Pimento Cheese is most certainly a Southern institution in itself around these parts, but imagine my surprise when I began to research it and found its roots were not in the south at all, but in New York around the turn of the century in the early 1900’s. Cream Cheese had been introduced a decade earlier, and with the beginning of imports of the Spanish peppers “Pimiento”, it wasn’t long before the two were married together to form a spread that filled celery sticks, white bread sandwiches and was served alongside crackers at every picnic across the country. Interestingly enough, the “i” was dropped from most spellings and it became simply “Pimento Cheese” at some point along the way.
After World War II, it literally disappeared from the North, but the good ol’ southerners, who love their cream cheese, shredded cheddar cheese and mayonnaise kept the staple alive and you can find it in tubs in most grocery stores by the deli meat.
Growing up in Michigan, I couldn’t remember eating pimento cheese until my mom corrected me by letting me know we used to get it in those small juice glass-sized jars that you pop the lid off with a spoon. I thought how funny that was because one of those tiny jars would barely make a sandwich here in the south, where the spread is lavishly sandwiched between two slices of plain ol’ white bread. Mom said they used to wash the little jars and use them for juice glasses afterward.
It’s actually a simple thing to whip up a batch, and the homemade version is leaps and bounds ahead of the store-bought. Use the best mayonnaise possible like Duke’s or Hellman’s, and make sure you use either a food processor or a hand-grater when you grate your cheese choice (typically sharp cheddar) yourself. The pre-shredded bags at the store are coated with something like cornstarch to keep it from sticking and won’t be near as good.
Below is my humble gourmet version I’m dressing up for some delicious cheeseburgers for an upcoming recipe, but I must confess, I ate half of it last night with a sleeve of crackers and a fresh glass of iced tea, just like any good southerner would do.
Homemade Gourmet Pimento Cheese
2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. good mayonnaise like Hellman’s or Dukes
1/2 c. sour cream
1 1/2 c. freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. smoked Gouda cheese
1/2 c. chopped roasted red peppers
1/2 t. garlic salt
dash of cayenne pepper or tabasco
Add all to large mixing bowl and mix well being careful not to mash cheese too much.
It helps to smash the cream cheese first with the mayo and sour cream to incorporate better once the cheeses are mixed in.
I have to confess to you that I am not much of an ice cream fan.
There I’ve said it.
Anything icy-cold hurts my sensitive teeth and I just have learned I don’t enjoy eating it much. My family however, makes several runs during the week to Braums, our local dairy store to buy things like Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream. I thought maybe I should learn how to make it and save hundreds of dollars each year so I began looking at recipes.
Three weeks ago, this little naughty kitchen toy arrived so I set to work.
So far, I’ve tackled several different versions like Coffee Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks (Mr. Wonderful’s favorite), Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream with Peanut Butter cups in it (the kids thought vanilla would be better), Vanilla Toffee Crunch (everyone loved!), and Fresh Strawberry.
I could now buy stock in Braum’s Dairy store because I’m mostly funding them with all the whole milk and cream I’m buying.
I have now established what I think is my perfect vanilla ice cream base for several different ice creams including this Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream recipe.
Here is how it goes!
To begin, pour one and one half cups of whole milk and one and one-half cups of heavy cream into a medium sized sauce pan.
Add in one-third cup of white sugar and one-third cup of brown sugar, one teaspoon of vanilla (use PURE vanilla extract, not imitation!), and a pinch of salt.
Whisk it up and turn the heat to medium. You just want this to start steaming, not really boiling. Make sure you keep whisking it every ten seconds or so, so the bottom doesn’t scorch like milk does.
In a small bowl, add four egg yolks. Save the whites for after you eat ice cream. You know, the next morning when you’re feeling guilty, you can make an egg white omelet and redeem yourself!
Whisk them up well.
Once your milk/cream mixture steams, ladle about ½ cup of it into the eggs.
Whisk quickly to incorporate.
This is calling “tempering” and it keeps the eggs from scrambling if you added them quickly to the hot milk mixture.
Add in another ½ cup of the hot milk mixture. Whisk. Now you can pour the egg mixture into the milk mixture safely. Whisk it in quickly.
Bring the mixture to a steam again and keep whisking it for about ten minutes.
It will have thickened up enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Remove it immediately from the heat. Set a fine mesh strainer over a medium sized bowl.
Pour the custard into the strainer, and using your whisk, begin whisking to push the custard through strainer to weed out anything grainy that might be in it.
Stir in a teaspoon of vanilla and one more cup of cream.
Cover the custard and put it into the refrigerator for several hours or even overnight.
Set a time for 15 minutes. At the end of 15 minutes, the ice cream will be like a thick milkshake.
While that’s mixing, chop up your peanut butter cups. I used the small wrapped Reeses peanut butter cups.
I like them fairly large but you don’t want things TOO large in your ice cream. Note the picture above for the size. You’ll want roughly about 2 cups of chopped peanut butter cups. If you don’t like a lot, scale back to a cup and one-half, but why in the WORLD would you do that?
After 15 minutes, add in the chopped peanut butter cups.
Let it mix to incorporate all the lovely peanut butter cup pieces.
This should only take about a minute or two tops.
Then scoop it into an air-tight container and pop it in the freezer for several hours. We like it best after at least 4 hours or better yet, overnight.
This is delicious.
Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
Author: Katie of Dishin & Dishes
Recipe type: Dessert
1½ cups milk
2½ cups cream (divided)
⅓ cup white granulated sugar
⅓ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
1½ c, chopped peanut butter cups
Combine the milk, 1½ cups of the cream (save the other cup for later), sugar, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat the base until it begins to steam, whisking continuously.
When the base begins to steam, pour one- half cup out of the pan and into the egg yolks, whisk immediately.
Add another ½ cup of the milk to the eggs. Whisk.
When completely combined, add the yolk mixture back into the rest of the of the base, and heat until the mixture reaches 170°F, or until it coats the back of a spoon.
Remove immediately from heat and pour through a fine mesh sieve using whisk to push through.
Add in the remaining cup of cold cream and let chill for 3 or 4 hours or overnight.
Pour the base into an ice cream maker and churn according to your ice cream maker manufacturer’s instructions.
When 1 minute remains, add in peanut butter cups and let stir for full minute. Don’t add earlier, as you don’t want to overprocess and break up the peanut butter cups.
Yield: Makes a quart ane one-half of ice cream.
teaspoons instant coffee granules and 1 t. coffee extract to make coffee ice cream
Add 4 oz. of Heath bar crunchies to make toffee ice cream
Sprinkle ¼ c. sugar over 1½ c. sliced strawberries and let set for ½ hour to make strawberry ice cream. Pour in juice and strawberries at 1 minute to go mark.
Check out what other fabulous bloggers made in the way of frozen treats for Food Network’s Summer Soiree this week!