Amanda Stone: Once gourmet, PB&J a mainstay

astone@joplinglobe.com or mail her, The Joplin Globe, Mo.
·4 min read

May 4—Please accept this column as a token of sincere apology. I've done us a supreme disservice by failing to acknowledge National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day back on April 2. America's favorite sandwich deserves all the attention it can get.

The truth is, I take the humble PB&J for granted. I forget about it, assuming it will always be there for me when I want it.

But there was a time when this humble sandwich was considered very fancy and a time before that when it didn't even exist. Horrors.

The first known recipe for peanut butter and jelly was printed in The Boston Cooking School Magazine of Culinary Science & Domestic Economics in 1901. In the recipe, Julia David Chandler wrote, "For variety, some day try making little sandwiches, or bread fingers, of three very thin layers of bread and two of filling, one of peanut paste, whatever brand you prefer, and currant or crab-apple jelly for the other. The combination is delicious, and, so far as I know, original."

Peanut butter — or "peanut paste" as it was called in the beginning — was considered a delicacy and served with savory spreads and crackers in elite New York City tearooms; the jelly connection didn't become widespread for some time. Such sandwiches existed as the pimento and peanut butter as well as peanut butter and watercress.

Once sliced bread could be found in stores and the price of peanut butter began to drop, the two found their way together in homes across America. Big brands such as Skippy and Peter Pan came up with ways to use emulsifiers to make the stiff peanut paste smooth, creamy and spreadable. Kids could easily maneuver making a peanut butter sandwich, and their moms' homemade preserves made it even better.

And that is how Americans these days eat an average of 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the time they reach adulthood. Seems like a stretch, but the internet doesn't lie. I know I've eaten my share.

Take your PB&J skills to the next level with these recipes.

Peanut butter and jelly muffins

* 6 tablespoons unsalted butter

* 3/4 cup peanut butter

* 1 3/4 cups flour

* 1 teaspoon baking soda

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1 large egg

* 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

* 2 teaspoons vanilla

* 1/4 cup milk

* 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

* 9 ounces berry (or grape if you must) preserves

Crumb topping:

* 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

* 1/3 cup granulated sugar

* 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

* 1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 12 muffin tins with liners. Spray the inside of the liners with nonstick cooking spray. Place the butter and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir well until completely melted and mixed together.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the egg, brown sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the butter and peanut butter mixture and continue beating until well incorporated. Add the milk and yogurt and mix again.

With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. The batter will be very thick.

Divide the batter among the liners so that each one is about 3/4 of the way full. Use your fingers to create a little well in the top of the muffin batter and place a dollop of jelly onto each one.

For the crumb topping, whisk together the sugars, cinnamon, salt and melted butter until smooth. Then add the flour and use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to fold in the flour until a pastelike dough results.

Crumble the mixture with your fingers and add a generous amount of crumbs to each muffin top, covering the jelly and pressing the crumbs down well so they stick to the batter.

Add a few more dollops or drizzles of jelly to each muffin and bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow muffins to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe source: www.erikasweettooth.com

Peanut butter and jelly granola

* 2 cups rolled oats

* 1/2 cup honey

* 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

* 1/3 cup jelly

* 1 teaspoon vanilla

* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

* 1 cup honey roasted peanuts

* 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl combine the honey, peanut butter, jelly, vanilla and cinnamon. Heat in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until smooth. Add oats, peanuts and pecans, then stir until they are coated well.

Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray and spread granola evenly in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes, stir, then bake 5 more minutes. The mixture may seem soft when you remove it from the oven, but it firms up as it cools.

Recipe source: www.maebells.com

Amanda Stone is a food and gardening columnist for The Joplin Globe. Email questions to astone@joplinglobe.com or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.