Cream Cheese Ice Cream With Gooey Butter Cake and Candied Lemon

At the library, I spied a title on ice cream that had beautiful photos, overlaid with watercolour paintings and line drawings, a very unique look. On top of that, the content was science-heavy: ingredient weights and percentages, and deep dives into the chemistry of flavors and stabilizers. Definitely my kind of book.

But what led us to take Hello, My Name Is Ice Cream by Dana Cree out of the library was my daughter’s choice of dessert for her birthday: cream cheese ice cream with gooey butter cake and candied lemon. This is a multi-recipe recipe that was relatively challenging. Here are the components:

Candied Lemon Bits

This turned out to be surprisingly complicated and I had to do it twice, despite reading the warning about what could go wrong.

The first step is easy, blanching the whole lemons three times.

Making candied lemons

Where this recipe differs from most is that it calls for candying the peel with the fruit still attached to the pith. After splitting the lemons end to end in quarters, I let it simmer in the syrup for almost 3 hours. The fatal error in my first batch was leaving the kitchen with the burner set a bit too high. When I came back, the syrup had big bubbles and had started to caramelize, meaning most of the water had evaporated.

Overly candied lemons

Sadly, the fruit peel was nearly inedible, darkening in colour, and turning very hard and chewy in texture. I salvaged this batch by tossing the fruit, but saving the “caramelized lemon syrup”, which was delicious mixed with sparkling or plain ice water.

The second batch I made, I monitored the saucepan much more carefully, topping it up with water every half hour (as suggested). This time, the lemons turned out wonderfully, yielding to the bite and deliciously sweetened.

Gooey Butter Cake

This Midwestern dessert is a “St. Louis anomaly” according to Cree. It’s super addictive, especially when eaten at room temperature, but is also delicious frozen. The texture is quite chewy, but it has incredible butter, caramel, and tart flavours.

It’s actually two mini-recipes. The first is a cake layer that’s patted into the bottom of a pan. I didn’t have an 8x10 inch pan, so used a very deep pie pan.

Making Gooey Butter Cake

The rest of the batter is called the “gooey layer” and contains cream cheese, eggs, butter, and lots of flavourings: lemon zest, vanilla extract, and almond extract. This is poured over the unbaked base.

Making Gooey Butter Cake

What’s supposed to happen is that the layers transform into a single cake. I’m not sure if that’s meant to be literally true, as mine still had distinct layers.

Gooey Butter Cake

As it cooled, it sunk a bit.

Gooey Butter Cake

The edges were more caramelized, and thus harder to cut into cubes. One batch makes way more than needed for the ice cream, but we plan on mixing it into other ice creams over the summer. Little cubes are also an incredibly addictive sweet treat.

Gooey Butter Cake

Gooey Butter Cake

Cream Cheese Ice Cream

All of the ice cream bases in this book use glucose as one of the sweeteners, and always a mix of dairies. In this one, you use both cream and milk, and also add cream cheese. Cree also gives a choice of stabilizers: I used tapioca starch. No photo of the ice cream, sorry.

Assembly and Tasting

To make the composed scoop, I followed the author’s advice on layering, and spread some of the freshly churned ice cream on the bottom of the container, then sprinkled on diced candied lemon peel and cake chunks. After repeating one more layer, I swirled them all gently with a chopstick.

What a delicious ice cream. Overall, it’s quite sweet, but the cream cheese and lemon flavours tip it back towards balance. I love lemon peel, so added even more bits to each serving I had.

The greatest discovery here might be the gooey butter cake. It’s going to be such a great mix-in for a variety of flavours.

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