I’m about to go on something of a peanut butter rampage this week as I pay homage to one of my favorite ingredients. Instead of posting one long dissertation with a single recipe, I thought I’d break it into several shorter post with three different recipes. If you’re allergic to peanuts or if peanut butter just isn’t your thing, my apologies. Check back soon, but for now it’s all things peanut butter.
It’s fair to say that peanut butter is in my DNA. I get it honestly from my father, who grew up during the Great Depression. Many a night they had no meat to put on their table, and so my grandmother would serve peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. You would think that once he had found his own financial security, my father would have never eaten another peanut butter sandwich, but that’s just not the case. Those earlier experiences grew into a life-long love for what was once known as the poor man’s protein.
For as long as I can remember there was a half-eaten two-pound jar of Real Roast peanut butter, his favorite brand, in the center cupboard and a back-up jar tucked away in the pantry. I have memories of my old man sneaking a spoonful of it after dinner, like some sort of quick dessert, or spreading a little on a saltine cracker as an in-between-meals snack. But my fondest memory, by far, is of him swirling it into a bowl of vanilla ice cream and assuring me that it was so good that I simply had to try it for myself. The look on his face as he ate it – he would always close his eyes as if he had found some magical place in his mind – was all the proof I needed.
The apple never falls far from the tree. I, myself, eat peanut butter nearly every single day. For breakfast, I like to spread some on a toasted English muffin or bagel with a dab of strawberry preserves. I love it in savory dishes as well as sweet, as in this recipe for Ginger-Lemongrass Chicken Skewers with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce. But when I really want something special, I reach for a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup. For me, it is the pinnacle of peanut butter heaven.
I guess I never really thought of it until now, but in some way, peanut butter connects me back to my father. So these next few posts are as much for him as they are for me.
Peanut Butter Facts:
- It takes 540 peanuts to make one 12 ounce jar of peanut butter
- Under U.S. law, peanut butter must be at least 90% peanuts
- Pound for pound, peanuts have more protein than any other nut
- The average child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before graduating high school.
- Sixty percent of consumers prefer creamy peanut butter over crunchy.
Peanut Butter Cup Muffins
Makes 12 standard size muffins
10 ounces all purpose flour, about 2 cups (280 grams)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, 1 stick, (110 grams), softened (See notes)
7 ounces granulated sugar, about 1 cup (200 grams)
2 large eggs
4.5 ounces peanut butter, creamy, about 1/2 cup, (128 grams) (See notes)
8 ounces plain yogurt, 1 cup (237 ml)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
6 ounces milk chocolate chips, about 1 cup (170 grams)
12 Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Miniatures, unwrapped
Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and preheat to 375° F/191°C/Gas mark 5. Line a standard 12-cup muffin pan with foil or paper liners. (See notes.)
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and set aside. In another large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, allowing each one to integrate well into the mixture. Add peanut butter and mix well. Add the yogurt and vanilla and mix well. Begin mixing in half of the flour mixture until blended. Mix in one third of the yogurt until blended. Mix in half of the remaining flour. Mix in half of the remaining yogurt. Mix in the rest of the flour followed by the rest of the yogurt until everything is blended. Hand stir the chocolate chips into the batter until they are evenly distributed.
Spoon the batter into each of the muffin cups, filling each cup to top. (A large ice cream scoop is perfect for the job.) Gently tap the muffin tin on the counter top surface to force out any air pockets. Press a peanut butter cup into the center of each muffin. Bake for 18 minutes, until muffins are a golden brown color. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Remove muffins onto a wire rack and allow to cool thoroughly. Muffins actually taste best at room temperature when the peanut butter cups have hardened.
- It is important that the butter have the right consistency. You want it to be softened, but not melted or greasy. An hour at room temperature should do nicely.
- Use a dry measuring cup as opposed to one for liquids. Before measuring the peanut butter, spray the cup with cooking spray. This will make it easier to get the peanut butter out the cup cleanly.
- A foil liner with a paper liner insert works best.