When I think of a dessert that is quintessentially Midwestern, or All-American for that matter, I can’t help but picture apple pie. It invokes a wholesome, Richie Cunningham (yeah, I watched Happy Days…so?), from-the-farm image. Because of this, I thought it was the most obvious choice as my first dessert. However, two personal preferences made me hesitant to run for the orchard (it IS apple season after all!). First, I’m not a pie person. Numerous debates amongst my friends have determined that there are two types of people- pie people and cake people- and I am the latter. Second, I don’t think that fruit really belongs in dessert, and it should never EVER stand on its own as dessert. I know this is nonsensical, and ironic for me personally since, as a child, every year on my August birthday, I ate either peach upside down cake, or lemon cake. Still, as a grown up, I hold true to my rule, and regularly scoff at any fruit-laden dessert. Therefore, to reconcile my crazy issues with the task at hand, I decided on the happy compromise of apple pie ice cream.
There are a bunch of recipes out there, and I thought I’d add mine to the mix. I combined elements that I liked from various sources to create what, I think anyway, is worthy to hold its own amongst them.
For the ice cream part, I adapted the base from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream. Her cookbook has some absolutely amazing recipes. I like her base because it’s still got a really creamy, custardy texture without going through the hassle of making a custard base with egg. Also, my version below uses half and half, while the original uses heavy cream.
- 1 Honeycrisp Apple, peeled, cored and diced into small bits
- 1 Fuji apple, peeled, cored and diced into small bits
- 1/4 c brown sugar
- 1-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- sprinkle nutmeg
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 TB plus 1 tsp cornstarch
- 2 ounces cream cheese
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1- 1/4 cup half and half
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 TB light corn syrup
- 8 smashed gingersnap cookies
- Cook the Apples: Combine the brown sugar and butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. When the butter is melted and bubbly, add the apples and cinnamon. Cook, stirring frequently, until the apples are softened and most of the liquid has evaporated, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Cook the ice cream: Mix the cornstarch with about 2 TB of milk to create a slurry. Set aside.
- Beat the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth and set aside.
- Combine the remaining milk, 1/2 and 1/2, sugar and corn syrup in a 4 qt. saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cornstarch slurry.
- Return the mixture to a boil and cook about 1 minute until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Whisk the milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate overnight or until completely cool.
- Churn the Ice Cream: When you’re ready to churn the ice cream, combine half of the cooked apples and half of the chilled custard base in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth.
- Combine the puréed mixture and the remaining custard base in the bowl of your ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.* Add the remaining apples and cookie bits during the last minute or so of churning, or fold them by hand when it has finished. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze. And then eat.