A few weeks ago, one of my sweetest coworkers sent me a link to something so amazing, it completely blew my mind and ruined the rest of my workday:
(Oh, sweet sweet blogosphere. How did I ever exist without you?)
Do you remember Dunkaroos? I’m not sure if these delightful little treats were ever launched on a global scale, but if you were an American kid who grew up in the nineties, a mere whisper of the name will certainly throw you into a fit of nostalgia.
For those of you unfamiliar with this epic snack, Dunkaroos look like this:
As you will observe, two thirds of the package is comprised of tiny cookies in the form of fun, easily identified shapes, such as letters, hot air balloons, or my personal favorite, the kangaroo. But it’s that smaller third of the package that really makes the difference – it’s filled with a luscious, super sweet “frosting” speckled with colorful sprinkles.
The cookies were meant for dipping in the frosting, but if you were one of those gross kids I despised with zero appreciation for etiquette or hygiene, a finger dipped straight into the frosting would also do the trick. Whatever your poison, Dunkaroos were pure heaven in a tiny blue package.
The Dunkaroos mascot, Sydney, was a talking kangaroo with a heavy Australian accent and spunky attitude, which from an early age pretty much solidified my long-held belief that Australia was a magical land filled with colorful frosting and kangaroos that cared about my feelings.
Unfortunately, Dunkaroos were discontinued in the US – a sore subject for many of my generation – but diehards can still purchase them via the Canadian Black Market (aka Amazon).
Never mind the obvious cultural misperceptions that this snack may have inspired; before life and political correctness got in the way, there were Dunkaroos and happiness and life was good.
When I first looked at the Dunkaroos ice cream, my immediate reaction was, I wish I could do that.
As I’ve mentioned before, I feel a weird self-imposed pressure to make my blog fancy, or as annoying marketing folks say “elevated.” Which means I can’t do things like make ice cream that’s not 100% homemade and aspiring to be artisan or trendy 24/7.
But, as I’m slowly figuring out lately, I’m much happier when I do what I want. And sometimes, what I want is to embrace my commercial side.
So, I’m taking a stand. I can do this.
(And I did!)
But rather than make a copycat version of the Dunkaroos ice cream, I decided to throw it back to my own favorite childhood snack: Teddy Grahams.
Teddy Grahams are little bear-shaped graham cookies, and they’re absolutely perfect in every way, from the not-too-sweet flavor to their adorable little faces. To the very great fortune of the world, Teddy Grahams are still widely available, and in a variety of amazing flavors. But me being the classic gal I am, I favor the old school, original graham cracker flavored variety.
Teddy Grahams and I go way back. It was a love that started at the lunch table in kindergarten, and it endures to this day.
You see, graham crackers and milk are a classic American snack, and it was always a particular favorite of mine, even if it did wreck my naptime. I never actually slept during naptime as it was (which I now realize was a huge waste), but I always felt especially restless post-graham cracker snack. I lay awake, tortured by the complexity of my thoughts:
How could something taste so delicious? I thought. It just doesn’t seem POSSIBLE! What is the world?!
Then I discovered Teddy Grahams, which tasted just like graham crackers with the added plus that they looked like a naked Paddington Bear. Obvious win.
But much to my chagrin, my mom always just bought normal graham crackers, to which I’d respond with a desperate “mommmmmmmm, why can’t I have the ones shaped like teddy bearrrrsssss?” But she would have none of that nonsense.
Thus, when at school I traded anything in my lunch box to get my fix of those little bears, resenting my other classmates who seemed to take them for granted.
You’re just going to give them away like it’s no big deal? UNGRATEFUL.
(My 6 year old self was really dramatic).
When I turned 16 and could drive, I bought Teddy Grahams all the time, and later on, they were a favorite in-between-classes-snack in college.
When I moved out on my own and started experimenting with the idea of homemade everything, my love for the little bears waned a bit, but I recently rediscovered them again. Apparently, Teddy Grahams are one thing I just can’t quit!
And for good reason – would you look at that face? It’s begging for a home with the Belly Monster.
One of my favorite local joints, Honey Hut, makes a Honey Graham ice cream that is absolutely to die for, and I’ve been wanting to make my own version, but thought it’d be much more fun to use my trusty bear pals instead.
The key to this beauty is the Teddy Graham Cream, which is literally made by soaking Teddy Grahams in cream (see below):
This is a little more basic than some of my other ice creams – I didn’t use any eggs or corn starch or any kind of thickener. I tried the recipe once using eggs, and the graham cream got a little thick and weird when I brought it to a simmer.
Thus, this ice cream has a bit of an icy texture to it, more like homemade gelato. If that’ not your thing, unflavored gelatin is one option for thickening cold mixtures, because it doesn’t require cooking like eggs and cornstarch. It’s not necessary at all, and I didn’t use it because I intentionally wanted this ice cream to have an icy pure finish to really drive home the graham crackers and milk idea. But you know, to each her own!
Further, if you let the ice cream base sit overnight before you churn it in your ice cream maker, it puffs up quite nicely from the cream cheese so you don’t even need any sort of thickener. Leave it out on the counter for a few, and it’s absolutely perfect!
I actually purchased two boxes of Teddy Grahams for this recipe because I really wanted to pack it with flavor, but you can totally get by with just one. You may choose to supplement with some actual graham crackers if you have them around, however.
So there you have it – my very first nostalgia post! (Granted, this entire blog is sort of one giant nostalgia post, but whatevs. I do what I want now).
What was your favorite childhood snack?
Teddy Graham Ice Cream
Yield: Heaping 1 Quart
- 1 box of Teddy Grahams (2 cups for the Teddy Graham Cream, and 2 for the crumbles)
- 2.5 cups heavy cream
- 2 cups half and half
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons of cream cheese
- Large pinch of kosher salt, or to taste
- 2 Tablespoons of butter
Make the Teddy Graham Cream:
- Pour the heavy cream into a large bowl, and submerge two cups of Teddy Grahams into the liquid. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes, until most or all of the cookies have dissolved. Strain through a sieve so as to remove the larger chunks of graham. You should be left with about 2 cups of liquid at this point.
Make the Ice Cream Base:
- Combine graham cream, half and half, sugar, cream cheese, and salt, and whisk vigorously until all ingredients are combined, the cream cheese isn’t lumpy, and the mixture gets a bit foamy. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit over night.
Make the Teddy Graham Crumbles
- In a microwave safe bowl, combine two cups of crushed Teddy Grahams with 2 tablespoons butter and a pinch of salt. Microwave for 30 seconds, until the butter gets all melty, then stir it all together. Allow to cool to room temp.
Make the Ice Cream:
- Freeze ice cream in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Once churned, layer ice cream and Teddy Graham crumbles in a storage container. Freeze for four hours or until hard. Allow to soften to room temp before eating.
- Enjoy 🙂