Dear Peanut Butter,
We have a storied past. A love/love relationship. My mom would use you to remove chewing gum from my hair. An old wive’s tale (now called a hack). Let’s just say, I would regularly get gum in my hair just to smell your fragrant sweetness.
As an adult, playing a “Choosy Mom” in the wildly successful Jif Peanut Butter commercial was a glorious day indeed. And I’m not talking about the paycheck. Or even the ground breaking interracial friendship between my TV daughter and her African American pal on a pretend sleepover. No, it was the unlimited, all day long supply of peanut butter on the film set.
Even now, living in London, I search you out on a weekly basis. Though the epitome of an American diet, you have only just begun to make a significant presence over in this part of the world. So I go looking. High street, and low. And when I find you, I do a touchdown victory dance in the grocery store aisle. Then, I race home to make you into something beautiful. I honor you in such as way as to say, thank you for being you! In all your gyrations, nutty or smooth.
When I go back to America for visits I stock up like a bear getting ready for the winter hibernation never knowing when spring will come. You are my contraband. On one occasion, my checked luggage was over weight, so I ‘chanced my arm’ and popped one of your Super Sized Jif Jars into my carry on bag. Aw, my eyes twinkled thinking I might tuck into you whilst the rest of the plane was forced to eat a ‘mystery meat’ meal. But then it happened. Like a baby being ripped from its mother’s arms they took you away from me. Those mean TSA people called you a “liquid, gel or paste”. I said, NOOOO and tried to cover your invisible ears. I know you’re more than that! I shouted, “Well I hope you meanies have some nice peanut butter sandwiches for lunch, cut down the middle, not the side!” I finally calmed myself down as I didn’t want to get arrested. I almost did once before because of my love for you!
It happened when I was a child of six years old. I was walking home from school and passed by a Circle K store. A little corner shop that would catch my eye every day. From time to time I would poke my head in and maybe walk around a bit. But because we were so poor, I was relegated to the old “window shopping” experience. One day in particular however, my desire for your peanutty goodness, was turned into badness. I came up with a plan, yet, allowed for a bit of improvising in case things went awry. I happened to be wearing a dress that had a huge pocket in the front. So I went inside and wasting no time strode straight to the candy and sweets aisle. No joke, it was literally in front of the check out counter. I proceeded to stuff every peanut butter flavored candy into my pocket until it looked like I was practically pregnant. Now I know I was a young mommy, but not that young!
Then I boldly and brazenly walked right past the counter avoiding eye contact with the man at the cash register. As I neared the door and felt the cool autumn breeze hit my face I thought, YES! I’VE MADE IT! Until I heard the man say, quite sternly, “Excuse me little lady, come back here!” I may be bold, but I am obedient. So I turned around like a little army soldier and marched back to the counter. He asked me what I thought I was doing and I told him straight up, “I’m gonna have a peanut butter party.” He clearly wasn’t in a celebratory mood and ordered me to hand over the goods.
So I started, slowly, and sadly, removing each item from my pocket. First the Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup (sniff), then the Chick o Stick (whaa), next the Butterfinger (ouch), and so on and so on. “There,” I said “that’s it.” This guy clearly had been around the block, because he knew there was one last love in there. “What’s that in there?” he said. “Oh, that? That was in there before. That’s MY Abba Zabba.” OMG I can’t even believe it myself when I retell it. I was such a liar! But at that juncture, he must have thought, this girl clearly has a problem, but I’ll let her off simply because she is darn persistent and quite pathetic. Well, guess what? I had my little peanut butter party with you all the way home and truth be told, it was the last Abba Zabba I ever ate.
To this day, I suffer from guilt over that incident. I have gone to confession over it and even a priestly absolution hasn’t wiped away that oily stain left behind from my naughtiness. A few years ago I had an idea that if I went back to the scene of the crime I might be able to expunge myself of this cruel criminality hanging over my head. I thought if I went back and offered to reimburse the cost of the Abba Zabba, with interest, it might assuage the gnawing remorse. But the Circle K had changed hands and was now called, 7-11.
So, I honor you my beloved friend, by creating treats from your deliciousness. I do penance with peanut butter pastries. And someday when I write my cookbook of all peanut butter recipes I promise to pay homage to you in the prestigious way you so deserve. Yes, I am a converted thief, but forever a fan.
Until then, here is just a tasty sampling of my offer to you! Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars! And when cut small enough, they can even fit into a pocket!
I demoed them on snapchat yesterday and from some of the snaps back, I think they liked the look of them. But wait until they taste them! Well, let’s say that it just might get a bit easier to find your precious self over here on this side of the pond. Because stores will just have to cater to the eminent demand! In fact, I might have to open a Peanut Butter Pub!
8 medium sized butter cookies (you can use gluten free like I did)
¼ cup (2 oz) Irish Kerrygold Butter, melted
2 ½ cups (15 oz.) milk chocolate
Peanut Butter Filling:
1 ½ cups (12 oz/354 g) Jif Peanut Butter (chunky or smooth)
½ cup (4 oz/115 g) Irish Kerrygold Butter, softened
3 cups (15 oz/427 g) Icing/Powdered Sugar
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- Preheat oven to 325 F/170 C then line 8×8 square baking tray with parchment paper
- In a food processor blend cookies until finely ground (or you can put in a Ziploc bag and bash with a rolling pin). Then mix with melted butter and press crumb mixture into pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
- Melt chocolate in a double boiler over slow simmer. Or you can microwave gently. Pour half of the melted chocolate over the cooled base. Place in the refrigerator for a bit until the chocolate sets (or for quicker results put in freezer). Make sure to keep the remaining chocolate warmed.
- Make the filling by putting peanut butter and softened butter into an electric mixer or food processer. Blend together and stop to scrape down the sides. Slowly add the sugar a little at a time. When mixed, add the vanilla and beat until completely combined. It will be a bit like playdough consistency. Spread filling over the chilled chocolate layer base.
- Finish by pouring the remaining half of melted chocolate over top of the filling/choco/base. Spread smoothly and evenly. Chill in the refrigerator approximately one hour until firm. Cut into squares or bars and serve!
Since I don’t want my pretty Pit Stella to feel left out, I share. Dogs aren’t supposed to eat chocolate, but they can have peanut butter! But being a “Choosy Dog Mom” I only let her have Jif!
Smooth and Extra Crunchy Love,