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 🙂
11 Comments Add yours
My mom created the Dunkaroos flavor profile in her kitchen over 50 yrs ago. She always had some leftover frosting each time she baked a cake and from this surplus the graham cracker & frosting sandwich was born! Totally “elevated” our usual snack of graham crackers in milk.
Oh man then I guess I should totally send a shout out! Thank you, Mimi, for changing the face of snacking as we know it!
what a fun idea, and it looks delicious! gorgeous photography, too 🙂
Thank you so much!! It was so easy to put together, too! Thanks for taking the time to stop by 🙂
I love that you looked down at the gross kids that dipped with their fingers! My mom loves to tell people stories about how I used to cry when my sister would get dirty in the sand box, and how she got called in to school when I refused to finger paint because i didn’t want to get my hands dirty!
Yay nostalgia post! I feel like a lot of my food choices, especially when it comes to sweets, are driven by nostalgia.
This is gonna sound really odd but I’ve actually never had Dunkaroos. I think I’ve heard of them, I mean, the name sounds vaguely familiar, but I don’t really associate them with being a kid. Is that weird?
Teddy Grahams however! Those little bears bring me waaaaay back to sitting at grandmas house getting chubbier and chubbier! My grandma used to spoil me rotten, and I’m still battling with the weight issues today! hahahaha! Oh boy.
I think I used to prefer the chocolate ones, but today I think I’d be in to the original graham cracker flavor. I usually keep a box of graham crackers in the back of the cupboard (for baking, you know?) and sneak a few when I’m craving a cookie or something but don’t want to go all out…
(don’t tell Russell where I keep my stash)
Anyway, I think this ice cream sound phenomenal, and your photos are gorgeous (as usual!) I love the simple colors you went with to let the cute little bears steal the show.
Who wouldn’t love those cute little bears?
Omigosh, I always look forward to your comments so much! I especially loved the “sitting at my grandma’s house getting chubbier and chubbier” hahahha
I was a little nervous about these photos – we’ve been having less and less sunlight after work so my window of opportunity is small. I need to start getting my act together and doing my photoshoots on the weekend again!
I love graham crackers so much. I love keeping them around because you really never know when you’ll need them! Having s’mores and roasting the marshmallows over candles is one of my favorite things to do (but don’t tell our landlord, he already thinks i’m going to burn the place down!)
The key to the Dunkaroos was really the frosting – i hope someday they start selling them in the US again so you can experience them too! but perhaps i’ve become too much of a food snob that I’d think differently of them now 🙂
I definitely feel your pain when it comes to the sunlight! I usually only photograph on my days off because I usually try to get some “before” or “during” shots, which means I need good light throughout the whole cooking process from start to finished plate. With the days getting shorter I need to start cooking earlier and earlier. Last winter Russell and I got really used to eating fancy “dinner” meals at like 2 or 3 PM and then having leftovers for dinner a few hours later.
Bahahahahaa! My dear, you were right all along – Australia IS a magical place where dreams come true, filled with frosting and KANGAROOS WHO CARE ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS!
God you crack me up, I was laughing all through this post! Tiny Teddies were a huge thing when I was young (happily discontinued, although they did try messing with the superior original honey flavour at one point to make silly novelty varieties) – did you guys have these too, or maybe they were actually called Teddy Grahams in the States..?
I only remember Mum buying Tiny Teddies once, maybe twice a year as a giant treat for my brother and me. We were the kids who went to school with apples or other fruit, carrot and celery sticks and brown bread sandwiches; lovingly prepared, healthy to the core, no-artificial-anything and BORING AS BAT CRAP to any primary school age child. I too used to barter or beg for more ‘choice’ offerings like Tiny Teddies or Tim Tams or potato chips or hot flaky sausage rolls from kids who merrily tripped off to the canteen each day for lunch (ungrateful sods!)… Off course I’m thankful now for being brought up on such a healthy, wholesome diet but to an eight-year-old there’s not much worse than being subjected to brown bread sandwiches every single school day!
I love that two kids can grow up on opposite sides of the world, but the experiences are so similar 🙂 My wonderful mother always packed me sandwiches with whole grain bread, apple slices, and once in a while, maybe a fruit-filled cookie or some dark chocolate – but naturally I wanted Doritos and anything with the word Jello on it (she would have been so horrified!!)
I just googled Tiny Teddies and although these are a different brand, look eerily similar to our Teddy Grahams here in the states. I guess there’s just something about small, sweet bears that everyone loves!
Side note – I’m absolutely obsessed with Tim Tams! Some of our specialty markets here have them and they’re such a treat, but I usually eat too many when I buy them 😦 I’ve heard that they are the “Oreo” of Australia (meaning, your national cookie, if such a thing can exist) lol
Tim Tams are surely one of Australia’s best contributions to the globe… Sooooo good!!
I’m not usually a big chocolate fan, and I actually don’t like chocolate biscuits or cake or ice cream – please still be my friend! – but there have been certain times where the only solution to an insatiable chocolate craving at 8pm has been to pull a sweater over my pyjamas and drive down the road to the local petrol station for some Tim Tams… Whereby returning home and devouring the entire packet. I have a feeling you might understand and relate to this scenario.