars are gluten-free, vegan, and refined sugar-free.
Let me start with this: these bars are one of my new favorites things. But…the first time I made these bars, I immediately knew I couldn’t post them. They were so hideous, and what was supposed to be a crumbly topping ended up completely melting into the peanut butter layer. I also burned them a little. They looked vaguely like the surface of the moon.
Once I tried them though, I went on a quest to perfect these bars. Despite being unattractive based solely on appearances, these bars were my dream as a peanut butter lover, even burned and ugly. There was no way I could salvage them enough to photograph them so they’d look good enough to post, so the recipe went back to the drawing board.
These bars smelled just like PB&J as they were baking in the oven, and the resulting treats were super peanut buttery with a hint of fruitiness from the jelly. They were irresistible. Literally, because I ate 80% of the first pan with only a little bit of help from my roommate Ally.
The people who know me well know I have developed pretty stellar self-control around my baked goods, and that all went out the window with these. With the first, not-as-good version of these. They were not-as-good, and they were still amazing. The second version? Even better. I tweaked things so the bars weren’t as crumbly, added chopped strawberries to help enhance the flavor of the jelly, and made sure the crumble topping had hung out in the fridge while the bottom crust was baking. The crumbles being cold helped them hold together once they hit the oven.
These peanut butter & jelly bars surely aren’t going to win any beauty contests, but they were good enough that I had to share them with you anyways. And this version is a lot less ugly than the last, so at least there’s that.
To be honest, I had a hard time believing these were gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and vegan and I MADE them. No one will ever know you’re feeding them secretly healthy treats, but I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.
These bars are also super quick! Besides their baking time, you shouldn’t have any more than 10, maybe 15 minutes MAX of hands on time with these. If I had kids, these would be the perfect back to school lunchbox treat. But since I don’t, I’m just recommending that you make them for your kids (or coworkers, or family, or…whoever) to earn yourself a few extra loves.
Now, I just have to get them out of the house.
- 1½ (6 oz.) cups almond flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup coconut oil, solid at room temperature
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup chopped peanuts
- ½ cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter, warmed slightly
- ⅓ cup jam, flavor of choice (I used strawberry), warmed slightly
- ½ cup chopped strawberries (or the fruit of the jam flavor you used)
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper or foil and grease lightly.
- In large bowl, combine all of the ingredients except for the peanut butter, jelly, and chopped fruit. Stir until combined.
- Reserve 1 cup of crumb mixture for the topping. Press remaining crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of greased pan. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes.
- Remove partially baked crust from the oven. Spread peanut butter over crust, drizzle with jelly and sprinkle with chopped fruit. Top with remaining crumb mixture.
- Return to oven and bake for another 30 minutes or until bubbling and lightly browned. Let cool completely before cutting into 16 squares.