Before summer is out I wanted to put out a showstopper ice cream dessert — not that you couldn’t have this all year-round. In this peanut butter ice cream pie, only the good stuff: chocolate, peanut butter, Oreos, ice cream. It’s like whatever the town looked like before the Dairy Queen Blizzard came in and swirled it all up. We have three layers of ice cream, chocolate on the bottom, vanilla on the top, and peanut butter in the middle (to make it, you simply mix the peanut with vanilla ice cream — or you could buy it if you want.)
Separating each flavor is a sheet of peanut butter “magic shell,” which goes on smooth and liquid-y and almost instantly transforms into a hard, chocolate-like layer. Encasing all of this is, what else, an Oreo cookie, no-bake, press-in crust. The crispy topping made puffed rice cereal coated in chocolate is optional (because there’s already a lot going on here) and the result is a symphony of textures: creamy, crispy, snappy, sandy.
If you ever had chocolate magic shell ice cream topping as a kid, you’ll be familiar. It’s just a mixture of melted chocolate, or in this case peanut butter, and an oil like sunflower or coconut oil that are high in saturated fat. We’re using coconut oil, which is solid at room temperature (when it’s not one million degrees outside) and when mixed with the peanut butter and poured over freezing cold ice cream, it seizes up and becomes hard enough to crack.
Since chocolate sets completely solid, chocolate magic shell recipes can use less oil. With peanut butter, we need a higher ratio of oil to achieve the snap of the magic shell — but if you don’t care as much about that, you can feel free to reduce the amount of coconut oil by 25-50 percent. You can also use unrefined coconut oil in a pinch but that has a more distinct coconut flavor.
I tested this recipe with Trader Joe’s creamy peanut butter spread and classic creamy Jif. Both worked great but I really loved the taste of Trader Joe’s. I have not tested how this would work with “natural” peanut butters that separate and have that layer of oil on top, so I would stick to peanut butter spreads.
Since you should really only be buying about two pints of ice cream for this (one chocolate, one vanilla) it might be worth it to splurge on the good stuff. I used Whole Foods branded ice cream and it was very fluffy. This meant that more air was churned into it, which made it easier to spread. But this also made it melt pretty quickly. Ice creams that are more premium typically have less air churned into them and contain a higher butterfat content, which both mean ice cream that melts slower.
It’s a tricky balance. You want the ice cream to be pliable enough to spread, but not so warm that it starts to melt. I got a little fast and loose when making both tests of these. I didn’t let the chocolate layer completely firm up in the freezer before adding on more. You can tell because there is definitely some seepage into the layers above. Not the end of the world! But ensuring you freeze the pie for enough time in between layers and for several hours before serving is important for clean cross-sections and less mess.
Please make this pie with the AC blasting. Ensure there is plenty of space in the freezer and nothing blocking where the cold air comes in. I recommend making this pie the day before serving. Even with the called-for freeze times, ice cream brand melting times and home freezers are all a little different. To get clean, non-melty slices, a long freeze time helps.
Want more no-bake recipes like this? Try…
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