So it’s officially the second day of Autumn ~ my very favorite season! Pumpkins, football, back-to-school, changing colors, Halloween, Thanksgiving, holiday preparations…all combine to make such sweet times full of traditions that encourage us to slow down and enjoy our families and friends, even as we return to more structured days. More wonderful tradition was added to our family calendar this year with the joyous occasion of my daughter’s wedding to her high school sweetheart ~ a dessert adventure that merits it’s own write-up ~ making September an even sweeter month.
Living in Southern California presents a challenge for us “Fall Fanatics”, since September typically brings the hottest, most humid days of the year. This weekend was no exception…temperatures in the 90’s and humidity that made my hair curl…but I still am compelled to bake! I did make something delicious that provided a wonderful compromise, though: Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream. Adapting a recipe I had for a peanut butter-based ice cream, the frozen result was an irresistible, silky smooth, gelato-like treat that tastes of cinnamon and Gingerbread (in short, Fall!). I can tell that this recipe will be a keeper!
If you haven’t tried the Speculoos Cookie Butter from Trader Joe’s (Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter) you should do so as soon as possible. The taste is a bit reminiscent of Gingerbread, but not quite so strong, with undertones of cinnamon. You can’t go wrong with that combination. It’s delicious on bagels and toast, bananas, or all by itself ~ but my first thought upon tasting it was, “I wonder if I can make ice cream with this!”
I searched through my favorite ice cream cookbook, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home, and found a recipe for The Buckeye State Ice Cream. Since it’s a peanut butter ice cream, I guessed it would suit my purposes. And so it did! There are a few steps, but I guarantee it is well worth the effort! Here’s my recipe for Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream (this recipe makes about 1 quart):
1 cup low fat Milk
1 cup Half and Half
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. Cornstarch
3 Tbsp. Cream Cheese
1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter
1/4 tsp. fine Sea Salt
1 1/4 cups Heavy Cream
2/3 cup Sugar
2 Tbsp. Dark Corn Syrup
1 tsp. Vanilla Bean Paste (or pure Vanilla Extract)
2 tsp. ground Cinnamon
In a small cup, mix 2 Tbsp. milk with the cornstarch until smooth and set aside.
In a large bowl (or ideally, an 8 cup measuring glass with a pour spout), place the cream cheese and cookie butter and microwave at 50% power just to soften. Whisk together until smooth and add the salt.
In a 4 quart sauce pan, combine the remaining milk, half and half, cream, molasses, corn syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Whisking over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture slowly. Keep whisking so you don’t have any lumps. Return the pan to the heat and bring the mixture back to a boil, whisking constantly, for about 1 minute, until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat, and gradually pour the hot liquid into the cream cheese-cookie butter mixture, whisking until smooth.
At this point you can cover the mixture by putting saran wrap directly on top and refrigerating until cool, but Jeni’s quick-cool method is better: Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Pour the hot mixture into a zip-top freezer bag (I double-bag it), and seal. Remember, the mixture is very hot; be careful. Place the mixture into the ice water bath and let it sit for about 30 minutes, at which time the mixture will be cool enough to pour into your ice cream maker (resist the urge to pour some of the mixture into a cup to drink on the spot!). Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions, then place into a freezer-safe container and place a piece of parchment paper directly on top of the ice cream, then cover with an airtight lid. Definitely reward yourself with a taste of “soft-serve” ice cream from the ice cream freezer bowl now! Freeze until firm, at least a few hours; overnight is best. Serve plain or with crunchy cinnamon topping…either way, it’s divine!
I know, I know…there’s a lot of “good stuff” in here…cream, half and half, sugar, molasses…but since it’s very rich, a little scoop goes a long way. So it’s definitely okay to eat this treat, anytime, but especially on an unbelievably hot and humid September day when you’re looking to escape the heat with a little taste of fall. Bon appetit!