One can make so many yummy things and be very creative with peanut butter. From desserts, pastries, sauces to savory dishes you have the choice. There are no limits when it comes to baking or cooking with it. Just have a look on the net and you'll see that there is an incredible quantity of peanut butter-based recipes on offer. It is impossible not to find one that suits you.
As a child I did my first experiments with peanut butter in England while on holidays at my grandparents. They always had a jar of that gloppy stuff in their pantry. We ate it generally in the morning with "plastic bread" toasts. My grandmother who loves overripe bananas (eeewww, nasty and so sickly!) made sandwiches with peanut butter and slices of that disgustingly blackened fruit. Apart from salted butter it was the only spread I liked to use as ultra-bitter store bought marmalade (no matter it's quality) was never my thing - the homemade version is much better and more refined as well as flavorful.
At home peanut butter was something we bought very seldom and once again it was solely used to accompany bread or crackers. We never ate baked goods made with it, what a pity! Anyway, in opposition to the vast majority of American kids who are fed on PB & Jam sandwiches and adore this snack I have to say that this combination was never my favorite. As a matter of fact I find it really icky. It repulses me quite violently and gives me the shivers, brrrr! On the contrary, I personally find that the association between peanut butter and honey (especially white honey) or peanut butter and Nutella is heavenly and so harmonious as if they were meant to mingle together (that implies only me, of course)!
Peanut butter far from being a contemporary staple. Although we might think that Americans are at the origin of it considering the fact that they consume tons of this goody and since it is impossible to imagine this nation without it, they are just the ones who started commercialising this precious ingredient before anybody else.
Already in 950 B.C. the ancient Incas used peanuts (which originate from South America) to make a paste-like mixture. Early explorers brought plants to Africa, peanuts to Spain (trade) and finally imported them into the American Colonies where they were exchanged against other merchandise. As you can see the USA was not the first country to benefit from that fabulous legume (yes, it's not a nut!). The first commercial peanut crop was grown in North carolina around 1818 and in the early 1840's in Virginia.
It is only in 1890 that an unknown doctor "invented" peanut butter for health benefits and in 1903 that Dr. Ambrose Staub of Saint-Louis (Missouri) patented a peanut butter making machine. By 1914, many companies were producing that speciality, but it became a far more refined produce when in 1928, Joseph L. Rosenfield (the father of Skippy PB) created a churning process that made peanut butter even smoother.
The only time I am thankful for the "discovery" (very debatable though) of the Americas is in a foodie-oriented way. Had the "white bearded men" not set their foot on North or South American soil we might never have been able to develop so many wonderful desserts or dishes made with chocolate (xocolātl), peanuts (cacahuatl) in our treats, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, corn, passionfruits, avocados, pecans, cashews, mango, etc. I can't imagine a life without all these glorious and healthy fruits and vegetables.
Coming back to our much venerated peanut butter I have to admit that I am so obssessed by it and addicted to it's smoothiness as well as gorgeously nutty flavor that I had to eradicate it from my cupboards in order to come clean with my dependence. I ate far too much peanut butter and even gobbled it out of the pot. Now, although my passion for it has not died I can have an open jar next to me and not even reach for it or be tempted by it's contents...
So when I bought my first pot of this delightful substance after a few months of abstinence I knew that I was going to celebrate this event by baking something decadent with it. After flipping through my newly received "The King Arthur Flour's Cookie Companion" cookbook I found what I was looking for: "Peanut Butter Smoothies". As the original recipe was not immoral enough for me I decided to top each slice with additional coffee frosting.
Needless to point out that those infamous blondie-like cookie bars were incredibly soft, visciously gooey and dangerously calorific (the sweetness alone could kill a horse or make an elephant sleep/weak). My "Peanut Butter Chocolate Chips Cookie Bars With Coffee Frosting" are down-right delectable and guaranteed to send you to the heaven's above with a sugar coma and an overdose of pleasure!
~ Peanut Butter Chocolate Chips Cookie Bars With Coffee Frosting ~
Recipe adapted from "The King Arthur Flour's Cookie Companion" cookbook.
Makes 12 slices.
Ingredients For The "Bars":
6 Tbs (90g) Unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 Cup (143g) Natural smooth peanut butter
1 Cup (210g) Crystallized sugar
1/4 Cup (60g) Light brown sugar, packed
2 Big eggs
1 Tsp Natural vanilla extract
1 Cup (128g) Unbleached white flour
1/3 Tsp Sea salt
1 Tsp Baking powder
1 Cup (180g) Chocolate chips (bittersweet)
Ingredients For The "Coffee Frosting":
1 Tbs Instant coffee powder
1 Tbs Hot water
3/4 Cup (90g) Powder sugar, sieved
2-4 Tbs Double cream (35% fat)
Method For The "Bars":
1. Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F).
2. Butter a 20 x 20cm (8 x 8 inches) brownie pan.
3. Mix together the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
4. In a medium bowl, cream the butter and peanut butter together until smooth and homogenous.
5. Whisk in the sugars until the mixture is light and smooth.
6. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisk well and scrape down the bowl after each addition.
7. Stir in the vanilla.
8. Add the the flour mixture and stir well until combined.
9. Incorporate the chocolate chips.
10. Spread the batter into the prepared pan.
11. Bake for about 30-32 minutes until the edges pull away slightly from the pan.
12. Cool completely before cutting and frosting.
Method For The "Coffee Frosting":
13. Meanwhile, in a small bowl dissolve the coffee in the hot water.
14. Add the powder sugar and enough cream (in order to get a spreadable mixture). Mix well.
You can replace the bitterwseet chocolate chips by dark, semi-sweet chocolate chips or peanut butter chips.
You can ommit the frosting if you find that those bars are rich enough without it.
Serve for afternoon tea or as an in-between sweet treat with some whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a cup of tea or coffee.
~ Barres Au Beurre De Cacahuète, Chocolat Et Glaçage Au Café ~
Recette adaptée du livre "The King Arthur Flour's Cookie Companion".
Pour 12 tranches.
Ingrédients Pour Les "Barres":
90g de Beurre non-salé, à température ambiante
143g de Beurre de cacahuète (sans morceaux)
210g de Sucre cristallisé
60g de Sucre brun clair
2 Gros Oeufs
1 CC d'Extrait de vanille pure
128g de Farine blanche
1/3 CC de Sel de mer fin
1 CC de Poudre à lever
180g de Pépites de chocolat (à 60% de cacao)
Ingrédients Pour le "Glaçage Au Café":
1 CS de Café instantané
1 CS d'Eau chaude
90g de Sucre en poudre, tamisé
2-4 CS de Crème double (35% de mat. grasses)
Méthode Pour Les "Barres":
1. Préchauffer le four à 180° C.
2. Beurrer un moule à brownie de 20 x 20cm.
3. Mélanger ensemble la farine, le sel et la poudre à lever. Mettre de côté.
4. Dans un bol moyen, battre le beurre et le beurre de cacahuète en pommade (le mélange doit être homogène).
5. Ajouter les sucres et battre jusqu'à ce que le mélange soit léger.
6. Ajouter les oeufs, un à un et bien mélanger (nettoyer les bords à l'aide d'une langue de chat après chaque ajout).
7. Incorporer la vanille.
8. Puis incorporer le mélange farine/sel/poudre afin d'obtenir une pâte homogène.
9. Ajouter les pépites de chocolat et bien mélanger.
10. Etaler la pâte dans le moule.
11. Cuire pendant 30-32 minutes, jusqu'à ce que les bords se détachent légèrement du moule.
12. Laisser refroidir complètement avant d'étaler le glaçage.
Méthode Pour le "Glaçage Au Café":
13. Pendant ce temps, dans un petit bol, dissoudre le café instantané dans l'eau chaude.
14. Ajouter le sucre, assez de crème (afin d'obtenir un glaçage étalable) et mélanger.
Vous pouvez remplacer les pépites de chocolat à 60% par des pépites au chocolat au lait ou des pépites de beurre de cacahuète.
Si vous pensez que ces barres sont assez assez riches comme ça, alors il vous est possible d'omettre le glaçage.
Idées de présentation:
Servir pour votre quatre heures ou comme snack et accompagner avec de la crème fouettée, une boule de glace vanille ainsi qu'avec du thé ou du café.