Peanut ButterI’ve always thought of myself as an open minded person but obviously, the rest of the world doesn’t see me that way.  Somehow, I’ve become known as as judgemental. In the last month I’ve been asked to judge everything from cookies and cooking to beer pouring.

First I participated as a judge along with Elizabeth Baird and Stephanie Pick at the Gay Lea Shortbread Contest. The winning recipe was not only delicious but technically interesting as well. (The recipe is below if you’d like to try it.)

Then, I was off to New York to be a judge at the international Stella Artois Draught Master challenge where the world’s best draftmaster was crowned. And, lastly I joined the chefs from the Delta Grandview Hotel as a judge in an Iron Chef style competition between 8 teams of Kraft employees.

I’m both full and exhausted! Seriously, it’s much harder work to judge other people than I anticipated. It’s been a true test of my attention span.

Fortunately, the next contest that I’m involved with requires me to be a host and not a judge. On January 22nd, I’ll preside over the first ever Canadian Pillsbury Baking Challenge ! There’s still time to vote on your favourite recipes so make sure you visit the contest website to find out more details!

Have you ever entered a food or beverage competition? If so, was it fun or frightening?

Peanut Butter and Jelly Shortbread Bars

1 cup unsalted Gay Lea Butter, softened 250 mL
1 cup granulated sugar 250 mL
1 egg yolk 1
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional) 2 mL
2 cups all purpose flour 500 mL
1 tsp baking powder 5 mL
1/4 tsp salt 1 mL

3/4 cup blueberry jam 175 mL
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter 125 mL
1/2 cup icing sugar 125 mL
2 tbsp unsalted Gay Lea Butter, softened 30 mL


In a large bowl, beat the butter with the sugar and egg yolk, using an electric mixer, for 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl blend together flour, baking powder and salt until well combined.

Divide the dough into two equal portions and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for 1 to 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9 x 13-inch (3 L) baking dish with parchment paper; reserve. Remove dough from fridge. Shred dough using a coarse grater or food processor, fitted with a metal shredding blade; replace one portion of shredded dough to the fridge.

Arrange remaining dough in an even layer in the prepared baking dish; lightly pat the dough down. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges; cool for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend the jam with the icing sugar and butter until smooth and well combined. Spread the peanut butter over the shortbread base in an even layer. Drop spoonfuls of the jam mixture over the peanut butter and gently spread in an even layer.

Remove the remaining dough from the freezer and scatter over the jam layer. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is set and lightly golden brown. Transfer pan to a wire rack and cool completely; cut into bars.

Makes 24 bars.

Tip: Try grape jelly or strawberry jam in place of the blueberry jam for a fun twist.


15 Responses to Judgmental

  1. adrian says:

    That cookie sounds awesome – could you sub crunchy peanut butter for smooth?

  2. danamccauley says:

    Likely but then it would be harder to grate the dough to make the crumble topping. I think you’d want to use the food processor then so that you avoided hurt knuckles.

  3. Rosa says:

    Those regresssive bars look lovely! I bet they taste just heavenly!



  4. PB&J reinvents itself. Food is so endlessly interesting. I’m always amazed at the creativity and versatility a cookie can provide (and its baker, of course!)

  5. Charmaine Broughton says:

    You have the best job in the world!!!

    I’m done my share of competitions for now 😉

  6. My husband was just saying to me this morning that I should start judging food competitions. I have no idea how to get on those lists, though. Sigh. No endless mugs of beer for me under the guise of “work.”

    I’m not a contest person. Frankly, I’m not a big fan of losing.

  7. Diva says:

    Somehow I get the feeling that judging these kinds of contests isn’t quite as fun as it seems. Do you get really sick of the featured food by the end of it? I’ve no doubt that its hard work, but is it as fun as it seems?

    Personally, I have no interest in competing. While I’ll enter blog contests with recipes and such, I have no desire to compete on this kind of level.

  8. Heather says:

    Yumm, those cookies sound wonderful!

  9. Barb says:

    If you weren’t so nice, fair minded, and knowledgeable you wouldn’t be called on so much……

  10. Amy Snider says:

    On a technical note – I am curious why the bottom layer of the shortbread is shredded too – is that to prevent over working when it is patted into the pan?
    They sound totally yummy!

  11. Interestingly, I myself was just a finalist in a recipe competition. If you are in Western Canada you will be able to pick up the Safeway Cheese Champions book and I’ll be in there with Swicc Chard Fricos on the menu.

  12. Rose Solmes says:

    I like this recipe very much with the exception of bluebarry jam. Can I substitute it with Grape Jam?

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