Friday, May 18, 2012

A Nearly Festive Ice Cream - For the Rest of Us

I was never a big fan of Seinfeld before it was syndicated. However, for a long time I didn't have cable/satellite, so that was the only thing to veg out to. Needless to say, I've watched more episodes than I care to admit, for a show I don't even like.

Anyhow, there was one episode where they talk about Festivus, an alternative holiday to the commercial aspect of Christmas. Ben and Jerry's even made a special limited edition ice cream named after this fictional holiday.
It was a brown sugar ice cream with gingerbread cookies and a ginger caramel swirl.  You really had to be a fan of gingerbread to like this flavor.  Apparently, it was not a popular flavor with the masses as they stopped releasing batches, even over the seasonally appropriate wintertime.

I was pretty lukewarm about this flavor.  I liked it well enough to eat it when it was around, but if I had another ice cream flavor choice available, I'd take it.  I wasn't super sad when the flavor was discontinued.  My husband and best friend, on the other hand, were very very put out.  They both LOVED this flavor.

So when I happened upon this Gingerbread ice cream recipe over at Kate's Short and Sweets, I just had to make it.  The ice cream base was obviously not the same as Ben and Jerry's.  I'm fairly certain that their ice cream has an egg base.  That's all fine and dandy as they are professionals.  I don't like to mess around with salmonella.  Go ahead.  Call me chicken.  ::groan:::

I didn't care for the cookie dough recipe that was linked up on Kate's Short and Sweets.  It called for Ener-G egg replacer and frankly, I didn't feel like going on a wild goose chase, just to find one random ingredient.  I settled on using this recipe for egg free gingerbread from Well-fed Everyone to use as cookie dough.

OK.  So the original Ben and Jerry's  Festivus uses actual baked gingerbread bits.  I was afraid that any gingerbread cookie I made would get soggy in the time it takes for the ice cream to set up.  So I went with gingerbread cookie dough instead.

Let me tell you, that cookie dough was awesome. I could not stop eating it.  Even with all my nibbling and snacking, there was enough cookie dough for this batch of ice cream, and another down the road.
Instead of a ginger caramel swirl, I just used dulce de leche that I made in the crockpot.  Truth is, I'm scared of making caramel.  I'm terrified of burning it or myself; I don't have the best of luck with molten sugar.  I played it safe went with what I know.  And I know how dulce de leche in the crockpot tastes.  (Damn good!) If you are feeling adventurous, why not try this basic Ginger caramel sauce from Food and Wine, or this slightly fancier version from My Man's Belly. They both look really good.

So to sum up, while this wasn't an exact copy of the original Festivus ice cream, it was a very tasty facsimile. Make some for the gingerbread lover in your life.  They will thank you for it!

Festivus Fake-y Faker-ton  Ice Cream adapted from Kate's Short and Sweets and Well-Fed Everyone
2 C milk
2 Tbsp molasses
1/2 C brown sugar, divided
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 C cream
1/2 - 1 c frozen gingerbread cookie dough balls
Dulce de leche or other caramel sauce of your choosing (I used about a 3rd of the can)

Add milk, molasses, 1/4 C brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt to a small saucepan. Heat, whisking occasionally, on med til steam rises from milk 3-5 min. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, whisk cornstarch and a couple T cold cream in a small bowl. Whisk away as many lumps as possible.Whisk cornstarch mixture into heated milk, along with remaining 1/4 C brown sugar. Heat, stirring constantly, until thick. This mixture is ready when it thickly coats the back of a spoon and a line drawn across with your finger remains intact, 3-5 minutes.

Cool completely (about 1-2 hours in the fridge), then stir in the remaining cream. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Pour the ice cream into the container you're going to freeze it in.  Fold in the frozen gingerbread dough bits. Drizzle on the caramel and swirl into the ice cream base.  Freeze for about 2 hours or until the ice cream is just set.

Frozen Gingerbread dough bits
1 3/4 c flour
1/4 t salt
1/4 t baking soda
1 tsp gr cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1/4 t ground nutmeg
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 c butter or margarine
1/4 c  brown sugar
1/4 c. unsulphured molasses
2 T water
1/2 t vanilla extract

Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and brown sugar.  Beat until light and fluffy, scraping bowl and paddle occasionally, about 5 min. In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk molasses, water, and vanilla.  Stir into buttery stick mixture (it will separate and look all funky and gross).  Scrape bowl and paddle.  With mixer running on low speed, slowly add dry ingredients until evenly incorporated.  Flatten dough into a disk and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to three days, or freeze for up to three months.  Once the dough is no longer super sticky, roll into small marble sized balls.  Freeze balls on a wax paper lined cookie sheet until they have hardened, about an hour.  Transfer to a freezer safe storage container.

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