I'm usually a traditionalist when it comes to pie. For example, there is no need to mess with the greatness that is a slice of warm peach pie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. But ice cream is a different matter. With ice cream, I believe in experimentation, being adventurous, and putting chunks of buttery pie crust into a peach-rippled ice cream so that it tastes like you are eating a slice of summer pie.
The crust chunks are key. I tried an apple pie ice cream years ago at a local ice cream shop and while the cinnamon-spiked ice cream was perfectly tasty, it was the occasional nugget of slightly salty pie crust that kept me coming back for more.
To get pieces of pie crust without actually jamming a slice of pie into my ice cream maker, I baked a small batch of crust "cookies," little rounds of pie dough dipped in cinnamon sugar and baked until golden-brown and flaky, exactly what my mom used to do with pie dough scraps when I was growing up.
The ice cream base is made with ripe peaches, pureed with sour cream and a little buttermilk, for a tangy, not too rich ice cream shot through with an orange ribbon of chunky peach puree. Although you do have to turn on the oven briefly to bake the pie crust cookies, once this ice cream is churned and tucked into your freezer, the taste of summer fruit pie is just a cool scoop away.
1 1/3 pounds ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks 1/2 cup water 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup sour cream 3/4 cup heavy cream 1/4 cup buttermilk 1/4 teaspoon vanilla 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice 1 batch Pie Crust Cookie Chunks (recipe follows)
Combine the peaches, water and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until peaches are soft and cooked through, about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the ripeness of your peaches. Remove from heat and let mixture cool slightly.
Using a blender, pulse the peach mixture a few times, so it is still chunky with visible pieces of fruit. Remove 3/4 cup of the mixture and refrigerate. Add the sour cream, heavy cream, buttermilk, vanilla and lemon juice to the remaining peach mixture and blend until very smooth. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Freeze the peach and cream base in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Pour about one-third of the reserved peach puree into a quart-size freezer-safe container. Add the cookie pieces, followed by about one-third of the ice cream, and stir gently. Repeat process two more times with remaining puree, cookie chunks and ice cream. Freeze until firm.
Pie Crust Cookie Chunks
Makes about 1 1/2 cups cookie pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2-3 teaspoons ice water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Whisk together the flour and salt. Add the butter, and using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture looks crumbly and the largest pieces of butter are pea-sized. Add 2 teaspoons water and stir. If the mixture doesn't hold together when squeezed, add another teaspoon of water. Shape dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a shallow bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon. Roll a tablespoon-size piece of the dough into a ball, coat in cinnamon sugar and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use the bottom of a drinking glass to flatten the ball until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with remaining dough. (You will have about 10 cookies.)
Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely and break each cookie into chunks.
For a quicker version of this recipe, use about 1 1/2 cups crumbled shortbread cookies in place of the pie crust cookies.