I am a firm believer that ice-cream is at its best when it has chunks in it, be that chocolate, fruit, cookie pieces, sprinkles, or all of the above. I just like a bit more of a crunch in an otherwise creamy and soft dessert. If any part of you agrees with me, please make this Key Lime Pie Ice Cream with Brown Butter Graham Cracker Crust Chunks. If chunks aren’t enough of a selling point (fair enough — the word “chunks” is kind of gross), then I have a couple of other reasons why this is worth making.
- It’s easy. Unlike a lot of homemade ice creams that you have to boil and then chill and then put in an ice-cream machine, all you have to do is mix a few things together, stir in a very special and weird ingredient, add some of the most delicious crust chunks (I’ve got to find another word) you’ve ever had, made nutty and caramel-y from the browned butter, and eat. You can also leave the crust out to make this super fast and easy, but if at all possible, please don’t. You’ll thank me later.
- It’s super smooth and creamy. Recently, Mr. Peach explained to me why homemade ice cream isn’t often quite as smooth as the store bought kind. It has something to do with the formation of the ice crystals. If I also had a PhD in Organic Chemistry I may have followed his explanation a little better, but as far as I can tell, the main takeaway is that to get smooth ice-cream, you need your ice cream to get cold fast. Always up for a little scientific experiment in the kitchen, I signed on to put the theory to the test. Accordingly (and stick with me here) this ice-cream has an unusual ingredient in it: dry ice.
- It’s healthy(er). An added benefit to getting your ice cream cold quickly, is that you can use a base with a lower fat content and it’ll still be creamy and delicious. So, if the previous reasons (chunks, easy, smooth) don’t sell you on it, then maybe the fact that this ice-cream is both tasty and
healthynot quite as fattening as regular ice-cream, will.
I assure you that using dry ice in this recipe is perfectly safe. Because it sublimates (i.e. disappears) during the churning and freezing portion, you aren’t going to be eating it. Just be sure to follow the instructions, freeze it for at least 20 minutes after you make it, and always exercise caution when handling dry ice. It can hurt you, so be sure to wear gloves or use a towel to handle it. Never let it come into contact with your skin directly.
If you don’t want to bother with the dry ice, this recipe works just as well in an ice-cream machine. Just pour it in after you combine the base and follow the instructions for your ice-cream maker.
- 1 stick butter, browned (see notes below)
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 12 sheets of graham crackers)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 cups 2% milk
- ¾ cup key lime juice
- zest of 1 lime
- pinch of salt
- ½ - 1 lb. dry ice (optional-- but if you don’t use, consider using heavy cream for part of the 2% milk for a creamier ice-cream)
- Begin my mixing together the brown butter, graham cracker crumbs, and sugar. I like to do this in a food processor to help evenly distribute the butter throughout. Once well-combined, press the mixture into a 13X9 inch baking pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and cool completely. Once cooled, gently break the crust into pieces with your hands.
- For the ice-cream, (carefully) place the dry ice in a food processor and pulse until completely crushed into a fine powder. Set aside. Whisk together the remaining ingredients in a large bowl until well-combined. With a wooden spoon, carefully stir in a spoonful of the dry ice at a time, stirring for a few minutes before each addition. You could also use a mixer on its lowest setting. It took me about 15 minutes of alternating adding dry ice and stirring before it reached the desired consistency. The mixture will bubble quite a bit and emit what looks like steam. This is good -- it means the dry ice is sublimating and won't end up in your digestive system.
- Once it has reached the consistency you like, transfer the ice-cream into a container and place in the freezer, covered, for about 15-20 minutes. This is just to make sure that the dry ice sublimates completely.
- Serve with graham cracker crust pieces and white chocolate chips, if you're into that sort of thing. I am.