Review: Mighty Maple Peanut Butter from Peanut Butter and Co.
When you say “fall foods” my mind usually jumps right to pumpkin, but begging some recent disappointments in the fast-paced world of processed pumpkin food products (ahem, Dunkin Donuts), I felt getting a little more “real” with my autumn-inspired treats was in order. Don’t get me wrong — I’m still actively on the hunt for Pumpkin Pop-Tarts — but I’d be remiss if I didn’t celebrate that hallmark of October and November condiments, maple syrup. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t get my fill of crisp apples and warm, cinnamon and brown sugar-roasted butternut squash. Which is probably why I went all out for dinner the other night, busting out the knife skills, the non-stick skillet, and a secret weapon I had in my pantry that I had been saving for just such an occasion.
I’m talking about Peanut Butter and Co.’s Mighty Maple Peanut Butter.
You’ve no doubt heard that peanut butter prices are expected to rise in the coming year, and at roughly $6 for a standard 16 oz. jar now, Peanut Butter and Co.’s products are on the expensive end of the peanut butter spectrum. But with a cult following and a successful New York City sandwich shop it’s easy to understand why people are willing to splurge on founder Lee Zalban’s products, especially considering the shop offers no less than 10 varieties of all-natural peanut butter.
All that being said, Peanut Butter and Co.’s Smooth Operator finished behind Peter Pan Natural and Skippy Natural in a past GrubGrade taste test, and until recently I had forgotten about the extra jars of flavored peanut butter Lee had graciously sent me to try. That was until my fall food cravings kicked in, and I turned to Mighty Maple.
The possibilities for maple-flavored peanut butter seem endless, but before I combined it with anything else, I did what any American in their right mind should do: I stuck my spoon in the jar and ate a large glob. Immediately I was impressed by the smooth and creamy viscosity, albeit one broken up by what appears and tastes like small crystals of raw sugar. One mighty call the little pieces of crunchy sugar “grainy,” but as I munched on the peanut butter out of the jar, I found them to add a lip-smacking quality which left me salivating for more. Unlike your typical peanut butter concoctions with honey, the sweetness comes through as heartier and bolder, at the same time multifaceted in that it hits you immediately but also on the back-end. It’s that deep, almost smokey-sweet peanut flavor with hints of fruit that lets you know you’re not just messing around with pancake syrup stirred into some store-brand peanut butter.
Recognizing I liked it, and liked it a lot, I set out to roast a butternut squash to pair the maple peanut butter with. Canned pumpkin has been tough and expensive to come by these days, but I’ve had great success in copying the texture of canned pumpkin by pureeing butternut squash following a roast in the oven with brown sugar and cinnamon. I did so in this case, then spread a spoonful of the mixture on some multigrain bread. Grilled up with another slice of bread that had been slathered with Mighty Maple, my “harvest panini” had a wonderful earthy sweetness about it, with neither the squash nor the peanut butter overpowering each other.
I wasn’t done, however. Not an hour later I cut up a sinfully crisp Granny Smith Apple to dunk into the peanut butter. The tart and astringent apple slices paired exceptionally well with the deep and slightly smokey peanut butter, while the textural contrast of creamy and crisp is the kind of experience that would make kids want to eat fruits.
I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed the guilty pleasure of eating peanut butter straight from the jar like I have with Mighty Maple. Therein is the essential problem though. While the maple flavor is restrained, it’s still prominent enough that you wouldn’t pair it with anything outside the spectrum of fall “comfort” foods, including just about every non-American or savory flavor profile you can think of. The result is a drastic cut-down in versatility. Can I still stir it into maple brown sugar oatmeal? Sure, but considering the price of peanut butter these days, is that really a use I was to devote my peanut butter to? I guess that’s up to the buyer, but for me, the answer is an unfortunate “no.”
Without a doubt, this is really one of the most flavorful and enjoyably textured peanut butters one could ever hope to acquire. But with limited versatility, it’s something you’ll want to save for a special treat. And by ‘special treat,’ I fully mean the good old late-night, spoon-to-jar snacking method we Americans proudly call our own.
Pros: Strong and sweet maple flavor doesn't overwhelm natural smoke flavor of the peanuts. Creamy. Doesn't separate after stirring if kept in a fridge. Caramelized crystals of cane sugar. Doing fall foods right.
Cons: Expensive. Limited applications and versatility. Might be a tad bit "grainy" for some. Realizing that the third of a jar you just ate in one sitting in something like four or five servings.
Price: $6 online for a 16 oz. jar (free sample provided by Peanut Butter and Co
Overall GrubGrade: 8.00/10
More Info: Ilovepeanutbutter.com
ighty Maple Peanut Butter from Peanut Butter and Co. (32 g)
Total Fat: 14 grams
Saturated Fat: 2.5 grams
Total Carbs: 12 grams
Fiber: 1 gram
Sugars: 8 grams
Protein: 6 grams