If you want to end a summer celebration or gathering with a big old bang, you would be hard pressed to pick a better dessert than an ice cream pie. Somehow, ice cream stuffed into a pie crust just seems so much more festive and decadent and sultry than bowls of ice cream.
And it's one of the easiest-to-make treats on the planet. Especially this version, with the classic chocolate, vanilla and peanut butter cup thing happening. Not to mention the whipped cream.
Often, ice cream pies have cookie crusts of some sort, but I had a refrigerated pie crust hanging around and decided to blind bake the crust and use that as the base for this pie. Blind baking means baking a pie crust on its own, so that it can be fully cooked and wonderfully flaky before you start piling in a filling that doesn't need to be cooked, like a chocolate mousse or all kinds of icebox pies.
For this recipe, fit the pie dough (homemade or from a package) into the pan, line the dough with parchment paper, cover it with weights of some sort (like dried rice or beans) so the dough stays in place without shrinking or bubbling, and bake it. There are also pie weights available for the dedicated baker.
A few other tips: Leaving the crust in the freezer for an hour or so before putting it in the oven helps it keep its shape while baking. Also, save the rice or beans you used to weigh down the crust for another time. Place them in a jar and label them "baking beans" or "baking rice," and they won't go to waste (you can't cook them once they've been in the oven).
For the cleanest, smoothest layers, pop the pie back into the freezer for a bit after you add each layer of ice cream. If you have thought ahead enough to spread the pie-building process over a full day or two, this is very doable. But if a magazine-quality cross-section isn't your deepest wish, then skip that step and just spread the ice cream layers carefully, so they remain discrete from one another.
The pie will keep for five days in the freezer. Make the whipped cream just before serving. You can also slice the pie without the whipped cream, and serve individual slices with whipped cream added to each piece if you prefer.
CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUP ICE CREAM PIE
Start to finish: 5 hours (more if you are spreading out the steps)
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1 pint chocolate ice cream
25 miniature peanut butter cups, chilled and coarsely chopped , divided
3/4 cup cold heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Let the pie crust sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before starting. To blind bake the crust, transfer it to a 9-inch pie pan. Gently press it into the pan, into the corners and up the sides. Fold the edges underneath themselves to form a thick rim that hangs just over the edge of the pie pan. Crimp the edges attractively. Place the crust in the freezer, and chill for 30 minutes to one hour (you can also leave it overnight if you want to get this step done ahead of time).
Before you take the pie out, preheat the oven to 375 F. Prick the crust in several places with a fork. Line the inside of the crust with parchment paper, then fill it with dry rice or dried beans. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, and then carefully remove the parchment paper with the grains or beans inside. Return the crust to the oven, and bake for another 18 to 20 minutes, until the crust is golden. Remove, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Take both ice creams out of the freezer, and let soften slightly. In a medium-size bowl, combine the vanilla ice cream with 3/4 of the peanut butter cups, blending until they are well combined.
Scoop half of the chocolate ice cream into the cooled crust, spread it evenly, and smooth the top with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. (See Cooking Tip at bottom). Spread the vanilla ice cream with the peanut butter cups on top of the chocolate ice cream, and spread that out evenly, trying not to disrupt the bottom chocolate ice cream layer. Scoop the remaining chocolate ice cream on top, and smooth out that layer. Return the pie to the freezer to firm up completely, at least 3 hours and up to 5 days. If you are storing the pie for more than a few hours, cover the top tightly with plastic wrap.
Just before you are ready to serve the pie, place the cream, confectioners' sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to blend the cream until firm peaks just form. Scoop the whipped cream attractively over the top of the pie. Let it sit for 10 minutes to soften just slightly before cutting. Use a sharp knife that has been dipped into a cup of hot water and then wiped dry to cut slices of the pie. Do this dip and wipe between each slice.
Cooking Tip: To make sure your layers are even and unblended, place the pie in the freezer for about 30 minutes between each ice cream layer addition. That allows each layer to firm up before more ice cream is added. Keep the softened ice cream in the fridge while the pie is freezing between stages.
Nutrition information per serving: 465 calories; 263 calories from fat; 29 g fat (15 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 60 mg cholesterol; 231 mg sodium; 48 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 34 g sugar; 7 g protein.
Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook." She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman. She can be reached at Katie@themom100.com.
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