April 2, 2022 - Happy National PB & J Day!
Of course there has to be a day to celebrate one of America's favorite duos - PB & J!
I never gave much thought to peanut butter, except for the fact that I am a hardcore creamy peanut butter fan - no chunky for me, please.
It was at the Chicago World's Fair in 1883 that Peanut Butter was first introduced to America. It was expensive to produce at first, so was not readily available to just anyone. In the early 1900's, the peanut industry commercialized, and peanut butter became much easier and cheaper to produce and distribute.
During the Great Depression, peanut butter was a cheap and affordable protein and even kids could prepare a peanut butter sandwich. During WW2, the US Army included both peanut butter and jelly in their ration kits, as well as bread. So, soldiers were possibly the first people to combine these two ingredients to come up with the combo of PB&J!
The first jam recipe dates back to 4th century AD Rome, where a book containing over 500 recipes was found. Many of these recipes use Indian spices and soft heated fruit with honey. These 'jams' were heated, cooled and stored for later use, just like our current day jams and jellies.
I love making and canning my own jams, especially when I've grown or harvested the fruit or berries myself. Annually, I can Raspberry and Strawberry/Rhubarb Jam. This past fall, I added Cran/Raspberry to the mix after I harvested a hefty amount of cranberries from our cabin property on the Kenai Peninsula.
And these are the jams I use in my Peanut Butter and Jelly macarons!
French Macaron Recipe:
130g superfine almond flour
130g powdered sugar
90-100g egg whites, room temperature
1/8 tsp of cream of tartar - optional
1/8 tsp of salt
90g granulated sugar
gel food coloring - optional (for this recipe I used purple)
Sift almond flour and powdered sugar onto parchment paper and set aside.
Pour room temperature egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk and mix on a low/medium speed until the surface of the egg whites is covered in small bubbles. Add in cream of tartar and salt, continue to mix until it reaches the soft peak stage.
Slowly add granulated sugar into the eggs and mix on a medium speed for 30 seconds. If desired, add in gel food coloring at this point, then increase the mixing speed to a medium-high speed. Keep mixing until stiff, glossy peaks form.
Fold the dry ingredients into the meringue in two additions using a circular motion until a thick ribbon of batter runs off the spatula when it is lifted. Be careful not to over-mix the batter! It will take time and experience to get this just right.
Pour the batter into a large piping bag fitted with 1/2 inch piping tip onto the prepared baking sheets. I use silicon mats, placed on upside down baking sheets. Space them about 1-inch apart.
Bang the pans firmly on the counter a few times to release air bubbles. Pop any remaining air bubbles that come to the surface with a toothpick.
Let the macarons rest for 20-60 minutes to develop a skin. The macarons should look matte once the skin has formed.
As the macarons rest, preheat your oven to 300 F. Every oven is different and you may need to set your temp higher or lower.
Bake one tray of macarons at a time on the middle rack of your oven for 16-18 minutes, until the macarons do not wiggle when you test them.
Remove from the oven and let the macarons cool on the pan for about 15 minutes. Gently peel them off of the silicon mat and set aside.
Peanut Butter Buttercream Filling
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp room temp butter
1/2-3/4 powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp milk, if needed
Cream peanut butter and butter for 2 minutes, until smooth, creamy and combined.
Add powdered sugar, vanilla and salt. Cream until combined.
If needed, add milk to make desired consistency of buttercream.
Pipe circle of peanut butter buttercream onto macaron, add a dollop of jam to the middle. Close and ENJOY!
For more info on National PB&J Day, visit: https://nationaltoday.com/national-peanut-butter-jelly-day/