Overwhelmingly, pregnancy thus far has been a much more peaceful experience than I ever thought it would be. This isn’t to say that it’s been a total walk in the park (in case you’ve had or are having a rough one!) but before it all happened, I had fearful visions of hugging the toilet, or raging at B2, or doing both at the same time, nonstop for nine-point-five months. Thankfully, neither of those things has come to pass. If anything, with the exception of a few spectacular sobbing-laughing-hiccuping meltdowns (“I k-know I-I’m l-laughing but it’s not funny!”) I might even be a little bit more rational than my non-pregnant self, which is a bizarre development we never anticipated. Then again, my non-pregnant self once Donkey-Kong-ground-pounded a half-eaten bag of B2’s potato chips because he hates eating chip crumbs and I was mad. (This was not my proudest moment.) So maybe there was nowhere to go but up.
If there’s one thing that’s taken my baby-growing life by storm, though, it’s pregnancy brain. Was this as real for you as it is for me? Our apartment is beginning to look like a really boring reenactment of Memento — there are Post-Its all over the house, written by my past self and asking in accusatory caps: “IS THE AC OFF?” “IS THE OVEN OFF?” “DO YOU HAVE YOUR WATER BOTTLE?” like a stern, disembodied mother. And this is just a short list of the things that I (can remember that I) have forgotten, or lost, or missed:
- Turning off the AC
- Turning off the oven
- Turning on the oven
- My phone, in the parking garage at work
- My password to log in to the app that finds your phone
- My security pass, while retracing my steps back to my office to find my phone because I could not use the app that finds your phone
- My Costco grocery list
- My new Costco grocery list, somewhere in the middle of walking around Costco
- Highway exits
- Right turns
- Left turns
- Probably many things that should be on this list but have now been forgotten.
To be fair, I’m a tad forgetful on the best of days, given that B2 has spent countless minutes of his morning life waiting patiently by the door while I chant “work phone, regular phone, security pass, wallet, laptop, keys, and lunch!” and touch each one like a talisman before we can head to work every morning. But, even if opinions may differ on whether pregnancy brain is a myth or reality, I have to imagine that I’d be a compelling case for the “reality” camp.
All in all, this has yet to result in anything too terrible (I even got my phone and my security pass back, hurray) but I did wonder if I’d be sharing this oatmeal lace ice cream with you before the summer was long gone. I forgot for about three weekends in a row either to put the ice cream bowl in the freezer the night before, or to make the ice cream base with enough time for it to chill. But I did finally make it! And thank goodness, because this ice cream is so, so very good.
I first had Nonna D’s Oatmeal Lace Ice Cream from Ample Hills Creamery on an unusually balmy November last year in Brooklyn. We sat outside as the store was closing and got a “flight” of six flavors, and although I was (typical) “full and just wanted a bite,” I had to try with every fiber of my being not to snatch this entire scoop from everyone else once I’d tried it. It’s a rich, impossibly warm cinnamon-brown sugar ice cream, with all the holiday-spiced roundness of Christmas morning cinnamon rolls, but on top of that, it’s shot through with an abundance of toffee-like oatmeal lace cookies, which turns it into a magical, toasty butterscotch-ed confection that’s somehow appropriate for summer, fall, and winter all at once. Full disclosure, I’m one of those people who loves oatmeal raisin cookies so much that I have occasionally been known to pick them over chocolate chip (I know, I know!) in a dessert spread, so I’m partial to cinnamon and oats and brown sugar in any form, but I think this flavor could convert even the chocolatiest of chocolate chip fans.
Having now moved couple thousand miles away from the nearest Ample Hills, I thought it was time to make a version at home, and found, to my delight, that they’ve published their recipe for this incredible ice cream in their cookbook. This isn’t exactly the recipe that appears there, only because I tend to prefer making eggless ice cream bases, but the bones of the recipe are all theirs — plenty of brown sugar and warm cinnamon, with butterscotch-y oatmeal lace cookies that are thin and shattery and full of toasty oat and buttery flavor. Because I can never leave well enough alone, I did try one version with regular oatmeal raisin cookies (again, my oatmeal cookie fixation), and I had the hardest time deciding which one I liked best, but in the end that version tasted just a bit too “floury,” and B2 preferred the recipe below — in his words, the regular oatmeal cookie version was only if you “really, really liked oatmeal.” Lest my oatmeal cookie bias get the best of me, I felt that was pretty decisive.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I did! And if you have any pregnancy stories, pregnancy brain or just in general, please tell me! Worst parts of being pregnant? Best parts? I’d love to hear. Thank you, friends, for reading.
Adapted from Ample Hills Creamery and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. The brown sugar cinnamon flavor with an oatmeal lace cookie mix-in is all Ample Hills, but I've always loved Jeni's eggless ice cream base for its texture and ease of preparation (rest easy, egg whites), so I borrowed a bit from both ice cream empires for this recipe. If you'd like to opt for the traditional custard ice cream base, the original recipe for Nonna D's Oatmeal Lace Ice Cream can be found here, via Dinner: A Love Story. I found that a half-batch of the cookies was more than enough for mix-ins and to use as topping, so the cookie recipe below is halved and adjusted accordingly.
- for the oatmeal lace cookies:
- 1 1/3 cups (about 130 g) old-fashioned rolled oats
- 2 tsp (6 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup (200 g) packed dark brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 10 tbsp (1 stick plus 2 tbsp, 5 oz, or 150 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- for the brown sugar-cinnamon ice cream:
- 2 cups (about 475 ml) whole milk
- 4 tsp cornstarch
- 1/2 cup dry milk powder (optional, for a creamier flavor; this one is my favorite)
- 2/3 cup (about 135 g) packed dark brown sugar
- 2 tbsp dark corn syrup
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups (300 ml) heavy cream
- 3 tbsp (1.5 oz or 42 g) cream cheese, softened
- Make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss together the oats, flour, and salt in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and melted butter until smooth. If your melted butter is still warm, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla first, then add the melted butter last, whisking gradually until combined. Add the brown sugar mixture to the oat mixture, and fold until combined. The resulting cookie batter will be very liquid -- don’t worry, this is right!
- Line an 11-inch by 16-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the mixture evenly across the baking sheet. (If you like, you can reserve a bit of the mixture to make cookies -- see Notes.) Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until the top is a deep golden brown. Set aside and let cool.
- Make the ice cream base: Stir together 1/4 cup of the milk and the cornstarch in a small bowl, and set aside. In a medium (4-quart) saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together remaining milk, dry milk powder, sugar, syrup, cinnamon, and salt until no lumps remain. Add the cream. Bring to a boil and cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently with a spatula or wooden spoon. Keep a close eye on the mixture -- mine always boils up and threatens to overflow (or does overflow, in one or two instances!) If yours does too, just scoot the pan to the edge of the heat or briefly remove.
- Stir in the cornstarch slurry, then return to a boil and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes.
- Place the softened cream cheese in a bowl and pour in 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture. Whisk until smooth, then gradually whisk in the remaining milk mixture. Pour the mixture into a plastic bag or a bowl and place in a larger bowl of ice water, stirring the bowl or jostling the bag until chilled. Alternatively, let chill in the refrigerator until thoroughly cold, ideally overnight.
- Meanwhile, break the cookie into small pieces. About 1 cup gets you a decently chunky ice cream, but you can always add more or less to your liking, or reserve some for topping. I added about 1 1/2 cups. Place these in the fridge so that they are very cold before you add them to the ice cream.
- Once the ice cream mixture is cold, pour into an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions. If you have an opening in your ice cream maker that allows you to add mix-ins, you can add the cookie pieces in the last few minutes of churning. Otherwise, fold in the cookie pieces when transferring the ice cream to a storage container, and let freeze until set. Enjoy!