Confession: I had a (very generous) spoonful of ice cream this morning before I even took one sip of my coffee or one bite of my seven-whole-grain-fiber-packed-uber-healthy Kashi-nuggets.
And of course by ‘a spoonful’ I mean at least a few of them, as said ice cream is so creamy and sweet and hauntingly delicious it’s physically impossible to stop at just one bite.
I’m not even joking with you. Impossible.
But today, that is A-OK. It is a Friday, after all, and I refuse to feel bad about starting a day as awesome as a Friday with something as awesome as ice cream.
Plus, I went on a trail run last night. Admittedly it was the first trail ‘run’ I have been on since I’ve lived way up over a mile in the sky, and this run was on a trail that neither I nor my friend Colleen had ever even hiked before.
So naturally, what happens when you embark on a two-point-seven mile trail run on a trail both unfamiliar to your and your torture-buddy?
Your Magellan skills are completely non-existent, and you take a wrong turn. You zig when you should have zagged, and that wrong left turn instead of the correct right sends you huffing and puffing up hundreds and hundreds of vertical feet, carefully running around rocks and dodging the ping-ponging-larger-than-life-grasshoppers until you finally, gratefully, reach the top, and realize that instead of that planned two-point-seven jaunt, you’ve had yourself more of a kick butt four-point-five. Not too shabby.
So it being Friday (!), combined with my running all up-over-and-around the side of a mountain yesterday, are all the more reason that my breakfast indiscretions this morning are totally permissible.
I made this ice cream just over a week ago, before James’ birthday and in anticipation of hosting his family at our house for an evening barbeque. As I wasn’t going to be able to pull off making a three-tiered birthday cake in-between showing off our hometown, visiting the farmer’s market, and attending to the really important things like shopping and having our nails done (though trust, I desperately wanted to), I figured that having a couple of homemade ice creams on deck for dessert would do just fine.
At the moment, my favorite ice cream cookbook (churnbook?) is Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home written by Jeni Britton Bauer, who is the owner and ice cream wizard at her fabulous eponymous ice cream shops located in and around Columbus, Ohio. Though I have never visited one, I have certainly heard the gushing from afar, and her cookbook allows you to recreate many of her famously delicious recipes at home.
I’ve been playing around with making ice creams a lot lately, and I must admit that I’ve yet to end up with anything other than a complete success using her recipes. After much deliberation, I decided to make two batches of ice creams, one more fruity and one more chocolaty, to appease (and please) the entire family at our Friday night dinner. I chose a goat cheese ice cream with a blackberry swirl, and this honeyed peanut ice cream with dark chocolate freckles – aka the “Buckeye State” ice cream, a tribute to the famous chocolate and peanut butter candies that are made to resemble the nut of the state tree of Ohio, the buckeye tree.
Jeni’s recipes are wonderful and unusual at the same time; her instructions are straightforward and very easy to follow, and every recipe in her book uses a tiny bit of cream cheese, instead of the more tradional addition of eggs. Using cream cheese as a binder and thickener (and only 3 or so Tbsp for each recipe) allows you to skip tempering the eggs, a somewhat cumbersome step whereupon you must slowly raise the temperature of the eggs before stirring them gently over heat to make a custard – in other words, the step where most of what can go wrong when making ice cream is most likely to occur at.
Both ice creams were absolutely delicious, but I think this one was the stand out. Despite not being the usual flavor profile that I gravitate to (I am more of an interesting fruity flavor type of gal), the peanut butter flavor here is very gentle and almost buttery, and the honey gives just a touch of earthy sweetness. I am never a fan of encountering large frozen chunks of chocolate in ice cream, and the method used here – gently pouring hot chocolate into nearly totally frozen ice cream so that it breaks up into tiny little speckles – perfectly infused every single bite of ice cream with delicious tiny flecks of dark chocolate.
If any dessert containing peanut butter and chocolate could ever be called light – this is it. The ice cream is chewy and very well textured – not icy at all, and very plush on the tongue. The dark chocolate has a much more refined and clean flavor than a more traditional milk variety, and the sharpness cuts through the soft peanut flavored ice cream wonderfully. I was surprised at how much I love this – though I really loved the goat cheese ice cream as well, this was the one I kept digging my spoon into.
And, of course, it’s the one I’m sneaking bites of for breakfast.
Honeyed Peanut Ice Cream With Dark Chocolate Freckles
From the Fabulous Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home
Makes 1 quart
This is one of those recipes that you will truly benefit from having everything measured and handy before you start cooking – technically, called “mise en place.” Do not try to get away without doing it – it will make your life oh so much easier and less stressful. There is no stress allowed when making ice cream, after all.
This ice cream is delicious – like a grown up and refined version of your favorite childhood peanut butter and chocolate candies. It is really plush and has a great chewy texture – a perfect ice cream, in my opinion.
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons (not ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted natural peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (less if using saltier peanut butter)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 tablespoons honey
4 ounces dark chocolate (55-70% cocoa – I used 70%), roughly chopped
tools: ice cream maker
First, mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with cornstarch to make a smooth slurry. Then whisk the cream cheese, peanut butter and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water (this will be your ice bath, which will help you rapidly cool the liquid ice cream so it will be cold enough to place directly in an ice cream maker).
Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup and honey in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook again, stirring with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove the mixture from the heat.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into cream cheese mixture until it is smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon sealable freezer bag (I use a 1 gallon Ziplock) and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let it stand, adding more ice as necessary, until it is very cold, about 30 minutes.
Pour the cold ice cream base into your ice cream maker, and begin to spin the ice cream.
Meanwhile, carefully melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or a makeshift double-boiler, like I did: a heatproof glass bowl over a small saucepan – really fancy over here!). Remove the melted chocolate from heat and let cool until tepid but still fluid and pourable.
When the ice cream is thick and creamy and almost finished, drizzle melted chocolate slowly through the opening in the top of the ice cream machine and allow it to solidify and break up in the ice cream for about 2 minutes. These are your dark chocolate freckles, and they should weave their way throughout the ice cream.
Pack the finished ice cream into a storage container and press a sheet of parchment directly against surface to prevent ice crystals from forming. Seal the container with an airtight lid, and freeze in coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Serve immediately, or whenever you wish – I find that this ice cream keeps well in the freezer for at least 4 months.