Peanutella (Chocolate-Peanut Butter Spread)

Because I’ve failed you so miserably with service journalism in the past, I’m going to give you the meaning of love today, a full five days before the most commercialized romantic day of the year.

True love occurs only when two wonderful things intertwine to make something one hundred times better. True love is the embrace of chocolate and peanut butter, a union that produces, in a word, bliss. (In another word, euphoria. In a third and fourth word[s], heart failure).

At some point in my 22 years, I discovered the magic that is a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich. A thick swipe of chocolaty-hazelnut spread on one slice of whole-grain bread (to make it healthy, naturally), another swipe of extra-chunky peanut butter on another slice, smashed together to form the best breakfast/lunch/dessert/snack one has ever imagined, improved only by the addition of banana slices in the middle.*

This spread takes the best parts of that sandwich, minus those icky preservatives that keep Nutella good for years. The recipe comes from (surprise) Smitten Kitchen, whose blog I read far more often than is probably normal. While her version came out silky smooth, mine was still pretty gritty — perfect for someone like me who loves chunky peanut butter, but perhaps not if you’re the creamy sort. I’m not sure what I did wrong, other than perhaps a) using an old food processor or b) getting impatient and stopping the processing part too early. I also ran out of powdered sugar and therefore altered the ratio of sugar to cocoa, but I liked the less-sweet version — it feels like a “grown-up” version of Nutella.

It also goes without saying that I spooned this over bananas for dessert last night and then again for breakfast this morning. Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with a sweetie or not, make sure you celebrate it with peanutella. Nothing can fill your heart more than chocolate and peanut butter.

*While I was in Madrid, Milan would pack me peanut butter and Nutella sandwiches to take to class with me in the mornings, leaving little notes in the sandwiches to remind me to have a good day. Yet another reason to love this combo so much …

Peanutella (Chocolate-Peanut Butter Spread)
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

The main changes I made to the recipe were out of necessity more than anything else. I didn’t realize until halfway through the recipe that I only had 3/4 of a cup of powdered sugar left, so I added more cocoa to account for the texture. I also used canola oil rather than peanut oil, since that’s what we had.

– 2 cups raw peanuts, shelled and skinned**

– 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (the better you use, the better it will taste, though I used Trader Joe’s brand and it still came out pretty friggin’ good)

– 3/4 cup powdered sugar

– 1/4 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste (I only used 1/4, since I had a lot less sugar)

– 3 tablespoons canola oil

**I couldn’t find raw peanuts at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods(!) so I used roasted, unsalted instead

1) Spread the peanuts on a baking sheet and roast at 400˚F for 10 minutes, until they have darkened slightly. (If yours are pre-roasted, toast for only 5 minutes.)

2) Move the peanuts to a food processor and grind them, scraping down the sides as necessary. First, they’ll become a paste, then an even thicker paste and then finally they will start to liquefy into a butter. She says to process for 5 minutes to get to this point, but I processed for more than 10 and still had a good amount of grittiness.

3) Fold in the cocoa, sugar, salt and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Process until smooth, another 2-3 minutes. Add more oil if the consistency seems thick and more salt if necessary. Cover and refrigerate, where it should last a week. I won’t judge if it disappears sooner.

[print recipe in PDF form]

Note: I think this is doable in a blender, though you may have to add some oil while grinding the peanuts, and then perhaps add a tad more oil at the end. Certainly worth trying it there if you don’t have a food processor. Also, I hardly ever post two days in a row, but I made this last night and it felt cruel to deprive you all any longer.

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