It was back to school last week for both Chef Wayne Chidester and me as we had the honor of teaching several days of bakery and confection workshops using American-grown, protein-packed peanuts at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. The peanut immersion workshops were sponsored by the National Peanut Board who so ably represent America’s peanut farmers.
New Haven is a campus town with quaint commercial districts, serene residential streets, the famous New Haven Green, Yale University and other landmarks of American history. It’s also the place that has given the world five United States presidents, the hamburger, the lollipop, the corkscrew, and some of the world’s best pizza.
Yale University has been a part of the New Haven community for three centuries. With just over 11,000 hard-working students, you can imagine the appetites that have to be satisfied in the 12 colleges, Commons (Yale’s primary Dining Hall) and several other foodservice facilities. Commons alone serves nearly 16,000 meals per week. Yale has made an effort to serve “responsible foods”— foods that are healthful, locally-grown in a sustainable fashion, whole wheat products and now a protein-rich bakery—pastry and bread—which offers menu options made from what George Washington Carver thought was nature’s perfect food, the peanut.
In some cases, peanut flour can be used as a one-for-one replacement for all-purpose flour resulting in a 100% gluten-free pastry. In the gluten-free category we chose to showcase Milk Chocolate Ganache-Peanut Butter Muffins, Milk Chocolate-Peanut Butter Trifle, Peanut Butter Pound Cake, Peanut Butter Angel Food Cake, and even a Nutty Dessert Topping as a replacement for high calorie chocolate sundae topping.
We also showcased Choclatique Pure Power—our delicious, gluten-free, protein packed peanut bar full of USA-grown peanuts and all natural ingredients. With over nine grams of protein, this is the perfect snack for an energy boost. It is available in two flavors—Pure Power Original and Pure Power Fruit with blueberries and tart cherries.
Some of the whole wheat and peanut flour desserts we presented included a Chocolate-Dipped Peanut Sapor (a Salvadorian peanut shortbread), fried Chocolate Peanut Butter Wontons and a variety of great peanutty desserts and breakfast cakes fashioned from puff pastry which included Chocolate Peanut Butter Puffs (dumplings), Cigars, Bear Claws and Danish, all filled with peanut butter-chocolate ganache. There was even a freshly-baked and puffed Mediterranean Peanut Pocket Pita.
The highlight of the workshop was our own version of Top Chef where our “students” had the opportunity to take the basic ingredients that we supplied and turn them into their own super-tasty inventions. While we had the chance to teach a group of talented bakers and pastry chefs all about baking with peanuts, they had the occasion to educate us on all that is Yale. It couldn’t have been a better marriage of food and education.
About National Peanut Board
The National Peanut Board (NPB) is a farmer-funded national research, promotion and education program. Each of the 10 major peanut-producing states has a grower Board member and an alternate representative. One at-large Board member also represents all minor peanut-producing states. Board members are nominated by state producer organizations and appointed by the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Through NPB, growers from across the United States come together to contribute to the research and promotion of USA-grown peanuts.
About Yale University
Yale University comprises three major academic components: Yale College (the undergraduate program), the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the professional schools. In addition, Yale encompasses a wide array of centers and programs, libraries, museums, and administrative support offices. Approximately 11,250 students attend Yale.