One of mankind's greatest creations is ice cream. I mean it. A divine creation, it has helped to separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Think about it: rich yet refreshing, cold and creamy, yet lovely with chunky bits, good in summer or winter, loved by young and old and sooooooo many flavors, few could be dissatisfied. I have heard of people who do not like ice cream, but they presumably live in far away lands, or at least, I have been fortunate enough to avoid them.
In all fairness, my love of ice cream started years ago. You see, my mom started running when I was a toddler. I only vaguely remember her leaving to run with friends or by herself. But I always remembered her coming back. Because, then, she would take me out for ice cream.
This was before the time of artisanal ice cream shops, when Baskin & Robins 31 Flavors was THE place to get a scoop. My mom, creature of habit, always got the same thing: a chocolate chip mint shake with two scoops of chocolate chip mint and a scoop of chocolate almond (my mom half-asses nothing).
Her love of said dessert has been genetically passed down with increasing penetrance – meaning each generation seems to love it more than the last. So while I can eat my way thorough a pint of ice cream with a certain amount of skill, June, even in that miniature little body, can eat me under the table. The same child who gets full after a bit of apple or broccoli can, strangely, wolf down a chocolate-dipped waffle cone piled high with Scout Mint and Melted Chocolate ice cream (Molly Moon's you have ruined us) and still want to “help” Harvey with his. Her dedication to all things cold and creamy knows no bounds. I’m not sure whether to be skeptical or proud.
Then, recently it was her half-birthday. Wait. Stop. This isn’t a thing we usually do - I swear. It kind of just started out as, Oh, wow, June you are almost four-and-a-half! And then it became a reason to celebrate. Life is so short, right? And what is a half-birthday celebration without a ridiculous dessert? And I have been looking for an excuse to make some crazy ice cream confection, since, well, since forever. My hands were tied.
If you don’t have David Lebovitz's book The Perfect Scoop, you are missing out on true ice cream genius. Every recipe I have made (all but like 3) is amazeballs - probably the only ones that rival my favorite store-bought brand in both ease and deliciousness. All I had to do was over-the-top it.
I won’t lie. It’s a little time consuming, the recipe below. And, amidst summer produce and looming bikini days, you feel a little weird about layering dark chocolate ice cream with peanut butter, then vanilla bean straccietella ice cream, then deep, dark hot fudge. And, then, there is the chocolate cookie crust.
But, I can assure you that those feelings will vanish with the first cold, creamy, crunchy, sweet and salty bite. If it doesn't, take a lesson from our resident expert, June as she slurped up the last little melty bits: "Mom? I think I may need another, teeny tiny slice."
Unbirthday Mud Pie
This recipe can be made with entirely store bought components, so it does not have to be as complicated as I have made it below. But if you are a little crazy, and have a little free time, making all the parts is kinda satisfying. Especially if you taste test as you go...
1 recipe Chocolate Ice Cream base (below)
1 recipe Vanilla Bean Straciatella Ice Cream base (below)
1 recipe Chocolate Cookie Crust (below)
1 C smooth peanut butter
1 recipe Deep, Dark Hot Fudge (below)
I've included times for freezing throughout, but there is some wiggle room here. You can freeze components overnight and make this over several days, if you want to do bits at a time. Just make sure to cover with plastic wrap, wherever you take breaks, to maintain freshness. You can do it all the same day, too, as long as you give yourself at least 8-10 hours to allow it to freeze completely!
1. Make sure cookie crust is cooled to room temp. Microwave the peanut butter until slightly warm and pourable, 30 -60 seconds. Pour over cookie crust, spreading with an offset spatula or simply tipping the pan around until you have an even layer, then pop into the freeze for at least 1 hour and up to 24.
2. Meanwhile, churn your chocolate ice cream base according to the manufacturers instructions or remove from freezer to soften. Remove the frozen crust/peanut butter layer from the freezer, then spread the chocolate ice cream over the base, smoothing the top with a spatula. Place back in freezer for at least 2 hours and up to 24.
3. During this period, make the hot fudge. When the chocolate ice cream is frozen hard, and with the fudge just warm, pour about 1/3 of the fudge over the ice cream layer, smoothing out by tipping cake pan around. Pop back into the freezer for at least 1 hour and up to 24.
4. About 30 minutes before you plan to add your next ice cream layer, churn your vanilla straciatella base or remove vanilla ice cream from freezer. Spread softened ice cream over fudge layer, smoothing the top with a spatula. Freeze at least 2 hours and up to 24.
5. Remove frozen cake from freezer. Run a sharp knife under hot water, then wipe with a towel to remove any water. Slide knife along side of cake, to loosen it from springform. Repeat for as many times as it takes to make your way around the circumference of the cake, heating the knife under hot water and wiping it clean with a towel each time. Loosen the springform pan rim and remove. Slide a large knife or spatula under the cake and remove to a serving platter, or to a cakeboard. Put back in freezer for 15-30 minutes.
6. Lastly, just barely heat the remainder of the hot fudge until it's warm and pourable, but not hot. Remove cake from freezer and pour the other 1/3 of the fudge over top, letting it roll down the sides a bit. Immediately place back in freezer for at least an hour, and up to 8 hours, before serving.
7. To serve, remove from freezer and let sit about 5 minutes on the counter. Slice much the same way you unmolded: running a sharp knife under hot water, then wiping dry, between slices. Drizzle each piece with any remaining hot fudge.
Maybe top with a cherry?
For the components:
Chocolate Cookie Base
1 x 9" or 10" springform pan, greased with Pam
1 and 1/2 Cups dark chocolate cookie (I love these) or graham cracker crumbs
6 Tblsp unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt
Grease a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. Mix all ingredients together, patting into the bottom of the pan with your fingertips until one even layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Let cool.
Dark Chocolate Ice Cream (recipe from David Leibovitz):
This is Philadelphia-style ice cream, meaning it does not have an egg/custard base, like French-style ice cream does. While I do love custard-based ice creams, for this concoction, I thought something a little "lighter" would suffice.
2 1/4 C (560 ml) heavy cream
6 Tblsp (50 g) unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 C (200 g) sugar
Pinch of salt
6 oz (170 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Whisk together cream, cocoa, sugar and salt in a large saucepan. Heat, whisking frequently, until it comes to a full rolling boil (it starts to foam up!). Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate until it is completely melted, then add in milk and vanilla. Pour mixture into a blender, blending until smooth, about 30 seconds. Chill thoroughly in your fridge (about 4 hours), then freeze according to your manufacturers instructions.
Vanilla Bean Stracciatella Ice Cream (recipe from David Lebovitz):
2 C (500 ml) heavy cream
1 C (250 ml) whole milk
3/4 C (150 g) sugar
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
5 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped and ready for melting (do not use chocolate chips)
Pour 1 cup of the cream into a medium saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into saucepan and add the pod, too. Warm over medium heat, stirring now and again, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add remaining cream and milk, then the vanilla extract. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the fridge, at least 4 hours.
When ready to churn, remove vanilla bean, then freeze according to your manufacturers directions. While churning, melt the chocolate over a double boiler or carefully in the microwave. Then, the key: Pour in a thin drizzle into the churning ice cream, avoiding the mixing blade, during the last 2-3 minutes of churning. If it starts to stick to the blade, use a spoon or spatula to break it up a bit. Alternatively, remove the ice cream from the machine and drizzle the chocolate over the top, mixing by hand.
Deep, Dark Hot Fudge (recipe adapted from Molly Moon's Homemade Ice Cream)
1 1/2 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 C sugar
1/2 tsp koshere salt
2 C heavy cream
1/2 C corn syrup
3 Tblsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
Sift powder, sugar and salt together, then set aside. Combine heavy cream and butter together in medium saucepan, whisking occasionally and bringing to just a simmer over medium heat. Add corn syrup and whisk to combine. Bring heat to low. Gradually add cocoa and sugar mixture into hot cream, about 1/2 cup at a time, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with the whisk to prevent scorching. When all of the cocoa mixture has been incorporated, cook another 3-5 minutes over medium heat to thicken. Transfer to a storage container, and allow to cool slightly at room temp, about 30 minutes. Then add in vanilla. If not using in above recipe, fudge keeps in fridge for about 3 weeks.