Delectable Apple Pie Ice Cream

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I have a confession to make.

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I don’t really like apple pie.

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I know, I know. How very…un-American of me.

But never fear, dear reader: I don’t discriminate. In fact, I harbor negative feelings against most types of pie, not just apple. Lemon meringue, banana cream…take your pick.  I find them all to be quite underwhelming.

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Don’t get me wrong – I’ll eat pie. And if it’s really good, I’ll even enjoy it (Disclaimer: I’ll eat pretty much any dessert with a huge smile on my face).

But as far as personal preference, pie would never be my first choice. I’d rather have cake, or brownies, or…ice cream.

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I think my issue with pie might have something to do with the fact that I’ve never had really great pie crust, and as most pie lovers will tell you, crust can easily make or break the pie eating experience.

Also, I’m not a huge fan of fruit in my desserts in general. Growing up, we had a “chocolate or bust” mentality; as in, we always had chocolate-centric desserts.

So, there’s two strikes already.

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Strike three?

I’ve always had the impression that pie is a huge pain to make. Did I mention that I’m downright terrified of making homemade pie crust? Because I am.

When it comes to pie dough, I have a distinct psychological block that prevents me from even attempting to move forward with a recipe. There is something about the phrase “cut in butter” that makes my brain and body respond with a resounding NOPE, NOT DOING IT. EVER.

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But… pie ice cream? That’s another story.

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I have an obsession with pie ice creams.

Particularly apple.

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Plain old apple pie? Maybe, if I’m desperate.

Apple pie ice cream, with chunks of soft sugar cookies dredged in cinnamon and the delectable flavor of caramelized apples? Now, that’s my kind of pie.

Do you see them? Look closely - tiny flecks of apple pie goodness.

Do you see them? Look closely – tiny flecks of apple pie goodness.

This recipe uses cooked apples that are pureed and then combined with a vanilla ice cream base to mimic the flavor of apple pie. The addition of cookies really puts things over the top. You can even customize with graham crackers, tea biscuits, or snickerdoodles. Only advice? Skip the urge to throw actual pie crust pieces in the place of cookies – they get a little hard and crumbly when frozen.

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Also, you might be tempted to throw in the chunks of apple straight into the ice cream rather than first pureeing them with the ice cream base. I tried this the first time around, and it didn’t turn out so great – the apple pieces froze kinda hard and were overly tart.

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I hope you like it!

Have you ever had pie ice cream? What’s your favorite?

P.S. Happy first day of fall!

Delectable Apple Pie Ice Cream

Motivated by my general disdain for pie, but inspired by my love of baked apples, ice cream, and the geniuses behind Sweet Cream & Sugar Cones.

Yield: 1 Quart

Ingredients:

For the ice cream base:

6 large egg yolks

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

¾ cup sugar

Pinch of salt

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped soft sugar cookies (I like these!)

For the Apples:

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

1 tablespoon of butter

2 Granny Smith apples (or other tart cooking apple), peeled and cut into small chunks

1 teaspoon of  ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Directions:

Make the ice cream base:

1.  In a medium bowl, slightly whisk the egg yolks just to break them up. Set aside.

2. In another bowl, add 1 cup of the cream, and place a mesh strainer or sieve on top of the bowl (you will need this later).

3. Create an ice bath in a large bowl or the bottom of your sink (you’ll need this later, too!)

4. Combine the remaining cup of heavy cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over medium heat, until warmed thoroughly. Slowly pour the warmed milk mixture into the egg yolks (a little at the time), stirring constantly. Once all of the milk has been incorporated to the egg yolks, pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook the mixture for about ten to fifteen minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula. You will feel the mixture thicken, and it will coat the back of the spoon. (To check for doneness, run your finger on the back of the spoon – it should leave a clear path). If you want to get scientific, the mixture should be done when it reaches 170°(health experts recommend that you cook eggs to160°).

5. Once the custard is done cooking, pour through the sieve into the bowl of cream that you set up in Step 2. Add the vanilla extract, then stir to combine, and immediately submerge into the ice path. Stir occasionally, until the mixture cools. Refridgerate the mixture for at least 2 hours before you make the ice cream (but preferably overnight).

Make the apples:

1. Melt the butter and sugar in a medium skillet until the butter gets bubbly. Add the apples and cinnamon (but not the vanilla extract – we’re saving that for later), then cook over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until the apples become soft.

2. Once the apples are done cooking, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Add the vanilla extract and stir to combine.

Make the ice cream:

1. Remove the custard from the fridge.  Combine half of the custard base with the cooked apples in a blender and puree until smooth. Then, add the apple-y mixture back into the non apple-y mixture, place into your ice cream maker, and freeze per the manufacturer’s instructions.

2. During the last few minutes of freezing, add a cup (or so) of soft sugar cookies (I dusted mine with cinnamon sugar beforehand, but the ice cream itself was so rich and flavorful that it didn’t make a noticeable difference).

3. Enjoy ice cream as-is for that soft serve feeling, or freeze for two hours if you prefer a firmer consistency.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Ice Cream

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Peanut Butter & Jelly is the new bacon.

No, no…I’m not all of a sudden going to start piling PB&J on top of scrambled eggs or cheeseburgers (although I’m sure those two combos could be quite delicious, under the right circumstances).

What I mean is…PB&J is slowly becoming the Flavor of the Moment. Let me explain.

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Remember how a few years ago, it seemed that suddenly, the culinary world became obsessed with bacon?

(Or maybe it wasn’t suddenly…maybe I just don’t get out enough).

Anyhow, it seemed like everything from fine dining restaurants to donut shops started including bacon as the feature ingredient in many menu items, especially desserts. Maple bacon this, peanut butter bacon that, chocolate covered bacon, bacon brownies, etc…you get the point. Bacon, bacon, bacon!!!

As wonderful as this trend was and continues to be, the sudden embrace of bacon as a “trend food” left many people, especially those of us in the midwestern United States, downright baffled. After all, bacon is an ingredient that most of us grew up with and consumed on a regular basis. So, when this whole bacon thing happened, we country folk just sat there in amazement and thought, “Really? But we’ve known this all along…”

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Of course, I’m not complaining. I love bacon. LOVE. In fact, there are no words to express how much. Especially in desserts.

I’m just saying that maybe, despite popular belief, we meat-and-potato-loving people know what we’re talking about after all. We might even be…dare I say…trendsetters? 🙂

Now, it seems that yet another one of those homey, much loved flavors is front and center in the culinary world – PB&J.

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Much like bacon, PB&J is a staple food item in many American homes. As a child, it is merely the snack of choice, but as an adult, it holds a special nostalgia that reminds us of paper bag lunches and after school snacks.

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy PB&J even more now than I did when I was small. It’s like mint chocolate chip ice cream – you can’t eat it and not become 6 years old again.

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Yup, Good ol’ Peanut Butter and Jelly might just be the next bacon. Especially seeing as how PB&J themed items are popping up in everything from donuts to cheesecakes, french toast to cookies.

And in a move that seemingly solidifies PB&J’s status as the new cult flavor, Ben and Jerry’s has recently introduced its own version of PB&J – in the form of a delectable ice cream, aptly named “Peanut Butter Jam Session.” This hot new flavor is available only at Target stores, and is currently blowing minds across America as we speak.

Naturally, upon hearing the news, I immediately dropped everything and drove to my nearest Target store. I arrived just in time – only two pints left! I grabbed them both, and shed a silent tear of regret that I’d have to make do with just two.

Later that night I dug in, and was surprised at how relatively…restrained the flavor was. There were delicate swirls of jelly, not too much peanut butter. It was just right, perfectly balanced…

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…almost too balanced for my liking.

Balance is a good thing…when walking on tightropes or performing the Nutcracker. But in general, isn’t food (and for that matter, people) a little more fun when it’s slightly… imbalanced?

Ice cream is one of those areas where I just don’t want anything to do with balance. I like gobs…I like decadence. And Peanut Butter Jam Session just wasn’t doing it for me. So, I decided to make my own.

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I hope you enjoy this decadent, creamy version of a childhood treat, and that the flavor combo gives you as much joy as it did during the days when “recess” was still a valid part of your daily agenda.

Peanut butter and jelly is the new bacon…and I’m ready to eat it all day long!

Happy scooping 🙂

Peanut Butter & Jelly Ice Cream

Yield: About 1 Quart

Ingredients:

For the Peanut Butter base*:

*Peanut butter base adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 + 2/3 cup half-and-half

Pinch of salt (I use a pretty large pinch)

1/8 tsp vanilla extract

For the raspberry swirl:

2 cups raspberries

1/2 cup sugar

Squeeze of lemon

For the peanut butter swirl:

1/3 peanut butter

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1/4 cup peanuts (I use roasted and salted), chopped or crushed

Directions:

1) To make the ice cream, blend the peanut butter, sugar, half-and-half, salt, and vanilla extract together in a blender or food processor until smooth. Chill at least two hours, or preferably overnight.

2) Prepare the raspberry sauce: Stir together the sugar and raspberries in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, then continue to simmer until the mixture thickens (about 10 minutes). Once thickened, remove from heat and let cool completely.

3) Prepare the peanut butter swirl: Melt the peanut butter and coconut oil in the microwave for 30 seconds, then stir until smooth. Add the chopped peanuts, and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

4) Make the ice cream: Remove the chilled peanut butter and half-n-half mixture from the fridge, and freeze in your ice cream machine per the manufacturer’s instructions.

5) Put it all together: When the ice cream is done churning, add half of it to the storage container of your choice. Swirl in some of the peanut butter mixture and raspberry sauce. Add the remaining half of the ice cream, then swirl with more peanut butter and raspberry sauce. Once you have reached an acceptable amount of decadence, eat and enjoy! Or, freeze for a few hours if you like “hard” ice cream.

Homemade Chocolate Shell

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As much as I love and desire all things ice cream, I wouldn’t necessarily categorize myself as an ice cream purist. That is, I like a little crunch in my ice cream…a little texture. This can be achieved through the addition of nuts, chocolate chunks, or other so-called “mix-ins” to the ice cream base, resulting in a complex and satisfying experience that combines sweet with salty, creamy with crunchy, and ooey with gooey.

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Despite my fondness for ice cream that contains mountains of cookie crumbles or candy pieces, many find this practice controversial. Let me explain.

You see, there are two conflicting schools of thought within the ice cream community concerning the addition of candy, cookies, or other treats to the ice cream base. While one camp believes that ice cream should be enjoyed in its purest form, free from candy/cookie distraction, the other proudly champions the use of chunks, swirls, and and other delights to enhance the overall ice cream consumption process.

Also…

I just made that whole thing up.

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Are there schools of thought about ice cream? Would anyone even care if there were? I dont know about you, but I’m not really thinking about anything when i eat ice cream – I’m feeling.

In all seriousness though, “plain” ice cream (which, according to the ice cream dictionary in my head, can be defined as “one that is free from candy/cookie/cake distraction and maintains the overall integrity of the ice cream”), just doesn’t seem to hold my attention the way that ice cream with stuff in it does. Peanut butter swirls, cookie dough pieces, brownie chunks…I don’t discriminate. The more, the better!

Plain vanilla: delicious, but a little boring

Plain vanilla: always delicious, but a little boring.

There are of course, some exceptions to the rule (Jeni’s Dark Chocolate!), but for the most part, I generally like a little something extra to put a pep in my step and happy thoughts in my belly.

With frozen treats, I prefer to have the best of both worlds – the creaminess of the ice cream with the added crunch of candy or cookies. Accordingly, I have always adored the chocolate coating that local ice cream stands pour atop soft serve, transforming a plain old cone into a textural heaven. The *snap* of the chocolate followed by the softness of the ice cream has always made my heart sing.

Like so many others who have attempted to recreate this experience at home, I have frequently turned to store-bought brands of candy shell, only to find that the results were, well…underwhelming.

Let’s face it – the store bought stuff just isn’t that good. It’s waxy, watered-down, and tastes more chemical-y than it does chocolate-y. Bleh.

This homemade version, however, is pretty darn perfect – rich and decadent and chocolate-y to boot! Plus, its super simple to make!

The trick? Good ol’ coconut oil!

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Apparently, coconut oil remains in a solid state up to about 76 degrees (thanks Wikipedia!), which explains why chocolate shell quickly hardens when drizzled on top of ice cream and frozen pops, creating that “magic” effect that we all know and love.

If you’ve never seen coconut oil before, don’t be surprised that it doesn’t look, well, oily. In fact, it looks more like wax:

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Weird, right? Well, fear not dear reader. Simply mix the oil with some chocolate chips and it turns into this:

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With homemade chocolate shell, plain vanilla becomes a chocolatey paradise!

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Homemade chocolate shell is perfect for so many culinary projects – dipping strawberries or bananas, lining the insides of homemade cones, or just drizzling all over ice cream. You can experiment with different flavors of chips (like butterscotch), or even make a peanut butter version using creamy pb.

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Hope you like it!

And in case you were wondering why there is a finger-sized indentation in the top of my sundae…

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Happy scooping 🙂

Homemade Chocolate Shell

Ingredients:

1/2 cup semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

1/4 cup coconut oil

Directions:

1. Melt the the chocolate chips and the coconut oil together. If you’re ambitious, you can use the double boiler method. Or, if you’re like me and hate waiting for water to boil, you could save yourself some time by simply microwaving the coconut oil and chocolate in small increments. If you do use your microwave, Just keep an eye on your mixture, stirring every 20 seconds or so, until the chips are completely melted and your chocolate mixture is glossy and smooth.

2. Let the mixture cool to room temperature so that it doesn’t melt your frozen treats, then go to town! If the mixture is too thick for your liking, add a little more coconut oil.

Store leftovers in the fridge for up to a week, but remember that the mixture will solidify when cold, so you will have re-melt when you are ready to use it again.

Enjoy!