Calvin, Hobbes & Peanut Butter

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 –

Copyright Bill Waterson 1993

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.

Peanut Butter Ice CreamPNB Ice Cream_0034

PNB Ice Cream_0002

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 Creampeanut Butter ice cream

Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Hot Chocolate Sauce

  • Servings: approx 6 people and makes 1 kilo
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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.

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51 thoughts on “Calvin, Hobbes & Peanut Butter

  1. Sarvani (baker in disguise)

    You can never argue with Calvin.. he has all the answers to life!! He is a true love of mine!!

    I think he would approve of this ice-cream.. I have even imagined the whole scene..he and Hobbes, sitting up in their tree house, convening a meeting of their club G.R.O.S.S. (Get ready of slimy girls), with two bowls of ice-cream, plotting their next move against Susie!!

    1. Caroline @ The Patterned Plate

      I had to wait every weekend for the comic strips on the Saturday leisure pages of the local newspaper in Abu Dhabi to get my fix. Such a long wait! So when I finally tracked down the books (including ones where Bill Waterson went into his creative process with some of his favourite strips) I was in heaven! Still read them for a cheer-me-up.

  2. jjalbertt

    Anything with peanut butter always gets me..I would probably gain about 10 pounds, because I would have a hard time stopping myself.
    Great read, excellent photos. 🙂

  3. The Very Hungry Londoner

    Gosh that looks good! I love anything with peanut butter in – my flatmate bought me back a massive bag of reese’s cups from the states and I can’t seem to stop eating them! When I eventually run out I’ll have a go at making this!

    1. Caroline @ The Patterned Plate

      Oh if you like Reese’s cups, then you can approximate your own (and a better version in my opinion) by making Nigella’s Peanut Butter Cups from her Christmas Book. I blogged about that a couple of years ago and it’s still a firm favourite.

      She has a similar one for squares in How to be a Domestic Goddess which are more dangerous cos you can cut them nice and fat 😉

  4. but i'm hungry

    Oh goodness, I’m going to have to make this. I have two peanut butter addicts in the house… a big one and a little one. 😉 they don’t exactly scoff at ice cream or chocolate either, so I foresee this being a huuuuge hit in my house! Question about the pb you used… I usually buy the natural stuff that’s just peanuts and salt. Did you use a natural pb or something sweetened? Just wondering if I’ll have to add a bit more sugar or not. Thanks!!!

    1. Caroline @ The Patterned Plate

      Hi Christina. I buy the Whole Earth brand of peanut butter and that has peanuts, palm oil and salt. It’s quite a thick paste, not creamy like Mr. Skippy but I prefer it that way. The sweetness was perfect for me (don’t like things overtly sweet), but am sure it does no harm if you want to up it a bit. Have a taste when you make the mix and consider that freezing neutralises some of the sweetness, so add if you feel it needs it.

      1. but i'm hungry

        That’s perfect- I don’t like things with too much sweetness, either. I always just wonder because the “skippy type” often has corn syrup and stuff in it, which not only makes it sweeter, but also has properties which sometimes can affect the finished product. It’s funny that I often have to adjust recipes to use REAL peanut butter. 🙂 Thanks for the help!

        1. Caroline @ The Patterned Plate

          Yup, exactly the reasons I don’t like to use them either. Another goodie on this blog is the Magic in the Middle Cookies I featured from another blog. It’s a cracker and totally fun for kids to make too. Also the Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cups (you are warned, they are deadly delish) If you are interested, you can find the recipes in the Recipe section 🙂

  5. CakePants

    This looks SO good right now…wow! I never tried to do peanut butter “the Calvin way,” but my mom would always use her finger to draw a smiley face on the top of a newly-opened jar of peanut butter and then pretend it came that way. It’s fun to think about little food rituals like those – I hadn’t thought about that one in years!

  6. lapetitecasserole

    I saw your amazing ice-cream on Instagram today, as soon as I found a few minutes I’m here to express all my admiration… your ice-cream cheered me up this afternoon! I’ll give it a try!

  7. Rushi!

    If only I could convince my aunt to part with her ice cream maker for a day….. Oh my oh my Carrie, you do come up with the perfect sweet treat for every season, month and week. I can’t wait to try this one out. I tend to buy the whole earth peanut butter in bulk because I prefer it without the added sugar, plus I love peanut butter with a drizzle of honey. I remember making my mom’s ice cream without a machine and beating it to remove the ice crystals every couple of hours, the end effort was truly worth it. Ah and yes I used to wait snatch the newspaper off my dad just to look at the comic strips, Calvin and Marmaduke were my favourites 😀

  8. Kirsten

    Yum! Peanut Butter and Chocolate is a hard combination to beat. Although, if you add a little banana in there too, then . . . Also, it’s nice to see an ice cream recipe with instructions to make it without an ice cream machine. I just don’t have the space – either on the counter or in the freezer for the bowl – so I am always on the look out for no-churn recipes. 🙂

    1. Caroline @ The Patterned Plate

      OOoh Love PnB & Banana sandwiches. Hit the spot during savage pregnancy cravings! Must add some to the next batch. Whipped condensed milk based mixes make pretty decent no-churn ice creams and Nigella has a few of those I think. I haven’t tried them personally, but know people who have and love it.

      1. Kirsten

        Me too! PnB & banana on toast is a breakfast favourite, so is cashew nut butter and apple (for a change). It had skipped my mind to check Nigella for ice cream recipes – how remiss of me. Thanks for the prompt. I haven’t heard of using whipped condensed milk as a base so I will investigate further.

        1. Caroline @ The Patterned Plate

          I think Nigella uses condensed milk and double cream as the basis of her coffee ice cream in Nigellissima and a pomegranate one with just double cream in Express. Both are a quick whisk and then bung in the freezer type jobs and are open to any interpretation. Both recipes are on her site, so knock some ice cream out !! 😉

  9. Rural*ish

    You had me at “no custard”! The weather has been so strange here in Northern California…last week we were in shorts and today it is blustery and raining. So this will have to wait until a much warmer day, but I pinned it so I’ll be ready!

  10. Michelle

    I’m always amazed when I read things that say that Europeans, for example, don’t like peanut butter. It’s one of the worlds great wonders!

    1. Caroline @ The Patterned Plate

      Really Michelle? I suppose it’s considered a very American ingredient. My husband is not keen on Peanut Butter as is, but loves it when used in savoury cooking or treats like these or the peanut butter and chocolate cups (kinda like homemade Reese’s, so addictive!). So I suppose what you read is right to an extent 🙂

  11. Paresh

    I am an accidental subscriber to your column, my mail had dumped you in the spam box :)…What’s beautiful about your column is the way your column starts hooking me right into the story till I realize it’s a ploy to sell me a recipe, but by then I am usually past care. Lovely writing keep it up, someday, just someday I may be tempted to even try out your recipe….

  12. agentjustyna

    peanut butter is not popular at all here in Poland, but i’ve been trying hard to change that. This recipe is going to help with that for sure 😉

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