Friday, August 6, 2010

Peanut Butter Brownies and Brown Sugar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Tomorrow we are celebrating my friend Lynn's birthday. His actual birthday was on Monday, but Lynn and his wife Kiki will be passing through Durham after a week's vacation at the lake and our friend Brian is throwing a party.
A couple years ago, I made these brownies for Lynn as a birthday gift and they were so good he got up in the middle of the night to wolf them down, smacking his lips so loudly that he woke up his wife. Now THAT'S a compliment!
These are extremely easy brownies to make because I start with a store-bought brownie mix. I am really impressed at how good some of the commercial baking mixes have become, and when you are crushed for time, if a product is good, why not take a short cut here and there?

I am a fan of the Ghiradelli chocolate chocolate chip brownie literally tastes home made. I top the cooled brownies with a simple peanut butter cream cheese icing, and then gild the lily with a thin layer of ganache. And, then just because its a special occasion I decided to make the Brown Sugar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream we made for July 4th.

This recipe for Brown Sugar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream was inspired by another food blogger, Lucy Baker on the website: Serious Eats. I have made a couple modifications to the recipe in the interest of simplifying the technique and adding an extra ooomph in flavor. All I can say is WOW. If you like boozy ice cream (like me), you will love this.

Peanut Butter Brownies
(makes one dozen very rich brownies)

1 commercial brownie mix (I like Ghiradelli)
4oz. cream cheese, room temperature
4 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (4 oz.) creamy peanut putter (not organic, which is far too oily)
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 1/3 cup heavy cream1 cup (8 oz.) coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate (or chocolate chips)

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 Tbsp water

Prepare brownies according to package directions, bake and cool completely. In a large bowl combine cream cheese, butter and peanut butter, cream with an electric mixer until fluffy and smooth. Add confectioner's sugar and cream with mixture until smooth. Spread peanut butter icing over brownies in pan.

Place heavy cream in a small sauce pan and heat on high heat until cream begins to bubble. Remove from heat and add chocolate mixing with a whisk until chocolate is completely melted and ganache is glossy. Pour ganache over frosted brownies in pan and spread until smooth.

In a small bowl, combine confectioner's sugar and water, mix until smooth. Place icing in a ziploc plastic bag and snip a small hole in the corner. Pipe icing across ganache in stripes about 1 inch apart. drag a toothpick or skewer through icing in alternate directions to create a marbled appearance.

Refrigerate until ganache is set, about 4 hours.

Once ganache is set, with a sharp knife cut brownies into squares and serve with ice cream.

Brown Sugar Bourbon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
(makes about 1 quart)

1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups half and half
one vanilla bean
7 egg yolks
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup Bourbon
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
in a large glass bowl combine cream and half and half. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape seeds into bowl with cream, add empty bean pod. Microwave on high power for 3 minutes, then cover and let steep 20 minutes.
Meanwhile in another large bowl combine egg yolks, brown sugar and salt. Whisk until well combine and slightly fluffy.
After steeping, remove bean pod from cream and microwave again for 1 minute on high to reheat cream. While whisking the egg mixture, carefully add about 1 cup of the hot cream to temper the eggs, then return tempered eggs back to bowl of hot cream, constantly whisking until well mixed.
Return cream/egg mixture to microwave and heat on high for 1 minute. Stir mixture with a wooden spoon. Return to microwave and heat on high for 30 seconds, then stir thoroughly with wooden spoon. Repeat this step, microwaving for 30 seconds, then stirring until mixture coats the back of the wooden spoon (and your finger leaves a well-defined path in the mixture when drawn across the back of the spoon). Add Bourbon and vanilla extract and stir. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Process cold mixture in an ice cream maker until set. Transfer to a chilled container and freeze until firm (overnight).

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