OLD SCHOOL PEANUT BUTTER ICE CREAM

Who doesn’t love the PB (allergies aside)? This bare-bones back-to-basics peanut butter ice cream can be made with just about any brand, but to get the most peanutty results you’ll want to look beyond the omnipresent jars of Skippy, Jiff, and Peter Pan. You want artisanal peanut butter.

The difference between the Big Three and these peanut butters is akin to the difference between Velveeta and a good aged cheddar.

Jon Michaud, The New Yorker

The icons of American peanut butter actually aren’t peanut butter at all, technically they are peanut butter spread. According to the FDA, peanut butter must contain at least 90% peanuts* while a spread only requires 60% peanuts.

So, why care? After all, even mediocre peanut butter is pretty damn tasty.

The advantage of an artisan or craft peanut butter is that (with very few exceptions) they are made of 100% nuts. This means no extra sugars, fillers, and oils that will affect the texture of the ice cream. Not to mention taste. There’s been a renewed interest in using specialty varieties like the Valencia which is a sweeter more ‘peanutty’ peanut.

It all boils down to personal preference. For those who want to revisit the PB of childhood, mass-produced brands won’t produce a perfectly balanced ice cream but they will work just fine here. To level up to a sublime peanut experience, seek out a small crafted batch of 100% peanut butter. Thanks to the hipsterfication of nut butters, these are getting easier to find.

chunks and salt

As for chunky vs smooth, I opt for smooth. Simply because it gives you complete control on how many (if any) peanuts you want to add in. The same goes for salt. If you are using unsalted peanut butter be sure to add a generous amount before churning or the ice cream will taste flat.

You can pair this with Concord Grape Sorbet, make a PB & J ice cream sandwich or go big with a Buckeye Bombe. Or eat it straight out of the container. Take off that lid and go spoon to mouth right out in the open in front of everyone. No shame in that, it’s peanut butter after all.

*The FDA’s criteria also states that certain additives will disqualify a product from being labeled as peanut butter. So, if a product is 90% peanuts but that other 10% includes one of these disallowed additives it is not peanut butter, it is peanut butter spread. For more details see the Guide To Peanut Butter.

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OLD SCHOOL PEANUT BUTTER ICE CREAM

A back to basics Peanut Butter Ice Cream that is worthy of the best nut butter you can find.  Or stick to your favorite supermarket brand for a frozen version of a childhood favorite.   Either way, this is creamy comfort food that you’ll want to eat straight from the container. 

Ingredients

205g (1 cup) heavy cream 

420g (2 cups) whole milk

152g (2/3 cup) sugar

     6 egg yolks 

 240g (1 cup) all-natural smooth peanut butter*

1 tsp. vanilla paste or extract 

coarse salt to taste*

1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts (optional)

Instructions

PREP

Make sure the peanut butter is well mixed* before measuring it out.  Place peanut butter in a large bowl and set aside. 

Whisk the sugar into the eggs and set aside. 

COOK

Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan and place over medium heat.  Warm until just simmering (it should be just a little too hot to touch) 

Temper the eggs: slowly whisk a little of the hot milk mixture into the eggs.  Constantly whisk in a little at a time until at least half of the hot milk is mixed in.  The key is to start slowly so the eggs gradually warm up otherwise if it’s all dumped in at once you’ll end up with scrambled eggs.    Put the warmed eggs into the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture. 

Return to medium-high heat and slowly bring to a simmer while whisking, 8-10 minutes.  The custard is done when it coats the back of a spoon.  Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into the bowl with the peanut butter.   Add vanilla paste (or extract)   With an immersion blender (or whisk by hand)  blend vigorously,  making sure all the peanut butter is thoroughly incorporated.    

CURE

After the ice cream has cooled, refrigerate for 4-12 hours.

CHURN

Give the ice cream a stir (it will be very thick) and add in salt to taste*.    Process in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.   Just before it’s done, add in the chopped peanuts (if using)

When it reaches the consistency of soft-serve ice cream (about 20-30 minutes on most machines) scoop into a container, place a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper on the surface and freeze until firm (4 hours minimum)

Notes

  • Be generous with the salt.  Add it in small amounts, tasting after each addition.  It should be just a tiny bit saltier than you want since freezing will dull the flavor a bit.  If you are unsure, it is better to undersalt than over salt.  

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