Friday, March 22, 2013

Peanut Butter Jelly Ice Cream Sandwiches, with Rosemary and Marionberry

This post has something of an odd musical soundtrack. First off, just to get it out of my system is this "song", which I cannot for the life of me get out of my head ever since I started thinking about peanut butter.

To understand why peanut butter's been on my mind, I have to rewind the story to this music, which started it all: the Mendelssohn piano trio, no. 1 in d minor. I first heard this piece when I was at that young impressionable age when you want to do everything your older siblings are doing. Every morning at 6am during middle school, I would wake up to the sounds of my older cousin (who grew up with me, like a sister) practicing the piano part--the arpeggiated d minor chord in the opening was my alarm clock. It became so internalized that without even seeing the music, I found that I could play the first few pages of the piece, too.

Suffice it to say that I fell in love with the Mendelssohn. I once convinced my cousin to let me turn pages for her in one of the concerts in which she performed the piece, and I would just sit, completely mesmerized by the gorgeous dark tones of the cello melody and the hanging high A of the violin in a dramatic mid-movement pause, nearly forgetting to actually turn the pages! (She never asked me to turn pages for her again....) But the sticking point was that I've never actually had the opportunity to play the piece myself. For some reason, my musical path took me into jazz and percussion, and I never got to do chamber music with classical piano when I was still playing seriously.

In early graduate school, I did get the chance to do some classical chamber music (the Brahms horn trio, namely), but the Mendelssohn eluded me still--I never seemed to know quite the right combination of people to make up the instrumentation. Until one day, I discovered that my friend Rob plays cello. (the same Rob from the SF Dessert Day! --Apparently, some people just never broadcast their talents, sigh.)

Long story short, at long, long last, I got to play the Mendelssohn! And let me tell you--the experience was so divine. On violin, we had another linguist (whom I played with a few years ago). And to finally hear the two string parts after years of only being able to hear myself play the lonely piano part--to hear the gestalt--was amazing, like the universe was being made whole again. (not that we played it anywhere near perfectly. I missed probably a good 35% of the notes!, but still!)

Anyways, we're getting to the peanut butter. I invited everyone to stay after we'd played for dinner to celebrate. It turns out that Rob's favorite dessert flavor is peanut butter, which, despite my love of Americana, is just one all-American ingredient that I've never really gotten into. So I wracked my brain for a good week or so trying to reconcile the strong, sometimes-overpowering flavor of peanut butter with the type of desserts I like to make: something sophisticated, subtle, many-layered. What I came up with was my play on PB&J sandwiches: a peanut butter jelly ice cream sandwich, made with rosemary-peanut butter cookies and peanut milk + marionberry swirl ice cream.

Peanut butter cookies are something of a classic, and I found that the rosemary really helps lend some complexity to the cookie, with just an extra hint of something special peeking through the peanut butter nuttiness at the end. These cookies are chewy and hit with a dash of turbinado sugar and smoked sea salt right before baking for a bit more sophisticated oomph.

For the ice cream, I took inspiration from a visit last summer to State Bird Provisions, where they serve this peanut milk drink with dessert. I wanted something that wasn't so boisterously PEANUT BUTTER!-y, and peanut milk--made by steeping peanuts and vanilla in milk overnight--was the perfect solution. The ice cream ends up with this smooth and softly subtle nutty flavor and a beautiful golden cream color. It was incredibly lucky that I happened to stumble upon freshly-made marionberry preserves at the local market the day I shopped for peanut butter because it made a great mix-in for the ice cream: sweet and dark and wonderfully purple. Blackberry jam would probably work just as well, if you don't serendipitously happen upon marionberry preserves. :)

Along with the PB&J ice cream sandwiches, this was our menu that evening:

Tartine's walnut bread
with brie and Seville orange marmalade

goddess salad
romaine, Point Reyes blue cheese, cherry tomatoes, roasted cacao nibs, and avocado-creme fraiche green goddess dressing

beets in apricot marmalade
with goat cheese

curried roasted carrots

#1: chipotle bbq chicken with apricots, smoked gouda, red onion, avocado
#2: margherita

grapefruit-blood orange soda
ginger-lime soda
apple cider

PB&J ice cream sandwiches

Given how prevalent peanut butter is as a dessert ingredient, it's funny that it's taken me so many years to actually post a peanut butter-related dessert on the blog. But, I think I just needed time to get it right--to find the right combination and to make it my own. I guess that's just how life works sometimes, like with the Mendelssohn, too: it took a lot of years for me to finally get to play the piece, but when I did, it was with a couple of my favorite people, and it was just right.

Read on for recipes...

Rosemary Peanut Butter Cookies
makes about 2 dozen cookies

188 g all-purpose flour
½ tspn baking soda
1¼ tspn sea salt
1 Tbspn + 1 tspn chopped fresh rosemary
8 - 10 Tbspn butter, melted
200 g light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tspn vanilla extract
319 g natural, unsalted peanut butter
turbinado sugar
smoked sea salt

1. In a bowl, whisk to combine the flour, baking soda, sea salt, and chopped rosemary. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and brown sugar. If the peanut butter you are using doesn’t have much oil in it, use 10 Tbspn of butter; otherwise, stick with 8 Tbspn. Beat the butter and sugar for about 2 to 3 minutes, until well-combined.
3. Add the egg and vanilla extract and continue beating until combined. Beat in the peanut butter.
4. In two additions, beat in the flour mixture. Cover the dough and chill overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 325° F. Prepare cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
6. Form tablespoon-sized balls of dough, press each ball down slightly on the cookie sheet, leaving about one inch between each cookie. Using a fork, make a cross-hatch on the tops of each cookie by pressing gently. Sprinkle with a small amount of turbinado sugar and smoked sea salt.
7. Bake the cookies for 14 to 16 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. Once the cookies are golden brown, remove from the oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Peanut Milk and Marionberry Swirl Ice Cream

for peanut milk
1 cup raw, unsalted peanuts
2½ cups whole milk
1¼ cups heavy cream
½ vanilla bean

for ice cream
2 cups peanut milk
1 Tbspn + 1 tspn tapioca starch
43 g cream cheese, softened
1/8 tspn sea salt
¾ cup milk
¼ cup heavy cream
67 g sugar
67 g light brown sugar
2 Tbspn light corn syrup
marionberry preserves

1. for peanut milk. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spread the peanuts onto a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes until golden, stirring occasionally. Remove the peanuts from the oven and transfer into a heavy saucepan. Add the milk and cream. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and add scrape the seeds into the milk mixture. Add the vanilla pods. Over medium-low heat, bring the milk to a simmer and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the mixture has reduced by about a quarter. Remove the peanut milk from heat and cover. Let steep for 2 hours, then transfer, covered, to the refrigerator. Chill overnight. The next day, remove the vanilla pods. Purée the peanut milk mixture in a blender until smooth. Strain the purée through a fine mesh sieve, pressing to extract all of the liquid. Discard the remaining solids.
2. for ice cream. Whisk to combine 3 tablespoons of the peanut milk with the tapioca starch in a small bowl. Set aside.
3. In a separate large bowl, whisk the cream cheese and sea salt until smooth. Set aside.
4. In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining peanut milk, milk, cream, sugar, light brown sugar, and corn syrup. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil and boil for 4 minutes. Be careful not to let the milk boil over.
5. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the starch mixture. Return the saucepan to medium heat and return to a boil. Let cook for about 1 minute, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.
6. Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. Then freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions. After freezing, transfer the ice cream to a storage container, layering the ice cream with marionberry preserves. Let firm in the freezer for at least 4 hours or overnight.

rosemary peanut butter cookie recipe adapted from Alice Medrich's Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy
peanut milk recipe inspired by State Bird Provisions (via Bon Appetit)
ice cream based on base recipe in Jeni's Ice Cream



  1. This has to be one of the longest titled recipes you've ever had! It looks and sounds beautiful, as usual, and the menu for the dinner party is absolutely divine! This looks like a somewhat time intensive recipe, so I'll pin it for a someday dinner party with special friends. :)

    By the way, I didn't even have to click the first link to know which song was stuck in your head!

  2. Ohh wow ! This looks absolutely amazing ! I love your picture very much ! and the recipe sounds delicious ! thanks for sharing, love melanie

  3. Oh my gosh, even the ice cream alone is gorgeous!

  4. shauna @ shecooksmacroMarch 22, 2013 at 6:03 AM

    Stephanie, this post is exceptional. The pictures are stunning- which is initially the reason I started following your blog a couple years ago. Combine those with your beautiful prose and, well, I suppose that's why I keep coming back each week. This post ran deep and true within me- as an ex-professional musician, it was lovely to read and visualize the group of you coming together to read such a stunning work- and then celebrating the achievement over a shared feast. Thank you for sharing.

  5. This is possibly the most gorgeous ice cream recipe I've seen this year. I adore peanut butter ice cream but how refreshing to steep the milk with plain peanuts rather than peanut butter. Your photos are simply stunning too :-)

  6. Tiffany @ baking at tiffany'sMarch 22, 2013 at 9:40 AM

    Wow, this is gorgeous! Seriously. I am so inspired. And so glad you got to play Mendelssohn (sounds like an amazing experience). Classical music can really transport people.

  7. Gah! Your images are so beautiful I could cry. Also, I have a slight pb obsession so that could contribute to this wonderful emotional state I find myself in ;)


  8. Wonderful recipes, gorgeous images, i found, little covetous I see the way thanks for sharing with us

  9. Oh gosh! I love peanut butter and this looks insanely delicious. Thanks for sharing this epic post :)

  10. We forgive you for taking so long to put out a peanut butter recipe because this one just sounds so creative and delish! :)

  11. YES! I'm glad someone appreciated that song reference. :D

    (I tried to cut down on the recipe name... unsuccessfully, I suppose. :))

  12. Thank you! I actually quite like peanut butter ice cream, too, after I discovered how good the soft serve version is in college, but the subtlety of the peanut milk definitely wins out for me. :)

  13. Indeed! I agree. :)

  14. I know brevity is the soul of wit. However, with food sometimes there aren't enough words to adequately describe a recipe (not to mention the complex flavors that the final product possesses!).

  15. I didn't discover it until my quick trip to New York at Momofuku noodle bar. It was sooo good! I'm going to have to find it in my blog, because I believe I chose a swirl of Peanut Butter & Ritz Cracker soft serve with jelly at the bottom!

  16. Ritz Cracker soft serve?!? That sounds insane (-ly intriguing).

  17. Thank you for reading! :D Lovely to know there are fellow musicians in the crowd.

  18. indeed. There's also a difference for writing to describe a recipe and naming a recipe. I think if I'd put this on a restaurant menu, I would have simply called it "PB&J, with a twist." :) But, that's not sufficiently descriptive for google to properly catalogue this recipe for search purposes online!

  19. Yep! I just checked, and it's the fifth picture from the bottom. Waaaay too many pictures to scroll through, so I'd start from the end. :) It looks pretty normal, but it was so good! Sorry, but I should have taken a picture of the preserves at the bottom. :(

  20. These look so fantastic! I am a huge fan of pb&j generally. I also love herbs in sweets--the addition of rosemary here sounds so uniquely delicious. These sound majorly peanut buttery too!! Agh, I love it all!


I love hearing from you and reading your comments! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. Happy feasting!