Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake

 One of my favorite things about blogging is getting to babble on about the people who make my world go 'round.  You've met Jill, PamDorien & Kenny, and obviously Allison.  So it's a pretty glaring omission that after all this, not much has been said about the guy I'll be spending forever with.  Without further delay, meet John Francis...

We met in college while working at California Pizza Kitchen.  I thought he was handsome, and he followed me around the restaurant delivering extra ranch dressing to my tables and opening bottles of wine for me.  He kissed me one Friday night after a late shift, I was smitten, and then he ignored my calls for a week.  Then he called me, and I ignored his calls.  But whatever phase of the ridiculous dating dance we found ourselves in, we'd usually end up together in the dive bar across the street from the restaurant, smooching to "Don't Stop Believin'" after eleventy six Miller Lites. 

5 years later, I still think he's handsome, although I've mastered the art of opening my own wine.  We share an obsessive love of Mad Men, Mexican food, and our dogs.  He puts up with my messes (a trail of shoes and dirty laundry follows me around our house), and I put up with his questionable taste in snack foods (atomic jalapeno Cheetos are never ok).  If he's not marathon running, playing exquisite classical guitar, or working on his dissertation, he's charming the little kids in my family, or listening intently while my dad recounts the 1981 NFC playoff game.  And get this:  he does the dishes.  All.  The.  Dishes.

A guy like that comes along once in a lifetime, so his birthday dessert matters.  While I've never seen him turn his nose at any of my baked creations, John Francis is a chocolate-peanut butter man.  And since he's watched me make countless birthday cakes, I knew I wanted to mix it up and surprise him with something special.  Enter the ice cream cake...

Maybe it's the throwback to all those Carvel and Baskin Robbins cakes of our childhoods, but I've never met anyone who didn't love an ice cream cake.  A rich brownie base is packed into the sides and bottom of a springform pan, then filled with a chunky peanut butter ice cream.  Never tried peanut butter ice cream before?  I suggest you hop to it.  It's sweeter, lighter, and more refreshing than the stuff straight out of the jar.  Are you drooling yet?
 If that's not enough...

Mmm hmm...  I got my Coldstone on and mixed chopped up peanut butter cups into the ice cream.
Now you simply fill your brownie shell with your ice cream, and let it all freeze up together.  There's no baking, which is great when it's September and it's 110 degrees in Los Angeles.  Not that I would know anything about that.

If you're feeling fancy, you can whip up some ganache.  It's super reliable for decorating ice cream because it freezes solid.  Ganache is so easy.  Almost too easy...

Happy birthday John Francis!  Here's to a hundred more birthday cakes together.

JF with the overly tanned overly blonde ladies of Butter + Cream

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake
 Adapted from Mark Bittman and David Lebovitz

For the brownie:
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted or unsalted butter, more for greasing pan
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Pinch salt if you use unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over very low heat, stirring occasionally. When chocolate is just about melted, remove from heat, and continue to stir until mixture is smooth. Meanwhile, grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. If you like, also line it with waxed or parchment paper and grease that.

 Transfer mixture to a bowl, and stir in sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add flour (and salt and vanilla if you are using them), and stir to incorporate. Stop stirring when no traces of flour remain.
Pour into pan, and bake 20 to 30 minutes, or until set and barely firm in the middle. Cool on a rack before cutting.

For the peanut butter ice cream:
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 2/3 cups half-and-half
Pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 peanut butter cups, chopped

Puree the peanut butter, sugar, half-and-half, salt, and vanilla in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator , then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.  When there are five minutes to go, stir in the peanut butter cups.

For the ganache:
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Bring cream to simmer in a saucepan, then pour over the chopped chocolate, stirring occasionally.  Let cool to room temperature before using.

To assemble:  
Press the brownie into the bottom and up the sides of a round springform pan.  When the ice cream is done churning, spread it into the brownie crust, and freeze for 3-4 hours.  To decorate, pour the ganache into a pastry bag with a small tip or a ziplock bag with a small hole cut in the corner.  Pipe decorative writing and a border.  Keep frozen until it's time to serve the cake.


  1. Happy birthday John Francis!!!!!! I want some of that cake please. The soup was great but some cake would be a great finishing touch. Just saying.

  2. Happy Happy Birthday to Sir Francis!! I hope he had a good one, though by the looks of this dessert I'm sure he did! Thanks for including some tanned and blonde love in this post as well!

  3. Heeey! It's not his birthday yet! What, are you celebrating brithday week?

  4. Happy birthday to John - who is pretty awesome. That's a great cake. Ya know, his sister, (who is a mere future sister-in-law and therefore not as awesome), also has a birthday this month. I'm just saying...

  5. I LOVE peanut butter and chocolate and I especially love ice cream desserts that I can make ahead. This looks amazing - can't wait to try!

    Hope Francis had a great birthday!



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