Like a catchy song can quickly become an earworm, so a viral Instagram recipe can become an eyeworm. (Sorry for that visual.) Phone cameras are so good these days that the era of Instagram photo filters is long over: you don’t need an assist from Valencia or Perpetua (remember these old friends?) to boost the appeal of a close up of thick ribbons of chocolate or dense, cakey doughnut holes. Usually Instagram foodie influencers can be found prowling their respective cities, selfie sticks in hand, to find the most photogenic empanada or sprinkle cake. Now, with all of us staying indoors, a different variety of foodfluencer has risen to the top: one who can take what’s already in the fridge and make it as whimsical as possible. For some, this might mean pancake cereal is now on the menu at their house. For me, it’s peanut butter milk from @sweetportfolio aka Valentina Mussi:
Here’s the “recipe”:
- 2 Tbsp. peanut butter
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- Milk, for serving
“As usual, whip until your arm goes numb and you achieve a creamy fluffy texture. Serve iced over your favorite milk and add toppings if you want!”
One thing I know about these drinks is that they exist to be photographed and filmed, so I was initially less concerned with getting the ratio right than I was with nailing the presentation. I didn’t have Reese’s Pieces, which are admittedly a nice pop of color, but I did have the very last homemade peanut butter cookie with butterscotch chips in a Tupperware on my counter, which could form a suitable crumble on top.
And how about glassware? Sure, I could go with a stemless wine tumbler like @sweetportfolio has done, but maybe I’ve got something even better. After all, this is a cute, fun little recipe that has absolutely no reason to exist, so why not pair it with cute, fun drinkware I never have an occasion to use? I opted for my favorite elephant-handled wine glass that I’m always too afraid of shattering to actually drink from most of the time. My thinking was, peanut butter → peanuts → elephants. A most thematic choice.
And now to the actual preparation! I began by whipping up the fluff. The Reese’s brand peanut butter used in the Instagram video seemed a lot runnier than my sturdy jar of Skippy, so I measured out a couple tablespoons into a ramekin and microwaved it for a couple 15-second intervals until it was creamy, if not pourable, before adding it to the heavy cream. Whisking rapidly, I got the mixture to a thick consistency in under 30 seconds without my arm even going numb, which I’ll take as a mark of my tremendous strength. In her post, Mussi recommends not using a peanut butter brand that’s too salty, but I actually like the savory notes that Skippy added to the final product. I did probably add too much of it to the cream, though, because my fluff wasn’t as silky smooth as the stuff in the video.
For the milk, I used 2%. If you’re already adding a half cup of heavy cream to this thing, then using whole milk felt a bit like overkill. Usually, I’d never in my right mind add ice to milk, but you need it here, and you need a lot of it. Not for flavor or texture, but because ice is the only thing that will bolster the fluff layer atop the milk and keep it from slumping right into the liquid. Plus, in order to get that beautiful visual mound of fluff on top—because, again, this thing exists for the photo ops—you need ice to displace the milk right up to the top of your glass. I barely succeeded in this respect, with a fluff that peeked coquettishly above the rim without actually heaping over it. I used about 9 or 10 cubes, but still, more ice would have done the trick.
I forgot to roll the glass in the cookie crumbles before filling it, so my peanut butter rim went nude. But the broken-up peanut butter/butterscotch cookies still looked great on top of the drink, anyway.
So, what does it taste like? Like a whole lot of unnecessary pressure. It’s mostly fine, but you have to work so hard to find a way to drink/eat it that makes sense. You don’t want the ice watering down the drink too much, so you have to sip quickly, meaning you’re guzzling heavy cream at an inadvisable rate. The ice cubes make it hard to stab the straw all the way down to the milk. They also get crusted with glop from the fluff mixture, lending an overall curdled look to the half-finished drink. I tried just eating it with a spoon, but that means you’re scooping the fluff out of the drink and leaving yourself with the less imaginative milk at the bottom. The peanut butter flavor doesn’t penetrate the milk very well, because it’s so bound up with the cream. This milk treat has clearly defined layers—ultra-thick fluff, fluid milk, solid ice—and I’d rather throw it all into a blender and force them to meet in the middle as a milkshake.
(One thing I would do differently next time is add a little less sugar to the fluff mixture, which is more interesting and unexpected when it has a savory edge, and add the remainder to the milk itself, because once you stick a straw down into the layers, the plain milkiness plus all that ice is an unwelcome hit of wateriness.)
But for those without blenders and with the strong desire to hop aboard a viral trend, give it a try—you can call the whipping your morning workout and be done with it.