A couple of years ago, I was having dinner with this other girl who kept talking about all the homemade ice cream she made. After repeated mentions, I couldn't stand it anymore and threw down the proverbial gauntlet and challenged her to an "ice cream throw down". We rounded up two other friends who also made their own ice cream and drew up a list of rules. We were all to make 3 churned, frozen desserts: one vanilla ice cream for a baseline, one sorbet, and one free-for-all. Forty people came to judge, and I'm proud to say that I won the vanilla and sorbet categories with my "Triple Vanilla Threat" (frozen custard made with vanilla bean, vanilla sugar, and vanilla bourbon) and Coconut Lime Sorbet
, which is really the simplest and yummiest sorbet recipe ever.
So for the one category that I lost, I had made a Tim Tam Slam ice cream. At the time, Tim Tams had yet to be imported into the US, so I actually had saved a package that a co-worker from Australia had sent special to me after I told her how much I loved the cookies. I was introduced to Tim Tams back when I lived in Taiwan by a couple from New Zealand. Crunchy chocolate cookies sandwiching a smooth chocolate mousse all dipped in rich chocolate fudge. You can really only eat one or two at time before going into chocolate overdose.
(This is actually a picture I took of the Tim Tams I had 2 years ago; the ones from Pepperidge Farms have a different packaging.)
But the best way to enjoy a Tim Tam is to do the Tim Tam Slam! This involves biting off the ends of the rectangular cookie and using it as a straw to sip up some coffee (or milk or tea). Just as the liquid reaches your lips, you toss the whole cookie in your mouth and close your eyes in delight as you experience the Tim Tam Slam.
Luckily for us, Tim Tams are now available stateside, at least during the colder months of the year, through Pepperidge Farms. I spied some at the local Shaws the other day, and decided it was high time to try to make a better Tim Tam Slam ice cream, because the Tim Tam Slam really deserved to be enshrined in such a hallowed way.
The previous time, I had tried David Lebovitz's recipe for making the coffee ice cream and used Dunkin' Donuts' hazelnut coffee beans. For whatever reason, the ice cream didn't really turn out as I had hoped. It's been over two years now so I can't remember exactly what I didn't like about it, but it was just off, somehow. As a note, my favorite coffee ice cream is the first one I ever tried: Breyers. It's the whole reason I even like coffee.
Since I've moved away from making frozen custards, I decided it was time to try Jeni's recipe for making no-egg ice cream again since let's face it, the last time
was kind of a fail. And I think I know what the issue was last time. I bet I didn't let the mixture get a chance to cook enough after adding the corn starch so that it thickened before cooling it. Because let me tell you, when it starts boiling and thickening, you better get that pot off the heat fast or else it'll boil over. And I'm sure I'd have remembered something like that happening before.
3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon corn starch
3 1/2 cups half and half
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant coffee crystals (I used Nescafe)
1 package Tim Tams
In the bottom of a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese until soft and loose and set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of the half and half, making sure the cornstarch is dissolved. Pour the rest of the half and half into a large pot and whisk in the sugar, corn syrup, and coffee crystals. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and then simmer, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes.
Remove from heat and whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return the pot to medium-high heat, bring back to a boil, and cook for 1 more minute, stirring or whisking constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened.
Pour the milk mixture into the bowl with the cream cheese and whisk until the cream cheese is combined. Add the salt. Set the bowl into a larger bowl filled with snow or an ice bath and cool, stirring every few minutes, until the liquid is at least down to room temperature. Transfer the inner bowl to the refrigerator and allow to chill thoroughly.
Roughly chop the Tim Tams into small bits.
Once the ice cream base is chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker, adding the chopped Tim Tams at the very end. Transfer the ice cream to a container and freeze for several hours until firm.
I liked this version of the Tim Tam Slam much better, although it still doesn't taste as good as Breyer's coffee ice cream. Maybe it's something to do with the amount of coffee flavoring or the way I introduced it. Perhaps it would've been better to add espresso powder or coffee extract. But the addition of the Tim Tam bits definitely compensates for any faults the ice cream itself may have. I actually used caramel Tim Tams, which added a nice non-chocolatey dimension to the ice cream, kind of similar to Ben & Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream. The only thing is the caramel gets pretty hard when frozen, but does eventually soften in your mouth.
One year ago: Pan-Fried Pasta with Butternut Squash, Fried Sage, and Pine Nuts