Saturday, September 15, 2018

Salted Peanut Butter Ice Cream and a Better Brownie

Brownies, Fudge Brownies, Chocolate Desserts, Peanut Butter, Ice Cream, Peanut Butter Ice CreamPeanut butter is something I couldn't get enough of throughout my pregnancies, and rarely would a day pass that I didn't have a snack consisting of a banana or apple with peanut butter, or peanut butter toast and a glass of milk.  And now, I have a toddler who loves peanut butter, and has recently discovered how fun it is to dip things in it.  Messy, as you can imagine.

I prefer the all-natural peanut butters with a little salt, and although I used to believe you couldn't bake a decent cookie with all-natural peanut butter (because of the separation of the oil), I've since changed my mind.  It really requires no change other than just a bit more flour in the dough and a good couple of hours to chill to compensate for the thinner consistency of the peanut butter.

Chocolate was my other essential treat while pregnant, specifically those peanut-butter-filled Dove chocolate promises.  So when I made this Salted Peanut Butter Ice Cream, naturally, I had to make some brownies to go with it...

For the ice cream, I started with my tried and true custard base of cream, milk, sugar and egg yolks, with peanut butter melted into the custard as it cooked.  A good pinch of salt balances the sweetness and enhances all that peanutty goodness, and after churning the ice cream, I swirled more peanut butter throughout so that ribbons of it could be tasted with each bite.  I know I say this all the time, but this really is one of my favorite ice creams I've ever made.  It's just that good.  It's going to be making another appearance in a few weeks when my parents come to visit, and I can't wait.  For their visit, of course...

I've also been tweaking my brownie recipe.  I love my extra-dark, heavy-on-the-cocoa-powder brownie recipe, which I've made at least 30-40 times over the last few years, but I was curious about the difference a few adjustments might make.  In this recipe, you'll find less cocoa powder but more flour and melted chocolate, as well as an additional step to first cook the butter and sugar for a few minutes to dissolve the sugar a little, which is what creates that crackly crust on top that everyone loves.

Without having done a side-by-side comparison (which would have been fun, though), I relied just on my memory of my other brownies to compare the final result.  Judging solely on taste, I'd say they were very similar - both dark, fudgey and well-balanced in sweetness and chocolateyness.  For appearance, I do like the lighter brown crackly top on these; however, the smooth dark crust on my original recipe is also a perfect background for a pretty powdered sugar stencil.  I would give this one an extra star, though, for staying soft and moist for longer, which I attribute to the higher ratio of melted chocolate over cocoa powder.  That said, brownies rarely last long enough in our house to go stale, so that's a bit of a non-issue.  And a day-old brownie warmed in the microwave for 30 seconds is as good as freshly-baked, am I right?

Brownies, Fudge Brownies, Chocolate Desserts, Peanut Butter, Ice Cream, Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Brownies, Fudge Brownies, Chocolate Desserts, Peanut Butter, Ice Cream, Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Brownies, Fudge Brownies, Chocolate Desserts, Peanut Butter, Ice Cream, Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Brownies, Fudge Brownies, Chocolate Desserts

Salted Peanut Butter Ice Cream

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 3/4 -1 cup natural peanut butter, divided (smooth or crunchy)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon, optional
In a saucepan, whisk together 1 cup cream with the milk, brown sugar and egg yolks.  Add 1/2 cup peanut butter.  Over medium low heat, whisking constantly, warm the mixture until the peanut butter melts.  Continue to cook, but not boil, whisking constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla.  Refrigerate until well-chilled, preferably overnight.

Whip the remaining 1 cup of cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.  Fold into the chilled custard.  Churn according to the manufacturer's instructions of your ice cream maker; during the last couple of minutes of churning, add the bourbon.  After churning, fold in 1/4 - 1/2 cup peanut butter, leaving visible ribbons of peanut butter throughout the ice cream.

Transfer to a container and freeze until firm, about 6 hours.

Yields about 2 quarts
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Crackly Fudge Brownies

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line an 8x8 inch baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper.

In a saucepan over medium low heat, melt the butter.  Add the sugars and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until shiny and the butter no longer separates from the sugar.  Remove from the heat.

In a bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the eggs for 1 minute.  Add the cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and vanilla and beat until smooth (it will be very thick).  Add the butter/sugar mixture and beat until smooth, scraping the bowl down to incorporate all the ingredients.  Add the chocolate chips, and beat until melted and smooth.  Fold in the flour.

Spread into the pan, and bake for about 25-30 minutes, just until set.  Cool completely, then lift the brownies out by the paper and cut into squares.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

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