Butter Brickle ice cream. This is it. Well, it may not actually be IT but it has brought back a lifetime of childhood memories and so it must be close. I’ve never seen it on grocer’s shelves (which is a big mistake) and yet I’ve never quite let go of how much I loved that delectable treat. Buttery toffee flavored ice cream with toffee bits? It’s not just an ice cream, it’s a journey through my childhood.
From the time I entered kindergarten at the age of four until we moved to a bigger home more suited for the size of our family (5 kids) when I was ten, we lived on St. Madelaine St. in Florissant, MO, a suburb of St. Louis. All of the streets in that neighborhood had Catholic names and both the Catholic church and school were within walking distance of our home. Did that have anything to do with the number of kids on our street? I don’t know but I have idyllic memories of those times; when walking outside meant finding a playmate and summer days meant trips to the community pool, playing ‘King of the Hill’ during the day and flashlight tag at night. I had a brother less than a year older than I was and another 2 years younger and I did what they did so I guess you could say I was a tomboy. One of my crowning achievements EVER was beating every single one of the boys down the hill in a road race (balloon tires and all) and I might have had reservations at first but wanting to keep up with the boys saw me swan dive from the high board and cannonball with the best of them.
But I was different from them in many ways. I loved to read and play with Barbie dolls (I was so afraid of tornadoes it was pathetic but I was a good mom…I didn’t race to the basement without those dolls!). I talked sooner than my older brother too. I remember the Sunday morning when I climbed out of my crib; grabbed our Sunday morning stollen from the kitchen table, climbed into his crib and we both finished it off but I blamed him. Oops.
Quite the trek for kids but it never seemed long!
Still, one of the summer memories that is most ingrained in me were the trips to Bergen’s Dairy on Florissant Road. I actually took a gamble they might be there but no; seems they’re long gone. Still that trip remains so familiar in my memory that I was able to recreate it with the magic of Google maps! A nice little trek for little kids…shows we worked for our ice cream! I don’t recall that I ever walked into Bergen’s and ordered anything but Butter Brickle ice cream. Oh, I recall perusing that board every single time but nothing ever held the same appeal and as evidence of true love; nothing ever has. Sadly it is unrequited love. Where has all the Butter Brickle ice cream gone? Really; why isn’t every dairy making it even if just for me?!!
I’ve found it in two local spots, neither close enough to walk to and sometimes an urge for an ice cream cone should not constitute having to make a 40 minute round trip. Maybe I wanted it all; the sense of family around me, the luxury of a warm summer night and walking lazily home, licking that amazing cone while fireflies fluttered all around us. A time when my world was at peace and seemed almost perfect.
Well, I’m grown up now…that sense of perfection is long gone and now we look for those moments of perfection to punctuate our hectic days. I thought I had found mine. One of those local shops actually agreed to provide me with their recipe and I was as excited as that schoolgirl from long ago. Until…they waffled. They thought better of it. They changed their mind. I don’t know about you but that set me on fire to make it MYSELF and I have to tell you…this is good, really, really good and in my quest to get it made I discovered some things I did not know.
Butter Brickle was the registered trademark of a toffee ice cream flavoring and of a toffee-centered chocolate-covered candy bar similar to the Heath bar. The flavor and the candy were produced by the Fenn Bros. Ice Cream and Candy CO from Sioux Falls South Dakota. The ice cream was introduced to the world back in the 1920’s at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha, NE. When the company was liquidated in the 1970’s the trademark and formula were sold to the makers of the Heath Bar whose assets were acquired by The Hershey Company in 1996. If you look closely you’ll see that the packaging on the Heath English Toffee Bits still includes a reference to this history by referring to the content as ‘Bits ‘O Brickle Toffee Bits’. I’ve seen recipes suggest using Skor candy bits covered in chocolate and I’m sure that must taste just fine but it is so not MY Butter Brickle!
I had searched for a recipe before but several were egg based and MY ice cream surely was not. One recipe that I saw repeated over and over in my Internet search called for ‘butter flavoring’ and that just seemed wrong so I took my own path. Wanting the ice cream to have a rich toffee/buttery flavor, I made a small batch of a butterscotch sauce that I cooked down until thick and brown which I then added to the ice cream base to intensify that toffee flavor profile. I had considered making my own toffee and breaking it into bits but stopped myself for a couple of reasons. First, breaking up homemade toffee into little bits seemed a disaster waiting to happen; I imagined toffee dust would ensue more than little toffee pieces. Second; without that effort at homemade candy in the mix, the ice cream was significantly easier to make and really, how much more authentic could you get then by adding the original product? This is decadent; exactly how I remember it. I’m in love.
- 1 Tbsp salted butter
- ¼ cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups half and half
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 4 Tbsp toffee sauce
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup Heath toffee bits
- Dash of salt
- Additional bits for garnish if desired
- Put the butter, brown sugar, cream and salt in a medium saucepan and stir until the butter melts.
- Simmer over medium low heat without stirring for three minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
- Allow to cool while you make the ice cream base.
- Warm the butter, brown sugar and half and half over medium until the butter and sugar have melted. Add the sauce and vanilla, still until thoroughly mixed and chill for a minimum of 4 hours; preferably overnight.
- Add the heavy cream and process the mixture in an ice cream machine.
- Add the toffee bits at the end of processing just to mix them in.
- Ripen in a container for a minimum of four hours before serving.