Buckeye Ice Cream

Ok, so I tend to fall in love with every new flavor of ice cream I make (Exhibit A: Lemon Ginger Ice Cream) especially if it uses flavors I’m already a sucker for (Exhibit B: Sweet Potato Ice Cream)…but I think this is the first batch of ice cream I’ve ever made that Brad and I actually both obsessed over. To be honest, finding a flavor he’d love was my goal this time around since he hadn’t been all that tickled with the last few batches. To quote him, “I was so excited when you got an ice cream maker, but you just keep making these weird flavors…” Poor guy. While Brad cooks professionally, he’s still a real meat-n-potatoes, keep-it-simple-please kind of cook. I guess my tastes are more diverse than I thought.

So, I decided go back to the basics. However, being the person that I am I couldn’t just go for a simple vanilla or chocolate. Remembering Brad’s love for a peanut butter cup ice cream he had had on a visit to his parents’ place, I settled on this recipe for Buckeye Ice Cream. It was still pretty basic: chocolate, peanut butter, sugar, cream…but gave me enough to work with that I was interested. One hour later the soft ice cream was proofing in the freezer and we kept sneaking spoonfuls when the other wasn’t looking. It’s amazing the batch solidified at all, haha. 

As an aside, what’s the difference between peanut butter cup ice cream, buckeye ice cream, and moosetracks ice cream? My dad has always loved moosetracks and I thought it was just a different name for the peanut butter cup kind, but Brad swears it tastes different. As far as I can tell, buckeye ice cream is about the same, just the peanut butter is in the cream base and not in a cup…any ice cream aficionados out there who can explain the details?

Buckeye Ice Cream

(from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer)

Ingredients:

2   C   whole milk

1   T + 1 t   cornstarch

1½   oz.  softened cream cheese

½   C   unsalted natural crunchy peanut butter

½   t   salt (omit if using salted peanut butter)

1¼   C   heavy cream

2/3   C   sugar

2   T   light corn syrup

2   T   honey

4   oz.   semi-sweet or dark chocolate coarsely chopped

Procedure:

1) To prep: mix about 2 Tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl. Mix the cream cheese, PB, and salt (if using) in a medium bowl until smooth. Prepare a large ice bath.

2) Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and honey in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over Medium-high heat and cook for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cornstarch mixture. Bring the liquid back to a boil over Medium-high heat and cook again, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened – about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

3) Gradually whisk the hot milk blend into the cream cheese mix until smooth. Pour the finished ice cream base into a 1-gallon ziplock freezer bag and submerge the base in the ice bath. I tried a different technique this time: to help it along, I kept the top of the bag unzipped an open – very carefully propping it up so no water would get in (or ice cream out). I’d stir it every 5 min or so until it was just warm – no longer hot – then I sealed the bag, submerged the whole thing in the bath, and put the bowl in the fridge. Replace ice as necessary and let stand until mixture is cold – about 1 hour. So far it seems to be the most effective, for me at least.

4) Once ice cream base is thoroughly cold, pour into ice cream machine and follow manufacturer’s instructions. As ice cream is aerating, melt the chocolate in a double boiler over Medium-low heat. Remove from heat and let cool until tepid but still fluid. When the ice cream is nearly finished in the machine, slowly drizzle the chocolate through the opening to swirl it into the mix. Allow it to spin and break up in the ice cream for about 2 minutes before removing the ice cream.

5) Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Let proof in the coldest part of your freezer until firm – at least 4 hours.

Beezer’s Notes:

This ice cream did not last long. As I mentioned above, it was nearly half gone by the time it had finished freezing…and it’s even better once solid and the flavors have time to really develop. Brad has been requesting it on a regular basis since I first made it, but I’ve been holding out as long as possible – not because I don’t want more or because I want to torture my man, but because I know I will have absolutely no willpower once it’s in my freezer again. None. And I haven’t bumped up my yoga routine and returned to the gym for nothing. Yep, I think I can refuse for another week of hard exercise before I’ll have to cave and make another batch…but boy will I enjoy it.

Overall Enjoyment:   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

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Sweet Potato Ice Cream

I did it! I survived the “sink or swim” semester, haha. These last few weeks have been a challenge (to put it mildly) but I put every last ounce of energy into my studies, dedicated all my time, and honestly did as best as I could do. It would be far too easy to agonize over the details: my silly mistakes during a presentation, the rushed report I could’ve done so much better on had I more time, or the exam I probably failed just this afternoon despite three straight days of studying – it’s that last one in particular that’s gnawing away at the back of my mind. But I know I was a strong student this semester overall, that I’ve received positive feedback from my instructors as well as fellow grad students, and that a single failed exam won’t keep me from passing a course.

I made this ice cream a while back (remember the Instagram?) and immediately fell in love. If you like soft, mushy sweet potato, toasted marshmallows, and cinnamon then you’re in for a treat. I kid you not, this ice cream tastes just like sweet potato pie…except colder, of course. 🙂 I know ice cream is not the most obvious dessert choice during the winter months, but I’m from Vermont where we eat Ben & Jerry’s year-round (and still manage this!) so trust me: it works.

A kitchen torch will be handy here if you’re lucky enough to have one, otherwise you can toast your mini-mallows in the oven for a minute or so (watch them closely!). If you use the oven technique, you may want to toast them a day ahead of time. Even with parchment paper my marshmallows clung to the sheet like glue – and yes, I let them cool for an hour first. It wasn’t until I listened to my smarter-half and let them sit on the parchment overnight that I was able to easily remove the marshmallows without becoming a gooey mess. Is that an obvious trick? Well I apologize if it is, it was news to me, haha.

Sweet Potato Ice Cream

(from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer)

Ingredients:

1½   C   peeled sweet potato, cut into ½” cubes

2   C   whole milk

1½  oz.  cream cheese, softened

¼   t   fine sea salt

¼   t   ground cinnamon

1¼   C   heavy cream

1/3   C   granulated sugar

1/3   C   packed dark brown sugar

2   T   molasses

1½   C   toasted mini-marshmallows*

1   gallon-sized Ziploc freezer bag

*Note: Jeni includes a homemade recipe for her Vanilla Bean Marshmallows, which sound fantastic. Since time was of the essence, however, I simply bought mini-mallows from the store – see my recommendation above.

Procedure:

1) In prep: combine the sweet potato pieces and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are soft – about 8-10 minutes. While potatoes are cooking, beat cream cheese with salt and cinnamon in a large bowl until smooth. Prepare an ice bath and place in fridge until needed.

2) Once the potatoes have been cooked use an immersion blender to puree them until smooth (or, alternatively, transfer them in the milk to a blender and blend until smooth before returning the mix to the pan). Add the cream, sugars, and molasses and stir until incorporated. Bring mixture to a rolling boil over Medium-high heat and boil for exactly 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

3) Pour about a third of a Cup of the hot mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese and whisk until the cream cheese has been incorporated. Add the remainder of the base, whisk well a few times to blend it all together, and then immediately pour into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge in the ice bath. Let the base cool – adding more ice as necessary – until cold (I placed mine in the ice bath and then put the whole thing in the fridge, stirring the contents of the bag every 15 minutes or so to redistribute the heat).

4) Once the ice cream base is definitively cold, pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the soft ice cream in a storage container being sure to layer plenty of toasted marshmallows as you go. Press a sheet of parchment paper to the surface of the ice cream before sealing and freezing. Let ice cream proof in the freezer for at least 4 hours before eating.

Beezer’s Notes:

As I mentioned before, this dessert is just like a frozen sweet potato pie. I really should have added some brown-sugar dusted pecans on top and it would’ve been complete, haha. My batch turned out a bit thicker than I anticipated; I’m not sure if it was just from me boiling the base for too long or from the consistency of the potatoes. I didn’t mind, the texture was rich and creamy with little puffs of marshmallows in every scoop, but you may want to add a bit more milk if you prefer a lighter ice cream.

Overall Enjoyment:  ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

Salted Caramel Apple Sundae with Brandy White Chocolate Sauce

See that photo above? I’m hoping it’s making your mouth water just enough for you to forgive me for posting late…again. Also, while I write this, I’m sitting in my kitchen being enveloped by the most delicious smell of homemade bagels in the oven – you’ll be seeing that post next!

I feel like I should share with you something my adviser wrote to me before I moved up here this Fall. In response to my surprise at the number of courses I was signing up for, he said my first semester is truly a “sink or swim” regiment designed to get the majority of requirements out of the way as soon as possible.

I know my future self will appreciate the lighter course load once research begins in the Spring…but that’s making the very large assumption that my future self will still be here studying: right now I think it will take a small miracle to get me through the next month and a half. Last week, after multiple 4-hour nights still did not improve my workload any, I stayed awake for just over 35 hours to finish all my assignments. And those were just of the regular, run-of-the-mill, homework type. I’m pretty sure you can feel my panic through the screen right now, haha.

So, I’m still in my kitchen as frequently as I can possibly manage, but I’m making no promises on posts between now and Christmas, haha. The bagel post, I’m sure, will find its way up somehow in the next week or so, but other than that it’ll just be a matter of luck really. Let’s all hope I can “swim” better than I can cook!! 🙂

Salted Caramel Apple Sundae with Brandy White Chocolate Sauce

(this post was inspired by Jeni’s Splended Ice Creams, this sauce recipe, and this post my brother linked to me – thanks Al!)

* enough for 6 sundaes *

Ingredients:

1 gallon-sized ziplock freezer bag

ice bath

6   large apples (as symmetrically round and flat-bottomed as you can find)

1   C   chopped almonds or other nuts as you prefer

For the Ice Cream…

(makes about a pint)

2   C   whole milk

1   T   plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1½   oz.   cream cheese, softened

¼   t   fine sea salt*

1¼   C   heavy cream

2   T   light corn syrup

2/3   C   sugar

2   t   pure vanilla extract

*Note: Jeni’s original recipe calls for ½ teaspoon of salt, but we both found that too salty for our tastes. Remember that the ice cream base will have a milder flavor than the final frozen/proofed ice cream! I’d rather you find you can’t taste the quarter teaspoon salt and have to add more in the future than have your frozen ice cream turn out so salty it’s inedible (what happened with my first batch).

For the Sauce…

250   grams   (~ 9 oz. ) white chocolate

1    C   heavy cream

1-2   T   brandy (taste after 1 and see how you like it, we liked it boozy)

Procedure:

1) Prep Step: Mix about 2 Tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Mix the heavy cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout. Finally, fill a large bowl with ice and water (lots of ice!) put in fridge until needed.

2) For Ice Cream Base: Prepare the caramel using a “dry-burn technique” – Jeni describes this very well in her book, but if you don’t have a copy you should first consider buying one (have you heard of her flavors??) and then check out Dave Lebovitz’s page on making caramel. Basically you need to: heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over Medium heat until melted and golden-amber in color. Remove the caramel from the heat and, stirring constantly, sloooowly add a bit of the cream/corn syrup mix to the pan (be careful, it can splatter!). Stir well until combined then add a little more and repeat the process until all the cream/corn syrup is incorporated.

2) Return the caramel blend to Medium-high heat and add milk. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 4 minutes before removing from heat and gradually whisking in the cornstarch slurry. Bring mixture back to a boil and cook, stirring frequently with a heat-proof spatula, until slightly thickened (about 1 minute) before removing from heat to cool. If any bits of solid caramel remain, pour mix through a sieve.

3) Add about a third of a Cup of the hot caramel mix to the cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Pour the dissolved cream cheese/caramel blend back into the main caramel base and whisk until fully incorporated. Add vanilla and whisk. Finally, pour the mix into a 1-gallon ziplock freezer bag and submerge in the prepared ice bath. Let it cool, adding more ice if necessary, until cold (not warm, not cool, but COLD!) – about 30 minutes.

4) As ice cream base chills, prepare the Sauce: very carefully, melt white chocolate in a saucepan over Low heat (it is VERY easy to overheat white chocolate and have it seize on you. I’m speaking from experience here.) or use a double-boiler over barely-simmering water. Add the cream and stir until fully combined – you’re basically a white-chocolate ganache. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, stir in half of the brandy and taste. Add more brandy as desired. Store in an airtight container until ice cream is ready.

5) When ice cream base is cold, pour into ice cream maker per manufacturer’s instructions. Once the ice cream has churned, pour into an airtight container, press a piece of cling-wrap tightly to the surface, and freeze until firm (I left it overnight, Jeni recommends at least 4 hours).

6) Once you have both the sauce and the frozen ice cream, prep your “apple bowls” by using a melon-baller or teaspoon and hallow-out one apple per serving. I left most of the flesh in my bowls due to simple laziness, but you can pack more ice cream in them if you do a thorough job. If you want to prep your apples ahead of time (while ice cream churns, for example) just sprinkle the bowls with lemon juice to keep them from oxidizing and turning brown. Finally, rough-chop your almonds or nuts of choice for topping.

7) Assemble your sundaes! Add a scoop of ice cream to each apple bowl followed by a drizzle of brandy sauce and a sprinkling of nuts. Enjoy immediately. 🙂

Beezer’s Notes:

With the exception of the too-salty first batch (see note above), my recipe mash-up turned out beautifully. I’m a big fan of the brandy white chocolate sauce especially; besides being an excellent sundae-topper it’s also yummy as a fruit dip – keep it chilled and I bet it could even work well as a frosting. To be honest, it must be the brandy; I’ve always found white chocolate to be too sweet in the past. The caramel ice cream, of course, also has an amazing flavor and worked as well with the apple bowls as I had hoped it would (so caramel doesn’t have to be hot and sticky to go with apples! haha); also, its slight bitterness really helps temper the sweet sauce.

Overall Enjoyment:  ♥    ♥    ♥    ♥

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