Tag Archives: peanut butter

Dairy-free, eggless, banana-based ice cream

There’s been a cool, rainy spell in Shanghai lately, but the weather people tell us summer isn’t over yet. As long as I’m still comfortable in shorts, I’m going to keep letting myself indulge in the best part of summer: ice cream. (Which might explain why I’ve disturbingly gained back half the weight I’d lost back in June…)

So I was super excited to discover, while going through my facebook feed one boring workday, someone’s reposting of a “healthy” ice cream recipe. It called for a whopping — ready? — 3 ingredients: frozen banana chunks, peanut butter, and honey. I’d made mung bean popsicles and PBJ froyo pops earlier this summer, but there’s nothing like the indulgent creaminess of soft ice cream. Since those ingredients are foods we always have around at home, I tried it that very night.

The first attempt failed as my impatience led me to use banana chunks that weren’t yet quite frozen, but a couple more tries in the following days (executed by Sean, who jumped on the idea in an instant) finally led to success. The result is a cold, creamy, smooth dessert that tastes and feels like soft serve — and is actually good for you!

I’d known that bananas are often used in lieu of eggs in vegan baked goods, but had no idea they could come out so deliciously creamy when frozen. Even though ripe bananas are used, the banana flavour isn’t overpowering. With no dairy ingredients, this recipe is lactose-intolerant friendly, and vegan-izable if you ditch the honey — which you totally could if the bananas are ripe enough. We spiced ours up with cinnamon and vanilla extract, and plan to try it with some dark chocolate chunks next time.

[Edit: Tried it with the chocolate tonight, FAIL! Even though we nuked the chocolate for 20 seconds before adding it to the mixture, it solidified right back up upon contact with the frozen banana. We ended up with tiny bland bits of chocolate in the ice cream which killed the texture and did nothing for flavour.]

We lost our faithful blender of nearly two years on our third ice cream-making attempt. We’d been meaning to replace it for weeks (months) now, as the hardened grime on its sides became impossible to ignore, but it’d been working fine up until that fateful evening when it began to moan and then slow down. For 99 RMB, it couldn’t be beat. RIP.

Dairy-free banana-peanut butter ice cream

3 medium very ripe bananas
1 heaping tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp honey (optional)
2 tsp vanilla (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

1. Peel bananas, slice each into 10 chunks, and place in freezer for 3+ hours or until frozen.
2. Remove from freezer and microwave on medium-high for about 1 minute. This will make it easier to process.
3. Add bananas, peanut butter, and other ingredients to blender/food processor and blend until creamy, like soft serve ice cream. You will need to stop and scrape the sides down several times, or push it down with a spoon as it is blending. Don’t worry if small chunks of banana remain; these are delicious as they have the texture of hard ice cream. Do NOT spend too long on this step as the mixture doesn’t stay solid for long.
4. Transfer to a bowl or two and enjoy immediately!

Makes about 2 servings.


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Homemade PBJ frozen yogurt pops

Warning peanut-butter-jelly fans: this may keep you by your freezer for the rest of the summer.

While looking up a jiaozi recipe the other day, I caught sight of a link for “peanut butter frozen yogurt” and was instantly intrigued. It’s been hot. Sean loves peanut butter. I’ve been dying to expand my repertoire of desserts not requiring an oven. When I found how out easy it was to make (frozen yogurt really is just yogurt that’s frozen! Well, plus a few things around the kitchen), I headed immediately for the fridge.

Inspired by the recipe that recipe was inspired by, I added a fruity twist by throwing a spoonful of raspberry jam in with the peanut butter, milk, yogurt, and honey. The raspberry seeds and peanut chunks gave this sweet (and slightly salty) treat extra texture and a sort of natural, healthier feel.

While these creamy ice pops do contain whole milk, full-fat yogurt, and Skippy peanut butter (yes, not the most natural PB around), I’ve already convinced myself that this is still better for me than store-bought ice-cream with its chemicals and artificial flavourings (sorry, Magnum, I still love you). Once you try these, you will too :-)

And if you’re trying to do with fewer carbs this summer, this perfect combo of ingredients is basically a breadless breakfast on a stick that you can even take for the road. No, I’m not even kidding.

Berry peanut butter frozen yogurt pops
Adapted from this recipe. For enhanced texture, use crunchy peanut butter and jam with seeds/fruit pieces instead of jelly.

1/3 cup peanut butter
1 tbsp strawberry or raspberry (or other berry) jam
1/2 cup milk
1 cup (160g) plain, sweetened yogurt
2 tbsp honey (or more if using unsweetened yogurt)

1. Put all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Do a taste test: it should taste very sweet (the sweetness will lessen once it’s frozen).
2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds or into shot glasses and place in freezer. If using shot glasses, stick a wooden stirrer or half a wooden disposable chopstick in the centre of each after about an hour. Freeze for another two hours or until completely solid.
3. Remove the frozen treat from its mold by running under or dipping in warm water. Enjoy!


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Peanut butter cups

Having succeeded in making to-die-for peanut butter cups in Philly last year, Sean and I had long wanted to have another go at it in Shanghai, where Reese’s are few and far between (thanks, Iris, for the family packs over CNY!). For months, though, we were deterred by the cost of chocolate chips (50-60rmb for one of those 11oz packs), so imagine my delight when I found them ON SALE—at the Hershey store, of all places. (It still wasn’t exactly cheap, though… sigh.)

Most of these pictures courtesy of Sean.

It’s super fun and easy, if you manage not to gobble up all the yummy ingredients along the way. For anyone who wants to try, I recommend this recipe with a few modifications suggested by reviewers. We made the following changes, mostly due to regional constraints:
1) Replaced confectioner’s sugar with granulated sugar (not recommended)
2) Replaced muffin cups with lightly greased larger plastic dishes (foil muffin cups are ideal)
3) Added cookie crumbs (graham crackers are ideal)
4) Added an actual cookie (because the dish was so huge—this changes the texture considerably)

I also recommend semi-sweet chocolate chips, for anyone living somewhere with non-bank-breaking chocolate-chip options.

Any way you do it, though, it’s bound to come out delicious. No cooking, no baking—it’s really just a coming together of some foolproof ingredients.


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PBJ, PBH, PB’s got nothin to do with my stomachache

We made peanut butter today. It was fantastic and made us feel part-scientist, part-little kid. (That’s the best kind of feeling, no?)

Some background: Sean is mad about peanut butter. Specifically, Skippy creamy peanut butter. Back in the States, he would buy peanut butter by the 48-ounce twin-pak—that’s two 48-ounce jars—otherwise purchased only by families of six on their monthly stock-up grocery trip. It would last 2 weeks, max. He’d smear it on toast, on fruit, or on a spoon. (He’d have it on earth, in space, or on the moon. He would eat it here and there. He would eat it anywhere!)

As for me, I’ve always enjoyed it on bread with jam or honey, but tended to avoid it in recent years due to its swoon-inducing nutrition facts and my mom’s prophesies of acne breakouts and a lifetime of having to suck in my stomach for photos. (PB or not, those things remain in my life.) Since moving to Shanghai, though, and discovering that any decent jam is imported and thus budget-breaking, I’ve turned to spreading on my toast Skippy creamy (which is surprisingly unexpensive, as it’s manufactured within the country, compared with Jif, which can only be found in expat supermarkets at 3 times the price) and a squeeze or two of honey instead.

Which makes that two peanut-butter admirers under one roof. And, as of today, two Skippy fans who’ve been reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food (thanks, Iris!), which made us realize how bad hydrogenated vegetable oil is. And packaged food is. And that that stuff is in, and is, Skippy.

Not that we immediately resolved to cut it out, of course. Our bonds had become too strong. But it did somehow, directly or otherwise, inspire Sean to suggest that we try making our own peanut butter. I laughed. Make our own peanut butter?! Why, that’s absurd!

…So we got started after dinner. A quick online search showed that it was actually quite simple.

We started with two packs of roasted peanuts, which came to 2 cups. To my dismay, the roasted peanuts we found at our local supermarket turned out to contain the following ingredients: peanuts, vegetable oil, salt, MSG, plus some other preservatives. Bar-style peanuts. So much for going natural and unprocessed… oh well, that just means it’ll taste good, right?

We dribbled in 2 teaspoons of olive oil and got a’blendin’. Half the peanuts transformed at once into grainy clumps.

Our blender was about the cheapest on the market with nary an on-off switch. For fear it’d explode in flames, we stopped it every 20 seconds or so to let it rest and to scrape the blades free.

The initial transformation seemed to be a fluke. More than five minutes into this process, it was still a chunky mass with whole peanuts peeking out at the top.

But looking down while the machine was on, we observed a slow but sure circular movement. We watched with giddy anticipation.

10 minutes later, a definite paste had formed, though it was still fairly chunky. A sheepish grin spread over Sean’s face. “I know I didn’t put on a shirt ’til 6pm today, but somehow I still feel accomplished.”

We could barely contain our excitement. Seeing the stuff go from whole peanuts to a smooth paste was like watching magic.

A couple more blasts on the blender and we were done. The end result: one cup of peanut butter that was warm, soft, and super-spreadable.

As I scooped the contents into an empty jar, Sean slipped some bread in the toaster. We licked the blender clean while we waited. Mmm.

Here it is on a piece of whole-wheat bread, with a drizzle of honey on top:

The texture was divine. The flavours were… a little MSG-y, to tell the truth, which masked the typical aroma we come to expect from peanut butter. Because of this, I’d consider this a peanut butter more to be eaten from a spoon than in a sandwich.

Satisfying as it was, I’m not sure we’re going to make a complete switch to this stuff at the moment, seeing as we have less-than-ideal peanuts. But if and when we do get our hands on some roasted peanuts sans flavourings/preservatives, or find out how to roast the tub of fresh peanuts sitting in the apartment… watch out, Skippy!

I know it’s nothing new—just google “homemade peanut butter” and you’ll find site after site with (similar) recipes and better pics than I’ve got here. But people—and by people I mean my friends and family, many of whom cook, bake, make their own hummus or granola, and so forth—don’t often think of PB as something they can make on their own, easy though it is. Yeah, it’s more time-consuming than picking up a jar on your next grocery trip, not necessarily cheaper (though probably more cost-effective compared to your “natural” peanut butters), and not necessarily healthier if you’re using the peanuts we got—but if you’ve got a blender and a taste for PB and adventure, I urge you to try it. It’s fun. It’s rewarding. It’s the little things in life.


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