How to Make the Perfect Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich

We're celebrating the dynamic duo with best tipsPeanut butter... and jelly. The two condiments are nothing without each other, and for years, they've gone hand in hand wedged between two slices of bread. As National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day is April 2, it's only fitting to celebrate the two foods and their relationship by examining what makes them so great for each other, and to determine how to make the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Jelly came into existence long before its counterpart, peanut butter, with uses of it dating back to the 15th century. Peanut butter came onto the scene in the late 19th century, when a St. Louis physician developed a peanut paste for people with bad teeth in 1890. Only five years later, the Kellogg brothers patented the process of using steamed peanuts to create peanut butter and distributing it in plastic packaging, and from there the idea of peanut butter was born.

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Although peanut butter and jelly existed in the food world as separate entities for years, the first written reference of them together is said to be from 1901 by a woman named Julia Davis Chandler. Why or how the sandwich was created is still uncertain, but regardless, we're happy about its creation.

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While simple and easy to put together in theory, there are certain techniques for making the perfect PB&J. We examined the simplicity of the sandwich to determine how to get the best results - everything from the type of bread to use to the ratio of butter to jelly and how to do the perfect spread. And while peanut allergies have kept this beloved sandwich out of many schools and institutions, there's still a wide variety of substitutions that you can use to follow our method.

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Peanut butter and jelly don't just stop at sandwiches, though, and we're going to show you all of the delicious ways to put the two together in your kitchen. Whether you're a cookie lover, looking for new ways to serve the two, or want to incorporate them into your breakfast, there are recipes that celebrate peanut butter and jelly and all of their glorious flavors.

Credit: Thinkstock/iStockphoto The Bread
It all starts with what type of bread you're going to use. Classic white bread is usually the standard go-to, but as the sandwich continues to evolve, so does the bread that's used to make it. Any bread you choose to make your sandwich will do, even pumpernickel or a pita. To keep it basic and to let the true flavors of the sandwich shine through, though, avoid pungent-seedy breads like rye, and steer clear of focaccia.

Credit: Medio Images Crust...or No Crust?
It's OK if your fears of crust still linger today, because cutting the crust off your peanut butter and jelly sandwich only magnifies that creamy, gooey texture that you get from spreading the two together. If you're looking for a balance of textures, though, a crust serves as an ideal and slightly chewier border.

Credit: Thinkstock/iStockphoto Toast
You may enjoy a piece of toast slathered with peanut butter or jelly (or both), but for a sandwich, it simply won't do. The heat from the bread will cause the peanut butter to melt and will break down its cohesive qualities. In addition, a fairly well-toasted bread can offset the creaminess that we all know and love, so we advise against toasting.

Credit: Thinkstock/iStockphoto Crunchy or Smooth?
Another conundrum in the world of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches is the age-old question of crunchy or smooth. The answer to this question is your personal preference. A crunchy peanut butter will add little bites of texture within your sandwich that can prove to be exciting, but if you've never been a fan, we don't hate smooth, either.

Credit: Thinkstock/iStockphoto The Perfect Ratio
While the two go together so well, too much or too little of either ingredient will cause your sandwich to go south. There should always be a little more peanut butter than jelly in your sandwich, and the perfect ratio would be 2 to 1. If you're using two butter knife-swabs of peanut butter, pair it with one of jelly.

Credit: Thinkstock/iStockphoto How to Spread
Peanut butter is a tricky thing, because too much of it will have you lip-smacking in minutes, and too little is just, well, disappointing. While there's always the ratio to keep in mind, it's also about how you apply the two ingredients - in order to have the balance of butter and jelly, it's all in how you spread them. Start in the middle of a slice of bread with the peanut butter, and spread it evenly into the corners using the blunt end of your knife. Do the same with the jelly on the other slice, ever so carefully so that you don't puncture it. Never try to top one with the other - their gooey qualities make them hard to spread on top of each other.

Credit: Thinkstock/iStockphoto The Perfect Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
- Anne Dolce, The Daily Meal

So there you have it, the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich. While simple in nature, it can be dissected into an art, and if you follow this recipe, you'll make one perfectly, every time.

• 2 slices bread of choice
• 2 knife-butter scoops crunchy or smooth peanut butter
• 1 knife-butter scoop jam

Lay 1 slice of bread out on a cutting board. Starting in the middle, add the 2 knife-scoops of peanut butter, and spread it evenly into the corners using the blunt end of your knife. Repeat with the jelly on the other slice, carefully so that you don't puncture the bread. Top 1 slice with the other, cut in half, and serve.

Recipe Details
Servings: 1

- Anne Dolce, The Daily Meal

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