I still say that my ice cream maker is the best small kitchen appliance I've ever purchased. I remember the first summer after my daughter was diagnosed with a peanut allergy. She was still very little and was sitting in the basket at the grocery store as I gazed through the glass doors in the freezer section at an entire aisle full of ice cream choices, each and every carton bearing the same words: "May contain traces of peanuts and tree nuts."
I'd never really thought about ice cream before that, and for a brief moment my heart sank. What would a childhood without ice cream be like? I say "brief" because it only took a matter of minutes to leave the store, walk to the kitchenwares shop across the street and buy an ice cream maker. All the while reliving childhood memories of summers spent swatting mosquitos while endlessly cranking my parents' antique machine, taking turns with my brother until it got too hard for either of us to churn and my dad would take over to finish it off. How hard could making ice cream be these days? As soon as I got to the car, I pulled out the recipe book that came with the instructions and walked right back into the grocery store to buy the ingredients. And I've never looked back. It turns out it's not hard at all. Actually, with a good ice cream maker, it's one of the easiest desserts to make.
That was seven years ago and these days I use my ice cream maker at least once a week in the summer - whether just for a simple strawberry sorbet like I made in my previous post, or for a full blown ice cream pie. It is actually easier to make this pie with ice cream that is fresh and still soft, straight out of the ice cream maker, than it is to try to evenly defrost a brick of rock-hard ice cream that's been sitting in the the freezer for possibly months. I make a simple cookie crust using an all-natural sandwich cookie by Simple Truth (which is sold by Kroger), but any sandwich cookie will work. I've also used Oreo's and gluten-free K-Too's, both of which are safe for my daughter. Simply pulse the cookies in a food processor until finely ground, then pour in 3 tablespoons of melted butter and pulse again to combined. Press the crumbs into a freezer-safe pie plate using the bottom of a measuring cup to form an even layer.
This isn't a recipe, really, but a method, and it's completely adaptable. We've added in things like chocolate chips, chopped fruit, cookie pieces and swirled chocolate or caramel syrup into the ice cream before placing it into the crust. Whatever strikes your fancy!
Maybe it's summer vacation boredom, but these days my kids have become very interested in what I'm doing in the kitchen... and I love having their help! Last week it was so warm, the sun was finally shining after a week of rain and everyone was in a festive mood. It didn't seem quite right to have an ice cream pie unless we were throwing a party, so we blew up a few balloons, put on some Beach Boys and got out the party favors, just because, as Connor said "This is the easiest ever ice cream pie!"
Have you found another nut-free sandwich cookie brand? Tell me about it in the comments! We're always thrilled to discover new products!
Easiest Ever Ice Cream Pie
Basic vanilla ice cream:
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 TBSP pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 3/4 cup whipping or heavy cream
for the crust:
18-20 chocolate sandwich cookies of your choice (Oreos, K-Two's, Simple Truth)
3 Tbsp melted butter
chocolate or butterscotch chips
candy pieces (we like Andes mints)
Whisk the milk, sugar, vanilla and salt together in a medium mixing bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Gently mix in the cream until just combined. You don't want to incorporate too much air at this point. Place the ice cream base in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.
Churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacture's directions. I use a Cuisinart 1.5 quart ice cream maker, and churn the ice cream for 20 minutes. If you are using "mix-ins," these can be added halfway through the churning process.
Meanwhile make the crust:
Pulse the cookies in a food processor until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse again until combined. Press the crumbs into a freezer-safe pie dish and place in the freezer until firm.
When the ice cream has finished churning, transfer it directly from the ice cream maker to the chilled crust. It will be soft an easily spreadable. Spread evenly in the crust and place back in the freezer until ready to serve. Top with sprinkles just before serving.