The problem is, when I make dinner, I generally throw things together, without much preconceived thought.
So when I start to think of something I’d like to make it’s generally a special occasion recipe & I rarely plan special occasions. Or, by the time a special occasion comes around, I’ve thought of a different recipe. It’s really a pity, because now only the ether knows if those forgotten recipes were any good.
I didn’t let that happen to the latest though. This recipe deserved to be made. Deserved to be loved and devoured and wistfully remembered. And since it’s mid-summer, there’s always a barbecue around the corner.
Inspired by this recipe, but wanting something with a cleaner flavor profile, I began to wonder how I would make cinnamon toast ice cream, had I thought of it myself. I wanted bold cinnamon flavor, followed by the caramel undertones of toasted white bread. An ice cream packed with flavors that would transport anyone’s mind to that of a child clinging on to a counter, wide-eyed, anticipating the milliseconds ticking by until that toaster dings!
But it wasn’t enough to just have a creamy, cinnamony, toasty flavor profile. A crunch was required. A crunch that could be heard across a room. Now, ever since learning to make a proper crouton in culinary school, I have wondered why croutons have not made a permanent leap to the sundae bar. It’s the perfect ice cream topper for lovers of salty-sweet, both defiantly crunchy and undeniably buttery. But, because this was cinnamon toast ice cream, why not drive the point home with cinnamon toast croutons? And, by damn, what a good point it was.
Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream (makes 1 Gallon, recipe can easily be divided for a quart machine)
3 slices white bread, toasted to med-dark gold
6 cups heavy cream
6 cups whole milk
4 3-inch cinnamon sticks
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 2/3 cups granulated natural sugar
16 egg yolks
1 T vanilla extract
1. Bring 1/2 of cream and 1/2 of milk, salt, cinnamon sticks and toasted bread just to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat and let steep for 30min-1hr.
2. Strain toast, making sure to gently press to extract as much liquid as possible from the bread. Return milk & cream to sauce pan, along with cinnamon sticks (but not the bread). And bring back to a simmer.
3. Meanwhile, whisk yolks and sugar together until pale yellow. Once milk has come back to a simmer, slowly pour into the yolks while continuing to whisk. Once incorporated, return the whole mix to the saucepan and continually stir over medium heat until the mixture has thickened slightly and it coats the back of a spoon.
4. Pour into a bowl and immediately whisk in remaining milk & cream to help cool it off. Add vanilla. Place into ice bath or let cool for 1 hour (or until room temperature) on counter. Cover tightly & refrigerate (with cinnamon sticks) 24 hours.
5. Strain & mix with ice cream maker, according to manufacturer’s directions.
Cinnamon Toast Croutons
6 slices white bread
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons granular natural sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1. Remove crust and then slice bread into 1/2-inch cubes.
2. Mix together sugar & cinnamon.
3. Place butter in a 12″ saute pan. (For this method, I find it’s best to turn two eyes on the same side of my home stovetop to high.) When the butter is almost, but not quite completely melted, add the bread cubes. Shake the pan back and forth over the two eyes (or one if your stove gets hot enough), stopping occasionally to toss with a silicone spatula. You want to keep the cubes constantly moving so that they are uniformly browned on all sides.
4. Once they begin to toast, you should be able to begin to hear them getting crisper as you saute. Once they start to sound ‘hollow’, sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar over them & continue to saute. The sugar will start to melt and stick, but keep moving and the bread will soak it all up. When the cinnamon sugar is absorbed, spill croutons onto a plate that’s been lined with a paper towel and sprinkle salt over the top & shake gently to evenly disperse. Allow to cool.
To serve: Layer scoops of cinnamon toast ice cream with dashes of croutons. Or just sprinkle them over the top. Or add them to your sundae bar. I took them both to a 4th of July party where there was an unbeatable peach cobbler (don’t worry mom, he’s from Atlanta & makes the same cobbler we do–which for the rest of you, is the only way to make cobbler). We scooped the ice cream atop the cobbler and threw the croutons on top of that: Time. Stopped.