Friday, September 23, 2011

Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream

One of my first encounters with the world of cinnamon was making cinnamon toast as a kid. I would toast a slice of bread, swipe a bit of butter and then sprinkle with sugar heavily dosed with cinnamon. I think it’s where I first learned to appreciate the unmistakable allure of this spice. Even so, when I first saw this recipe for Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream from Gourmet magazine, I thought it sounded kind of strange. Cinnamon toast cubes in ice cream? How would that work? To satisfy my curiosity, I decided to make a batch.

To begin this adventure, the recipe calls for steeping a cinnamon stick in some hot milk. The next step is to douse some bread cubes in a mixture of melted butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and then toast them in the oven. The smell of that alone is enough to keep you going. Some of that toasted bread is then infused in the cinnamon milk for a few minutes. From there, you strain the milk and make a custard, chill the base, then freeze in your ice cream maker and fold in the toasted cinnamon bread cubes. Done!

Somehow the toasted bread oddly maintains its crunch despite being submerged in a luxurious cinnamon ice cream. Strange, I know, but the result is this very fascinating ice cream that really does replicate the flavor sensation of cinnamon toast. It’s a wonderful dose of cinnamon and totally reminiscent of my infatuation with this spice that began early in my life. So if you’re a cinnamon toast fan and would like to enjoy some ice cream that is off the beaten track, give it a go!!

Bench notes:
- The original recipe recommends white sandwich bread but I think even using your favorite bread, such as pain de mie, whole wheat or levain, would be just as delicious, perhaps more so. I used a baguette, including the crust.
- When soaking the bread crumbs in the milk mixture, keep your eye on the clock. Ten minutes is plenty or you risk having very soggy bread that can be pressed out but you are likely to wind up with less liquid.
- I use Vietnamese cinnamon. I love its sweet aromatic intensity. I buy it at my local bulk grocery but you can also find it online.
- Salt is an important element in most pastries and desserts. It enhances the flavor considerably, especially in dairy and chocolate.
- I took a few of the toasted bread cubes and made them into crumbles for extra garnish.
- The ice cream is very rich. I might reduce to 4 eggs next time. And perhaps reduce the granulated sugar by 2 T since the 2 T brown sugar used for the bread cubes is plenty sweet.

Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream
adapted from Gourmet magazine
Makes about 1 quart

2 C whole milk
2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
5 slices firm white sandwich bread (or your favorite substitute)
2 oz (1/2 stick) butter
2 T packed light brown sugar
1/2 t cinnamon
6 egg yolks
1/2 C granulated sugar
1/4 t molasses
pinch of salt
1 C heavy cream

Bring milk and cinnamon sticks to a slow boil. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Cut 3 slices bread into 1/4" cubes and place in a bowl. Chop remaining 2 slices and pulse in a food processor to make bread crumbs. Place those in another bowl.

Line two cookie sheets with parchment. Melt the butter and whisk in the brown sugar and cinnamon. Drizzle 3 tablespoons butter mixture over bread cubes and toss quickly to coat. Spread in 1 layer on a cookie sheet. Add remaining butter mixture to the bread crumbs and stir to evenly coat. Spread crumbs evenly on another cookie sheet.

Place the bread cubes and crumbs in the oven to toast, stirring occasionally and turning pans halfway through, until golden brown and crisp, about 25 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, then transfer bread crumbs to a bowl.

Return milk to a boil, then pour over breadcrumbs and let stand 10 minutes. Strain milk through a fine-mesh sieve into a saucepan, pressing hard on solids. Discard bread crumbs.

Whisk together yolks, sugar, molasses, and a pinch of salt. Return milk mixture to a low boil and pour into yolk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly until thoroughly combined. Return to saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened, coats the back of the spoon and leaves a clean track when you run your finger across it. Do not let the mixture boil.

Remove from heat, immediately stir in cream and pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean container. Taste and adjust for salt, if needed. Let the mixture cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until completely chilled.

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to instructions. Then fold bread cubes into ice cream and transfer to an airtight container. Press a piece of plastic into the surface, cover and place in your freezer to firm up.

The ice cream will keep but the toast is crunchiest the first 2 days after it's made.


vanillasugarblog said...

yeah i made that once and wow oh wow. was that good. did not last long, noooo.
so good.

pastry studio said...

I know, right?! Hope all is well with you, vanillasugar!

Victoria said...

What an interesting ice cream! Sounds so good now that fall is, well, more than approaching; it's sort of here. I "did" all my tomatoes for next year last weekend.

Please tell us what ice cream scoop you use. Your ice cream always looks so beautiful.

Do you think I'm crazy? I got an ice cream cone maker.

pastry studio said...

Hey, Victoria: Mmmmm, tomatoes. Happy First Day of Fall!!

I bought this ice cream scoop at Sur La Table:

Expensive but I got tired of the cheaper ones breaking all the time. This one is very sturdy so I was more than glad to splurge.

I've never made ice cream cones but it sounds like fun. I bet you could do all kinds of things with the base recipe.

Victoria said...


Is it too much of an imposition for me to ask you to measure the diameter of the "bowl?"

pastry studio said...

Absolutely NO imposition. I meant to include it. It's the 2.30" one. Highly recommended.

Audrey said...

I can't remember where now, but I just read a novel in which the Victorian cook made something called 'toast tea' (steeping toast in water) for an invalid and it was described as horrible beyond words. She should have given her this yumminess instead - much better medicine! It does sound a little odd, but I can almost taste how good it is from looking at your pictures.

(p.s. I was here looking up your apple crumble tart to make this weekend. It doesn't really feel like fall, so I'm going to infuse some into the weekend regardless.}

pastry studio said...

Hi, Audrey! Toast Tea? Oh my!!

Yeah, my first reaction to this recipe was, yikes - soggy bread ice cream. But then I remembered how shocked I was that Summer Pudding is so delicious and decided to give it a go. Very interesting experiment since the bread remains crunchy. Not sure how that works but it's pretty tasty.

pastry studio said...

BTW, for some reason Sur La Table has a VERY wonky website. You may just want to google: "sur la table stainless steel ice cream scoop"

Elly McCausland said...

Wow. This looks amazing. I love cinnamon and I've always been intrigued by brown bread ice cream, and this sounds like the best of both worlds! I made mince pie ice cream last year, and like with your bread the pastry bits stayed crispy despite being in the ice cream base. I wasn't expecting them to, I wonder why that is. Can't wait to try this!

pastry studio said...

Hello Elly - your mince pie ice cream sounds very intriguing! I'm guessing the cinnamon sugar croutons and your pastry bits maintain their own integrity because they get frozen along with the ice cream. Strange but apparently true!

betty said...

Yes, I'll definetly turn on the ice cream machine, go on and break my diet... You shoul try the "buñuelo" ice cream it has a lot of cinnamon and brown sugar, maybe you'll like it!

Christine Covert said...

I'd be a huge fan of cinnamon toast as a dessert all by itself but I've never considered it before this very moment. If I loved ice cream, I'd be all over this recipe.

Sharon T said...

Hi P.S., Cinnamon toast has been a favorite comfort food of mine since I was a little kid. This sounds absolutely delicious. It is definitely going on the list to make. Thank you for the post!

Barbara said...

I WOULD have thought it odd, but I had just read about David Lebovitz's Brown Bread Ice Cream and saved the recipe. I was intriqued.
I've gotta try this... it must be tons better than BB ice cream.
This reminded me of boarding school and the long queue to get fresh cinnamon toast.
Diet killer recipe, my friend. It even LOOKS gorgeous.

Lionel said...

Hi,I already did this kind of recipe and the result is very nice indeed, you may also replace the cinnamon by Christmas spice during the holiday season, it is very nice as well, Lionel.

pastry studio said...

Fun to hear about all our cinnamon toast memories!!
Nice tip, Lionel. Thanks, all!!

grace said...

sensational! this is probably the finest ice cream flavor i've ever seen, and i'm dead serious. :)

Heather said...

Looks so tasty!

Heather@Curly Girl Kitchen said...

I loved making cinnamon toast as a kid, too. This ice cream looks fantastic! If only I had an ice cream maker, though...