Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Ultimate Comfort: Ice Cream and Brownies

Oh, brownies.
More brownies? Yes. Yes, more brownies. I cannot get enough of brownies. Brownies are one treat I tend to have no problem polishing off. That's not to say I don't feel bad about polishing off a pan of brownies, I just accept that guilt is a main ingredient in brownies and figure that the pleasure of brownies far outweighs the guilt. For example, it is now 2:30pm and I have already had two brownies today. I'm feeling only a little bit guilty about that fact. These brownies are so good... I feel like I'm becoming a brownie master.

Look at that gooey caramel.
I don't usually need a reason to bake brownies, but I guess I kind of had a reason to bake them this week. If ever I've got a minor (or even major) case of the blues, brownies are my go-to. When my grandmother died my senior year of college, one of my best friends came over armed with brownie-mix and Hitchcock movies. Though it didn't entirely take the pain of loss away, it helped for a little while. I know that seeking comfort from food is not entirely healthy, but given that I'm healthy overall, I don't see the harm in it. Life is too short to not do things that make you happy. And making (and eating) brownies makes me happy.

Mmm, so good.
As for the ice cream, I had leftover whole milk and cream in my fridge that needed used up before their expiration dates, so I felt like I simply had to make ice cream. I decided that I wanted to do a vanilla base with candy added, and I thought that Butterfingers would be pretty awesome. I was totally right on that point.

I'm not entirely sure why, but I guess I was feeling pretty candy-inspired this week because I also added candy bars to my brownies. For these, I wanted peanut butter and caramel, so I added a broken-up king-size peanut butter bar and a chopped-up Cadbury caramel bar. These additions make for intensely sweet brownies, but served with ice cream and a glass of water, it's overall quite satisfying.

Sweet, heavenly goodness.
Butterfinger Ice Cream
adapted from Vanilla Ice Cream in The Perfect Scoop

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 lrg egg yolks

2 regular-size Butterfingers

Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream, and salt in a medium saucepan.

Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Let cool.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. While the ice cream is churning, chop the Butterfingers so that you have small crumbles and some larger chunks (no bigger than hazelnut-size). At the last minute, pour the Butterfinger bits into the ice cream machine as it is churning. Remove the ice cream from the machine and place in a freezer-safe container.

Straight from the pan.
Candy Bar Brownies
adapted from The Perfect Scoop

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, cut into small pieces
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 lrg eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1/8 tsp salt

2 large candy bars of choice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line an 8-inch square pan with a long sheet of aluminum foil that covers the bottom and reaches up the sides. Grease the bottom and sides of the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate pieces and stir constantly with a whisk over very low heat until the chocolate is melted.

Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, then the eggs one at a time, and the vanilla. Stir in the flour and the salt. Beat the batter vigorously for 30 seconds, until it begins to form a smooth ball. 

Cut the candy bars into chunks (about 1-inch squares). Add the candy to the brownie batter and stir until evenly combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 30 minutes, until the center feels just about set. Remove from the oven and let cool.


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