Fresh Fruit

PBJ Bars (Fresh Concord Grape with Peanutty Crust)

October 21, 2020

The grape harvest had happened, truckloads of deeply fragrant Concord grapes already on their way to become juice and jam. But my friend Vera said, “There are loads of grapes still left on the vines!” With permission from the vineyard’s owners, off we went to glean the field, baskets and clippers in hand. Within an hour, our feet wet from the long grasses, backs warmed in the late afternoon sun, fingers and lips stained from the grapes we’d eaten on the spot, we had gathered all we could carry.

And oh, such beauty (!)  I love everything about these grapes: The way the yeast powders their glossy dark skins, the pungent way they smell, the way their slippery innards pop when you bite ’em. And the way they taste. Wild, sweet, sour and earthy all at once. I’d made tarts with Concord grapes before , but for this batch, I thought it would be fun put them with peanuts, for a  fresh take on my kids’ longtime favorite: Peanut butter and grape jelly.

So, here then, is that!  Gooey jammy in the middle, with a peanutty crust and crumble topper, these are made with organic peanut powder in the mix. Truly  PBJ heaven. Hope you enjoy.

PBJ Bars (Fresh Concord Grape with Peanutty Crust)

PBJ Bars (Fresh Concord Grape with Peanutty Crust)


  • 1 9 x 13 baking dish OR tart pan
  • For crust and crumble topping:
  • 1 cup (two sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup organic peanut powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup roasted peanuts, ground into small pieces, and divided (1/2 cup for the base crust; 1/2 cup to be sprinkled over the top during the last five minutes of baking)
  • For Concord Grape Filling:
  • 4 cups Concord grapes, picked over, stems removed and washed
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1Tbsp each, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and fresh-squeezed orange juice


  1. Make Grape filling:Slip the insides of each grape into a bowl placing all of the skins into a separate bowl. Using a food processor, pulse the grape skins until a smooth, slightly thick mixture. Keep pulsing until all of the skins have been pulverized. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, simmer the grape innards until soft. Pour this mixture into a sieve over a bowl. Press the juice and grape flesh through the sieve into the bowl, leaving the grape seeds in the sieve. Discard grape seeds.
  2. Whisk sugar, cornstarch and salt together in the empty saucepan. Add the grape innards and juice, and the pulverized grape skins mixture. Whisk and stir over medium heat until the mixture has cleared and thickened into a deep purple filling. Set aside.
  3. Make crust: In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. In a medium-sized bowl, sift flour, peanut powder, salt and baking soda together. Mix into butter sugar mixture until incorporated. Stir in 1/2 cup of the finely chopped roasted peanuts. The mixture will be like slightly damp sand which when you squeeze a handful, clumps together. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray tart pan or baking dish well with non-stick vegetable-oil coating. Press 3/4 of the crust mixture into the pan or baking dish. If using tart pan, press crust up the sides of the tart pan as well. Spread Concord grape filling over the crust. Sprinkle remaining crust over the top of the filling. Place pan or baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of finely chopped peanuts for and bake for five more minutes until crust is a rich golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 1/2 hour before slicing and eating.

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