In the States, there are generally two peanut butter camps: sweetened, so it’s satiney like frosting, and unsweetened, so the natural oils slop and splash. In Haiti, there’s another camp— spicy!—and it’s called mamba (the Creole word for peanut butter) and usually eaten with toast or cassava crackers.
f you add some brown sugar and kosher salt, you’ll have a mamba that jelly can get excited about (try it paired with apricot).
Or try it in banana smoothies, nut butter cups, seedy granola, crisscross cookies, and ice cream. I love mamba as a way to offset sweetness.
But it’s just as good in savory contexts, anywhere you would use natural peanut butter or tahini. Think sesame noodles, peanut stew, even hummus or snack mix.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Pour the peanuts onto a sheet tray lined with parchment or a Silicone baking mat. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, checking frequently toward the end to make sure they don’t burn. Cool completely.
Add the peanuts to a colander and set over your lined sheet tray. Use your hand to stir, stir, stir—the skins should gradually fall through the holes—until the peanuts are naked. You might want to listen to some music or turn on the TV.
Plop the coconut oil into a small skillet over medium heat. When it’s melted and hot, add the cayenne and smoked paprika and remove the pan from the heat. Swirl until fragrant—this will take a matter of seconds—then quickly pour into another dish to prevent burning.
Add the peanuts to a food processor and process for about a minute. At this point, the mixture should be crumbly and clumpy. Scrape down with a rubber spatula and mix around to redistribute. Add the chili oil, salt, and brown sugar. Continue to process for about a minute more until a smooth nut butter forms, scraping as needed.
Taste and adjust, adding more salt, sugar, and cayenne as you see fit. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.