It all started with a trip to Penzey’s Spices, where I picked up a little tube of vanilla beans.
What better thing to make with real vanilla beans than vanilla ice cream?
And, seeing as it was the husb’s bday, pairing them with chocolate chip cookies (his favorite) just felt like the right thing to do.
I decided to use an Alton Brown recipe.
Alton knows ice cream.
Really, Alton knows everything. He’s a pretty trustworthy source.
Here’s what you’ll need (a bit modified from the original):
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 tablespoons peach or apricot preserves (not jelly)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
Have you ever split and scraped a vanilla bean before? It’s super easy.
Here, I’ll show you.
There you have it: split and scraped.
Now, you add all those ingredients (from the list above) together in a medium saucepan.
You even add the empty vanilla bean hull.
Stir everything together, stick a thermometer in there, and heat the pan over medium heat.
You want the mixture to reach 170 degrees: this means that it will not simmer, boil, etc. You don’t want it to boil!
Once the mixture hits 170, remove from heat.
Allow to cool slightly, then remove the empty vanilla bean hull.
Pour mixture into a tupperware.
Allow to cool completely, then cover and place in the fridge.
It’s going to hang out there for around 10 hours, or overnight.
This will soften and mellow both the flavors and the texture.
Once the mixture has had substantial hang time in the fridge, remove and pour into your ice cream machine.
Allow to whir around in there for about 40 minutes, until it more than doubles in size and has reached a soft-serve consistency. Stick a spoon in and taste it. Taste it again. That’s good stuff right there.
Use a spatula to scrape all the ice cream into tupperwares, then seal tightly and place in the freezer.
Freeze for about 2 hours to harden.
While the ice cream hangs in the fridge, or while the ice cream is in the ice cream maker, or while the ice cream is freezing in the freezer, make the cookies.
My standby cookie recipe is the classic Nestle recipe.
It’s a no-fail, win-win, delicious-and-nutritious recipe. Wait. Not nutritious. Scratch that.
But, it doesn’t matter.
They’re COOKIES! Who needs them to be nutritious? Not this girl.
Here’s what you’ll need to make up a batch of Nestle’s high-altitude chocolate chip cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tsp. water mixed in
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cup chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour (with water), baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, white sugar, butter, and vanilla extract. Beat to combine, until creamy. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
Form cookies into small balls, then place on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 7-9 minutes.
Allow cookies to cool completely, then package into tupperwares.
When you’re ready for sandwich magic, here’s what you’ll do:
Unroll a length of saran wrap, about 7 inches long.
Place a cookie on the saran wrap.
Place a big scoop of ice cream (I just used a spoon, not a real scooper) on the cookie.
Spread ice cream with a spatula.
Slap another cookie on top of the ice cream.
Wrap the saran wrap tightly around the sandwich to tighten the bond and to shape the ice cream.
Allow sandwiches to freeze together for at least an hour before serving.
Ice cream sandwiches – the perfect use for real vanilla beans.
The perfect summer treat.
The perfect birthday dessert.
The perfect “it’s so hot in my house I want to die” snack.
I’m off to go grab another ice cream sandwich.