When inspired to create a new recipe, it is often as a result of finding something in an existing recipe or product that doesn’t quite work for me. For example, my Yeast-Raised Waffles were the result of my father’s use of a similar recipe from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook when I was growing up and me thinking they were almost perfect and then setting about to make them absolutely perfect once I had my own damn waffle iron 🙂
This recipe had similar origins, but in this case, it was dissatisfaction with a product not a recipe – namely Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream. Wildly popular since I believe Ben & Jerry’s first introduced it some time in the ’80s, I’d always liked it, but it fell short in a couple areas. First, while it is tasty, its blobs of dough mixed in a vanilla base are like little oases of flavor in an otherwise unremarkable sea of vanilla-ness. Secondly, in the many imitators and commercial versions out there now, more often than not you get low-quality vanilla ice cream mixed with low-quality cookie “dough” (sarcastic air quotes most definitely called for). What to do?
And then it hit me. Why add dough to the ice cream when you could make the ice cream TASTE like the cookie? And not like cookie dough, but like an actual baked cookie! Because my daughter has an egg allergy, I decided to work off a Philadelphia-style ice cream recipe (made without eggs) and why look any further than Alton Brown’s “Serious Vanilla Ice Cream“? I sat down and compared the ingredient lists of that ice cream and my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (to be published later!). I then did a little research. Then scribbled some notes. Then I did a lot of thinking – taste testing in my head as it were.
I wanted something that had the buttery richness of the chocolate chip cookie dough and the toffee notes from the brown sugar. I wanted something where the walnuts (a requirement of my cookie recipe, but pecans may be substituted if you absolutely must) had that oven-baked texture of a nut that hitched a ride on a cookie on a trip through an oven. I wanted big, assertive chocolate chunks – just like I use in my cookies (“chips” are for wusses. Chocolate chunks are definitely the way to go).
After all that, I sketched out how I thought the recipe should go and have made it a couple of times now with surprisingly few alterations. What I bring you now is the result of all this research and experimentation. I still consider this recipe a “draft” and I know there are probably better ways to do this, but figured I’d put it out in the world and hopefully inspire someone to improve upon it. If anyone tries this, please let me know how it turns out and if you have any suggestions!
Chip Chunk Cookie Ice Cream (no dough!)
By Jason Byrne,
partially based on Alton Brown’s Serious Vanilla Ice Cream recipe
Prep Time: Ten hours
Cooking Time: Around an hour
- 2 Tbsp. Salted butter
- 2 Tbsp. sugar (white granulated or I often use a Turbinado sugar)
- 1 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
- 1 cup candied walnuts, broken or chopped into pieces (see recipe below)
- 1 cup chocolate chunks (I prefer Baker’s brand)
Combine candied walnuts and chocolate chunks in a small bowl and put in freezer.
In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of sugar on moderately high heat in a heavy-bottomed 2-quart or 3-quart saucepan. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring but keep moving around pan gently. As soon as all of the sugar has melted and turned dark amber in color, add 2 tablespoons of the salted butter to the pan. Whisk until the butter has melted and as much of the butter has become incorporated as possible. Now, because of the proportions, this will not come together like a regular caramel sauce and there may be little bits of melted better that refuse to mix in with the sugar. This is totally okay, as in addition to caramel notes, we’re also looking for the butter to brown a slight bit. Keep on low heat and while keeping it all in motion, add the milk and cream. If caramel bits are not melting, you can bump up the heat a little. Now add the dark brown and white granulated sugar, stirring until well combined. Add the vanilla extract and the cocoa powder.
Adjust heat to medium. Attach a frying or candy thermometer to inside of pan. (If you do not have a thermometer, bring the mixture just barely to a simmer. As soon as you see a bubble hit the surface, remove it from the heat. Do not let it boil) Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to 170 degrees F. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Pour mixture into lidded container and refrigerate mixture overnight to mellow flavors and texture.
Process mixture in ice cream freezer according to unit’s instructions. The mixture will not freeze hard in the machine. Once the volume has increased by 1/2 to 3/4 times, and reached a soft serve consistency, spoon the mixture back into a lidded container. Add frozen candied walnuts pieces and chocolate chunks to mix and quickly and thoroughly incorporate into the ice cream. The longer it takes, the worse it is for the ice cream. Once everything is incorporated, seal container and harden in the freezer at least 1 hour before serving.
Because this is a Philly-style ice cream rather than a French-style (made with egg yolks and first cooked as a custard), the ice cream itself is a little lighter tasting than some traditional ice creams, but with so many developed and complex flavors, it really hits your tastebuds. You could modify a French-style recipe and do this, but with all the other flavors going on, I think it might end up to be almost too rich tasting. What started out as necessity because of my daughter’s allergy ended up actually being my preference. I love serendipity in cooking!
Instead of whole chocolate chunks, you can go for smaller chips or chop up the chunks in a food processor a bit before mixing in. The candied walnuts bring additional “cookie” flavors as well as added texture.
While still undeniably ice cream, because of all those cooked butter and sugar flavor notes, you really do end up with something that tastes like a baked cookie. And not just in dribs and drabs, but with every spoonful.
As stated earlier, this is a draft recipe and probably will (and should) be revised a bit. But even in this fairly initial state, the resulting ice cream is one of my favorites.
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1 cup walnut halves
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the walnuts and cook, stirring, until golden brown and toasted, 3 minutes. Add the sugar and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer to a piece of waxed paper to cool.