Monday, May 25, 2009


Did I mention that A gave me the ice cream maker attachment for the KitchenAid mixer for my birthday last month? It took me a while to clear out enough space in the freezer for it, but in the meantime I checked David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop (much buzzed-about by food bloggers) out of the library...then after taking one look at this awesome must-have tome, I promptly added it to my Amazon wish list, flagged about half of the pages, forced the ice cream maker bowl into a corner of my freezer, and began daydreaming about which luscious-sounding recipe I'd make first. I wanted to start off easy, without having to futz around making an egg-based custard on the stove (custard and caramel are among my top cooking fears)--and luckily, Lebovitz's book offers copious non-custard options for ice cream, as well as frozen yogurt and sorbets. Inspired by the amazing peanut-butter chocolate-chip gelato I had a couple of months ago at our local gelato place, I quickly settled on this simple chocolate-peanut butter ice cream.

Really, it could not be easier. Basically, you make cocoa the old-fashioned way, on the stove, with half and half, Dutch process cocoa powder (I used Droste, like a good little Dutch girl), sugar, and a tiny bit of salt. When it boils, you remove it from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter, chill it, and then churn it in the ice cream maker. The hardest part for me was pouring the ice cream batter into the already-stirring mixer. The second-hardest part was just worrying that I was using the ice cream maker wrong and that my ice cream wouldn't freeze. And while I may have made a chocolatey mess of the kitchen, my ice cream turned out to cream, imagine that! After 30 minutes of churning, it was definitely on the mousse/melted soft-serve end of the continuum, which concerned me a bit, although it tasted delicious regardless. But when I stuck it in the freezer and served up a scoopful the next day, it was really proper ice cream, if denser than the commercial kind. While we were eating it, I kept turning to A and saying, "I made ice cream!" Oh, and the flavor? Delicious enough that it's going to be hard to convince myself to make a different kind next time, even if I do have dozens of tempting options Post-it Noted in the book. Seriously, if you have an ice cream maker and a love for the PB&C, you must make this immediately.

2 cups half-and-half
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

1. Whisk together the half-and-half, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it comes to a full, rolling boil (it will start to foam up). Remove from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter, stirring until thoroughly blended.

2. Chill mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Yield: about 1 quart (for us, about 6 servings)
Time: 20 minutes, plus churning and freezing time
Leftover potential: medium (tastes great no matter when you eat it, but it's hard to control yourself to even have leftovers in the first place; we made it last three days, but it was a struggle)

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