Thursday, January 30, 2014

Homemade vanilla & cookie dough ice creams...mmm mmm good.

I've said it before and I'll say it again...the dairy here in the UK is phenomenal.  You Brits don't have a clue how good you've got it when it comes to the dairy.  Mind you, you can find crap dairy here, so obviously go for the organic stuff and local dairies when you can. 

The double cream here (what you might equate to heavy cream in the US) is like nothing you could ever find in the US (at least to my knowledge...unless of course you go to a 'boutique' dairy farm, but even then...).  You almost need a spoon to yank it out of the container, it's that thick. 

What you might not know about the UK, is that the ice cream is surprisingly poor, comparatively.  The gourmet ice creams, sadly, are Ben & Jerry's and Haagen Dazs.  Don't get me wrong, I love me some B&J and HD, but living in dairy central, I would have expected some phenomenal UK dairies to be whipping out some awesome ice cream.  Alas, it remains to be seen (a possible new business venture for hasn't escaped my mind).  I digress.  Anyway, I've grown tired of paying £4 for a pint of B&J and since I've made ice cream plenty in my past, thought why not whip some up using that lush double cream and see what's what. 

Yep, there was no disappointment. 

My husband is a huge chocolate chip cookie dough lover and thus stands to reason that his favourite ice cream flavour is chocolate chip cookie dough.  When searching for recipes to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, I came across a much loved recipe for vanilla ice cream, with the perfect chocolate chip cookie dough balls tossed in to make: you guessed it - chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

A thing to note about this ice cream recipe and my ice cream recipes in general: I don't use eggs.  I don't love the idea of uncooked eggs in my ice cream, so I personally don't use them.  It's not say that I wouldn't ever try an egg-based recipe, but my eggless recipes have made me happy enough to not want to venture away just yet. 

Here's what you need for the ice cream:
3 cups or 900 mL Whole Organic Milk
1 3/4 cups caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1Tbps Vanilla Extract
5 cups or 1500mL of Double Cream (M&S makes a mean one)

Here's what you need for the chocolate chip cookie dough balls (again, eggless):
1 cup/113g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon water
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
To make the cookie dough balls:
  • Cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl.
  • Stir in the vanilla, water, flour, and chocolate chips. Mix until well blended.
  • Roll dough into bite-sized balls (or use a small ice cream scoop).
  • Place on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.
  • Store balls in resealable plastic bags in the freezer.
To make the ice cream:
  • Take the chocolate chip cookie dough out of freezer and leave out until needed.
  • Place milk in a large sauce pan on stove and scald it until bubbles form around edge.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add sugar and salt. Stir until dissolved.
  • Stir in double cream and vanilla.
  • Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. *Note: mixture will be very liquidy.  The chilling process takes care of this.
  • Freeze as directed by your ice cream machine's instructions. Note: I have a kitchen aid mixer and I bought the ice cream maker attachment.  It's phenomenal.  It comes with the beater and the bowl and the only requirement is to freeze the bowl (vs. using salt and all that other stuff).  You place the frozen bowl onto mixer, affix the ice cream adapter beater, turn mixer on, add ice cream mixture, leave alone for 20-25 minutes.  Voila, ice cream!
  • Once ice cream has been through the entire ice cream machine process and is now a chilled soft ice cream, add the chocolate chip cookie dough. Just break up the dough as best you can with your hands and drop it in small clusters into the soft ice cream. Try to mix it around to ensure that the cookie dough is evenly distributed throughout the ice cream.
  • Put the ice cream in the freezer for several hours until hardened.
Delicious!  Or, as the Brits like to say, Gorgeous!

Best. Brownies. Ever.

It's been a while, dear baking world, but I'm back.  And the baking has resumed to a pretty normal rate again (thankfully...although my thighs might be thinking something differently!). 

Rarely do we finish a baked good and, as the pan is being scraped, my husband ask if we can whip up another batch.  Alas, these brownies have that exact effect.  They're pretty phenomenal.  And while I'm a pretty decent brownie fan, these brownies just might have turned me into a brownie lover.

What's different about these brownies vs. other brownies, you ask?  These brownies are super chewy, dense, and have the perfect amount of chocolate. They are not 'cakey' as other recipes can be.  Not that I dislike 'cakey' versions of brownies, mind you. But 'cakey' brownies don't make me a brownie lover...dense, chocolatey, chewy brownies do :).

What's missing from this recipe are the baking agents that make cakes cakes (know what I mean?).  Your typical baking soda and baking powder are nowhere to be found.  And the amount of flour is relatively low as well.  What makes a dense chocolately dessert are: small amounts of flour (relative to other ingredients), butter (of course!), eggs, and chocolate.  What makes a dessert moist are eggs and brown sugar. That, my friends, is exactly what this recipe is all about.  See for yourself:

Ingredients to make these bad boy brownies:
1 Cup/113g of Butter (unsalted), melted
1 1/2 cups of caster sugar
1 1/2 cups of light brown sugar
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract (always use the real stuff)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups of flour
1 cup of cocoa powder (use a nice one like Green & Blacks)
1 tsp salt
1 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips (again, good chocolate here folks...go Belgian or some other fancy one like green and blacks to make a mean brownie)
optional: 1 cup of walnuts, chopped, and toasted (secret: place nuts in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin to 'smack' the nuts until they're 'chopped' - works a treat; then place under broiler/grill for 1-2 minutes until toasty). 
How to make 'em:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish.
  • Combine the melted butter, sugars, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each, until thoroughly blended.
  • Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a bowl. Gradually stir flour mixture into the egg mixture until blended. Stir in the chocolate morsels and nuts if using. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared baking dish.
  • Bake in preheated oven until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 45 minutes (check around 40 minutes). Remove, and cool pan on wire rack before cutting.
What could be better with dense, chocolatey, chewy brownies than homemade vanilla ice cream, I ask you?  See my next post for the ice cream (you won't be disappointed).