After being on vacation for several weeks, I was ready to sink back into routine. I was in detox mode: refocusing on exercise, loading up on fruits and veggies, stocking up on green juices. And I was off to a great start.
But then this happened:
It had arrived just before I left for my trip. As I flipped through its colorful pages, all resolve around “eating clean” crumbled. It was as if the recipes were tailor made for my particular brand of sweet tooth…
Spicy Date Ice cream on Brown Butter Walnut Bars
Plum Frozen Yogurt on Lemon Shortbread
Peaches and Cream on Oatmeal Cookies
…and the ringer…PB&J Ice Cream Sandwich.
A peanut butter ice cream sandwich on toast, a recipe author Jennie Schacht later told me she ate for breakfast every morning for an entire week once she’d nailed it.
I had to give a try. Immediately.
We had it for dessert one night. And then, with the kids off at day camp the next day, I served one up for myself at lunch (it is a sandwich after all), only using chocolate hazelnut spread instead of jam. Delish.
The warm crunchy toast makes a perfect counterpoint to the cold, rich ice cream. It’s also not cloyingly sweet in the way of some desserts since the ice cream gets tucked between slices of toast, not cookies or brownies. Making this with Jennie’s homemade peanut butter ice cream is worth the effort, but if you lack the time, she suggests stirring two teaspoons of peanut butter and one teaspoon of honey into a scoop of softened vanilla ice cream for each sandwich.
Any which way you make this, it’s a treat well worth getting derailed from a post-vacation detox.
This is my go-to sandwich when I am jonesing for one and there are none stashed away in the freezer. Sometimes I hope not to find a sandwich there, just so I can make this one, which delights with warm toast, cool ice cream, and the reassuring flavors of childhood. With ice cream awaiting in your freezer, a sandwich need never be more than a toaster away.
I make these up one at a time when the mood strikes. If you’re hosting a child’s sleep-over party or have family in town for the holidays, make all twelve at once for an easy and memorable breakfast or midnight snack.
Peanut butter is personal: Choose creamy for a smooth ice cream or chunky for more texture. In either case, look for a natural-style peanut butter made from only peanuts (salt optional), with no sweeteners or gums. I prefer a mild honey such as clover or orange blossom for this ice cream.
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (84 grams) mild-flavored honey
- 2 tablespoons tapioca starch or cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2/3 cup (160 grams) natural peanut butter
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 to 12 slices good-quality sandwich bread, such as challah, bakery white or honey whole wheat
- Unsalted butter, for spreading on the toast (optional)
- 1 to 12 tablespoons berry jam or chocolate hazelnut spread
- Whisk 1/2 cup of the milk with the sugar, honey, tapioca, and salt in a medium saucepan until no lumps remain. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk.
- Heat the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until it begins to steam and slightly bubble at the edges. Adjust to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a cream sauce, 2 to 3 minutes longer; do not fully boil.
- Off the heat, add the peanut butter, give it a minute or two to soften, then stir until smooth and well blended. Stir in the cream and vanilla.
- Transfer the mixture to a metal bowl set over a larger bowl of ice and water. Stir occasionally until the mixture is cool, taking care not to slosh water into the bowl.
- Cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least 2 hours. Transfer the bowl to the freezer for the last half hour before spinning it.
- Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. When it is ready, transfer the ice cream to a chilled container, cover, and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.
- For each sandwich, toast 1 slice of bread until it is medium dark. Trim the crusts and butter the bread if you wish. Cut the slice in half, either crosswise or diagonally, as you would a sandwich.
- Spread 1 tablespoon of jam or chocolate hazelnut spread on one toast half. Scoop and spread 1/4 cup slightly softened ice cream across the other half. Sandwich the two together and enjoy while the toast is warm.
- Shortcut: If you don't have time to make the peanut butter ice cream, mix 2 teaspoons of peanut butter with 1 teaspoon of honey and swirl into a scoop of softened vanilla ice cream for each sandwich.
Ever so slightly adapted and reprinted with permission from Jennie Schacht, author of I Scream Sandwich (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2013)
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this cookbook. The opinions expressed are my own.