Monday, April 2, 2012

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National PB&J Day: Graham-Crusted Peanut Butter & Jelly French Toast


The average kid scarfs 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before graduating high school. I probably consumed twice that. I religiously ate PB&J's every day, at least once a day, for the first 18 years of my life. My mom was strict about her formula: creamy Peter Pan with Bama grape jelly, slathered on Iron Kids white bread. And I was her devoted follower, convinced no one could replicate my mother's masterpiece. Then, suddenly, she announced her lunch-packing days were over. I was on my own.

       At first, I was devastated. Bitter, even. Every time I tried to make a PB&J, it fell flat, tasted entirely wrong. But then I discovered Peanut Butter & Co. Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. And natural peanut butter. And whole-fruit jelly. Toasting my bread. Constructing PB&J's became a welcome exercise in creativity
—even today, I'm still playing with my formula and flavor combinations. (And sorry, Mom, white bread just won't cut it.) I've even branched out to non-sandwich arenas, as with my latest creation for National PB&J Day: 

Graham-Crusted Peanut Butter and Jelly French Toast

French toast
Inspired by the Big Book of Breakfast

What you need 

8 slices of thick-cut bread*
3 eggs
¾ cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp butter

Peanut butter sauce
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp dark brown corn syrup
¼ light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp cinnamon

All-fruit strawberry jelly
Powdered sugar

*I used Martin's 100% Whole Wheat Potato Bread—one of the supermarket's best kept secrets. It's at once fluffy and hearty, and is perfect for whole-grain haters. The potato flour masks the flavor of the grains and gives the bread a slightly buttery taste. Delicious. 

Put it all together

  1. Combine all of the peanut butter sauce ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the consistency of the sauce is smooth. Turn heat down to low, so the sauce stays warm. 
  2. Whisk the eggs, milk, vanilla, and ½ tsp cinnamon together in a large bowl. Mix the graham cracker crumbs, 1 tsp cinnamon, and brown sugar in a separate shallow bowl.
  3. Dunk each slice of bread in the milk mixture, thoroughly coating each side. Then dip into the graham cracker mixture, so each slice is completely covered. 
  4. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cook each side of the coated bread a couple of minutes, until slightly crispy. 
  5. Place two slices of bread on a plate, pour sauce over top, then finish it off with a tablespoon of jelly and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. Repeat with remaining slices.

Makes 4 servings.

Want more PB&J fun? Check out my Guy Gourmet post: Blueberry & Cream Cheese PB&J, courtesy of Peanut Butter & Co.'s founder, Lee Zalben.