Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mexican chocolate brownie ice cream

Mexican chocolate brownie ice cream

Memory is a strange thing. For years I’ve been obsessed with a chocolate brownie ice cream that I ate when growing up in Houston. It was made by Blue Bell and I used to pull the half gallon out of the freezer, scoop out a big bowl, and then sit on a stool at the kitchen counter eating it in the afternoon on summer days. But I hadn’t seen it for years and wasn’t quite sure that it was real or not.

When I was nine and moved to Houston from Dallas, I had Blue Bell ice cream for the first time. It was the late 1970s and Blue Bell was strictly a Houston-area brand, so I’d never heard of it until my parents came home from the grocery store with the signature gold-rimmed half-gallon tub and explained that Blue Bell was the preferred ice cream in Houston. For some reason, I was dubious at first (in Dallas, for store bought we’d eaten Braums and Haagen Dasz) but after my first bowl I was a convert. Blue Bell was sweet, cool, and refreshing—it was very good.

Back then, there weren’t too many flavors available. Homemade vanilla was popular, as was chocolate chip, cookies and cream, and my favorite—that chocolate ice cream with little pieces of brownies swirled throughout the base. While having ice creams packed with other stuff is common now, in the 1970s it was a novelty. And so each time your spoon dug up one of the small pieces of brownie in the chocolate base, it was like finding a secret treasure.

Mexican chocolate brownie ice cream

Here’s the thing, however. I haven’t been able to find any record of this exact flavor anywhere and when I asked several friends if they recalled it they said that they did not. For some reason, I failed to ask my mom, but finally I did and received the answer I’d been seeking. “It was chocolate on chocolate,” she said, being a huge chocolate fan and all. “Of course, we ate it!”

Mom assured me that she did indeed often buy that particular flavor of Blue Bell, though like myself she couldn’t remember the exact name. She then went on to talk about other brownie flavors that Blue Bell had made, the same ones that I’d seen, as well. They’re not the same, she conceded, but the chocolate brownie ice cream of my memory did exist.

These days, poor Blue Bell isn’t doing so well. I hope they get their problems solved soon, as they are greatly missed by many. That said, making ice cream at home isn’t difficult. And in a fit of nostalgia recently, I made a batch of a chocolate ice cream stuffed with brownies, though I updated the recipe with some spices for a little added punch.

In my chocolate ice cream there is lots of cinnamon, vanilla, and a hint of cayenne—flavors common to Mexican hot chocolate. As for my brownies, which are fudgy, buttery, and rich, I threw in some ancho chile powder for additional earthy heat. Since I didn’t need that much brownie, instead of baking a full recipe in a 9-inch pan, I baked a half recipe in a 4-inch skillet. You can also use muffin tins, too. (Though you should know that these brownies are pretty incredible in their own right, so if you feel inclined to double the recipe I doubt they will go uneaten!)

The brownies are then cut into small bites and gently stirred into the ice cream after the chocolate custard has been churned. Stick it into the freezer for a few more hours so the flavors can meld, and then pull out your spoons and get ready to enjoy one stupendous chocolate frozen dessert.

Recollections are often hazy and what one person thinks is truth another may question if it even happened. For years I’d been thinking about that Blue Bell chocolate brownie ice cream. When I could no longer find evidence of this particular flavor, I was convinced that perhaps I’d been wrong and my mind was faulty.

Mexican chocolate brownie ice cream

Fortunately, I’m glad that I was mistaken. While that particular ice cream is no longer available, its memory inspired me to make my own. Sometimes when you revisit the past, what you encounter isn’t as good as you recalled. But I’m pleased to say that this Mexican chocolate brownie ice cream is even better than I could have anticipated. It’s a sweet way to cool off on a hot day and I look forward to making new memories while sharing it with my family and friends.

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Thank you so much for the well wishes about my return to blogging! It means the world to me. Even though I didn't post here for a few months, I was still active in other social media outlets. To keep up with my recipe testing and trips to Texas, I invite you to follow me on Instragram, Facebook, and Twitter. And I've started adding my recipes to Pinterest, too.

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Mexican chocolate brownie ice cream


Ingredients for the ice cream:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 cups half and half
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for the brownies:
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch cayenne
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Instructions:
To make the Mexican chocolate custard base, in a pot whisk together the cream, half and half, brown sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and cayenne until very well combined. (The cocoa powder may form lumps so just keep whisking until they’re gone.) Add the chocolate chips and while occasionally stirring, cook on medium-low heat until warm and the chocolate chips have melted, about 4-5 minutes. Do not let it come to a boil.

While the base is heating, beat the egg yolks with the vanilla. Once the base is warmed, pour 1/4 cup of the base into the beaten eggs, stir until well combined, and then pour the egg mixture into the pot.

While stirring, continue to heat on low for 3 minutes or until the base gets slightly thick. Do not let it come to a boil. It’s ready when it coats the back of your spoon. Cool covered in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

While the custard is cooling, make the brownies. Preheat the oven to 350° F and either line a 4-inch oven-proof skillet with parchment paper, or line 6 cups in a regular-sized muffin tin with parchment cups.

In a pot, on low heat melt the chocolate and butter, while occasionally stirring. Stir in the sugar, ancho chile powder, cinnamon, salt, cayenne, and vanilla extract. Mix in the eggs until well combined, and then add the flour and pecans, stirring until a smooth, thick batter is formed.

If using a skillet, spoon the batter into the pan. If using a muffin tin, fill each hole 2/3 full. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are set. Allow to completely cool for at 30 minutes before cutting the brownies into about 1/2-inch bite sized pieces. Store in the refrigerator until time to churn the ice cream.

After everything has chilled, prepare the custard per your ice-cream manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream has churned, spoon it into a freezer-safe container then gently stir the brownie pieces into the ice cream. You can serve the ice cream immediately but it’s better if you let it harden in the freezer for at least 4 hours.


Yield:
About 1 quart

Notes:
You can ofren find ancho chile powder in the spice aisle in many grocery stores, as well as specialty grocers and Mexican grocers. If you can't find it, you can omit it, though the brownies won't be as spicy.


Author:


HOMESICKTEXAN.COM

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27 comments:

June Burns said...

Holy cow that looks incredible! Chunk-filled ice cream like brownie were always my favorites too. Love the use of cayenne, that is always great.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

June--Thank you! And cayenne and chocolate is one of my favorite combinations, too.

Anonymous said...

Hi again Lisa,

over here in England, we get Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream made by Ben & Jerry's and I could eat it by the gallon!!! I understand soooo well why you go all gung-ho about this one. Your version for me has the edge though, because of the ancho chile. If only I had an ice-cream maker. I just got to get one.

Cheers
Karin :-)

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar said...

Holy smokes, this flavour is unreal!! LOVE this!

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Karin--You know, if you do a search online there are ways to churn ice cream without a maker. Basically you make the custard, put it in the freezer and then stir it every hour or so. It takes longer but it's supposed to work.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Katrina--Thanks!

Cheryl McWilliams said...

Thank you so much for this recipe! we too love Blue Bell & remember this ice cream! At our house, we are on home made ice cream venture--this will be the next recipe to grace our mouths.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Cheryl--Wasn't it great? I wonder why they stopped making it!

Helen/Hawk said...

This ice cream sounds amazing. BUT my ice cream maker doesn't make 4QT of ice cream. I guess I could cut the ice cream in half, make all the brownies and have either brownies to freeze for next time.....or, gee darn, have to eat some up yum.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Helen--That was an error! It makes only about a quart and I've now corrected the recipe. Thank you for noticing!

anotherfoodieblogger said...

Oooh I am so excited you are back in the blogging world! My favorite Blue Bell ice cream was/is Peaches and Cream, which was only available seasonally when peaches were ripe. I too am dismayed about Blue Bell's recent demise. Even though I don't live in Texas anymore, we visit my family in Austin, Houston, and Wimberley on a regular basis. Oh! And I am saddened about the Wimberley flooding so much. Although my parent's house remained unscathed, they were without power and any communication for three days. One of my brothers called the sheriff for a wellness check on them. Some of their friends lost their houses completely. Anyways, I'm very looking forward to more recipes of yours! ~ Kathryn

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Kathryn--The Wimberley flooding is so tragic. I'm sorry to hear some of your friends lost their homes but glad that your parents are okay.

Harrison 275 said...

Do skillets come in a 4" size? I have a 6" cake pan and if I adjust the time will it work? thank you

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Harrison 275--I have a 4-inch cast-iron skillet but I realize not everyone will have one of those. You could do it in the 6-inch pan, but they'll be flatter than usual. Do you have a regular-sized muffin tin? (Not mini and not jumbo.) That's probably a better substitution but you can use the 6-inch if that's all you have! Or just double the recipe, bake it in a 9-inch and have leftovers!

lahbluebonnet said...

I love Blue Bell Ice Cream. My introduction to it was in college in San Marcos, Texas in the late 80's...Tin Roof Ice Cream. I never knew such decadence could exist. We have a hand crank and will just have to make our own ice cream this summer. We'll have to try this!

Harrison 275 said...

Thanks Lisa for the information. By the way, I have made an ice-cream for years with a base of Chocolate cinnamon and then to 1 qt , I add 4 oz. chopped, semi-sweet chocolate, 4 oz. chopped milk chocolate and 4 oz of chopped white chocolate. It is my version of an awesome ice-cream from an Ice-cream parlor in Pennington ,NJ called "Triple Threat". It doesn't last long in my house!
Thanks again. Joan

Harrison 275 said...

I thought that I had every size pan but you must be from Texas to have all sizes of cast iron!!
Thanks again....

Joan

Butter&Burlap said...

Yes - Blue Bell! My favorite is Rocky Road... and Mint Chocolate Chip... and Birthday Cake ice cream! Hah I grew up in Texas, so I love me some Blue Bell!

Susan at www.ugogrrl.com said...

YES - I LOVE Blue Bell! This looks heavenly - I can't wait to try it! Have you tried Blue Bell Blackberry Cobbler ice cream? so yummy

Sophia Lucchesi said...

We had Blue Bell delivered every summer at Camp Mystic - this sounds an awful lot like their fudge nut brownie (but spicier - yum)!

Faith Brown said...

Hi Lisa - I am homesick Texan, too. I also LOVE Blue Bell Ice Cream, and wish it would hurry up and come back. I also remember Chocolate Brownie Chunk because it was one of my favorites. We got an ice cream maker this last Christmas and will be trying out this recipe soon. We love your cookbooks. Thanks for all the great recipes.:)

Harrison 275 said...

Hi Lisa,

Well, I made your mexican brownies/icecream and it is fabulous. I used the muffin tin as suggested but I think that I will double the recipe and make in a 9" pan. I kept eating the fudgy spicey brownie. It is a great brownie recipe. Thanks again
Joan

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

That looks absolutely perfect! I got an ice cream freezer a few years ago and have been making it for my grandkids. This looks like one I might just make for myself! Off to look for you on Instagram!!

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

iahbluebonnet--Tin roof is a wonderful flavor. I need to make that next!

Joan--That sounds wonderful!

Butter & Burlap--My dad's favorite flavor is rocky road, too.

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Susan--It's a mighty fine flavor! In my first book I do a take on it with dewberries.

Sophia--It's similar but I think the nut brownie flavor had more nuts in it.

Faith--Thank you for the kind words. Have fun with your new ice cream maker!

Lisa Fain (Homesick Texan) said...

Joan--Aren't the brownies good? I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe!

Rocky Mountain Woman--Definitely treat yourself!

Jana said...

FUDGE BROWNIE NUT!!! I would find it sometimes in the winter, not lately, though. I think it was a winter flavor because it melted quickly for some reason.

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