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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Buffalo Summer

It's summertime! I'm just a few hours away from boarding a plane and flying home for a visit! I tend to go home to see my parents twice a year, Christmas and summer. That way I get to see both of the Buffalo seasons, winter and July. 

Well, that's how the old joke goes. I'm more in the camp that Buffalo has four distinct, yet unequal seasons. 

Fall starts rolling in immediately after Labor day. In mid-September, the leaves start to turn and the sweaters and jeans quickly reappear. I think it's Fall that WNYers live for. I always loved Fall because it meant going back to school. But then again, I'm a nerd and totally loved school. Feel free to make fun of me.

Yes, winter is long and snowy, but you'll rarely hear a local complain about it. "What is winter without snow?", they will tell you. I remember several Christmas eves, driving through blinding snow to get to my grams house. 

Spring is rainy and cool and it tends to last from early May until mid June. It gives you plenty of time to plant your gardens and clean up from the winter mess. 

Summer pops it's head in around early July and brings sticky, hot weather. We didn't have air conditioning in my childhood home. I was only ever upset about it for one or two weeks a year. You don't get 100 degree days in Buffalo, but humidity will make you wish you had a cold drink in your hand all day. 

One easy way to tell that it was summer in my childhood home? Check the freezer for ice cream. If it was summer, there was a solid shelf of Perry's ice cream. If it wasn't summer, there was probably just half a shelf. My dad seriously loves Perry's ice cream. (Remember, I took him to the Perry's ice cream factory last year? It was his birthday present, he loved it.)

You might remember that I'm lucky enough to be a Perry's Inside Taster! This means that once or twice a year, then send me ice cream! This is super important these days, because my Wegmans in New Jersey have stopped carrying the brand! (Worse day ever) This summer, I received a large box of dry ice and three containers of Perry's. Three containers of ice cream that were all destined for something different. 

First, the French Roast Coffee. I never saw this ice cream. The package arrived and I put the containers in the fridge. I left for a conference. When I came home, the ice cream was no longer in the fridge. The boyfriend may or may not have eaten the entire container of ice cream himself. He wouldn't fess up.

Next, Otto's Cupcake. I saw this ice cream a few months back, during Sweet 16 basketball time. It's chocolate ice cream, with pieces of chocolate cake and orange frosting swirled in. Let me be clear though, the frosting swirl is orange in color, not orange in flavor. My dad and I both had some and discussed this point for a good five minutes. We were both expecting orange flavor because we didn't read the box before we ate it. This ice cream was tasty.

Finally, All Natural Dark Chocolate. This ice cream made its way into those ice cream sandwiches you see above. I was inspired by these brownie ice cream sandwiches from Smitten Kitchen. 

I knew that I still had a container of chocolate Perry's in the freezer and thought nothing would pair better with the ice cream, than peanut butter. I whipped up a batch of my favorite peanut butter bars, divided the batter in two and sandwiched almost the entire container of ice cream between the two slabs of peanut butter bar. The boyfriend thinks my ice cream to cookie ratio is off. He's just crazy, these ice cream sandwiches are amazing.  Give them a try! Or come over, I have a whole pan of them to share!

One Year Ago: Nutella Thumbprint Cookies
Two Years Ago: Chicken Tacos and Corn Relish
Three Years Ago: Pizza Focaccia
Four Years Ago: Crunchy French Toast

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Bars
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup creamy peanut butter (cheap stuff, like JIF)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp butter (room temperature)
1 ¼ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ cup chocolate chips
1 quart chocolate ice cream

Heat oven to 350 F. Line 2 8x8-inch pans with aluminum foil, spritz with cooking spray.
In a large mixing bowl crack eggs and beat a little with a whisk. Add sugars and whisk well. Add peanut butter and mix until combined. Add vanilla and butter. Be sure everything is well combined.

Sift in flour, baking powder and salt. Switch to a wooden spoon and mix well. Add chocolate chips and stir until combined.  Divide dough between two baking pans and press into an even layer.

Bake both pans at once, for 10 minutes. rotate pans and bake for another 10 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for ten minutes in the pans. Remove one of the bar slabs from the pan and peel off aluminum foil. Let both bar slabs cool completely.

To the peanut butter bar that is still in the pan, top with approximately 1 quart of ice cream. Spread evenly with an offset spatula. Set the second slab of ice cream on top and gently press down. Fold the aluminum foil over and place the whole thing in the freezer for at least three hours.

Remove the giant ice cream sandwich from the freezer and cut into smaller ice cream sandwiches. I cut mine into sixteen ice cream sandwiches. If you're feeling good, cut the slab into only nine sandwiches. Do it do it do it, they're so tasty!
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