Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cooking Floyd: Reader's Request - Walnut Acres Honey Sesame Seed Peanut Butter

Back in February I did a post on making nut butter and waxed lyrical about the joys of Walnut Acres Honey Sesame Seed Peanut Butter.  Yesterday I got a comment from a reader requesting a reproduction of that yummy spread.  Michael selflessly volunteered to act as taster so I set off on a search for any information I could find.

Walnut Acres and the Keenes' philosophy were very influential in my life starting in my teen years and affecting choices I made concerning my career as a cook, gardener, preserver, and cooking at home for my family.  I knew Walnut Acres had been bought out a few years after I moved away from Mifflinburg, Pa which was just a few miles away from Walnut Acres' Penns Creek location.  But nothing prepared me for the heartbreaking story I found of the Keene family's desperate deal to keep the farm afloat and the trusted Walnut Acres brand's demise at the hands of dot com idiots playing at being organic Big Food giants.

It was with mixed feelings of sadness, nostalgia, and disgust for corporate food entities that I set about playing with my ingredients.
The Keenes used unblanched whole peanuts, including the redskin and germ of the nut for their peanut butter.  I was able to find roasted whole redskin peanuts but whether they'd been blanched previous to roasting I couldn't tell.

Walnut Acres - style Honey Sesame Seed Peanut Butter
1 lb dry roasted redskin peanuts, unsalted and unblanched if possible
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
3/4 cup honey, more or less to taste
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
salt to taste

Pour the peanuts into the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until they are minced and then run the processor until the nuts form a coarse paste.

Drizzle in a bit of the sesame oil and run the processor.  Add the oil a bit at a time until you have a smooth paste.  You may need to add less or more depending on your nuts.

Add the honey 1/4 cup at a time, blending and tasting after each addition.  I remember the spread as being sweet but not cloyingly so.  Sweeten to your taste.

Heat a dry skillet over medium heat and toast the sesame seeds, shaking the skillet, until the seeds are golden and fragrant.  Pour the seeds onto a paper towel and allow to cool completely.  Add to peanut butter and pulse the FP until seeds are mixed in.  Note: I had a half cup of sesame seeds on hand.  I think that more would actually be better.

Taste for and add salt if necessary.

Pack into a clean jar, label and date, and store in the fridge.

Michael thinks this is very good and doesn't need more sesame seeds.  He admits to not having a definitive taste memory of the original but he's happy with this knock-off.  I think it tastes very close to the original but needs more seeds.  I also used a dark, dark honey that I had on hand.  I'm pretty sure that clover honey was used in the Walnut Acres version.

So there you go, dear Reader.  Remember the beauty of Walnut Acres best products was their simplicity and quality ingredients.  Honey Sesame Seed Peanut Butter was just that and if you use good ingredients you should be able to whip up your own jarful of nostalgic goodness!

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