Thoughts on great peanut butter and how to use it best
Over coffee, my friend asked me which smooth peanut butter was my favorite. Before I share my answer, I have a few thoughts about peanut butter.
Natural peanut butter with the oil floating on the top that requires stirring would have been my first healthy choice since they have no added sugars or oils.
No matter the brand, my experience with them has always turned out messy. Stirring a newly opened jar has led to the floating oil riding over the jar's edge. And the remaining last quarter of the jar is always rock hard. Ugh.
No-stir peanut butter is my go-to choice.
Peanut butter makers keep the peanut oil emulsified with the ground peanuts by using hydrogenated (trans) fat or nonhydrogenated palm oil.
Using palm oil instead of trans fats is a good thing. Yet, palm oil has its issues: deforestation and oxidation. Google it.
Factual tidbit: If peanut butter contains 90% or more peanuts, it's labeled peanut butter; if less than 90% peanuts, it's labeled peanut butter spread.
Taste of Home (tasteofhome.com) magazine and cookbook publisher experts recently tasted 20 brands of peanut butter. Their Test Kitchen experts decided that, based on texture, flavor and best use, JIF brand Peanut Butter spread, both creamy and crunchy, was their favorite. Many peanut butters and peanut butter spreads add sugars (molasses is a sugar). JIF certainly makes a decent product, even though they add molasses.
My favorite peanut butter spread, Santa Cruz Organic, wasn't even tested by Taste of Home. Santa Cruz Organic No Stir Creamy is made with dark roasted peanuts, giving it a big peanut flavor. Santa Cruz adds no sugars, too. My personal test kitchen gives it a thumbs-up, which is what I told my friend.
A way for me to keep from overconsuming peanut butter (like right from the jar) is to make peanut butter-flavored cookies. A peanut butter and chocolate chip recipe from heyketomama.com caught my eye since it used zero sugars, no wheat flour and no-sugar-added chocolate chips. That's a big deal.
Since I had everything in my pantry, I made heyketomama.com cookies. Sam at heyketomama only used two tablespoons of peanut butter to make 10 cookies. Santa Cruz's dark roast works perfectly with that small amount of peanut butter.
Also, I used an organic almond meal (higher in fiber than almond flour), quality butter and an organic egg. This recipe also called for brown sugar-flavored Swerve brand sugar replacement. I tweaked this by adding vanilla. This is a stir-together cookie dough -- no mixer is required.
The dough came together quickly, and I dropped the 10 cookies onto my parchment-lined, half-sheet pan and baked them for 15 minutes.
They turned out great. Big peanut flavor, loaded with chocolate chips (I used more than the original recipe), and since I added vanilla, they tasted really good.
Give them a try.
• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cool these cookies on parchment paper because they will stick.
- Courtesy of Don Mauer
No-Sugar-Added Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) organic, no-stir, no-sugar peanut butter spread
½ cup (100 grams) brown sugar replacement (such as Swerve)
1 large egg (organic preferred)
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (80 grams) organic almond meal (or almond flour)
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup (55 grams) no-sugar-added dark chocolate baking chips (I use Lily's)
Place the oven rack in the middle position and begin heating the oven to 350 degrees.
Add the melted butter, peanut butter, Swerve, egg and vanilla to a medium mixing bowl; whisking together until smooth and combined. Set aside.
Add the almond meal (or flour), baking powder, baking soda and salt to a medium mixing bowl and whisk together until combined.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture, mixing until combined. Add chocolate chips, stirring until incorporated.
Divide into 10 cookies, each weighing about 1-ounce each. Place each one about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
Carefully slide parchment with cookies (they will stick) onto a cooling rack and cool completely. Makes 10, 3-inch cookies.
Nutrition values per cookie: 115 calories (77% from fat), 9.8 g fat (3.3 g saturated fat), 15.3 g carbohydrates (1.1 g net carbs), 0.7 g sugars, 3.4 g fiber, 3.5 g protein, 27 mg cholesterol, 71 mg sodium.
Adapted from the original recipe: heyketomama.com/keto-peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-cookies