I recently wrote about the summer’s best Pop-Tart prep technique–freezing them–and it seems like that just wasn’t cold enough for Lifehacker readers. Frozen Pop-Tarts are deliciously cool, but never freeze to an icy state. This makes it tough to challenge ice cream for the top spot in the imaginary rankings of cold summer desserts.
But we’re lovers, not fighters, so instead of pitting Pop-Tarts and ice cream against each other, many of you suggested that they join forces.
It didn’t take much to convince me that this was a fantastic idea. The concept is pretty self-explanatory: Ice cream is good, and Pop-tarts are also good, so mixing them together should be great. Although you could keep things traditional and eat your tarts toasted and alone, or you could eat unadorned ice cream, why not embrace the hedonistic joy of having too much of a good thing?
The beauty in this is how easy it is. If I want Pop-Tart ice cream, then I’m probably not in the mood to hover over a steamy pot of custard base for 30 minutes, just so I can wait another six hours for it to churn and then set. I want cold, creamy nostalgia, and I want it soonish. The following no-churn ice cream method is considerably easier and faster compared to the traditional way of making a churned ice cream. The hardest part will be choosing which flavour of Pop-Tart you want.
How to make no-churn Pop-Tart ice cream
No-churn ice cream ingredient lists across the internet are all very similar. They usually require heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk with the occasional drop of vanilla extract. I started with the Food Network’s no-churn vanilla ice cream recipe and made adjustments from there.
I tried this recipe in two batches, one with red velvet and one with strawberry flavored Pop-Tarts. In the red velvet round, I found the Food Network’s ratio of cream to sweetened condensed milk to be excessively sweet. It didn’t help that I was incorporating a grocery snack that’s the pastry equivalent of candy. Keeping that in mind, I adjusted the ratio for the strawberry batch.
The result checked all the boxes of what I wanted Pop-Tart ice cream to be: creamy, cold, and bespattered with shards of breakfast pastry. The 15-minute soaking step allows the pastry pieces to become soft, but not mushy, while also incorporating some colourful micro-crumbles into the cream base. Once I strained out the cream, I reserved these softened pieces to get folded in later. Halfway through the freeze time I folded the soaked pieces into the ice cream, along with some fresh ones, and I’m happy I did. The texture was better for it. Some pastry pieces were soft, highlighting the extra chewy filling, and other pieces maintained the crunch of their frosting.
Foolishly, I added two and a half strawberry tartlets to the second batch, and the only thing I would do differently next time is add the other half.
No-Churn Pop-Tart Ice Cream
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 400 ml can of Sweetened Condensed milk
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon of salt
- 3 or 4 single Pop-Tarts (broken into pieces and divided in half)
- Sprinkles (optional)
In a medium bowl, combine the heavy cream with half of the broken Pop-Tart pieces. Let them soak for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine condensed milk, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl.
Strain the cream into a mixing bowl and reserve the softened Pop-Tart pieces for later. Whip the cream on medium speed until stiff peaks form, about two minutes. (You can also do this by hand but it’ll take some time and energy.)
Take a quarter of the whipped cream and fold it into the condensed milk. Continue to do this a quarter at a time. Once combined — a few small lumps are fine — pour the mixture into a loaf pan and cover with a piece of foil. Place it in the freezer for about an hour.
After an hour or so, the ice cream will be setting along the edges. Scrape up the hardened edges and lightly mix them into the centre. Distribute the soaked pieces of Pop-Tart, the fresh pieces, and the sprinkles along the top of the ice cream and gently poke them down into the loaf pan. Put back in the freezer until solid, about another two hours. Serve in a bowl or cone, or be the real sugar MVP and sandwich a scoop between two more Pop-Tarts.
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