Here is a secret, a weird, weird secret: even as a kid, I never liked peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It’s true. Are you shocked? Don’t get me wrong, I get it: salty and sweet, crunchy and smooth. It all makes sense. But for some reason, I’ve always preferred my peanut butter and jelly separate.
Even despite my anti-penchant for this combination, the following two recipes have been in the works for a while, for completely ingredient driven reasons. Number one: Marcona almonds. Oh, tiny treasures from Spain! Marcona almonds are smaller, softer and creamier than the California variety, and like all good Spanish things, they usually come wrapped in the warm embrace of sea salt and olive oil.
Next, I had some wild blueberry preserves to consider. At Christmas, when the Frenchman and I were in the Pyrenees, I insisted on bringing back at least two jars. (Don’t worry; I know how obnoxious that sounds.)
It might not surprise you to know that I have a habit needing to haul heavy food items all over the known world. For this reason, my suitcase is perpetually, perilously close to overstepping airplane limits. By the end of any trip, my clothes are not so much folded neatly as they are wrapped around said jars, bottles, etc.
The Frenchman really enjoys this habit of mine, especially when I start sneaking items into his suitcase. (Really though, is it my fault if he doesn’t pack his own bag to the absolute brim? I didn’t think so.)
Everything fell into place once I made Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s completely ridiculous peanut butter cookies, and was left with a sizable quantity of leftover peanut butter cream.
Both of these recipes are truly easy, and everything of consequence can be made ahead of time. Either of them would serve you well at any kind of kid’s birthday party, or simply if you want kids to be involved in the kitchen.
- Pullman white bread (or any good quality white bread)
- 1 cup Marcona almonds
- sea salt, if needed
- olive oil, if needed
- honey, if desired
- 1 small jar blueberry preserves (grape or cherry would be fine too)
- 4 tablespoons butter, softened, plus more for cooking the French toast
- 1 cup powdered sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- ½ cup creamy peanut butter
- ½ cup miniature chocolate chips
- 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
- a dash of vanilla extract
- 1 cup 2% milk
- 2 eggs
- a pinch of nutmeg
- 1 half vanilla pod, seeds scraped
- 1 loaf brioche bread
Make the Marcona almond butter: Add the almonds to a food processor, ¼ cup at a time. If you need to add a little olive oil, go ahead, but if you are patient, you shouldn’t have to. (They typically come salted and olive-oiled already.) When you have a creamy butter, taste it. Add a pinch more salt, if you feel it’s necessary, or a drizzle of honey.
Note: A heaping ¼ cup of almonds will yield enough almond butter for about 2 sandwiches. Save any extra for future use.
Make your dinner sandwich: Toast the bread to your preferred darkness. On one still-warm slice, spread a layer of the almond butter. On the other, swipe some wild blueberry preserves.
Stick them together and voila!
Note: if you cut the sandwich diagonally, it will taste better. I am pretty sure this is a scientific fact.
Make the peanut butter cream: In a medium bowl, mix together the softened butter, powdered sugar and peanut butter. (It helps if you use an eclectic mixer. It spins much faster than your hand, thus aerating the mixture more, and resulting in a fluffier finished product.) Stir in the chocolate chips and the vanilla extract, and then add the cream one tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired creaminess.
Make the French toast: In a small bowl, give the eggs a quick beat. Add the milk, the vanilla bean and the nutmeg, and stir to combine.
Cut the brioche into thick slices, and give them a generous dredge in the milk combination on both sides; you want them pretty well soaked through.
Heat some butter in a medium saucepan. When it is bubbling, add as many pieces of the brioche as you can, without crowding. Cook each piece for a few minutes on each side, or until each side is golden brown.
In a small pot, heat the blueberry preserves until runny. Divide each piece of French toast onto plates; top with the peanut butter cream and a healthy drizzle of the blueberry preserves.
If you want to be fancy about it, you can dust some powdered sugar or cocoa powder on top.