In Nashville, March and April have not really felt like spring. Not only did we have the mildest winter I have witnessed in Nashville, but spring came early. (Despite what the groundhog said. LOL) With spring here and summer coming up, that means potlucks, picnics, and cookouts are in our midst.
When I think of spring and summer one of my favorite summer memories is my family making homemade ice-cream. I can remember Sarah and I would anxiously wait by the ice cream machine as we constantly loaded it up with ice and rock salt. Just the sound of hearing the ice-cream machine the other day flooded my mind with great memories of my family and growing up. It's funny, now that I live in the city, I am always shocked when I hear how many of my city folk friends have never had the opportunity to eat homemade ice-cream. I don't know if I'm more sad they haven't tried homemade ice-cream or more sad they don't have those wonderful memories wrapped around making it…. either way, in my opinion it is always better than store bought.
To add to the excitement I also wanted to try something I have seen a few times on pinterest…. Cookie cups. I googled them and saw that most recipes called for sugar cookies but I wanted to make mine chocolate chip. I mean honestly, what sounds better than homemade chocolate chip cookie cups with homemade vanilla ice-cream? (yeah, I know your mouth is probably watering right now… don't worry, so is mine!) It was really like a more amazing version of cookies and milk. It ended up being an amazing combination that I will definitley have to do again.
The cookie cups were super easy! I just whipped up a batch of my ultimate favorite chocolate chip cookies recipe. Using a clump of the cookie dough, I shaped the dough around the bottom of a muffin pan, putting the cookie dough only about 1/2 way down the depth of the muffin indention. My first run with them (see the picture below), I actually put the cookie dough on the muffin pans almost the full depth of the indention. This caused the dough to melt into each other and I had to cut the cookie cups apart after they baked. When I only put the dough about 1/2 down they made perfect little cups! If you choose to make the cups here are some important tips: Bake the cookies until they are firm. You do not want the middle of these cookies to be ooey and gooey because they wont hold together as a bowl replacement. Secondly, make sure to use a non stick pan and do NOT spray it with cooking or butter spray because that will cause the cookies to melt way too much and not work. Thirdly, let the pan cool completely before attempting to remove the cookie cups.
I didn't have a copy of a family owned ice-cream recipe when I got the sudden whim to make it so I worked with Alton Brown's Serious Vanilla Ice Cream recipe. He uses peach preserves in the recipe and I was unsure how that would turn out but it really was super delicious and actually didn't have the flavor of peaches at all (I siphoned the peach clumps out before making it to ice-cream).
Serious Vanilla Ice cream
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons ,peach preserves (not jelly)
1 vanilla bean split and scraped or 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
Combine all ingredients (including the bean and its pulp) in a large saucepan and place over medium heat stirring occasionally. Bring the mixture to 170 degrees (or right before a boil--don't actually let it start boiling). Remove the pan from heat and allow to cool slightly. Remove the hull of the vanilla bean if you used one and pour mixture in a lidded container and refrigerate mixture overnight to mellow flavors and texture.
Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker according to the 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 has reached a soft serve consistency, spoon the mixture back into a lidded container and harder in the freezer for at least 1 hour before serving.