breakfast, desserts

sticky bun ice cream with cinnamon-pecan swirl and a new series; the Jeni’s Spinalong!

pecan sticky bun ice cream and a new series

It’s March! Which I’m greeting with equal parts “yay!” and “wait, what?” because it truly feels like January and February flew by.

I had time to make you ice cream though! And so did Natalie at Wee Eats. We decided to do a little joint venture this year: a quarterly post where we decide on a theme, pick a Jeni’s ice cream as a starting point, and use our individual dessert superpowers to come up with an ice cream befitting the theme we have chosen. We call it The Jeni’s Spinalong with – quite obviously – Natalie and Shannon.

So, if ice cream were a (acceptable) choice for breakfast, what would it look like? What flavors would be the most appealing? What breakfast foods cross over into dessert territory? We attempt to answer these hard-hitting questions in the first installment.

Theme: Breakfast Favorites

Foundation Ice Cream: Sweet Cream

And with that, we were off; promises made to each other to not talk through the initial process until we had each decided independently what our take on the theme was. The result? Two spectacular ice creams which could not be more different from each other, and yet both exhibit an intense love for the first meal of the day.

pecan sticky bun ice cream and a new series

pecan sticky bun ice cream and a new series

It’s worth noting that I tend to type “dream” versus “cream” whenever i talk about jeni’s, and for good reason; Jeni’s ice cream IS dreamy; dreamy to make (no egg yolks to fool with!) and an absolute joy to eat. Our chosen base – the Sweet Cream aka the foundation base for every ice cream – is a miracle of simplicity – it manages to taste good all on its own, and totally didn’t need us to mess with it. It imparts a subtle, fresh-cream flavor perfect for a breakfast pairing. And pair we did; here’s what each of us ended up with.

Natalie: Lucky Charms Ice Cream with Salty Cereal Gravel

Shannon: Sticky Bun Ice Cream with Caramelized Cinnamon-Pecan Swirl

pecan sticky bun ice cream and a new series

My approach to this was to throw some sticky buns and caramel pecans in there in the hopes that it tasted like (most obviously), sticky buns or (reach goal) Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Folks, i’m happy to report that it tastes like both: it’s got a solid weekend-morning-cinnamon-bun flavor with a hint of cereal finish, which means this would make a perfect brunch dessert. In real life, because I know none of you can actually eat ice cream for breakfast, no matter how much you may want to.

If you’re apprehensive about swirling chopped buns and caramelized pecans into ice cream, fear not; I have made you a handy how-to diagram. *trumpets*

pecan sticky bun ice cream and a new series

Steps to swirling ice cream:

  1. Chop buns into quarters, and roughly separate the layers, depending on how large of a chunk you want in there.
  2. Sprinkle a few chunks of caramelized pecan in the bottom to start you off. Take some of the freshly-spun soft ice cream and layer it into a freezer safe, large container. Scatter sticky bun pieces, then some caramelized pecans, then another layer of ice cream smoothed over top. Repeat, trying to position the bun pieces and pecans in different positions this time. Keep repeating until the final layer of ice cream is in: add a few leftover pecans and some bun pieces to the top.
  3. Swirl the whole thing just a wee bit with a butter knife. Freeze for 5 hours or so until firm. Scoopity scoop-scoop.

Natalie’s Lucky Charms Ice Cream with Salty Cereal Gravel is the same sort of fun, but in a different way. Where mine is monochromatic and a wee bit stately, hers is off-the-charts fun and whimsical, and I can not wait to try it. Go read about her take on the Spinalong here, because it’s amazing, I promise. I drooled a wee bit when I first heard what she was doing, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting the recipe ever since.

pecan sticky bun ice cream and a new series

Next Spinalong? June, probably: this year we’re going for quarterly. If all goes well, we may aim for monthly in 2016.

Sticky Bun Ice Cream with Cinnamon-Pecan Swirl

for the sticky buns:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package directions

for the bun filling:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Vietnamese cinnamon

for the caramel pecan swirl:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
  • 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

for the ice cream base: 

  • 2  2/3 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 ounces cream cheese*, at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup (I use Karo)

*yo: I’ve noticed one thing since i’ve been making Jeni’s ice creams: the brand of cream cheese really makes a difference. Each brand has a distinctive flavor to it, and whether you notice it or not in other applications, it really comes to the forefront in ice cream. Use a quality brand you like versus going for the cheap stuff. 

In a large bowl (remember, this is the bowl your entire mixture will ultimately end up in), whisk together the cream cheese and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch until smooth. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the milk, cream, sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and continue to boil for 4 minutes. During the boil, re-whisk together the cornstarch mixture (it tends to settle to the bottom after a few minutes). Remove the milk mixture from heat, add the cornstarch slurry, and place back over heat to bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Allow to boil until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Pour a small amount of the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture; whisk to combine until mixture is smooth and homogenous. Add remaining milk mixture and continue to whisk until everything is homogenous.

Now, two options: either keep the ice cream base in the bowl like I do and set it inside a larger bowl filled with ice and water (otherwise known as the ice bath), and stir frequently to allow the mixture to chill before placing it in the refrigerator, OR do what Jeni’s does and pour the ice cream base into a large (1 gallon) Ziploc freezer bag and submerge it in aforementioned water bath. Either will work: keep it submerged and add more ice to the bath as needed until the mixture cools down, then place in the refrigerator for about 4 hours or so to thoroughly chill; you can also leave it overnight, which I tend to do.

Make the sticky buns: 

Preheat oven to 400˚F. You’ll be using a standard-size muffin tin for this.

Using an electric mixer (don’t be ridiculous; your stand mixer isn’t necessary here), beat the butter and sugar together on high until fluffy and combined, 4 to 5 minutes. Portion out the mixture evenly between 6 cups of the muffin tin. Divide pecans over top of the butter mixture.

Unroll puff pastry on lightly floured countertop, with seams running from left to right. Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter over the entire surface of the puff pastry. Whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle it evenly over the puff pastry, leaving a 1-inch border at the top. Starting from the bottom, roll the puff pastry tightly up tightly, pressing down gently to seal when finished.

Trim about a 1/2 inch from each side, then cut puff pastry roll into 6 equal sections; place spiral-side up onto butter and pecan mixture in muffin tin. Bake until dark golden and puffed, 20 to 25 minutes, being careful not to let burn on the bottom. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes in pan, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely.

Make the caramel-pecan swirl:

In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, add butter, water, brown sugar, and cinnamon and heat over medium high heat until sugar has dissolved. Heat to a bubble and let boil, undisturbed, for 2 minutes.

Add pecans, stirring to coat with caramel mixture. Continue heating, stirring about once a minute, for 3 to 4 mites until caramel begins to cling to the nuts as you stir, being careful not to overheat. Mixture should be more like a thick syrup and less like a hard caramel; remember, it’ll firm up more as it cools, and your final result should still be pliable. Allow to cool completely before adding to ice cream.

Spin the ice cream:

Remove your ice cream from the refrigerator. Use your ice cream maker to spin according to the manufacturers instructions until thick and creamy.

Layer the ice cream:

I like to do this in a wide, shallow freezer-safe container, as my diagrams indicate. You can do it in whatever container you like, just make sure your layering takes your container size into account.

First, break up the cooled caramel-pecan swirl into pieces (as needed) and chop 4 to 5 sticky buns into quarters or smaller, if you like. Follow my instructions and diagrams above to layer your ice cream, swirl, and buns together; Start with a few pecans on the bottom, then a shallow layer of ice cream, scatter some bun pieces, then more pecan swirl. More ice cream, sticky bun pieces, pecan swirl, and so on and so forth until everything has been added. I like to run a knife through the whole thing to give everything a good final mix.

Place in the freezer and chill for at least 5 hours until firm. When you’re ready to serve, set the ice cream out for 5 to 10 minutes (generally this depends on your kitchen temperature as well as temperature outside) and scoop.

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  • Reply natalie @ wee eats March 1, 2015 at 10:48 am

    I’m so excited for our project and SO PUMPED TO MAKE YOUR ICE CREAM because, girl, it looks like a dream come true.

    • Reply shannon March 4, 2015 at 9:36 am

      SAME. *highfives

      I can’t wait for June now.

  • Reply Willow @ Will Cook For Friends March 1, 2015 at 11:07 am

    You two are geniuses! Who says ice cream isn’t an acceptable breakfast food? I have had it for breakfast on many occasions, and if there were sticky buns and caramelized pecans in it, it would be a daily thing, for sure. Heading over to check out Natalie’s lucky charm ice cream, now!

    • Reply shannon March 4, 2015 at 9:35 am

      Ha! I think “geniuses” is maybe pushing it, but we had a really good time with both the thinking through and the execution of these two ice creams, for sure. I know we’ve talked about this before both on this space and on our own, but it definitely shows how beneficial blog buddies are to the creative process: we came up with these independently, but once we had our thoughts in place, talking through the technicals of each was awesome.

  • Reply sue|theviewfromgreatisland March 1, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    I’m greeting THIS with equal parts “yay!” and “wait, what?” In the best way possible 😉

    • Reply shannon March 4, 2015 at 9:33 am

      Sue, i imagine that most of these future ice creams will elicit this same reaction. 🙂 Or i hope so. Thanks!

  • Reply Ashley March 2, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    I have enjoyed ice cream at breakfast….though it wasn’t the only part of my breakfast. I was too guilty to do that. I’m sure I had a cookie or something, to make it acceptable. That’s okay, right?

    You know I love you, right? Because you love Jeni and you do her proud with this recipe and with this whole wonderful collaboration. And because I want to shove every little piece of your ice cream – pecans, buns, and ice cream – into my face. And because you give me graphics like whoa. Can we build a magic transporter so we can send food back and forth? Like one of those bank drive through tubes…

    • Reply shannon March 4, 2015 at 9:27 am

      The first step is admitting it. Then it just becomes totally fine, and yeah cookies equal whole grains, right? RIGHT??? 🙂 so like grains and dairy…basically like oatmeal, and i see nothing wrong with that.

      I love you too! And i know you especially love my adoration of Jeni’s, since you’re near the homeland. 🙂 I’m really excited about our little collabo – Natalie and I are alike in TONS of ways, food and otherwise, but the way we went about this first one really sort of brought out exactly how we differ, but in really good and complementary ways. I look at it as almost an ice cream AND friendship journey. 🙂

      you know, i really wish there was a better way to send food. you all would have ZERO idea how much food i’d actually send you and it would be AMAZING. i think you’re onto something with the drive-thru tubes…

  • Reply movita beaucoup March 3, 2015 at 6:03 am

    1. The chart.
    2. I eat ice cream for breakfast whenever I like. Because I’m a child.
    3. Lucky Charms and sticky buns are my other two most favourite breakfasts. (See #2)
    4. THE CHART!

    • Reply shannon March 4, 2015 at 9:23 am

      I love that you love the charts: i love MAKING the charts.

      I would fully expect you to eat ice cream for breakfast when you can, because your general renegade-y-ness is why i love you.

  • Reply elizabeth March 3, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Oh my GOD. Between the two of you this little endeavor is going to be ah-mah-zing. I wish I lived closer if only to help in taste-testing these fantastic combinations, as ice cream making is not something that’s likely to happen at our place anytime soon.

    • Reply shannon March 4, 2015 at 9:20 am

      Ha! I agree, it should be crazy and amazing, and fun to do! We’ll see where it goes: Jeni’s social media was awfully kind about the series (they noticed and pinned and tweeted and commented and the whole 9 yards, which is awesome) so i’m looking forward to getting creative with it and seeing how everyone likes it.
      For the record, I almost always wish you lived closer, for taste-testing (mutual) and also just general discussion and hanging out. 🙂

  • Reply Abbe @ This is How I Cook March 3, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Can I have just the swirl, please? This looks over the top, Shannon!

    • Reply shannon March 4, 2015 at 9:08 am

      You can have all the swirls you’d like, Abbe. 🙂

  • Reply mellissa @ ibreatheimhungry March 4, 2015 at 7:43 am

    I have never tried Jeni’s but I keep hearing about it all over the interwebs lately! Obviously this is a sign that I must find it, purchase every flavor, and eat it for breakfast all week long. This is the best plan I’ve had in ages, now I just need to find my car keys…

    • Reply shannon March 4, 2015 at 9:05 am

      Oh Mellissa, you MUST try Jeni’s! it’s so good…i look at it this way: i don’t get to eat ice cream, so when i DO? Jeni’s makes the calories totally worth it because it’s just that good. I just wouldn’t waste my ice cream calorie allotment on anything but the best. 🙂

  • Reply Jennie @themessybakerblog March 9, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Wha? This must be a dream… Somebody pinch my arm, please! Anybody? You just took ice cream to an entirely new level of deliciousness. Seriously, open an ice cream shop. Forget about Jeni; I want Shannon’s ice cream!

    • Reply shannon March 12, 2015 at 7:40 am

      LOL you know what hell on wheels i’d be with an actual storefront? I shudder to think. I’ll leave that to Jeni’s for now, but i’d totally consult if they ever wanted flavor ideas…just saying. 🙂 I’d probably work just for ice cream as payment.

  • Reply The Jeni’s Spinalong series: grilled cantaloupe sorbet. – A Periodic Table June 1, 2015 at 9:27 am

    […] it’s time for a new installment of the Jeni’s Spinalong. Hooray! Remember that time I made this sticky bun ice cream with cinnamon-pecan swirl? That was the inaugural Spinalong post, and this is the second in that […]

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