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A weekly dose of nutty history, pop culture, and recipes from Lee Zalben, aka The Peanut Butter Guy.

Pastry Chef Zac Young's Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Grape Jelly Glaze

Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Grape Jelly Glaze

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[Photographs: Lee Zalben]

Three farmers from around America were recently honored by Planters for their efforts to make peanut farming more sustainable. Otis Lee Johnson from Seminole, Texas; Billy Bain from Dinwiddie County, Virginia; and Barry Martin from Hawkinsville, Georgia. Their sustainable farming practices range from innovative modifications to existing farm equipment to using fertilizer more efficiently, to reviving traditional farming practices that yield water conservation, and planting a myriad of native plants around their farms to promote biodiversity.

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At the awards luncheon, dessert was provided by Zac Young, executive pastry chef of Flex Mussels Restaurants, perhaps best known for his stand-out performance on Top Chef: Just Desserts and for his frequent appearances on Cooking Channel's Unique Sweets.

Young talked about his love for the PB&J from an early age, opening up with an admission: "My mother was a horrible cook! PB&J was often breakfast, lunch, or even dinner."

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Zac Young and the recognized peanut farmers.

His dessert creation, this peanut butter cheesecake with a grape jelly glaze, is served on a dark chocolate brownie. "I love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter in a peanut butter cup. This cheesecake combines that with the classic PB&J and creates a playful, nostalgic, and indulgent dessert," said Young.

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But the most exciting part of the dessert were the "Disco Peanuts," which are made by candying some peanuts in honey, then rolling them in edible glitter.

"I've done disco blueberries and disco strawberries, when I heard that you guys were coming to town, I realized that it was time for disco peanuts!" he told the peanut farmers.

Have you ever had a delicious PB&J-themed dessert?

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About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.

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