By: Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RDN, LD
In a recent team meeting, I pitched the idea of creating the perfect peanut butter milkshake. As you can imagine, there was an overwhelming YES from the whole team. I assured them that, even though I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist, this would not be an attempt at healthify-ing something that should be super indulgent. After all, I believe that even super indulgent foods can fit into a healthy lifestyle. I set out to create the most delicious, creamy, peanut buttery milkshake ever. It took about 5 tries, but I believe I’ve done it!
I started working on the recipe by doing some research and looking at recipes all over the internet that claimed to be the best. These recipes varied from complex with lots of ingredients, to über simple recipes with only 2-3. I knew I wanted to keep it simple and offer some options for taking the shake over the top but was looking for a base recipe that stayed true to the focus on peanut butter. I made a couple of the recipes to see if, just maybe, someone else had already created the best ever peanut butter milkshake. I found that most of them were a bit too fussy or were overly sweet, not frothy enough, or for some reason just didn’t make me say “eureka!”
One of the things that I missed in those other recipes was the mouthfeel of a really rich milkshake – like the ones you get at your favorite milkshake-making place. I wondered if an ingredient like Greek yogurt could help create that, so I tried a version with plain Greek yogurt as an ingredient. I liked it, but it dulled the flavor of the shake and introduced a tartness that didn’t match my idea of this super sweet treat. Next, I tried adding some ice, which did increase the frothiness, but again didn’t give me the creaminess I wanted. I realized that what I needed was fat. Fat coats the tongue and helps create that rich mouthfeel you get in a really great milkshake.
The ingredients in my shake that provide the fat are the peanut butter (with mostly good fats), full-fat ice cream, and milk. I tried various kinds of milk to see what worked best, including soy milk, 2% and whole milk. I experimented with different quantities of peanut butter and varying ratios of ice cream to milk. Altering these ingredients has a huge impact on the end product, either leading to a thick creamy shake, or a thinner (but still delicious) shake more like a sweet, flavored milk.
Another consideration for the shake was whether or not to introduce some additional flavoring. Vanilla extract seemed like a natural addition and after testing with different quantities, I settled on 1 teaspoon. What about cinnamon or some other spice? Cardamom is one of my favorites! I decided these additional spices were unnecessary to make the Best Peanut Butter Milkshake Ever. (But if your “Best Ever” includes spices, I won’t be mad at you!)
Standing by with each new iteration were my trusted tasting panel. In fact, I would describe them as constructively critical, willing culinary experimenters, and eager eaters – my husband and our 6 year old son. With every batch, they gave me their feedback, “Too thin.” “Maybe a little more peanut butter, Mom.” Until finally, “This one is perfect, but maybe you should make it again, just to be sure!”
Finally, after 3 weeks of peanut butter milkshakes, we agreed on what our family believes is the BEST Peanut Butter Milkshake Ever. We humbly submit to you our recipe. In full transparency, I am a recipe tinkerer and almost never make the same recipe twice, but this one I don’t think I’ll change…except maybe to add a drizzle of chocolate syrup and some crushed pretzels on top.
½ cup peanut butter
1 ½ cups premium vanilla ice cream
½ cup whole or 2% milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Add all ingredients to the blender at once. Blend, just until starting to look frothy and pourable. Don’t overmix! Serve immediately. Optionally, you can top with whipped cream, chopped peanuts, chocolate syrup, and/or chopped pretzels.