A recipe for the best of legal, peanut butter pies follows; it’s accompanied with information on the make-up of peanuts, their various uses throughout the world, and why they cause allergic reactions, in some people.
Peanuts Are Seeds
The peanut is not a nut, but rather the seed of Arachis hypogaea, a small bush that is a legume, which pushes its woody fruit capsules underground as they mature. 1
The Background of Peanuts
Around 2000 B.C., this seed was domesticated in South America; this took place probably in Brazil. Then, the peanut became an important crop to the Peruvians, prior to the beginnings of the Inca empire, in the early 1400’s. In the 16th century, the Portuguese took it to Africa, India, and Asia. Quickly, it was being used as a major source of cooking oil in China, because of its high oil content (the composition of peanuts is 48% oil, 26% protein, 19% carbohydrates, and 6% water). 2
America lagged behind, however, in adopting the peanut as anything other than animal feed, until the 19th century; then, in the early 20th century it became a major crop in the South, when agricultural scientist George Washington Carver encouraged farmers to replace weevil-ravaged cotton with peanuts. Today, the United States is the third largest peanut producer in the world-though we’re a distant third to India and China. 3
Various Ways Peanuts Are Employed in Cooking
Peanuts are consumed mostly as oil and meal in Asia, while in the U.S., they are eaten as food. In their pureed form, they have found their way into several Asian and African traditions, lending richness, substance, and flavor to sauces and soups. These pureed peanuts, as well as whole ones, are used in Thai and Chinese noodle dishes and sweet bun fillings. Indonesian dipping sauces and sambal condiments employ these, and in West African nations, they are used in cakes, confections, stews and soups. (For a great Indonesian condiment, see Serengdung Kacang-a delicious peanut/coconut-chip mixture, which can creatively be used as an hors d’ouvres or on top of salads. 4
Along with these other countries, peanut soups are popular in the American South. Both the southern United States and Asia use peanuts boiled in saltwater, as a popular snack. When boiled in its shell, this nut develops a potato-like aroma, with sweet vanilla highlights due to the liberation of vanillin from the shell. 5
Compounds Contributing to Peanut Flavor
Roasted peanuts have several hundred volatile compounds; the raw peanut has a green, bean-like flavor, which comes mainly from the compounds green-leaf hexanal and the pyrazine that characterizes peas. A composite of several sulfur compounds make-up the roasted aroma; these consist of numerous “nutty” pyrazines and others (some of which have fruity, flowery, fried, and smoky characters). When staling takes place during storage, these nutty pyrazines, however, disappear, and painty, cardboard notes increase. (For related information on chemical compounds and their aromas, as found in herbs and spices, see Sage Turkey Delight.)
There are four varieties of peanuts grown in the United States for different purposes. The large Virginia and small Valencia are used for nuts sold in the shell, while the Virginia and small Spanish are found in mixed nuts and candies. Finally, the Runner is produced for use in baked goods and peanut butter. 7
Peanuts as a Food Allergy
Bbc.com wrote that the frequency of food allergies-especially in industrialized countries-has increased over the past 30 years; it reported a five-fold increase in peanut allergies between 1995 and 2016 in the UK. It proposed that this increase in allergies is probably environmental and related to Western lifestyles. 8
A true food allergy is the body’s immune system mistaking a food component (in this case proteins in peanuts), as a sign of invasion by bacterium or virus; it then reacts by initiating a defense-the release of histamines-which causes the allergic reaction. Such overreactions may cause mild damage, such as manifestations of discomfort, itching or rash, or severe reactions bringing life-threatening asthma or change in blood pressure or heart rhythm. 9
Peanuts are one of the most typical food allergens; these allergic reactions are the most common cause of fatal food-induced anaphylaxis, with adolescents with asthma being the highest-risk group. Thus, it is important to check with your doctor, before eating the following recipe, or any other foods made with peanuts. 10
Applying This Peanut Lesson
When still, we are guided into that which is most beneficial for our beings. When hurried we are prone to mistakes, such as eating, by accident, a food that causes adverse reactions in our body-makeup.
Slowing down is imperative to hearing our given needs, which are unique. Each of us must hear for ourselves what to eat nutritionally. Likewise, we must accept inner guidance concerning all other aspects of living, so we consume only that which is true and pure.
We need to be at peace in order to attain such promise. The Spirit encourages us: when he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? 11
Gently and mildly-Webster’s definition for meekness-we receive God’s provision of tranquility, so we can know what to put in our mouths and souls, from moment to moment. As we apply this precept, it amplifies itself as increased health, in both the physical and spiritual realms, for they play off of each other.
Enjoy this powerful dessert, by following the recipe below!
- Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p.510.
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- Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p.455.
- King James Bible, Job: 34: 29.
Legal Peanut Butter Pie Yields: 1-10” gluten-free pie, or 10 servings. Active prep time: 1hr/ inactive prep time for chilling: 3 hr. Note: may freeze, to have on hand for company.
1 c almond flour
1/3 c peanut powder (Trader Joe’s has an excellent price for this-$4.99/8 oz.)
1/2 c Monkfruit sweetener (See Healthy Date/Apricot Bars, for information on the health benefits of Monkfruit.)
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp of butter, melted
3/4 c heavy whipping cream (An organic one can be found at Trader Joe’s for $3.49/pt.)
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (Such are high quality and inexpensive at Trader’s.)
1/2 oz of unsweetened Baker’s chocolate, for optional decoration
1 c plus 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
8 oz cream cheese, softened
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c Monkfruit sweetener
1 c creamy peanut butter, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chill a med/large bowl and beaters for an electric mixer in the freezer.
- Melt 6 tbsp of butter in a small saucepan over med/low heat.
- Mix all dry ingredients for the crust in a medium bowl with a fork.
Add melted butter; blend with a spatula, until all dry ingredients are incorporated (mixture will be moist-see photo).
- Spray a 10” pie plate, preferably with coconut oil spray. With the spatula, spread the dough evenly over bottom of pan; then with fingers, pat mixture firmly into place on bottom and up sides of pie plate. See photo.
Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until golden brown on bottom-edges will be darker. (See photo.)
- Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes; then, place in refrigerator or freezer to finish cooling.
- Make ganache-see list of ingredients above-by bringing cream to a very low simmer over med/low heat (should be hot/steaming, but not boiling); add chocolate pieces and continue to cook, beating with a wire whisk, until mixture is glossy/shiny. Remove from heat; add vanilla and set aside.
Go to the above list of filling ingredients: whip 1 c cream, using chilled bowl and beaters. Set aside in refrigerator.
- In another bowl, using the same beaters, blend the softened cream cheese, 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream, and vanilla. Mix in Monkfruit and peanut butter, beating for at least three minutes, until mixture is light and Monkfruit has had a chance to dissolve some-this will dissolve further, as pie sets. (See photo above.)
- Beat in one third of the whipped cream in this mixture.
Finally fold in the remaining cream (see photo).
- Spread the ganache evenly on bottom of the cooled crust.
- Place filling on top of ganache. May use your fingertip to form decorative peaks in filling.
- Using a sharp knife, scrape optional, unsweetened chocolate over the top of the pie (see photo of finished product at top of recipe).
- Refrigerate for three hours before serving.
- Serve immediately, or may cut in tenths-this is rich-and freeze. When frozen, place pieces in a freezer bag, to have on hand as needed for company.
- This is legal and dynamite!