Now there's a holiday that Americans can get behind. Let's celebrate peanut butter, an American food given to us by inventors in the Nineteenth Century, among them George Washington Carver.
Peanut butter in its natural form is extremely good for you. Unfortunately, the food industry has discovered that it could be hydrogenated, as is vegetable oil that is used to make margarine. The process of hydrogenation makes a smooth paste out of oil or ground nuts, but what it also does is destroy much of its nutritive value. Therefore we should always buy natural peanut butter and stir it if necessary to mix in the oil, and refrigerate it after that.
Peanut butter can also become rancid, which you can tell by an off-odor that develops as the process of becoming rancid progresses. It won't happen, though, if you refrigerate it, and you can always take it out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature if you need to do something like make cookies or cupcakes.
Along that line, I picked up a nice little peanut butter recipe this week. It is something that will thrill the hearts of most school-age children, and if you make it with natural peanut butter and serve it with milk, you could do worse for an after-school snack.
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup baking cocoa
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Heat your oven to 350. Line 12 regular-size muffin cups with paper baking cups.
In a large bowl, beat the sugar with the eggs until the mixture is fluffy. Beat in the peanut butter and sour cream with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Beat in all the remaining ingredients except powdered sugar on low speed just until mixed. Divide among the muffin cups.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the baking pan to a wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Sprinkle the tops with powdered sugar or frost the cupcakes as desired.
Sprinkling with powdered sugar might be a better option than frosting, but depending on the occasion you might want to do the latter.