Friday, September 24, 2010

PB fail

Since I already had one spectacular failure in my one and only attempt to make jam in a slow cooker, it seems only fitting that its companion in this illustrious category should be peanut butter.

I’m not sure what I did wrong, or if I even did anything wrong. As one of my everyday cooking challenges, I decided to try making my own peanut butter in my fancy new food processor (aka Archie). I looked up some recipes, all of which seemed perfectly straightforward: grind some cooked peanuts until they turn into peanut butter. Add seasonings as desired. Eat. I bought some dry-roasted peanuts (I figured that, if my first experiment was a success, then next time I could maybe try roasting the peanuts myself.) I put two cups in the food processor and turned it on.

At first, all seemed to be going well. Archie and the peanuts made a huge racket as they got to work on the grinding process. After a couple of minutes, I had a mass of ground peanuts that could best be described as fluffy: nice taste and texture, but I was looking for something smoother and creamier. I kept going. And going.

After another little while had passed, the peanuts started to extrude oil. A lot of oil. At least one of the recipes I had read mentioned this stage, and positively. It still didn’t look quite like what I had in mind. I kept going, to see what would happen next. At some stage I poured in some maple syrup, for a bit of sweetening.

Not much happened after that, except that more and more oil appeared and the peanut butter got more and more solid. I ended up with a very hefty, solid block, with the consistency more of chewy caramel than of anything remotely resembling butter at any temperature.

Is this how it’s supposed to be? Has my idea of the proper texture of peanut butter been hopelessly warped by too many years of eating Skippy? I may be corrupted now, but I ate only all-natural peanut butter growing up; I remember it being a lot firmer than Skippy, but I don’t remember being able to cut it in slices.

Since I could do just that, I decided to apply the make-lemonade principle and use this weird texture to my advantage. (But I’m still looking for clues on where I went wrong….)

Chocolate-covered peanut butter lumps
Isn’t that an evocative name? I was going to be all foodie-esque and call them something like “Peanut butter morsels”, but I really detest the word morsels. Plus, let’s face it—that’s what they are. They’re pretty tasty though; I definitely recommend making them next time you have some really chewy peanut butter available. (And I bet it would also work well with some refrigerated Skippy, if that’s more your thing.)

100 g/3 oz chocolate of your choice*
1 dozen lumps peanut butter

Melt the chocolate until you have a thick, smooth paste.** Dip the peanut butter lumps in, one by one, turning to coat completely. Place on a cookie sheet lined with baking parchment and leave to harden. Serve to unsuspecting family and friends.

* I used some leftover Valentine’s Day milk chocolate hearts, with about a teaspoon of cocoa and a tablespoon of cream stirred in at the end to achieve the desired taste and consistency.
** I used the slow cooker as usual—less risk of burning that way.


Southern Girl said... Best Blogger Tips

Hey, lumps or not... but peanut butter and chocolate together and you've got a winner. ;)

Celia said... Best Blogger Tips

Nancy, I think I've tried to make PB before, with similar results. I had a good look when I was at the health food store once at their PB grinding machine, and it's less of a chopper and more of a grinder (think mortar and pestle). I think without some squashing component you end up with ground nuts rather than PB?

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Southern Girl - absolutely true: they may not look elegant, but they taste pretty good!

Celia - thanks, that makes a lot of sense. I suppose if I ever get *really* crazy, I can try it again with the mortar and pestle. (When you see pigs flying past your kitchen window, check this space.)

Preppy Pink Crocodile said... Best Blogger Tips

Ive never made pb before but I wonder if you tried mixing back in some of the oils that came to the surface by hand if it might help. Even Skippy will have oil surface as it sits. So I wonder if you might be able to mix it back in a bit? I also wonder if you added some liquid first- water or maple syrup or whatever if that might help. The Skippy type brands likely add in more oils- helping them reach that silky smoothe stage. If that is what you are going for, my only other thought would be to use boiled peanuts. The softer nuts might give you a more silky texture? I'm so curious so I hope you try again.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

PPC - thanks for stopping by, and for your comments. The PB came out in such a hard lump that I haven't been able to mix any of the oil back in, although I'm thinking of trying to microwave it and see if that will soften it up. Adding other liquids might help, and the idea of trying boiled peanuts next time might just convince me to give it another go!

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