desserts, snacks

pretzel ice cream + pretzel crunch.

Well. You are going to need to get several bags of pretzels. In fact, if I were you, I’d just carefully set the device you are reading this on down, just close it on up, and go get at least 2 bags of mini-twists. Maybe 3, because it’s better to be safe than sorry. And you’ll be sorry if you run out of either one of these pretzel treats. I’m being so totally serious when I say that once you have tasted this, you may begin shaking at the mere thought of not having it readily available to you at all times. You think I’m overreacting? You haven’t had this ice cream. You think maybe pretzel ice cream sounds weird/frightening/not delicious? Think again.

I wish I could say I had my reservations about this particular treat. I wish I could tell you I hesitated, unsure of how much I’d really want a slightly malty, pretzel-infused ice cream to come into my life. I can’t tell you any of that. People, I dove into this one like I was Greg Louganis at the 1984 Olympics. I had no fear, for I love pretzels, and I love my Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, and I’d do trust falls with Christina Tosi all day long if someone told me to. You want to know why?

Um, this is why. That’s the pretzel crunch. I suggest making a double batch of this crazy, souped-up pretzel yumminess right away. It’s like snack heaven. Pretzels dream about becoming pretzel crunch. I actually dream about becoming pretzel crunch. It’s buttery, sweet-and-salty goodness and makes that pretzel ice cream even more delightful.

And the ice cream? It’ll be like you’re an eight-year-old again. I don’t know why pretzels remind me of childhood, but there’s something about them, like any of your own personal comfort foods, that make me feel like a kid again. it’s like when you smell a neighbor’s burgers grilling outside as summer just starts to heat up, or when you taste your grandma’s potato salad for the first time since last september; pretzels remind me of summers, sprinklers, and being a kid.

Thankfully, a kid could make this ice cream and this pretzel crunch, it’s that easy. You just need an ice cream mixer and a few easy ingredients. I know this is a Momofuku recipe, but aside from the omnipresent milk powder, there’s nothing strange in this at all, and it’s a simple toss together/bake /cool for the crunch, and a mix together/throw into your ice cream maker for the ice cream.

The one thing I really like about the ice cream recipes in this book is that they use gelatin instead of eggs; I’ve had homemade ice cream with eggs as one of the base ingredients, and sometimes it can have a slightly eggy smell to it, which can be a little off-putting. The gelatin is easy to work with, but Ms. Tosi is right: get it right, or do it twice. You need to be sure you bloom your gelatin correctly and with care or all your other work will go to waste.

I have a feeling this is what my container of pretzel crunch will look like every time i make it; GONE.

I took some liberties with both the crunch and the ice cream, mostly to just enhance what was already placed before me. I added sprinkles to the crunch (which is FUN and i highly recommend it because it just makes it that much more juvenile and summery), and i upped the cream cheese in the ice cream, along with adding some heavy cream and a little bit of malt powder. I loved how the malt powder worked the malt in the crunch and the malty flavor of the pretzels, but if you want to, you can try it without.

So, I won’t keep you; you have ice cream to make. And you don’t have to get fancy-schmancy with the placing of the ice cream on top of the crunch. either. Ice cream, in my opinion, is really difficult to take a good photo of, so I did that for show. And I still feel I should apologize for this and any other photos of ice creams, because I’m simply not good at it. What I’ve been doing (a lot) is scooping some ice cream into a cup, tossing my crunch all over the top of it, mixing it together really well so the ice cream gets all melty and the crunch is all incorporated, and then eating it.

repeat as needed.

Adapted from the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook by Christina Tosi.

for the pretzel crunch:

  • 3 cups mini pretzels
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk powder
  • 1 tablespoon malt powder
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup rainbow sprinkles

for the pretzel ice cream.

  • 6 cups mini pretzels (about 3/4 of a 16-ounce bag)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 gelatin sheets OR 3/4 teaspoon powdered gelatin*
  • 1/2 cup glucose OR 1/4 cup light corn syrup (i used corn syrup)
  • 2 tablespoons tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature*
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon malt powder

*note: there are two things you can do to really screw this ice cream recipe up: you can either not let your cream cheese soften, or you can try to cut corners and not bloom your gelatin correctly. you’re using a lot of pretzels here, and i doubt you want to start the whole thing over. if you don’t let the cream cheese soften all the way to room temp, you’ll get globules of cream cheese when you mix it rather than a smooth consistency. if you don’t bloom your gelatin correctly, well…you won’t have ice cream, then, will you.

Okay! First thing: make that crunch.

Preheat the oven to 275˚F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Pour the pretzels in a medium bowl and crush them with your hands until they are about one-quarter their original size. don’t worry if some of the pieces are bigger; mine were too. Add the sugars, milk powder, and malt powder and toss with your hands to mix. Add the melted butter and toss to coat. As you toss, the butter will act as a glue, bonding the dry ingredients to the pretzels and creating small clusters. Add the sprinkles and toss to incorporate.

Spread the pretzel clusters on your prepared sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes until their flavor deepens. When done, the pretzels should look slightly toasted and smell gooooooood.

Cool the pretzel crunch completely, and then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month. I swear to you it will never last that long.

Second thing: Soak those pretzels.

Raise your oven temperature to 300˚F (if you just finished making your crunch), or preheat oven if you made your crunch earlier.

Spread your pretzels on a sheet pan and toast for 15 minutes, until the pretzels have slightly darkened in color and your kitchen smells like the inside of a hot pretzel machine. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

Put the pretzels in a large bowl, pour the milk over them, and stir while steeping for 2 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the soggy pieces of pretzel.

Third thing: bloom that gelatin.

If you’re using gelatin sheets: soak the sheets in a small bowl of cold water. The gelatin is bloomed when it has become soft, after about 2 minutes. If the gelatin still has hard bits to it, it needs to bloom longer. If it is so soft it falls apart, it is overbloomed; discard and start over. Gently squeeze the bloomed gelatin to remove any excess water before using.

If you’re using powdered gelatin (like I do): to bloom any amount of powdered gelatin between 1/2 teaspoon and 2 teaspoons, sprinkle it evenly onto the surface of 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small cup or ramekin. If you pour the powered gelatin into a pile on top of th ewater, the granules in the center will remain hard and will not bloom. If you use too much water to bloom the gelatin, it will dilute the flavor of the recipe and its consistency will be looser than intended. Allow the granules to soften entirely in the cold water for 3-5 minutes.

Final thing: Make that ice cream.

Warm a little bit of the pretzel milk and whisk in the gelatin to dissolve. Do not make the milk too hot or it will lose its strength and you’ll have to start over. Add the remaining pretzel milk, glucose (or corn syrup), brown sugar, cream cheese, heavy cream, salt, baking soda, and malt powder and whisk until all of the ingredients are fully dissolved and incorporated.

Pour the mixture into your ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream is best spun just before serving, and will have the consistency of soft serve. If you want a more solid ice cream, spin your mixture and then let set up in the freezer, 2-4 hours, in an airtight container.

Your ice cream will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container. I feel funny even typing that; I could tell you to leave it in there until next January, you won’t know better. Because it will be gone inside of 3 days.

Serving Notes:

  • You can make ice cream pie out of this (a la the sweet corn cereal milk ice cream pie) using the crunch for the base. If you plan to do so, I would crush your pretzels up a little smaller than if you were just using it as a topping.
  • You can serve it spread out on a bed of pretzel crunch (like a deconstructed pie, I suppose) or with the crunch on top. or both.
  • This is a fun one, so don’t be afraid to break out your inner kid also. Use the rainbow sprinkles to decorate the ice cream tops (if you’re using the crunch on the bottom or as a pie crust) and get a jar of maraschino cherries with the stems on them. Pop one of those on the top, and next thing you know, you’ll be running through your backyard sprinkler.

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  • Reply natalie March 26, 2012 at 7:09 am


    • Reply shannon March 26, 2012 at 8:43 pm

      Yes, ma’am. 🙂

  • Reply Emma March 26, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Boy, the pretzel love is so abundant here, it nearly makes me forget I don’t like pretzels. But what better way to start liking them than by dousing them in sugar?

    I recently watched the Portlandia sketch with Greg Louganis. So although I’m reading about pretzels here, I’m mostly thinking about an aging man lounging somewhat suggestively in a hot tub. Hmm.

    • Reply shannon March 26, 2012 at 11:10 am

      Emma, i swear to you, it’s just a phase. i get on little runs of ingredients (i feel a lemon kick coming on soon) and i just go for it. And yes; dousing them in butter and sugar will make ANYONE a convert.

      Yay! i was hoping someone would get the reference, both to Portlandia and Mr. Louganis. i can’t type anymore…giggling too much at the visual. thank you for that.

  • Reply Brianne March 26, 2012 at 10:16 am

    Sprinkles in the crunch makes it full of win. That’s my favorite part! And that cherry cookie on the top of the sundae? I love it. This is on my list for things to make when I finally obtain an ice cream maker. Your adaptations of Tosi’s recipes are always so detailed…it’s like you’re in the kitchen with me! Now wouldn’t that just be fun!

    • Reply Emma March 26, 2012 at 11:05 am

      Brianne, our gravatars are so similar. Minus the cat and plus the water, that is. We look like THE SAME PERSON.

      I’m so glad I learned of Shannon’s blog through yours:)

      • Reply shannon March 26, 2012 at 11:16 am

        i’m looking at both your gravatars right now on my screen, and you’re so right about that. i’m just happy both of you like to hang out with me sometimes. 🙂 Blog love from Maine is awesome.

      • Reply Brianne March 29, 2012 at 9:12 am

        Whooooa. I see it. Craziness!

    • Reply shannon March 26, 2012 at 11:14 am

      you know i can’t pass up a sprinkle. I bought a big thing of them to make the Momo confetti cookies and they were just staring at me…i had to use them. You will love this; i am slightly ashamed to admit this, but i am eating the ice cream/crunch as i type this. i love that you love the cherry cookie too! That was extra lemon buttermilk cookie dough plus a cherry pie crust cutter.
      and that would be SO fun! someday i’ll make it up to your part of the world and we’ll do a little co-blogging series. Tosi freaks in the kitchen. dot com. 🙂

  • Reply sister table March 26, 2012 at 11:29 am

    um. what.
    i’m going to need an ice cream medley packed in dry ice and shipped to nashville….STAT. this one and the graham cracker ice cream. thanks.

    • Reply shannon March 26, 2012 at 11:57 am

      Sister Table! ladies and gentlemen, my sister ashley. my twin, even though she was born five years after me. you’d love her.

  • Reply Jen @ Juanita's Cocina March 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    Will you be my best friend? Please?

    I’ll make you scones and pineapple upside-down cake, and you can make me THIS.

    I’m a good friend, by the way. I totally have your back when you need it, I keep secrets, and I’d tell you if your skirt was stuck in your hose. Also, I bring booze and treats wherever I go.

    • Reply shannon March 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      er…i thought we were already best friends…awkward…:)

      sold: that’s a totally fair trade. i’ll make this for you all day long, but you’ll have to fight me for it when it comes time to eat. is my skirt in the back of my hose again? shoot….

  • Reply Renee @ Tortillas and Honey April 10, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Pretzel ice cream?! That is one of the most awesome things I have ever seen! Evil, evil, evil. 🙂

    • Reply shannon April 11, 2012 at 8:57 am

      evil, yes. so so good? also, big yes. 🙂

  • Reply Katherine @ eggton June 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I want to get invited to a slumber party. Then I want to make a ton of this pretzel crunch, put on my pajamas, grab a bottle of cheap white wine, and head on over. Wouldn’t that be perfect?

    • Reply shannon June 12, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      this would be the best cheap-wine slumber party treat EVER. it would go fast, so you would need to make a triple batch, but it’s easy, so who cares. and it really would pair wonderfully with a cheap white. 🙂

  • Reply thursday things | wee eats February 5, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    […] on the interwebs) I have finally acquired malt powder, I fully intend to thank her by stealing her pretzel ice cream recipe. Once I”m back home, of […]

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