Calvin and Hobbes ‘got’ me. I got them. I felt the unfairness of the world same as them, the rebellion against conformity, the over-the-top reactions, always pushing just that bit too far and the love of that one special friend who saw past the one-man-band kind of bedlam that was me. They got all that and peanut butter too, Calvin’s metaphor for life –
I had never tasted peanut butter when I first read that, but I thought it had to be a helluva sandwich to provoke such beliefs.
I loved too, that he was a purist – crunchy all the way, white bread only, none of that weird grain bread stuff, it had to be cut into triangles and NO JELLY. I could have married him.
Everytime I open a jar of peanut butter, I try to do it Calvin’s way, which incidentally, doesn’t work when you get to the bottom of the jar. Like all staunchly upheld ideals, they inevitably tumble with their own weight. It’s a happy dig at childhood to keep trying though, a daft homage to Calvin’s uncompromising viewpoint in a world that forces you to bend.
It is slightly screwed up to wonder, at the ripe age of 35 whether Calvin would approve of a PnB Ice Cream? This one being made with crunchy PnB might smooth him over. He could set aside his misgivings when he sees the ball of frozen nutty cream drenched in a hot chocolate sauce that cools, thickens and gets beguilingly chewy. Or Calvin might throw a fit and storm off in a huff but Hobbs would cuddle up for a lick from the bowl.
This ice cream went down a storm with the family – The Scotsman, his visiting parents and the bairns. It’s pretty easy too as there is no nerve racking custard to watch like a hawk. Here milk and cream are scalded, infused with vanilla, beaten into huge blobs of peanut butter (of your chosen variety), cooled and churned. This recipe comes from the wonderful book Lola’s Ice Creams & Sundaes by Morfudd Richards and judging by this inaugural recipe, I’m going to be dipping into it a lot this summer. The hot chocolate sauce is the work of Felicity Cloake, the excellent food writer and recipe tester extraordinaire of The Guardian. The only thing I added was warm water to get the sauce to the consistency I preferred.
The fittingly oxymoronic thing about Peanut Butter Ice Cream is that it still feels a bit wintery and with the weather currently oscillating between skin-scalding hot and goosebump inducing cool evenings, this dessert sits better than a fruity-fresh one would at present. Whatever the weather though, life’s always better with Peanut Butter, in any form.
Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Hot Chocolate Sauce
From Lola’s Ice Creams & Sundaes by Morfudd Richards”
Peanut Butter Ice Cream
This ice cream doesn’t start with custard, so it’s quite light in texture and finish. I used the Whole Earth brand of Peanut Butter. Either smooth or crunchy works here, whatever you have in the cupboards.
400ml whole milk
400 ml whipping cream (30-40 percent fat)
200g caster sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
200g smooth or crunchy peanut butter
To make the ice cream, put the milk, cream and sugar in a pan to scald just below boiling point, ie, till you see little bubbles at the edges. Take it off the heat and add the vanilla extract, if using.
Put the peanut butter into a large mixing bowl, add a couple of tablespoons of the hot milk and beat to incorporate and loosen the butter. Keep adding more and more while beating continously, until all the milk is used and the mixture is a pale buff colour and fully mixed. Leave aside to cool. If you’d like to speed up the cooling, place the bowl into a sink filled with cold water and ice cubes, stirring it every now and again until it’s fully cooled down.
Churn in your ice cream maker as per the manufacturer’s instructions or using the still-freezing method (note below). Decant to a sealed container, placing wax or baking paper over the surface of the ice cream to stop ice crystals from forming. Leave for at least 4 hours in the fridge to mature or preferably overnight.
Take it out of the fridge around 15 minutes before you want to serve it. This allows it to soften a little and makes it easier to scoop up.
Still freezing method : Place the cold unchurned mix into your sealed container and put into the coldest part of your freezer for around an hour and a half. Take it out and beat it either with a fork or electric whisk, breaking up the ice crystals to make a uniform slush. Return to the freezer and repeat this process twice at 1.5 hour intervals. After the third beating, return to the freezer for another hour or so and it should be ready to serve. Note that hand beating this way will not produce a completely light and smooth product but it will still be pretty darn good!
Hot Chocolate Sauce
This recipe makes a rich, thick, spoonable sauce which hardens when it hits the ice cream. It then becomes almost chewy due to the golden syrup and that’s the way I like it. If you don’t have golden syrup, substitute with corn syrup. I cannot say how it would be with agave nectar and similar ingredients, but don’t think there is any harm in trying. The bitterness and viscosity of the sauce will depend on the chocolate you use. I used a 70 percent chocolate which gives a good cocoa depth and pleasing bitterness that offsets the sweet, nutty cream. If you don’t want to be as hardcore, then used a 55-60 percent chocolate bar. Any less and the sauce will be cloyingly sweet.
150g plain chocolate, broken into small pieces
50ml whipping cream
2 tbsp golden syrup
Knob of butter
Pinch of salt
Put the chocolate and cream into a small, heavy-based pan over a low heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate has melted into the cream to make a smooth paste. Add the syrup and butter which gives it a glossy sheen. If it is too thick for you, add a few tablespoons of warm water at a time until it’s a consistency that pleases you. Keep warm until ready to serve, or just eat as is.
Suggestion : This ice cream also would work splendidly with some peanut brittle on the side, as per the original recipe in the book. Or, scatter toasted, crushed peanuts over a smooth peanut butter ice cream topped with hot chocolate sauce. Or, shave chocolate bars finely and throw into the last few mixes of the ice cream maker to speckle with chocolate.