Peanut Butter and Jam Balls

I've got a thing for nut butter and jam. It's pretty serious. I say "nut butter" (rather than good old "peanut butter") as I don't discriminate - I'm all about almond butter love too. And brazil nut butter. Cashew butter is also fabulous. It's all love, people. Nut butter love.

Originally my love was centred on two ingredients: nut butter and banana. Combined. Together. On bread. That sandwich has rocked my world for many years. Many joyful years. I've endured the curious, sometimes judgemental stares harshly directed my way as I've devoured my nut butter and banana sandwiches or ordered this heavenly combination at sandwich shops. Sticks and stones, people - nothing can change my love for nut butter and banana.

It's a beautiful thing.

My younger brother introduced me to nut butter and honey sandwiches many years ago. I recall a stage when Jackson was around seven, and he'd have this combination for lunch. Often. And maybe for an afternoon snack. Sometime he'd have one or two after dinner. While I applauded his creativity, and was somewhat concerned about his fervent love for said sandwiches, I was never swept up by this particular nut butter combination myself. No, I seemed to remain firmly in love with my old faithful nut butter and banana.

Although recently, a new nut butter friend has come onto the scene...

Nut butter and jam may be an age-old love-story, but it's rather new to me. And now that I've been properly introduced, I'm more than a little obsessed. You might recognise this combination from, well, most movies set in North America (I'm thinking early nineties movies in particular, like The Babysitters Club - high five!). The characters would gather together and eat crustless, haphazardly formed and generously spread PB&J; sandwiches. All of them. But they'd call it peanut butter and "jelly", and that's a little weird. I say jam. Nut Butter and Jam.

It's a beautiful thing.

Nut butter and jam commonly graze my wholegrain slices at breakfast or lunch, or even snack o'clock. For this combination to be suitably satisfying and not sickly sweet, you need natural nut butters - ones with 100% nuts and no added sugar. Otherwise it's just too much. Too far. I don't enjoy.

These peanut butter and jam balls, I do enjoy. They're a great afternoon pick-me up, giving you a hit of nutrients and nostalgia in one. A moment of pure happiness. 1995, scrunchie and denim overall-wearing, watching The Babysitters Club and wishing you were Mary Anne while planning Summer adventures with your friends kind of happiness.

It's a beautiful thing.

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Peanut Butter and Jam Balls

This recipe requires a hand blender or food processor.

Makes 7 balls. To make more, simply double the recipe.

1/2 cup Peanuts (unsalted and shelled)
2 tablespoons Tahini, Unhulled (some tahini is rather thick, you want a runny tahini for this recipe) 1 & 1/2 teaspoons Pure Maple Syrup
A pinch of Sea Salt
1/2 tablespoon Chia Seeds
3 & 1/2 teaspoons Jam (use a rich, good quality jam for best results. I used Bonne Maman Raspberry Jam - love.)

1. Preheat your oven to 170 Degrees Celsius.
2. Toast your peanuts on a pan in the oven for ~4 minutes until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool but keep the oven on.
3. Once your peanuts are cool, pulse them in a hand blender or food processor until it starts to resemble a flour consistency - be careful not to overblend, some small lumps are still desirable and you don't want it to become a paste.
4. In a mixing bowl, combine the peanut flour with the tahini, maple syrup, salt and chia seeds. Mix well to distribute the chia seeds. The mixture shouldn't be too sticky and should come together easily. Add a little water or some more tahini if the mixture is too dry.
5. Moisten your hands and grab a portion of the mixture (remembering that you should get ~7 balls out of the mixture). Add 1/2 teaspoon of jam and mix it with your hands, squishing and shaping it into a ball as you go - you want the jam to be distributed in a haphazard way rather than spread too thin. Place the ball onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and repeat with the remaining mixture.
6. Bake your balls in the oven for 4-6 minutes until slightly golden on top and not too brown on the bottom - check them at 3 minutes if your oven is particularly efficient.
7. Once cooked, let the balls cool completely on a wire rack before consumption. Serve and enjoy. Scrunchie-wearing is optional but encouraged.

Heidi xo