Two very important things happened last week.
First, there was this.
(The obvious important thing).
It’s so important, in fact, that I refuse to formally address it here for a number of reasons.
Primarily, I lack the eloquence and literary prowess to appropriately express just how much it means to me that now everyone in this country can know what it feels like to have a happily ever after. There are simply no words for that level of awesomeness.
And secondly? Such a glorious event as the aforementioned Obvious Important Thing makes ice cream seem insignificant. Silly, even. And to be clear, I will not allow even one of the most momentous days in our nation’s history to trivialize my after-school activity. I’m far too self-absorbed for that.
This blog is supposed to be about me, people. ME. And ice cream. Or one or both of those two things. I will not allow history to get in the way. Over my dead body, History. You shall not steal my thunder!
…Which brings me to Important Thing #2:
Last week, I made a critical realization that could quite possibly change the trajectory of my entire life.
And it is this:
I love potato chips.
Like, a lot.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: well, duh. Who doesn’t?
But please remain calm, gentle readers. Before you start hurling judgments, allow me to explain the circumstances of this recent snack food enlightenment.
Of course, I’ve always liked potato chips. I mean, come on – I’m not a monster.
As your typical working class American, potato chips are sort of hardwired into my DNA. And who am I to try and deny the inescapable grasp of my biological programming?
But despite our frequent interactions, my affection for potato chips has always been platonic, at best; our relationship never quite left the bounds of Friend Zone.
However, my feelings for potato chips have evolved. It started slowly at first, with passing interest and stolen glances here and there; but all of a sudden, it seems that I’m finally starting to see what was in front of me the whole time – potato chips are pretty awesome.
I blame my husband and his family almost exclusively for this recent change of heart.
You see, in life I believe there are two types of families: those who are of the salty persuasion, and those who tend to be a bit sweeter. This has nothing to do with behavior of course, but rather, snack consumption habits. Some families, my husband’s included, prefer salty snacks such as chips, pretzels, and peanuts – things that I generally never really cared that much about.
But brownies, candy, and cookies? Now that’s the stuff. Growing up, we didn’t have a ton of true snack food around the house, but you can bet we almost always had dessert (thanks, mom!). So, while my friends at the lunch table made a big deal about potato chips, I just wanted Oreos. Or maybe pudding. (Or probably both).
So there I was, going about my life eating sweets on the daily, with salty snacks never really making it onto my radar in a major way. But then, I met my husband, and after dating for a few months and spending more and more time with his family, I quickly realized that I had stumbled into a Salty Snacks type situation.
Which is all fine and dandy, unless you’re someone who is a social eater, like me, and tends to eat what everyone else is eating just to fit in.
(Full disclosure: I have a weird practice of adopting the eating habits of those around me. I think it has something to do with my strong needs for Acceptance and Community. For example, I once had a pregnant coworker who went through a serious beet phase, and after witnessing her eat beets twice a day for three weeks, I too, started developing intense cravings for beets, and love them to this day. Except when accompanied with goat cheese. EW. Get. Out.)
Slowly but surely, I soon became socialized with potato chips via my new family. They made appearances in the typical fashion, during important sports games and family parties, but also in more unexpected ways, like within my amazing mother-in-law’s Potato Chip Chicken, an infamous family favorite.
Soon, I could feel myself becoming wooed by potato chips. There’s something to this, I thought.
After years of friendly flirting, my feelings for potato chips finally reached their tipping point, and I couldn’t help but succumb to their mysterious and magical powers. It was a dreary Tuesday evening and my Belly Monster hadn’t yet had its nightly feeding, so I was quickly becoming irritable and desperate. I made a quick stop at Target for some laundry detergent and was casually passing by one of the end caps (the scene of most poor decision-making), when all of a sudden – I saw them.
There they were, in all their seductive glory: Utz Salt and Pepper Potato Chips.
You guys, I don’t know what came over me. It was a feeling that I’d never felt before. My heart started racing, my cheeks flushed, and every single cell in my body just wanted those chips.
Normally, I’ll conclude my Target outings with a stop in the Beauty section, eager to buy yet another bottle of some warm-vanilla-cupcake lotion/body spray/shampoo or other product that I’ll use once and never touch again. But no, not today, my friends. Today, I had business to attend to.
I hurriedly paid for my items at the checkout and walked quickly to my car. I buckled my seat belt, tied my hair back, and braced myself like I was getting ready for a major athletic event. But instead, I grabbed the bag of chips, and in one swift movement, opened the top, exposing the crispy little nuggets inside.
What happened next was an extremely poignant moment in my life, which is unfortunate, because it was all kind of a blur. I don’t remember much, aside from the methodical movement of my hand as it smashed fistfuls of chips into my mouth.
I. Ate. The. Whole. Thing.
We’re not talking like, a Fun Size bag of chips, either. What I consumed in the Target parking lot that night was a Normal bag of potato chips, intended to sustain a Normal individual (or maybe, I don’t know…a family?) for a few days, at least. I wasn’t sure if I felt proud, or ashamed, or a strange mixture of both. But one thing was for sure: my life would never be the same. Potato chips and I had crossed a line and there was no going back.
Later that night, when the potato chip fog had cleared and I was thinking more clearly, I reached a state of enlightenment. As the lightbulb in my mind illuminated, I realized exactly what had gone down:
Aha, I thought. So that’s what it feels like to crave a bag of potato chips!
So, yeah. After a lifetime of managing to avoid the pitfalls of potato chip addiction, I’m now the proud owner of both a sweet tooth AND a salt problem (Thanks a lot, in-laws!)
As is my habit with most traumatizing life events, I needed a way to rationalize my experience through the creation of ice cream, and knew right away that potato chip ice cream would indeed make its way into my weekend plans.
Because this ice cream represents my first foray into chip addiction, I felt I needed to maintain the authenticity of the experience by incorporating the pepper element. But because a portion of my heart will always belong to Sweet Snacks, I threw some chocolate covered potato chips into the mix.
I know, I know – it sounds super weird, but trust me. It’s so good! And intensely craveable…just like a bag of chips!
This ice cream is sweet and savory, with a slight kick of pepper that hits the roof of your mouth in a really interesting way. If you hate pepper, by all means leave it out (if we’re being honest here, that’s not exactly the delicious part of this whole thing).
I’m dedicating this week’s post to my wonderful father-in-law, who loves potato chips more than anyone I know. Anddddddd he had a birthday recently (so really, three important things happened last week 🙂 )
Happy belated birthday Pops – I love you! (And potato chips, apparently).
Salt and Pepper Potato Chip Ice Cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1.5 cups whole milk
1.5 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
¾ tsp salt (or, to taste)
1 vanilla bean
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or, to taste)
1 12 ounce bag of milk chocolate chips
1 tablespoon veggie oil (or coconut oil, if you don’t mind the coconutty flavor)
Half a bag/A few handfuls of wavy potato chips (note: you’ll have leftover potato chips this way..but trust mer…youll want them)
1. Make the chips: In a medium sized bowl, mix the veggie or coconut oil with the chocolate chips and melt in the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Working in small handfuls (four or five chips at a time), submerge the potato chips in the melted chocolate, gently pushing them around with forks if need be. Lay chips on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and leave at room temperature until set (about two hours).
2. Make the ice cream: In a small bowl, mix two tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.
3. Whisk the cream cheese in a medium bowl until smooth or almost smooth (some lumps and bumps are just fine).
4. Fill a large bowl with ice water (lots of ice!!!). Set aside.
5. In a 4 quart saucepan, combine milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla bean pod, then bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 4 mins exactly! Side note: it is necessary that you use a 4 quart saucepan. I used something smaller, thinking I was being sneaky, and my milk mixture almost boiled over 😦
6. After 4 minutes, remove the milk mixture from heat and gradually mix into your cornstarch slurry mixture that you made in Step 1. Add back to the saucepan, and cook over medium high heat for about 1 minute, or until thickened and it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat.
7. Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the cream cheese. Add in the salt and pepper, to taste.
8. Once all ingredients are incorporated, pour base into a gallon sized freezer bag and submerge into ice bath. Let stand until very cold, half an hour to thirty minutes. Remove vanilla bean pod.
9. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Add crushed chocolate covered potato chips (and some normal ones too!) during the last few minutes of churning. Freeze in an airtight container until hard, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. Enjoy 🙂