"EVERYONE HAS THE TALENT TO SOME DEGREE: EVEN MAKING A PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICH, YOU KNOW WHETHER IT TASTES BETTER TO YOU WITH RASPBERRY JAM OR GRAPE JELLY; ON CHEWY PUMPERNICKEL OR WHITE TOAST."
- ANNA SHAPIRO
When it finally hits you that being a mid-twenties adult is really hard, (I mean, when has is it ever been easy?) and you’re finally admitting to the fact New York is a bit too cold for your California origins, it’s time for what I devotedly call immaturity food.
It’s not comfort food: Comfort food is for when you want to pull the covers over your head and watch Modern Family reruns. Immaturity food is when you’re pissed that you missed the R train and the subway smells like pee, so instead of striving for optimism and choosing world peace, you instead decide to quell your anger with shitty junk food.
Comfort food is peanut butter and jelly. Immaturity food is wanting to polish off a bag of flaming hot takis despite wanting said peanut butter and jelly. Except now you’re twenty-four and a full-fledged New York City dwelling adult who promised he’d be a bit healthier about his life, and hey—adults are supposed to be sophisticated!
But instead of admitting defeat, you do this: Nearly burn the shit out of butter and sugar, turning them into a dark, wood-varnished butterscotch for a shortbread crust. Stand still and focus on using your butter-moisturized fingers to press the squidgy dough into the pan, before topping with tart, sour cherry preserves and a black lick of dark chocolate shavings. Pretend you’re a restrained adult by eating one bar. Then remember it’s supposed to be 15 degrees tomorrow and no one is going to see what’s under all those layers anyway, so eat four more.
That is immaturity food.
peanut butterscotch & sour cherry bars
adapted from Ina Garten
MAKES 9 generously sized bars
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
8 oz sour cherry jam
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Once melted, add the granulated sugar and dark brown sugar and stir to combine. Continue cooking on high heat, stirring occasionally until dark and fragrant, approximately ten minutes. Carefully stir in the peanut butter until combined. Pour into a heat safe mixing bowl, and chill in the refrigerator until it cools down to room temperature.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir the egg and vanilla into the cooled peanut butter and butterscotch mixture. Stir in the flour, salt, and baking powder until a dough forms. In a foil lined 8x8 baking pan, firmly press 2/3 of the dough onto the bottom. Spread the sour cherry jam on top, followed by the chocolate chips. Crumble the reserved dough on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
Allow to chill completely before cutting into squares and serving with milk (full fat please).