Friday, January 18, 2013

We all Scream for Homemade Cookies and Cream

The Setting: Another beautiful, blue-sky day, best enjoyed indoors with a cup of hot tea and the furnace cranked up.

The Soundtrack: Bobby Deen's new show on the Food Network. He just showed a clip of Paula making Country Fried Steak, and now I want it so badly my stomach is in knots.

On the Stovetop:
Hoosband's cabbage and white bean soup.

The Scenario: What's better than Homemade Oreos? Cookies and Cream Ice Cream made with Homemade Oreos, of course.

It's not likely you're going to make a batch of Homemade Oreos and think, "Now, what am I going to do with all these?" I mean, they're Oreos...only better.

I could easily have eaten my entire first batch within a week--and with Hoosband's help, they wouldn't have lasted half that long--but I had a mission. I imagined the cookies would make an out-of-this world addition to ice cream, and I simply had to confirm my suspicions.

The concept was straightforward enough: mix crumbled cookies into vanilla ice cream. But what ice-cream recipe to use?

My own vanilla ice-cream recipe, which begins with more of a custard or creme-anglaise-like base, served me well in my beloved Brown Bread Ice Cream, but I felt like its egg-yolk-fortified richness was somehow wrong for this particular application. Thus--and this should be no surprise to anyone who follows this blog with much regularity--I turned to Jeni.

On page 148, in the "Winter"  chapter of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, I found the answer: Ugandan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

Jeni's egg-less, cream-cheese-fortified recipe would produce a perfectly balanced, vanilla-bean backdrop for my cookie crumbles.

Now, just to be clear, I did not source vanilla beans from Uganda to make this ice cream, even though Jeni's description of them--complex and smoky, with prominent notes of honey, jasmine, ylang-ylang, and amber (p 145)--is quite appealing . Maybe I will go on an online ordering spree at some point and snatch up all the exotic ingredients necessary to take me to the highest level of ice-cream nirvana. But for this experiment I was content using whatever beans Costco had in stock, as I was relatively certain any subtle Ugandan nuances would be obscured by the onslaught of Oreos anyway.

The following recipe is excerpted with permission from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home. My notes are in blue.

Ugandan Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped out, seeds and bean reserved
For my Cookies and Cream variation you'll need 12 or so Homemade Oreos, pulsed into coarse crumbles and crumbs in the food processor or zipped in a gallon-sized bag and smashed to crumbles with a rolling pin or wooden mallet. 

PREP 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. If you have trouble whisking the cream cheese, microwave it for about 10 seconds to soften it a bit more. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

COOK Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup, and vanilla seeds and bean in a 4-quart saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

CHILL Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. 
Gradually is the key word--if you add it all at once, it will be very difficult to get out all the lumps. Speaking of lumps, I like to strain my mixture into a clean bowl at this point, just to make sure the ice cream will be silky-smooth. Use a spatula to help work the mixture through the strainer.

Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes. I generally make the mixture the day before I want to freeze the ice cream so it can chill thoroughly in the fridge overnight.

FREEZE Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy. For best results, always freeze the canister for AT LEAST 24 hours before using.

NOTE: For my Cookies and Cream variation, I added my Homemade Oreo crumbles right into the opening of the ice cream machine in the last moments of spinning, once the ice cream was thick and creamy, just before I turned off the machine.

Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. The parchment is awesome at helping to prevent freezer burn. Every time you scoop out ice-cream, be sure to press the parchment back down over the remaining ice cream to help keep it tasty. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Makes about 1 quart (or a generous quart of Cookies and Cream). 

Excerpted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan Books). Copyright 2011.

Thanks for reading! Here's to Being the Secret Ingredient in your life.

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