I never had peanut butter before moving to the United States. It was not sold in Italy, and in all honesty, initially I thought it was like Nutella: sweet and high in calories. Growing up I had to keep an eye on my unhealthy choices, so Nutella wasn’t allowed, though it would certainly have been among my favorite ones. So, for the longest time I didn’t eat peanut butter, trying to avoid the extra calories. When I then learned that there was a natural version, I finally decided to taste it. And I loved it. I loved the mix of sweet and salty and the crunch of the peanuts.
In my country we don’t utilize many nut butters in their simpler forms, with no additives. So I was interested in learning more about its history. According to the National Peanut Board, the earliest reference to peanut butter can be traced back to the Ancient Incas and the Aztecs who ground roasted peanuts into a paste. However, modern peanut butter, and its process of production and the equipment used to make it, can be credited to at least three inventors. In 1884 Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Canada patented peanut paste, the finished product from milling roasted peanuts between two heated surfaces. In 1895 Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (the creator of Kellogg’s cereal) patented a process for creating peanut butter from raw peanuts. He marketed it as a nutritious protein substitute for people who could hardly chew solid food. In 1903, Dr. Ambrose Straub of St. Louis, Missouri patented a peanut-butter-making machine.
Now, happy to eat it with a banana or with a piece of gluten-free bread and a tablespoon of jelly, I reserve my peanut butter treats to a few scarce days in a month – because, yes, the calories are still insane, even if packed with protein. Though, knowing how much my American family enjoys the peanut butter and jelly combination, I searched for a recipe that would allow me to bring it to them in the form of a cookie. The inspiration came from Bake from Scratch’s Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Cookies with creamy peanut butter mousse and grape jelly layered between two chewy peanut butter cookies.