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Essential flavors and the secrets to the best ice cream you'll ever make.
I love making ice cream and I love cooking like a lazy bachelor. No, those aren't contradictions.
There's a big misconception that ice cream is hard to make, that you'll be dodging curdled eggs at every turn and left with a sink full of dishes to wash at the end. I've done what I can to prove that's all bubkes. But here's one more go: an ice cream base so easy you don't even need to cook it.
When friends or family request dessert for a meal or party, chances are they're asking for my peanut butter ice cream. When I'm cooking for a crowd, it's a go-to recipe since I can make large batches in no time. I can't think of a frozen dessert that wins over more fans with less work.
All it takes is peanut butter, half and half, some sugar, salt, and vanilla. That's it—no eggs, no need to cook a custard. The fat and protein in peanut butter work as a perfect substitute for eggs, and it keeps a stable emulsion that guarantees creamy ice cream. Whisk your ingredients together—or whizz them up in a blender like I do—and you have an ice cream base that's ready to be churned with little or no chilling time. It turns into amazingly creamy ice cream with a flavor that's part roasted peanut, part vanilla nougat.
Since this ice cream uses peanut butter to maintain an emulsion, it's best to use a no-stir variety. My favorite for ice cream is Peanut Butter & Co.'s Smooth Operator, which is perfectly creamy with a natural peanut flavor; you can see our full taste test here.
Once you have your base, you can adapt it however you like. Like chunks of chocolate or a fudge swirl? Go right ahead. Maybe you'd prefer roasted peanuts and caramel—they're just as easy. You can even play around with the proportions, swapping out some sugar and dairy for honey or maple syrup.
That's just the beginning. A grape jelly swirl is a good idea, or you could go savory with toasted coconut and red chili. Top your PB with sliced bananas and chunks of bacon, or a spoonful of rum for a boozy peanut punch. You get it? A good peanut butter ice cream base is as versatile as sugar cookie dough or pie crust, but it's even easier to make.
If you're looking for inspiration, here are three recipes all made from the same peanut butter base.
Better Than Snickers Ice Cream: Since this base has nougat and vanilla flavors, it's the perfect way to make a copycat Snickers ice cream. I add roasted peanuts, shaved dark chocolate, and a swirl of caramel.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream: Keeping in the candy theme, this recipe is all about the interplay of peanut butter and chocolate. Frozen peanut butter cups add texture and a dark fudge swirl ups the cocoa.
Peanut Butter Honey Ice Cream: Swap out some dairy and sugar, then replace with honey for a complex but approachable ice cream with amazing texture. I splurge on a fancy honey like chestnut for this recipe, and the depth of flavor is totally worth it.