Peanut butter is synonymous with North American culture, and there is even a National Peanut Butter Day on January 24th. Despite this, however, the origins of peanut butter can be traced back to pre-Columbian South America where peanuts were roasted and ground together to form a paste. Peanut butter’s more modern history starts in late 19th century North America where it was commonly used by doctors and psychiatrists and a source of food for people who were unable to chew. Introduced to the wider world at the 1904 World’s Fair, it has since been refined and improved to become the salt-laced, chunky-or-smooth spread we all know today.
Peanut butter doesn’t just have to be spread on your morning toast though, as this collection of deliciously diverse peanut butter recipes proves. The sweetness of chocolate makes a perfect match with the saltiness of peanut butter in Kate Doran’s Chocolate peanut butter cups recipe inspired by the popular American sweets. Rukmini Iyer’s take on the classic American peanut butter cookie sandwiches a sweet and salty peanut buttercream between crisp chocolate biscuits in her Chocolate peanut butter sandwich cookie recipe. If your aim is elegant rather than robust try Mark Dodson's indulgent Chocolate fondant recipe, served with peanut butter ice cream.
Peanut butter in popular culture is perhaps best known for its appearance in that classic American treat, the peanut butter and jelly (jam) sandwich. Kate Doran gives the all-American classic a British twist with her Peanut butter Jammie Dodgers recipe, while Jack Monroe’s Peanut butter and jam thumbprint cookies are a fantastic easy cookie recipe to have up your sleeve.
Peanuts are also a common ingredient in Asian cooking, and peanut butter can be a great addition to a sauce or stir fry – Karen Burns-Booth’s Singapore chicken satay recipe uses peanut butter to create a simpler version of the take away classic.