One of my absolute favorite things about being a kid at Christmastime each year was the very important task of assembling a plate of cookies to leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve.
Like many children who believed in Santa, I was completely enamored with the idea. It was the most magical of concepts; the notion that Santa himself would be IN MY HOUSE feasting on cookies and milk as he carefully and quietly arranged an array of artfully wrapped presents beneath the tree (such a multi-tasker, that Santa!).
Yes, it was absolutely my favorite. But – it was also one of the most dreaded and anxiety-ridden activities of my entire year.
Even at 6 years old, I was a Type A Perfectionist, and I got really passive aggressive and controlling about choosing which cookies were good enough for Santa’s special Christmas Eve plate (I didn’t know it at the time, but this would be a telltale sign of the frequent internal battles that I would eventually lead later on in life via this blog).
Growing up, we didn’t really bake a ton of Christmas cookies in our house – I know it sounds a bit blasphemous and anti-American, but my lovely mother (also a Type A Perfectionist, I will note), was a bit of a clean freak, and spending a weekend elbow-deep in powdered sugar wasn’t really her idea of a great time. What can I say; it just wasn’t our thing!
Because of our lack of cookie making, we were forced to rely on the generosity of kind neighbors and friends, who would arrive at our doorstep each year offering giant platters of colorful Christmas cookies. This is how we typically curated Santa’s plate. It wasn’t the ideal situation; in fact, the idea of giving Santa a selection of our finest Sloppy Seconds inherently wrecked my soul, but it was a far better alternative to leaving him the dreaded STORE BOUGHT cookies (sure, we didn’t bake a ton of cookies, but we weren’t heathens, either).
As the cookie plates would pile onto the table, I always observed them with an air of condescension. My addiction to chocolate developed at a very young age, and unfortunately for me, Christmas cookies tended to lean more towards the nut or sugar variety (or as I more affectionately referred to them: the boring ones).
I scrutinized each plate, searching desperately for my favorite – a simple chocolate chip – but those were always few and far between, like some afterthought hidden between layers of dry, Santa-shaped sugar cookies outfitted in a delicate film of pink icing that was masquerading around as “red” (EVERYONE KNOWS YOU NEED TO USE THE GEL FOOD COLORING TO OBTAIN THE PERFECT SHADE OF SANTA RED ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS S***?!).
Evidently, 6 year old Lindsay had very high standards.
Today? Well now, that’s a different story. I’ve learned to love all of those cookie varieties that I despised as a child – sugar cookies, Russian tea cakes, pecan tarts, etc. – because luckily for me, your palate tends to change over time when you stress eat your way through your mid to late twenties.
But even now, chocolate chip cookies are my absolute favorite. You can never underestimate the power of a perfectly baked chocolate chip cookie!
And in the eyes of a 6-year old Lindsay, whose diligence defied all reason, a chocolate chip cookie was the only cookie that was good enough for Santa.
When the time came on Christmas Eve, my mom would always make suggestions about the types of cookies to put on Santa’s plate. Suspiciously, her own favorites always seemed to end up in the mix (just exactly who was eating these cookies, anyhow??).
One year, she placed some of the dreaded sugar cookies on Santa’s plate (no decorative icing, just sanding sugar…the horror!) and I just stared at her in disbelief, like:
“REALLY, mom? Santa’s out there busting his a$$ delivering presents to all the good children of the world, and you’re serving up these s*** sugar cookies? THIS IS THE WORST CHRISTMAS EVER!”
(Note: In addition to being slightly to moderately disagreeable, 6-year old Lindsay was also super dramatic. Yet another indication of the struggles that I would have later in life).
Nothing could match my delight when we were able to offer up a perfectly baked chocolate chip cookie to His Santa Majesty. Like most children, I felt immense excitement on Christmas Eve, but when chocolate chip cookies made an appearance on Santa’s plate, I also experienced an overwhelming sense of calm knowing I’d done the very best that I could, and Santa would no-doubt appreciate my attention to detail and discerning taste.
So, in honor of my 6-year old self and her unreasonably strong opinions about cookies, I give you Milk and Cookies ice cream. Made with CHOCOLATE CHIP cookies.
Because 6-year old Lindsay? She doesn’t care what you think.
Truthfully, you could probably use any Christmas cookie for this recipe – or at least, any that taste good with milk. I tried really really hard to make the base of this ice cream something special (read: better than vanilla!). After all, this isn’t just a mere Cookies n’ Cream for goodness sake! What am I, an amateur?
I really wanted this ice cream to capture the full essence of milk and cookies, so I revisited the method that I employed with my recent Teddy Graham Ice Cream where I soaked a cookie in milk until it dissolved, which imparted a sweet and noticeable cookie flavor in the ice cream base. You really could tell a difference – this sure isn’t a Cookies n’ Cream ice cream! It is full-fledged cookies and milk goodness, packed with salty, ooey-gooey cookies.
Look! Can you see them?
Need proof of its legitimacy? Just take my husband’s word for it:
“Wow. This tastes just like milk and cookies! It really, truly does!”
Considering his disdain for last week’s eggnog ice cream, I was really quite pleased with this outcome (and I’m sure the younger version of myself would have been, too!).
Forget milk and cookies – give Santa what he really wants this Christmas: Milk and Cookies Ice Cream!
For those of you celebrating this week, have a happy and wonderful holiday! I hope Santa brings you everything you’ve been wishing for! I’m grateful for you all 🙂
Milk and Cookies Ice Cream
Yield: Heaping 1 Quart
1 cup whole milk, plus 1/4 cup extra
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
Large pinch of salt
2 teaspoons of high quality vanilla extract
About half a dozen or so chocolate chip cookies (or your favorite cookie), roughly chopped
- Make the Cookie Milk: pour whole milk into a glass and submerge one chocolate chip cookie into the milk. Allow to sit until cookie is completely dissolved (except for the chips. Those don’t dissolve 🙂 )
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until all of the yolks are broken and the sugar is well incorporated.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the heavy cream and salt until it just begins to steam. A little at a time, pour the warmed cream mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly until all of the cream is incorporated. Pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan, and continue cooking for ten minutes or so, until the mixture thickens into custard (if using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, the custard should stick to the back; when you wipe your finger across, there should be a clear “path” through the custard).
- Strain custard through a sieve into a bowl, and add the Cookie Milk, 1/4 cup of extra whole milk, salt, and vanilla, then stir until combined. Store in the fridge until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
- Freeze the ice cream according to manufacturer’s instructions. Move to a storage container a little at a time, layering in as many cookie pieces as you like in-between layers, packing them down lightly as you go. Freeze overnight, then serve with extra cookies on the side, if you wish. Enjoy 🙂