Naming recipes is an art, not a science, which leads many a cook to take quite a few liberties when bestowing titles upon their finished culinary creations. Recklessly creative, these innovators often leave future generations scratching their heads, wondering how such a description might fit the dish, or what the story behind it might be. One of the greatest mysteries to date is likely the truth behind chess pie, but that’s an investigation for another day. Today, I’ve got cookies on my mind; cowboy cookies to be exact.
Let’s be honest here- A cowboy cookie is really an oatmeal cookie, jam-packed with sweet and crunchy goodies. Brown sugar gives the dough depth, flavoring the entire treat with a hint of bold molasses beneath all the flashy additions. Chocolate chips and nuts, often in the form of pecans or peanuts, are absolutely mandatory, but like all vintage recipes, there’s a good amount of dispute about the rest. Some are heavy-handed on the spice, while others abstain completely. Coconut shows up in most ingredient lists, but not all, so there’s a good bit of argument about that tropical intrusion, too. For the sake of simplicity, let’s just say that a proper cowboy cookie is an oat-based morsel that’s composed of more goodies than actual dough.
That comparatively insignificant amount of dough got me thinking about- What else?- Ice cream. Cookie dough ice cream, one of the great staples of any childhood food pyramid, this is a treat that is almost universally enjoyed, but rarely varied between producers. Even the classics could use a little updating from time to time, which is where that wild combination of oats and nuts comes into play. Accentuating the idea of coconut by placing the nuggets of tender dough in a creamy coconut milk base, it leaves the cookie pieces themselves free to hold on to even more toasted pecans. Likewise, extracting the chocolate chip portion and swirling it through the entire pint stracciatella-style gives you thin ribbons of crisp cacao in every bite.
Consider yourself warned: This ice cream is seriously loaded. It wouldn’t be terribly surprising to learn that it’s composed of equal parts ice cream and cookie bites, without counting the added chocolate chunks.
When all is said and done, finding yourself with a heaping cone-ful of this ice cream, concerns about the incongruous name will simply melt away. These questions matter less when you can instead call it “delicious,” and leave it at that.
Cowboy Cookie Dough Ice Cream
3 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Margarine
1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/3 Cup Coconut Flour
1/4 Cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats, Toasted*
1/4 Cup Chopped Pecans
2 Tablespoons Coconut Milk
3 Ounces (1/2 Cup) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, Melted
1 Batch French Vanilla Ice Cream from Vegan a la Mode (page 50), prepared with coconut milk for the non-dairy milk and oil instead of margarine; cooked, cooled, and unchurned
*To toast the oats, place them in a small skillet over medium heat, and shake them around over the flame for 5 – 10 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic. Remove the nutty-scented oats from the pan and let cool completely before using.
To make the cookie dough, place the margarine in the bowl of your stand mixer, and beat briefly with the paddle attachment to soften. Add in the brown sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and cinnamon, and cream everything together. Once the mixture is completely smooth and homogeneous, introduce the coconut flour, oats, and pecans next. Start to mix them in slowly, and drizzle in the coconut milk while the motor runs. Pause to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, until everything comes together into a cohesive dough. It will be fairly stiff, so allow enough time for it to absorb all of the liquid- Don’t be tempted to add more.
Scoop out pieces the size of marbles, and roll them into balls. Place the dough balls on a small sheet pan, and stash them in the freezer for at least 2 hours before churning your ice cream. This will ensure that they’re firm enough to withstand the mixing process without becoming smushed.
Churn the completed ice cream base in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream is about 5 minutes away from finishing in the machine, melt the chocolate chips, and slowly drizzle the liquid chocolate in a thin stream directly into the ice cream machine. It will freeze instantly on the surface of the ice cream, and the turning paddle will break it up into nice little chips.
Transfer the ice cream into an air-tight container, tossing in a patchy layer of frozen cookie dough chunks in between each addition as you scoop the soft ice cream in. Store in the freezer, and let solidify for at least 3 hours before serving.
Makes About 1 Quart