Beyond the classic apple pie, nothing says “America” like chocolate chips and peanut butter. The chocolate chip cookie was invented in the 1930s by a woman named Ruth Wakefield who ran the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts (Nestle later bought the rights to the recipe). Peanut butter, usually passed up by the rest of the world in favor of hazelnut spread, is a favorite of most Americans. Put these two together and you have the perfect 4th of July dessert, especially when made with ice cream. For this year’s Independence Day celebration I decided to cool off with Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches.
For the past 2 years I have spent the 4th of July at my friend Matt’s house, watching fireworks over the Statue of Liberty. Each year Andrew and I head downtown with some dessert creation I made up the night before, and unfortunately for Matt and Andrew, first time isn’t usually the charm. The first year I experimented with red, white and blue sugar cookies that were so hard they could chip a tooth. The second year I made cherry ice cream (sans ice cream maker) in tuile bowls, and neither traveled well. Being such good friends, Andrew and Matt always smiled and complimented the desserts, but I know they were secretly worried about my carrier as a baker. Even though I have been incredibly busy preparing for the Fancy Food Show this week, I got the creative urge that always seems to hit me on July 3 and decided to give ice cream sandwiches a try.
Like all of my 4th of July creations, I have never made ice cream sandwiches before. I got the idea while walking through Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Haven and noticed they are now serving them. Chocolate chip cookies make a perfect sandwich base, and I thought I would change up the filling by swirling peanut butter into vanilla ice cream. Making peanut butter ice cream also gave me an excuse to try the freshly made honey roasted peanut butter machines at Whole Foods. Sure, there are ready made containers right next to the machine that I could have grabbed, but I wanted to press buttons and flip switches and watch my peanut butter made right then and there. It is so fresh and delicious!
I am new to the ice cream world, and just bought a Cuisinart ICE-20 Ice Cream Maker maker a few weeks ago. I have browsed through many ice cream recipes trying to find a good base to work with, and noticed many of the recipes call for eggs. Although it seems to be a very common ingredient, I don’t like the idea of eggs in my ice cream and would prefer to keep it simple. I finally found one that just uses milk, cream and sugar, and I added vanilla bean paste instead of extract for the vanilla bean “look” and extra vanilla flavor. I added the ingredients to the ice cream maker and let it run for about 20 minutes, until it was thick and creamy. I added the honey roasted peanut butter during the last minute of mixing, hoping it would create a swirled look, but unfortunately the motion of the ice cream maker almost fully incorporated it into the ice cream. Although it still tastes great, I might try mixing the peanut butter in by hand next time to get the desired swirl effect. The ice cream should go into the freezer for at least 2 hours to harden before creating the sandwiches, although this timing will vary based on the temperature of your kitchen when creating the sandwiches. You want the ice cream to be firm, but not too hard when assembling. If the ice cream is too soft it will drip all over the cookies, but if it is too hard it won’t press down nicely and fill the space between the cookies evenly.
For the Chocolate Chip Cookies I used a basic recipe that results in fairly thin cookies. The cookies are just thick enough to stand up against the ice cream, but not too thick to make biting into the sandwich difficult. Once all of the cookies were baked, I paired each one with a mate of equal size, so the sandwich would be even. (Tip: to make even-sized cookies, use a small ice cream scoop to portion out the dough). I added a heaping scoop of ice cream on the bottom side of one cookie, and pressed the second cookie on top, squeezing out the ice cream and overflowing the sides of the cookies.
I ran an inverted spatula around the edge of the sandwich, wiping away all overhanging ice cream and creating a flat edge. Each sandwich was then wrapped in parchment and put in the freezer to chill.
I have been sampling the ice cream and cookies throughout the assembly process and both taste great. I won’t know how everything tastes together until we are eating it under the fireworks tonight, but somehow I doubt there will be any complaints.
Happy 4th of July!
Peanut Butter Ice Cream
*Made using a Cuisinart ICE-20 Ice Cream Maker
Yield: Approximately 1 quart of ice cream or enough for 10-12 ice cream sandwiches.
Tip: Make sure all ingredients and the ice cream maker bowl are as cold as possible before beginning.
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tspn vanilla bean paste (can substitute 1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
1/3 cup peanut butter (at room temperature)
1) Whisk to combine the milk and granulated sugar. Keep whisking for 1-2 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved.
2) Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.
3) Add to the ice cream mixer and mix for 20-25 minutes, or until the desired consistency is reached.
4) Add the peanut butter and let the mixer run for another 1-2 minutes to completely incorporate, or remove the mixture from the ice cream maker and stir in the peanut butter by hand for a “swirled” effect.
4) Place in an airtight container (I prefer left over deli take-out tubs) and freeze for 2 hours, or until firm enough to scoop onto cookies without running.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 50 Cookies (you will be left with extra cookies if only making 1 batch of ice cream)
1 cup (8 oz) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (2.25 oz) light brown sugar
3/4 cup (6 oz) unsalted butter
2 cups (8.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1 tspn baking soda
1/2 tspn salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1) Mix butter and sugar until completely combined.
2) Add egg and mix just until combined.
3) Add flour, baking soda and salt and mix until completely incorporated.
4) Add chocolate chips and mix until evenly distributed.
5) Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. Using a small ice cream scoop (or if using a spoon, create 1.5 inch rounds), drop mounds of cookie dough onto a cool cookie sheet. Bake immediately.
5) Bake at 350F for 11-12 minutes, or until the edges are golden (centers should still be soft).
Ice Cream Sandwich Assembly:
1) Pair equally sized cookies for even sandwiches.
2) Drop a large scoop of ice cream into the center of the bottom side of one cookie.
3) Press down on the ice cream scoop with another cookie to create a sandwich.
4) Run a knife, inverted spatula or other flat edge around the sandwich to remove any overhanging ice cream and create smooth walls.
5) Wrap in parchment paper and store in an airtight container in the freezer. Sandwiches should last at least one week.
6) Remove from freezer 10 minutes before serving to soften.