Project 52: Rationing - Week 51 - Peanut Brittle Ice Cream

I was having a hard time coming up with my last couple recipes to try. It's just so hard to choose! I was going through my books and I found a resource that I bought awhile back, but hadn't used for this project yet - "Metropolitan Cook Book". I couldn't believe I'd forgotten about it! When I saw the recipe for Peanut Brittle Ice Cream I knew I'd found this week's recipe! Ice cream has been on my list of ration recipes to make too, so it was perfect.

To me, peanut brittle, like candy canes, means Christmas is here. :-) Usually a bunch of festive ice creams come out around Christmas-time like Peppermint Ice Cream, but I honestly can't say that I've seen a peanut brittle flavor in the stores. I don't know why. It seems an obvious combination to me.

The interesting thing about WWII and ice cream is that ice cream production was stopped during the war because of the milk and sugar rationing. If people wanted ice cream, they had to make it themselves with ingredients that were available.

While folks on the home front weren't able to get commercially produced ice cream, soldiers fighting overseas were definitely served ice cream! The October 1943 cover of the Health for Victory guide features a photograph of a sailor happily digging into a dish of ice cream. Inside the cover it explains:
"Remember the story of the aircraft carrier, Lexington? Doomed to sink as a result of the terrific battering she took in the Coral Sea Battle, her  men delayed abandoning ship until they had made a gallant attempt to eat up the ice cream supply. Later reports said that they went over the side with their helmets packed full of the precious stuff!" haha!

It goes on to say that "thanks to Science" and a device called the "mechanical cow" that converted dry milk into "milk that tastes as sweet and fresh as that you get from your dairy", Navy ships and submarines were able to serve their troops milk foods like ice cream on board. It continues, "Ice cream and other milk foods have a value far beyond morale, as the Navy well knows. These foods are so important to the health and well-being of our men that some means had to be found to provide them - even undersea or underfire." So cool!

Since all that milk was being dried and sent overseas to the fighting troops, it made milk a lot harder to come by for Americans. As a result, some of those homefront ice cream recipes got pretty creative!

Well, just glancing at this recipe I knew that this was not going to be your average ice cream recipe. To begin with, the base is made using evaporated milk... thickened with flour! Sounds kinda gross, doesn't it? You'll just have to wait to find out! :-)

To start with I had to make peanut brittle from a ration recipe. This recipe alone could have been its own recipe for the week, because it is definitely not like the peanut brittle you might think of today!

The biggest difference I figured out is that it doesn't use baking soda to make it all foamy and it also called for lemon extract! Also, regular shelled, salted peanuts are used which I like, because I'm not a fan of those red skinned peanuts that are commonly used in peanut brittle. Another funny thing about this recipe is that it has you pour out the candy once it's done cooking and then when it's cool enough to handle you're supposed to stretch it. Strange! The stretching did make a difference in the final texture - making the candy much thinner and easier to eat.

I didn't really document the making of this one, because the nature of candy making does not mesh well with stopping to take pictures!

Before stretching
After stretching
 Then you break it up into little pieces. The lemon flavoring gives it a really interesting, but pleasant taste. My family and I loved it! I actually think I like it better than modern peanut brittle.
Here's the recipe:

Okay, now on to the ice cream portion of the recipe!
I needed evaporated milk, flour, sugar, salt, lemon juice, and vanilla. Why in the world did I need lemon juice for vanilla ice cream you wonder? I have no idea!

Mix together the flour, salt, sugar and 1/2 cup evaporated milk diluted with 1/2 cup water.

Heat this mixture over the stove in a double boiler or whatever fancy contraption you come up with instead - like mine! haha! Heat it, stirring constantly, until it becomes thickened. Then you stick it in the fridge to chill - maybe about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
In the meantime, stick an unopened can of evaporated milk in the freezer to chill while your sugar/milk mixture is chilling in the fridge. Interesting, eh???

After the hour is up for the can of evaporated milk in the freezer, take it out and measure 1 cup of the milk into a bowl - it will have slightly crystallized. And then you whip it! That's right! It's another way of making whipped cream, folks. I wish I'd known this when I did my whipped cream ration recipe back in October!

Lovely whipped evaporated milk!
It only whipped up to soft peaks, but still, I was impressed!

 Next, you chop up the peanut brittle, though I really should have followed the recipe when it said to grind it up. I wondered what the point was if you lost all that lovely peanut brittle texture, but the reason is because the whipped evaporated milk isn't strong enough to suspend those huge candy chunks which will just sink to the bottom otherwise...

Take the chilled sugar/milk mixture out of the fridge, mix in your chopped/ground peanut brittle.

Carefully fold the whipped milk into the sugar/milk mixture. Mine didn't want to mix at all. It was partially because of those huge chunks of peanut brittle. *sigh* That's what happens when you don't follow the recipe! 
My cute 7 year old son was nice and took this picture for me!
 Pour the mixture into a "refrigerator" dish and freeze it for 3 hours.

Peanut Brittle Ice Cream
It looks good, doesn't it? The texture was interesting. The whipped topping froze separately on top while the sugar/milk mixture sank to the bottom. Nothing a little mixing won't solve once partially frozen, I think. 

I tasted this one really eagerly. I mean, Peanut Brittle Ice Cream sounds so divine! I'm sad to say that that stinkin' lemon juice in the recipe ruined it for me. It was so hard to enjoy a vanilla ice cream that was masked by that weird tang of lemon. Arrg! Luckily, it's an easy thing to solve - just leave it out! As for the texture, it was nice. I think the evaporated milk worked wonderfully, and thickening with flour was a pretty good idea. I didn't notice the flour in there at all. 

This is not the only ration ice cream recipe out there, but those will have to wait for another time. :-) If you're not up to making your own ration ice cream, I suggest that you get your favorite plain Jane vanilla ice cream, chop up some peanut brittle and mix it in. Oh my! That's a winning combination if there ever was one. 

If anything, definitely make that peanut brittle. It's quite the awesome stuff, and different, which in this case is a good thing!

Metropolitan Cook Book - date unknown, approx. 1942-3
Notice the Peppermint Candy one too!

 As a bonus, here is the inside foreword to my wartime Metropolitan Cook Book. Strangely, there is no date, but the information in the foreword is unmistakably WWII and really interesting.



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