OK everyone, here is an ice cream mix-in you do not want to miss. While at Trader Joe's last weekend, stocking up for a lunch with family, I spied these milk chocolate covered peanut butter crackers on the shelf of new releases. These aren't the sort of thing I normally buy, but I had ice cream on the brain.
Wouldn't these be perfect for my peanut butter-loving guests, I thought. And yes, yes they were. I added some peanut butter to the ice cream batter, too, to make it richly peanut buttery, and then I chopped up the crackers. They were not too sweet inside — just a butter cracker with sticky peanut butter and a milk chocolate coating. In the ice cream they made for crunchy, buttery bites with just a bit of that sweet chocolate to lighten the peanut butter flavor. Yum yum! My guests definitely approved (and I sent the rest home with them; I definitely didn't want this kind of thing sitting in the freezer all week!).
This is such an easy ice cream, and yet so rich and delicious. If you have an ice cream maker, you can make your own peanut butter ice cream quickly and easily.
I based this recipe off of Jeni Britton's recipe for eggless ice cream in Food & Wine. It just uses cornstarch and a little cream cheese to to keep the ice cream soft and rich — not icy, like many homemade ice creams. If you struggle to make creamy ice cream at home, try this recipe or another one in this vein. The mixture really does stay soft and creamy in the freezer.
Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Trader Joe's Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Crackers
makes 1 quart
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
1 container Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Crackers, frozen solid and chopped in half
In a small bowl, whisk 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch. Whisk thoroughly so the cornstarch doesn't clump up. In another large bowl, whip the cream cheese until smooth.
In a large saucepan, combine the remaining 1 1/4 cups of milk with the heavy cream, sugar and corn syrup. Bring the milk mixture to a boil and simmer over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves — about 4 minutes. You may need to pull the mixture half off the burner so it doesn't boil over.
Take the milk mixture off the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute - no more.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Whisk in the salt. Chill completely - overnight, ideally.
After mixture is completely chilled, pour the ice cream base into an ice cream maker. Add the peanut butter in big spoonfuls and then freeze the ice cream according to the manufacturer's instructions. When it's frozen, scrape the ice cream out of its freezing chamber and into a large bowl. Fold in the frozen, halved peanut butter crackers.
Pack the ice cream into a plastic container. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream and close with an airtight lid. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours.
(Images: Faith Durand)