Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

I'm back in Rhode Island for my annual summer vacation, which means a few things. For starters, I'm enjoying weather that is markedly cooler than infernal  Rome; I'm sleeping in my beyond comfortable bed (can't say much for the one my apartment in Rome came with); I've swapped the office for visits to Boston, and Providence, and Newport; and, perhaps more exciting of all, I've been reunited with my beloved, trusty, rose-pink Kitchen-Aid, and with it, my ice cream maker. 

Let's start at the beginning, shall we? My Kitchen-Aid and I go way back; she (yes, it's a she) was given to me as a birthday present by my parents in 2007, for my 18th birthday. I'd been baking and cooking for a few years at that point, and it was the best gift I could've ever asked for, a dream come true -- my very own Kitchen-Aid! I named her Trixie, and together, we went on to make many a challah bread (dough hook attachment!) meringue (wire whisk attachment!) plus cheesecakes, cookies, and layer cakes. Here we are, both baby-faced in the summer of 2007:
We made a great team, Trixie and I, and things only got better when I was gifted what proved to be the most exciting Kitchen-Aid accessory yet -- the ice cream maker attachment, an unassuming large, freezable metal bowl that worked frozen treat wonders. Using David Lebovitz's book The Perfect Scoop -- aka the ice cream Bible -- as my guide, I started my ice cream journey, churning out classic flavors like chocolate and vanilla but also raspberry chocolate chip, oatmeal cookie, Nutella, and blueberry cheesecake. I began to make more ice cream than I could count (our freezer was packed with ice cream that summer) and I kept a notebook with me at all times in the event a flavor revelation came to me (strawberry shortcake pumpkin pie! peach blackberry!). My family christened the summer of 2010 "the Summer of Ice Cream." 
When I moved to Italy in 2011 I left my Kitchen-Aid and ice cream maker behind; they were both heavy, and nearly impossible to pack, and the voltage, I learned, would be incompatible with European plugs, meaning a nearly guaranteed burn out. I've learned to cope without my beloved kitchen luxury -- I knead bread by hand, use electric beaters, opt for semifreddo instead of homemade ice cream -- but very much look forward to returning to Rhode Island every summer, to spend time with family and friends yes but also to make ice cream, lots and lots of ice cream, a happy reunion of overly enthusiastic food blogger, trusty Kitchen-Aid, and beloved ice cream attachment. 

 But I digress -- let's get to the recipe, shall we? I gave a lot of thought to the first ice cream I wanted to make this summer, contemplating flavors like gianduia (milk chocolate and hazelnut!) and pistachio or a mascarpone-enriched tiramisu ice cream, only to be given a reality check by my sister, who bluntly pointed out that we're currently in the U.S, not Italy, so we might as well get our share of non-Italian flavors while we could, thank you very much. She requested this Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream - a flavor that wouldn't be caught dead in an Italian gelateria - and I, seeing her point, happily obliged. First things first: for any of you that might be intimidated at the thought of making your own ice cream, rest assured that this recipe is a matter of whisking everything together on the stove, no eggs or tempering required. Now that that's out of the way -- this ice cream is, well, dreamy, sublime, 100 times better than anything you'd buy in the store, and to not make it for yourself would be an injustice. It's unabashedly chocolate-y and deeply peanut butter-y, reminiscent of a frozen Peanut Butter cup all grown up, with most perfect of all textures, smooth and rich and decadent. It's not like anything I'd find in Rome, but as ice cream making is synonymous with Rhode Island for me, and therefore nostalgic, American flavors seem only fitting. Home sweet home indeed.

A couple of notes: If you don't have a Kitchen-Aid and ice cream attachment, never fear! You can buy ice cream makers that are stand-alone and reasonably priced. If you don't have half and half -- a mix of milk and light cream -- where you are, not to worry! One of my very favorite websites The Kitchn proposes various alternatives here. Use regular, commercial peanut butter (like Skippy) here for best results -- no natural peanut butter, please. Finally, this would be very decadent served with a spoonful (or two, or three) of this Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce....but don't let me tell you what to do. 

Looking for more frozen, summer-appropriate desserts? I've got these Butterscotch Pudding Pops, these Raspberry Yogurt Popsicles, these Nutella Banana Fudge Pops, this Pistachio Semifreddo, this Chocolate Gelato, this Watermelon Granita, this Strawberry Semifreddo, and this Vanilla Salted Caramel Ice cream

Makes 1 quart. Recipe from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz.

2 cups (472 mL) half-and-half
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 25 grams) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
Pinch of salt

1/2 cup (176 grams) smooth peanut butter

Whisk together the half-and-half, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it comes to a full, rolling boil (it will start to foam up). Remove from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter, stirring until thoroughly blended.

Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions. 

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