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 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.