When we were in San Miguel Allende, Mexico, recently for our friends’ art gallery opening over Spring Break (how lucky was that timing!) we stayed at the beautiful Casa Luna Bed & Breakfast.
Each morning, we were served the most delicious marmalades with our fruit, frijoles negro, bread, fresh squeezed oranged juice, coffee/tea, and Joe’s huevos. Pineapple and Nopales (cactus) was a favorite, as was Tamarind Chipotle. When I learned that the hotel sells them, in addition to a not-too-firey jalapeno marmalade, and a spicy homemade peanut butter–and were making them fresh while we were there–I thought that all four would make a delightful host gift, along with a copy of The Blooming Platter Cookbook. And they did, delivered still warm from the canning process! Mmm…
Wanting to replicate at least one of them, but not having a lot of time to slice mountains of jalapenos or engage in old-fashioned canning, I decided to try the peanut butter. When an internet search turned up no recipes, I just winged it. Casa Luna’s finished product had a rich flavor without a biting heat, which I rightly or wrongly attributed to reconstituted dried chilies. Though Casa Luna’s peanut butter didn’t have a smoky flavor, I love chipotles–smoked jalapenos–so I decided to use them, picking up a bag at a local tiende.
Carmen, at Casa Luna, had shared that the list of ingredients was really simple: peanuts, oil, chilies. So I simply guessed at the proportions, starting with just one chili and adding additional ones, one at a time, until I was satisfied with the flavor and heat, deciding at the last minute to drizzle in a couple of teaspoons of the water in which the chilies were reconstituted for a little more smoky intensity.
It may seem a little odd to add both natural sugar and salt, so feel free to omit the sugar, but I felt that the two together achieved a nice balance. The only other ingredient I toyed with adding is a hint of lime zest, but I haven’t yet decided, as the peanut butter is delicious as is. And its beautiful earthy color is irresistable.
Enjoy as you would any peanut butter–only maybe not on your child’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich–or consider swirling some into both Mexican/Southwestern and Thai sauces. I hope you’ll try it and share what you do with it!
4 dried chipotle chilies stems removed
12 ounces of roasted and lightly salted peanuts
1/4 cup canola oil (or peanut oil)
1 tablespoon natural sugar (optional)
2 teaspoons water that chilies were soaked in
Sea salt to taste
Slit chilies lengthwise and remove and discard seeds. Place chilies in a small non-reactive bowl and cover with boiling water. (I don’t measure; I just boil whatever is left in our kettle.) Allow chilies to soak for about 20 minutes or until softened somewhat. Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and process for several minutes or until smooth but still textured, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Adjust seasoning if necessary and process a few seconds. Scrape peanut butter into an airtight container–I like to put it in a small crock–and refrigerate.