jeni's spinalong

jeni’s spinalong: chocolate-flecked blackstrap praline ice cream with black walnut praline and singed marshmallows

blackstrap praline ice cream.

I like how last time I was all “Hi yay I think I’m ready to start blogging again!” and now, a month later, it’s like *crickets*

It’s the thought that counts, maybe.

I’m going to cross and un-cross my fingers a few time and say that I’m fairly certain i’ve wrapped my last feature for Feast for at least a few weeks. Decent timing, I have to say, because the holidays are just around the corner, and I have some cleaning / painting / organizing to do before people show up at my door. Until then, I plan on yes, blogging, for real this time – I received maybe 827 new cookbooks for my birthday this year, and I have yet to dig into them. it’s time.

But first: let’s Jeni.

As in the Jeni’s Spinalong, a.k.a the one thing I manage to make time for during the crazy. Maybe because ice cream is its own kind of comfort food, and the magazine never asks me to do an ice cream (although I’ve managed to sneak in two, here and here), but ice cream feels like a nice departure from the things I’ve been working on.

blackstrap praline ice cream.

As you know, I do this with Natalie over at Wee Eats, and we’re doing a special holiday series based almost solely on our seasonal feels from September through December. There are so many feelings, it seems, that we have to explore over this particular part of the year, that we had to turn some of them into ice cream. This time, our feels took a decidedly autumnal / dark and spooky turn, which makes perfect sense, considering this may be the first whole month we’ve had in appropriately chilly weather with colorful leaves all around. I can see my breath now, which was always a milestone when I was in elementary school that winter had pretty much arrived.

On to the ice cream: what’s going here isn’t crazy, and neither is Natalie’s offering this time: seems as though we both found ice creams pretty close to perfect to use as our base. I chose the Blackstrap Praline Ice Cream from Jeni’s first book: it’s all dark and mysterious, and I couldn’t resist adjusting it just a bit for late October / early November.

blackstrap praline ice cream.

What you see here is a blackstrap molasses base flecked with shaved dark chocolate – a combination I find absolutely irresistible ever since I made these cookies the first year of the blog (almost exactly 4 years ago, in fact). After swirling in the chocolate flecks, I layered things up with a little praline action, opting for black walnuts draped in more blackstrap molasses versus your normal praline. Something about black walnuts reminds me of chilly weather, and this is the time we start to see them laying about on the ground. It’s also a tiny shout-out to my first Feast feature on black walnuts, which marks the first time I think I really understood what they were all about. Accompanying the candied walnuts is a singed marshmallow – not burnt, mind you, but singed with a blowtorch to freckle them with a little burn-y flavor but leave their gooey marshmallow centers fully intact. The combination of all the components together is pretty spectacular, I have to say. It’s brighter than you’d think, given all that molasses, and it feels like something which would happen if you charged Tim Burton with making a version of Rocky Road ice cream. This could be why I picked this, subconsciously: I make it a point every year to watch numerous Tim Burton movies over these very weeks, because Halloween.

In contrast to my stormy haunted castle ice cream, Natalie’s is all autumnal sunshine and warmth – everything delightful about fall tucked inside a creamy treat. In a surprise move, she steered clear of pumpkin, instead opting for Sweet Potato Ice Cream with Torched Marshmallows. I’m mad I can’t try it, because roasted sweet potatoes are my everything, especially this time of year. And lord knows Natalie knows how to torch a marshmallow correctly.

So there you have it: happy November 1! Can you believe it’s November 1? I, for one, can not. which is why I’ll leave this here for you and get back to work on being here more often. The best laid plans and all that.

Adapted from a recipe for Blackstrap Praline Ice Cream found in my most-treasured Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton-Bauer.

Chocolate-Flecked Blackstrap Praline Ice Cream with Black Walnut Praline and Singed Marshmallows

for the ice cream:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 14 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 14 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses

for the praline: 

  • 1 cup black walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar (light or dark, whatever you have)
  • 2 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 1 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 14 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 14 tsp kosher salt

for the mix-ins:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • 1 oz 60% to 70% dark chocolate
  • 1 recipe Black Walnut Pralines (recipe above)

Make the ice cream base:

If you haven’t already, place your ice cream maker in the freezer to chill; just a reminder. In a small bowl, combine about 2 Tbsp of the milk and all of the cornstarch; stir together with fork until slurry forms, then set aside. Add salt and cream cheese to a large mixing bowl which is able to fit comfortably inside a larger bowl (for the ice bath).

Heat remaining milk, heavy cream, sugar, and molasses in a large saucepan set over medium heat, stirring often with a whisk. Once mixture bubbles, remove from heat, give you cornstarch slurry a little whisk to re-incorporate, then whisk into the milk mixture. Place back over heat and let come to a low boil, stirring constantly. Let boil until mixture thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of the hot milk mixture to the cream cheese mixture; whisk rapidly until cream cheese and salt have melted into the milk mixture and the mixture is smooth. Add the rest of the milk mixture and continue whisking until everything is homogenous. Fill a larger bowl with ice water and set the smaller bowl containing the mixture inside it, whisking occasionally, until the base cools to room temperature. Remove from ice bath and transfer base to refrigerator to chill, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Make the praline + prep mix-ins:

Preheat oven to 350˚F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine black walnuts with brown sugar, molasses, butter, cinnamon and salt: stir until nuts are incorporated and all ingredients are evenly distributed. Pour in a single layer onto prepared baking sheet, leaving some space pockets between the nut clusters. Bake for 8 minutes, stir with a rubber spatula, then bake for about 5 to 6 more minutes until nuts look caramelized (not always easy, considering the molasses starts off deeply black, but use your best judgement and don’t let them burn). Remove from oven and transfer pan to wire rack to cool. It’s okay if they’re a little sticky once cooled: I refrigerate mine as needed and then just run through them with a knife to break them up.

Getting the mix-ins done for this ahead of time is a good idea, simply because both need to be on the cool side to really work.

Chocolate Flecks – Take your chocolate and either chop it finely or do what I do and grate it using the largest holes on a box grater – because you don’t want to ruin your fingers, grate as much as you can and then chop the tiny bit you’ve been hanging onto using a knife. Place shavings in a small bowl and keep them in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Singed Marshmallows – Lay your marshmallows out in a small lipped baking sheet (a 9 x 13 works) in a single layer. Use a kitchen blowtorch to singe the tops of the marshmallows, blowing out any which catch on fire. Once cooled, toss them with your fingers so the bottoms of them are showing; torch again to desired “doneness.”

Assemble the ice cream:

Remove your thoroughly chilled ice cream from the refrigerator and give it a whisk or two to incorporate. Spin according to manufacturer’s instructions. Once your spin is done, remove the canister from the base and throw in the refrigerated chocolate flecks; stir using a rubber spatula until flecks are evenly distributed.

Begin to layer your ice cream with the remaining mix-ins by first spooning a bit of the base into the bottom of your container(s). Add a few pralines and marshmallows over top, then add another layer of ice cream. Continue to layer as you spread out the nuts and marshmallows in the ice cream so that when scooped, everyone gets some of something; use as much or as little of the mix-ins as you wish (sometimes it depends on your container situation: I find with smaller containers I use a bit less than I would in one large one). Place finished ice cream in freezer to chill until very firm, 4 to 6 hours at least.

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6 Comments

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats November 1, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Your ice cream looks (and sounds) AH-MA-ZINGGGG seriously I can’t get over how good it sounds. I almost want to bake some of those chocolate molasses cookies to hug the ice cream with!

    • Reply shannon November 11, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      YAY! I still think that the one-two-punch combination of both of our November ice creams together would be amazing…i plan to test this theory on thanksgiving. because yours is like, irresistible. and i’m going to have to figure out a way to make all the things.

  • Reply mellissa @ ibreatheimhungry November 1, 2015 at 4:08 pm

    I just want to eat the title because there are so many delicious words in it that I almost wouldn’t need to experience the actual ice cream if that makes sense… Welcome back to blogging – between you being busy and Movita taking the summer off my email inbox was GETTING SO BORING I couldn’t even stand to look at it. Then I built up over 800 unread emails in less than 10 days so I had to and it was horrible. Today I got emails from Movita AND you and it was like a million heart eyed emojis eating cake and ice cream together for hours and I was like THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER. Then I was like uh-oh that means I got all this fun in one day and will probably have another dry spell of no Shannon and no Movita for at least a week and I was wishing I’d had cake one meal and ice cream the other to space it out more… Wow I just reread that and I made almost zero sense – I really need to get some sleep… Glad you’re back!

    • Reply shannon November 11, 2015 at 12:27 pm

      Mellissa, as Movita so eloquently put it, you make our collective hearts soar. We’re super bad at actually blogging right now, amiright? 🙂 I’ve missed all of us getting to hang out and chat, so i’m hoping that my little (big) dry spell is over and that i can find more time to post with some regularity. I’m excited to BE back! And i’m super happy you like my ice cream: this one was a runaway favorite at the house – a huge surprise, being as i had no idea Mr. Table a) liked molasses or b) would even touch a black walnut – but he has now eaten then entire batch…no kidding. he acts like he didn’t, which would maybe work except for NO ONE ELSE LIVES HERE but the Wee One, who physically can’t open the freezer.

  • Reply movita beaucoup November 8, 2015 at 7:44 am

    I have nothing to say other than: best ice cream ever and Mellissa makes my heart swell.

    • Reply shannon November 11, 2015 at 12:21 pm

      Thank you. what got you about Mellissa’s comment? for me, it was the line about “a million heart eyed emojis eating cake and ice cream together for hours and I was like THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER” when she saw us actually post something. I enjoy also how well she knows us, and just expects this will immediately be followed by a posting drought/dead zone of nothingness from us. SO ACCURATE. I love her with everything in me.

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