Ode to peanut butter: recipes, brands and dishes to try in the UAE

November marks Peanut Butter Lovers' Month

Long-roasted peanut butters have a dark colour and complex flavour, while those made from raw nuts are lighter in taste and colour. Photo: Steve Buissinne / Pixabay
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Ever so slightly sweet or just a little salty; made from purely peanuts or enhanced with other ingredients; lusciously thick and packed with nutty shards or silky enough to drip seamlessly from a spoon: like many things in life, not all peanut butters are created equal.

Crunchy and smooth are the two most obvious dividers, but as any true peanut butter fiend will tell you, the differences run deeper than that. Long-roasted peanut butters have a rich, dark colour and complex flavour, while those made from raw or blanched nuts are much lighter, both in terms of taste and colour.

All-natural butters produced with hi-oleic peanuts are high in healthy monosaturated fats, meaning they bring health-giving properties similar to those of avocados and olive oil to the breakfast table. More often than not these varieties boast an ingredients list of just two (peanuts and a touch of salt) and because of the absence of preservatives do tend to have separation issues (between the oil and butter itself, nothing more), as well as a premium price tag.

At the other end of the scale, you’ll find highly processed butters that see peanuts joined by a whole host of other ingredients. While everyday consumption probably isn’t advisable, these butters certainly have their moments. In ode to Peanut Butter Lovers' Month, here are some brands, recipes and dishes worth their salt.

Project Acai's Peanut Bomba Bowl. Photo: Project Acai

Four peanut butters worth tasting

The local favourite: Freakin’ Healthy Roasted Peanut Butter Spread

The peanut butter from born-in-the-UAE health-food company Freakin’ Healthy stays true to its promise to deliver great-tasting pantry products and snacks made from high-quality, nutritious ingredients. Its classic butter is 98 per cent roasted peanuts with a hint of mineral-rich Himalayan sea salt adding extra flavour, and it is also free from preservatives, refined sugar, soy and palm oil, plus has a lovely toasted flavour.

Try it: Dotted reverentially over a smoothie bowl or spread on wholegrain crackers.

Buy it: Directly from the Freakinhealthy.com website or from supermarkets across the UAE (Carrefour, Kibsons, Spinneys, Waitrose and Zoom included).

The cheat treat: Reese’s Creamy Peanut Butter

The peanut butter inspired by those famous all-American peanut butter cups contains added sugar and various oils, which might put some people off. That said, this is seriously easy to eat peanut butter: a little bit sweet, a little bit salty, and notably smooth and creamy. A guaranteed child-pleaser.

Try it: In a classic PB sandwich made with white bread for the nostalgia win.

Buy it: Online from Noon, UBuy.ae or whizz.ae.

Connoisseur’s choice: Manilife Deep Roast Crunchy Peanut Butter

Manilife’s award-winning range of small-batch, vegan, sugar and palm oil-free peanut butters made from nuts sourced from family-run farms in Argentina have something of a cult following among peanut butter lovers.

The brand’s Deep Roast Crunchy Peanut Butter is particularly special: creamy and thick, intensely flavoured and abundant with craggy, crunchy whole and half peanut pieces.

Try it: Spread over a slice of your favourite artisan sourdough.

Buy it: From Spinneys and Waitrose (both online and in-store), or online from DesertCart.ae.

The wild card: Marmite Crunchy Peanut Butter

For anyone who embraces the uniquely umami joy that only Marmite can bring, get yourself a jar of the good stuff pronto (ignore the naysayers).

Try it: Spooned straight from the jar, swirled over toasted crumpets or hot buttered English muffins, or slathered on to crunchy green apple slices.

Buy it: Online from UBuy.ae, or from Spinneys and Waitrose (online and in-store).

Peanut butter-based ideas to try at home

Three-ingredient peanut butter cookies

An Instagram favourite for a reason.

Three-ingredient peanut butter cookies. Photo: Scott Price

Beat together 100g light brown sugar with 1 medium egg, then stir in 200g peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, the choice is yours). Shape into rounds, place on a baking tray lined with baking paper and cook in a 170°C fan oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

Double peanut butter energy balls

No-bake bites that are packed with healthy fats, taste great and come together in less than 10 minutes.

Double peanut butter energy balls. Photo: Scott Price

Blitz 6 to 8 Medjool dates, 3 tbsp roughly chopped unsalted peanuts, 3 tbsp natural peanut butter and 2 tbsp oats in a blender. Take a tablespoon of the mix and form into a ball. Roll in crushed peanuts to coat, then repeat with the remaining mixture. Chill in the fridge.

Super-quick satay sauce

Just the ticket when your jar of peanut butter is nearing empty. Use this sauce as a marinade for meat or fish or as a salad dressing or dip.

Salad made with super-quick satay sauce. Photo: Scott Price

Add 1 tbsp warm water, 2 tbsp white vinegar, 1 tbsp runny honey, 1 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tsp each grated ginger and garlic to a jar of almost empty peanut butter. Screw the lid on tightly and shake well to emulsify.

Peanut-butter-based dishes in the UAE

The dish: Banana and peanut butter waffle at Scoopi, Time Out Market Dubai.

The weekend breakfast menu at Time Out Market boasts a bevy of delights (four cheese-stuffed pretzels and smoked brisket on Texas toast among them). For anyone nuts about nuts, though, the freshly made waffle lavished with peanut butter, bananas, roasted almond ice cream and honey served up at Scoopi between 10am and 1pm on Fridays and Saturdays is the only way to go.

The dish: Sweet ’n Salty CrazyShake at Black Tap (locations in Abu Dhabi and Dubai)

Black Tap's Sweet 'n Salty CrazyShake with peanut butter frosting and peanut butter cups.

One of the most famous shakes in Black Tap’s extravagant repertoire, this magnificent beast of a drink-dessert hybrid features chocolate and peanut butter frosting, peanut butter cups, chocolate gems, pretzels (both plain and chocolate-covered), vanilla ice cream infused with peanut butter, caramel sauce and whipped cream.

The dish: Dark Choco and PB Delight at The Kakao Guy (delivery across the UAE)

They might be most famous for their burnt Basque cheesecakes, but the cooks in The Kakao Guy kitchen also know their way around a cake recipe, as this impressive multilayered dark chocolate bake, with its layer of smooth peanut butter pastry cream, peanut butter frosting and cookie topping proves.

The dish: Peanut Bomba Bowl at Project Acai (locations in Abu Dhabi and Dubai)

An enduring favourite on the Project Acai menu, the bright and beautiful Bomba Bowl features uber-healthy acai puree topped generously with super-smooth home-made peanut butter, crunchy clusters of walnut granola, chunks of fresh mango and sliced bananas.

Updated: November 21, 2021, 4:33 PM