It has recently come to my attention that my opinions on cheese are absolute trash.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not for lack of trying. In fact, at one point in my life, I considered myself something of a (self-proclaimed) cheese connoisseur.
Having a French brother-in-law has many perks, one of which being that you can claim to be an expert on all things French simply by association.
I knew about macarons, pain au chocolat, and Orangina long before they were a blip on any food trend analyst’s radar, and I relished the (imagined) feeling of sophistication and empowerment these insights gave me amongst my then-social circle of giggly, 19-year old girls and flamboyant gay men. I fancied myself a trendsetter, and spent hours daydreaming about the illustrious career I’d have as a food writer for Saveur or National Geographic, working remotely from various French estates and lavender farms, stunning the world with my revolutionary views on food, politics, and platform wedges.
Cheese was one of these aforementioned French things about which I felt a strange sense of superiority. Like, oh, you think you’re hot shit with that brie, you biotch? You DON’T EVEN KNOW about all the cheeses I’ve had! (I would say angrily, as I stuffed cubes of Wisconsin Cheddar into my mouth).
In college, I made a habit of purchasing blocks of Fromager d’Affinois from the gourmet market every so often and was confident that this qualified me as a bona fide foodie (mind you, this was circa 2008, when the word foodie didn’t even really exist yet). I wish I could say that with this magnificent cheese I hand-crafted a charcuterie worthy of a thousand likes on Instagram, but 1) Instagaram was not a thing yet (as we’ve already established, I am old) and 2) my girlfriends and I were too busy getting drunk on Arbor Mist to focus on on our culinary pursuits.
One day out of boredom, I did some googling on my beloved Fromager d’Affinois to learn more about its history for my own self-learning (read: so I could tell other people about it and act smart). But the more I googled, the more I made a startling realization: my “fancy” cheese that I’d been eating all this time was an extremely close cousin to…get ready for it…Basic. Bitch. Brie.
I was crushed. All this time, I thought I was cultured and worldly, that I had a certain je ne sais quoi, but in reality, I was as basic as any Arbor Mist-chugging, World Market-frequenting, naive college girl. It’s like thinking you’re a fine aged Camembert but really you’re barely a step above Taco-Flavored Shredded Cheese Blend.
Fast forward to present day. It’s the second year in a row that Hubs and I were lucky enough to score some incredible, juicy Georgia peaches from The Peach Truck, and I knew I wanted to step outside of my ice cream comfort zone since last year I kept it classic with Buttermilk Peach Crumble. I’d always wanted to make a cheese-flavored ice cream ever since I saw that the infamous Salt & Straw has one on their menu in Portland. However, their version has goat cheese, and I am NOT about that life.
(Just to clarify, I DESPISE goat cheese with the fury of a thousand suns because it’s TERRIBLE and tastes just like a barn smells and I invite you all to PLEASE for the love of God revisit your opinions on goat cheese because it’s the absolute WORST and I know you’re all lying about liking it).
I did some investigative research (aka I scrolled endlessly on Pinterest) and it seemed like Mascarpone cheese was a nice, mild complement to summertime fruits, peaches included. I was decided.
(Ugh I KNOW, I’ve been talking about French cheese all this time and now I suddenly go Italian. But bear with me! This story has a happy ending, I promise).
I set out to find mascarpone, and I was feeling vindicated when I couldn’t immediately locate it at my typical network of local grocers (if it was hard to find, it had to be fancy, right?)
Finally, I found a container of Mascarpone adjacent to the Crème Fraiche in the “Specialty Dairy” aisle at my favorite gourmet market (Crème fraiche! It’s next to a fancy French thing! I am KILLING this!).
Then, I noticed one small thing.
On the label, below the word Mascarpone, was listed a small phrase in parenthesis.
It said, in bold typeface: ITALIAN CREAM CHEESE.
In that moment, all of my Fromager d’Affinois insecurities came rushing back. I was about to make my fancy savory ice cream…with CREAM CHEESE?!
After a moment of crushing defeat, I picked my spirits back up. Cheese Insecurities may have destroyed Lindsay in Her Twenties. But Lindsay in Her Thirties? Nah. You can’t take that girl down so easy.
I take full responsibility for my trash cheese opinions. I like my mac and cheese with a healthy dose of Velveeta, and I think fried mozzarella sticks are low-key culinary genius (and coincidentally, also very delicious when served with Arbor Mist).
(You can take the girl out of Brimfield, but apparently you can’t take Brimfield out of the girl #shoutouttomyhometown).
Cream cheese or not, this ice cream is delicious. The thyme gives this such a beautiful flavor profile (please note: talking about “flavor profiles” more than makes up for my love of Kraft Singles), and the peach ripple throughout adds some brightness to the sea of rich mascarpone and vanilla in the base.
And here’s the kicker – swirls of toasted brioche crumbles. Because when you’re a basic biotch posing as a classy broad, NOTHING gets you going more than the words “on a toasted brioche bun.”
Behold: my attempt at a fancy, cheesy, artisan ice cream. It’s rich, it’s creamy, and it’s the perfect compliment to the last of late summer’s peaches.
Happy scooping 🙂
Thyme Roasted Peach and Mascarpone Ice Cream with Brioche Crumb
Yield: 1 Quart
3 ripe peaches, cut in half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
Honey for drizzling
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
¾ cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 to 3 slices of brioche bread
1 tablespoon of butter
Make the Thyme Roasted Peach Jam:
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In a pan covered with parchment, place peaches pit-side up and cover each with a sprig of thyme. Drizzle with honey (add more or less depending on the sweetness of your fruit). Roast for 30 minutes or until soft to the touch. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
- Remove pits and skin, and then combine with sugar and vanilla in a blender and puree until mostly smooth. Store in fridge until ready to freeze ice cream.
Make the Mascarpone Ice Cream:
- Whisk together the eggs and sugar until frothy and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, combine cream and milk over medium heat and cook until it just starts to steam (you don’t want it to boil).
- When cream and milk mixture is thoroughly heated, remove from heat and slowly whisk in to the frothy egg and sugar mixture you made in Step 1. Whisk furiously as you pour in the cream mixture to prevent your eggs from cooking.
- Once all of the cream mixture has been whisked into the eggs, return the combined mixture back to your pot and continue to cook over medium heat until it thickens, stirring often. Once the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of your spoon or spatula, it’s ready.
- Strain mixture through a sieve to catch any clumpy pieces of eggs that may have formed.
- Stir in the mascarpone and vanilla until fully combined. Place in the fridge overnight, or for at least 4 hours. (I like to chill my bases overnight – it seems to create a fluffier churned ice cream in the end).
Make the Toasted Brioche Crumble:
- Preheat oven to 250.
- Lay slices of brioche straight on the rack, and toast in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until tops are beautiful and golden.
- Allow the toasts to cool, then pulse in a blender or food processor until you have medium-sized crumbs.
- Melt butter and drizzle into crumbs; mash it all together until you have something resembling crumbled cookies. Set aside until completely cool and you’re ready to put together your ice cream.
Put it all together:
- Freeze ice cream according to manufacturer’s instructions on your ice cream maker.
- Once frozen, swirl in layers of brioche crumbs and roasted peach jam. Transfer to a storage container and freeze overnight, or for at least 8 hours. For an extra luscious occasion, serve next to a freshly roasted peach.