Ah, peanut butter. Providing you are not allergic, which can be a very serious threat to some people, there is something seriously addictive about this form of nut (actually a legume that acts like a nut).

According to “The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink,” peanut butter did not come into being in this country until 1890s, after vegetarian advocate John Harvey Kellogg started touting it as a substitute for cow’s butter.

At the same time, Kellogg and his brother, Will, began producing various nut butters commercially. Others got in on the action, too. But because peanuts were cheaper than other nuts, it became the predominant one in the market.

By the early 1900s, peanut butter was showing up in restaurants and recipes and benefited from promotion at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fairo. In almost no time this new-age food evolved into a mainstream staple. It was a surprisingly fast clip for a “health” food.

Three dominant makers emerged by mid-century. Skippy, Peter Pan and Jif remain household names today but, wow, do they have company in the 21st century.

And talk about having it your way: It used to be only a choice between creamy or chunky. Now the choices are many, including honey roasted, natural, whipped, reduced fat, etc.

Peanut butter is high in fat and calories, with 2 tablespoons tallying 190 calories and 16 grams of fat on average. On the other hand, it is a very good source of protein, fiber and vitamins.

Now, peanut butter also has a remarkable affinity for sugar and chocolate, which can cancel out the wholesome thing. Just don’t make that piece of cake or cookie a habit to stay on the “good” side of peanut butter.

A West Ashley reader wants to make a from-scratch peanut butter cake (chocolate may be included) and she has plenty of help.

Deb Luce of Summerville pitches in with this recipe.

Peanut Butter Cake

Ingredients

3/4 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup creamy peanut butter

2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

3 eggs

2 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

Cream butter and peanut butter; gradually add sugar, beating well on medium speed of mixer. Add eggs one at a time, beat well after each one.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix well. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into greased and floured 13x9-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until wooden pick/cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

Frost with rich chocolate icing (recipe below).

Rich Chocolate Icing

Ingredients

1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels

1/2 cup half and half

1 cup unsalted butter or margarine

21/2 cups powdered (confectioners’) sugar

Directions

Combine chocolate morsels, half and half and butter in saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until melted and smooth. (Can be done in microwave in microwave safe bowl).

Remove from heat; blend in powdered sugar. Set saucepan/bowl in ice; beat at medium speed with mixer until frosting holds its shape. Frost on cooled cake.

Charleston attorney and avid cook Carolyn H. Blue offers a recipe that can be made three ways: as 24 regular muffins, 48 mini muffins or 1 loaf.

Shredded coconut is optional. She says, “If added along with the chocolate chips makes it almost like a Mounds bar muffin style ... yum! ... These are good in the winter with hot chocolate.”

Peanut Butter Cakes

Ingredients

4 cups unbleached white flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

4 large eggs

1 banana

2/3 cup canola oil

2 cups milk

1 cup chopped peanuts

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or 1 cup peanut chips/morsels

½ cup coconut (optional)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder in a bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the peanut butter with the eggs and banana until creamy. Add the oil and milk, then beat for at least 1 more minute.

Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in the mixing bowl, mixing well. Gently fold in the peanuts, chocolate or peanut chips and coconut, if using.

Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full. Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly brown. If making as a loaf, double the time; depending on the oven, it may take longer.

Sharon Ehinger of Charleston found this recipe, which includes a peanut butter frosting, in her collection of Taste of Home cookbooks. Chocolate frosting garnished with peanuts may be used instead.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake

Yield: 12-14 servings

Ingredients

½ cup butter, softened

11/4 cups sugar

½ cup peanut butter chips, melted

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

11/2 cups milk

Peanut Butter Frosting

Ingredients

1 cup peanut butter chips, melted

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Directions

For cake: In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add melted peanut butter chips; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk.

Pour into two greased and floured 9-inch round baking pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.

For frosting: In a small mixing bowl, beat the melted chips, cream cheese, vanilla and salt until light and fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar alternately with enough milk to achieve spreading consistency. Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake.

Maryanne Potter of Efland, N.C., says she got this recipe from a co-worker many years ago and everyone enjoys it (the frosting is like peanut butter fudge). “I even won a blue ribbon in the Spartanburg County Fair (again many years ago) even though I informed them it wasn’t my original recipe (they didn’t require the baked entries to be original).

Peanut Butter Cake

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

11/2 teaspoons salt

½ cup vegetable oil

1 stick butter

1 cup water

½ cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)

½ cup buttermilk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frosting:

½ cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 stick butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pound powdered sugar

Directions

For the cake: Mix and set aside: flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.

Bring the oil, butter, water and peanut butter to a boil. Remove from heat and add the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Beat together and then add flour mixture. Mix well and pour into a greased and floured 13x9-inch pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until done. Remove pan from oven to a wire rack.

For the frosting: Add peanut butter, buttermilk, butter and vanilla to a pan and bring to a boil. Pour over the powdered sugar. Mix together by hand or with mixer and pour over cake while cake is still warm. Let the entire confection cool to room temperature; eat and enjoy!

Virginia Grimsley of Goose Creek shares this:

Peanut Butter Cake

Ingredients

1/2 cup peanut butter morsels

2 cups self-rising flour

1/2 cup butter, softened

11/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

11/2 cups milk

Peanut Butter Cream Frosting (recipe follows)

3/4 cup coconut, toasted (optional)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt over hot, not boiling water, the peanut butter morsels; stir until smooth. Set aside.

In small bowl, measure flour; set aside.

In large bowl, combine butter and sugar; beat until creamy. Blend in melted morsels. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract. Alternately blend in flour and milk. Pour into 2 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans. Bake until crust is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes; cool 10 minutes. Remove from pans; cool cake completely. Fill layers and frost side and top of cake with frosting. Garnish with coconut, if desired.

Peanut Butter Cream Frosting

Ingredients

1 cup peanut butter morsels

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

3 cups sifted powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

Directions

Melt over hot, not boiling, water, the peanut butter morsels; stir until smooth. In large bowl, combine melted morsels, cream cheese, vanilla extract and salt; beat well. Beat in powdered sugar alternately with milk until mixture is of spreading consistency.

If there’s a recipe you’ve lost or a dish you are just wondering about, email food@postandcourier or call Food Editor Teresa Taylor at 937-4886.