"Hunger is good discipline." -Ernest Hemingway
Have you ever not realized exactly how integral a certain food is to your overall dietary intake until you run out of it and find yourself wanting it every single day? I’m currently experiencing major peanut butter withdrawals. I think the last time I had any was a couple weeks ago during a stuffed date fiasco that turned out rather unpalatable. I recently moved back to South Carolina to find a job before school starts later this month, and due to a terrible oversight on my part, I did not pick up any peanut butter at the grocery store the other day. I’ve been trying to satisfy my cravings by munching on the bag of mixed nuts that I did buy, but their crunchy texture just won’t do the trick for days when I wake up craving a nice, big, gloriously melty glob of peanut butter in my oatmeal. (Which I’ve woken up craving for about 4 days now.)
When I have a craving, I tend to dote on it rather than casting it aside like a sensible person should, so my current obsession with my lack of peanut butter is bringing you this recipe, which I created a couple months ago. While eating gourmet food is one of my utmost favorite things to do, some days I just get this hankering for a simple, good old-fashioned peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When I was little, my favorite way to eat PB&J was to stir together the peanut butter and the jelly in a bowl before I put in on the bread. It’s weird how it completely changes the flavor. Kids in the cafeteria used to ask me what kind of sandwich I was eating, and I liked to tell them I was eating a chocolate sandwich. I was a weird kid.
In the process of making this sweet potato recipe a while ago, I realized that roasted grapes taste a lot like grape jelly, which inspired this grown-up, decadently indulgent version of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Think of it as PB&J gone gourmet. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this sandwich is healthy, because it is not by any means. I will say though, that roasted grapes are a very healthy alternative to grape jelly, which often has lots of added sugar. Roasting the grapes concentrates their natural sweetness so you don’t have to add any sugar to achieve a taste very similar to, but in my opinion better than, jarred grape jelly. The roasted grapes also add a fun textural component to this sandwich.
To take this sandwich completely over the top for the ultimate peanut butter and jelly experience, I added a little cream cheese. Because seriously, when did the addition of cream cheese ever make anything taste worse? I also made a little French toast batter, dipped the sandwich in it, and pan-fried it in a little butter. Oh and please, do this sandwich a favor and use good quality bread. It would be such a culinary crime to use ordinary sandwich bread. I promise, the party in your mouth will thank you.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash grapes, dry completely, and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Coat with oil and a little bit of salt. Place cookie sheet on middle rack of oven and roast grapes for 20-25 minutes, until they begin to burst.
Meanwhile, lay out the 4 pieces of bread and spread 1 tablespoon of peanut butter on each slice, using more if you like. Spread 1 tablespoon of cream cheese on 2 different slices of bread, one for each sandwich.
Next, make the french toast custard by whisking together the eggs, milk, honey, and about 1/4 teaspoon each salt and vanilla extract. Set aside.
Once the grapes are roasted, remove from oven and evenly divide them between 2 different slices of bread. Top the grape-covered slices with the other slices of bread.
Melt half of the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Dip the sandwiches in the custard and place them side by side in the skillet. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove sandwiches from pan and add the rest of the butter. Once melted, return sandwiches to pan, uncooked sides down. Cook three minutes or until golden. Remove from pan and slice in half diagonally. Garnish with powdered sugar or extra honey, if desired.
*I used thick-cut white bread from a local bakery, but a nice nutty multi-grain would also be delicious.