It’s been a while since my last Basics and Tips post. In fact, it’s been almost two whole months! I’d say: time for another one. On peanut butter this time. Baking with peanut butter. Because, yes, peanut butter can be tricky! Remember Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake? I’m sure it tasted awesome coming out of her fridge, but mine was just horrible. Disgusting. Inedible.
I have to admit, I feel a bit bad saying such things about Nigella. After all, there’s nothing better than coming home from a long day at school or work, collapsing onto the couch and finding out that her television show just started a few seconds ago. I love watching Nigella. I love how she makes a mess out of things and how she throws empty egg shells across her kitchen!
But man… that cheesecake was BAD.
I blame myself though. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I used the wrong kind of peanut butter. You see, the thing about peanut butter is that it comes in a lot of different varieties, ranging from peanuts-ground-to-a-paste to spreads-that-barely-have-a-single-peanut-in-them. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has ever mistaken one for the other, and has missed out on some great peanut buttery treats because of it! Luckily, because my ‘Making Friends’ series encourages me to try new things, I recently found out that peanut butter can be a great added to baked goods! Sure, since I baked up the Caramel Apple Peanut Butter Loaf Cake for Sally, I have only tried one other recipe with peanut butter (simple peanut butter cookies), but that was delicious too!
So to prevent others from making the same stupid mistake, a few quick tips on how to bake with peanut butter…
At any given time, I have four kinds of peanut butter in my pantry. Well, since last week, that is…
Four dearly loved kinds of peanut butter.
Four very different kinds of peanut butter!
(By the way, how is it that I don’t have four matching spoons? I have a food blog for crying out loud!)
Not only do these different kinds of peanut butter all look a little different – the third from the left obviously has a little more crunch than the others and the second from the left just looks a little icky to be honest – all taste very differently too!
And for baking, I would use only one!
No, not the kangaroo…
Skippy peanut butter!
Or maybe I should say: the American peanut butter, the other three peanut butters being Dutch brands. Truth be told, there aren’t that many non-Dutch brands available around here. You see, the Dutch are known for the fact that they eat a lot of bread. Sandwiches. Usually something like a peanut butter sandwich, a cheese sandwich, or even a chocolate sprinkle sandwich, sometimes even combined with peanut butter.
Anyway, because of this typical Dutch habit, we have a lot of different peanut butter brands, and Skippy was actually the only foreign kind of peanut butter I could get my hands on.
It’s creamy, smooth and it smells like sugared peanuts.
I’m not sure whether every kind of American peanut butter is suitable for baking. I can imagine that the crunchy kinds have a different flavor profile as well. At any rate, I’m sure that there are even American tough cookies out there who have used the wrong kind of peanut butter in their baking. There’s just so much peanut butter to choose from! Time to be crystal clear about it…
If only Nigella would have told me what brand of peanut butter to use…
The peanut butter I’ve used in my Caramel Apple Peanut Butter Loaf Cake (Skippy), contains roasted peanuts, sugar, hydrogenated vegetable oils (cottonseed soybean and rapeseed) to prevent separation and salt. Okay, it may not be very healthy (hello hydrogenated oils!) but it tastes great in cake. Period.
Most importantly, one serving size of 32g contains 3g of sugar, so Skippy peanut butter contains about 10% sugar. This makes it the most sugary peanut butter in my pantry and this is also the reason why this particular kind of peanut butter tastes great in cakes and cookies!
This is the Rocking Rebel’s favorite. Crunchy peanut butter.
Sure, it looks a whole lot different than Skippy, but the main difference lies in the fact that this peanut butter contains only about 7% of sugar.
The peanut butter I used in the failed Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake contained far less! It’s creamy and smooth, like Skippy’s but it doesn’t contain any added sugars. The only sugars present are from the peanuts.
This one is my favorite actually. I can easily finish an entire jar of this stuff! Usually, I have a mean sweet tooth, but when it comes to peanut butter I apparently like things savory. Salty. Not sweet.
The fourth kind of peanut butter I keep in my pantry is an all-natural kind. Which means boring. Sure, it tastes exactly like a handful of salted peanuts, which can be good, but this stuff just feels like glue in my mouth! It’s just way too dry…
I would never bake with this. Not only because of its texture, but also because of it’s strong, savory peanut flavor. I would perhaps use this kind to make a Thai peanut sauce, adding plenty of coconut milk to make it smooth and creamy, but I would never use it in my baking.
No, I’ll stick to Skippy from now on!
But remember! If you don’t have Skippy, just make sure the sugar content in the peanut butter you’re baking with is about 10% and your peanut butter cookies, cake, muffins or frosting should turn out to be delicious!
Now let’s see if I’m brave enough to try the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake again. With the right peanut butter this time!
[This is not a sponsored post. I use Skippy, because it works. I don’t care if you decide to use Skippy too. Any kind of peanut butter that has a sugar content of 10% will do fine.]