I discovered a different brand of ice cream recently while visiting in Houston — Moose Tracks Ice Cream. With such a unique and novel name, it catches your attention. Of course, I had to try a scoop of Denali’s® “Extreme Maximum Fudge Moose Tracks” Ice Cream. The ice cream was pretty good. Being curious, I wanted to learn why I’ve been missing this brand of ice cream all these years. And I am making my own Moose Tracks-inspired version of their original flavor, “Vanilla Ice Cream with Fudge Swirl and Peanut Butter Cups.”
Although my ice cream concoction turned out slightly different from Moose Tracks, my homemade vanilla ice cream is one of the best batches of ice cream that I have ever made. I had a little difficulty getting the chocolate fudge sauce swirled in. The fudge sauce is more of a topping than a swirl. However, the flavors — vanilla ice cream , fudge, peanut butter — make an excellent ice cream. Yum. I have to brag about this recipe.
About Moose Tracks Ice Cream
Moose Tracks Ice Cream began in the upper peninsula of Michigan in 1988 and is named for a nearby mini golf course. It is a family-owned business which started by making and selling ice cream at a local ice cream shop. Over the years the family expanded their products to other confectionary favors and ingredients. These ingredients and products are marketed under the Denali® Flavor brand name which is now headquartered in Wisconsin. The Denali® name was chosen after a national park in Alaska and several of the ice cream flavors are named for animals in the park. The ice cream flavors and ingredients are licensed to regional dairies who manufacture and sell the ice creams to major supermarket chains under a variety of names. These names include Moose Tracks, Caramel Caribou, Bear Claw, Bear Foot and Otter Paw.
Since Denali® Flavor sells just the ingredients and licenses, I am guessing that Moose Tracks and related ice creams may differ among regional dairies. Certainly the ice cream packaging varies. Retail groceries stocking the ice creams include HEB, Target, Randall’s Pubix, Kroger’s, Albertsons and Safeway. We found that our local Albertsons grocery carries several of the Moose Track Ice Cream flavors although we had to look really hard to find the ice cream on the shelves. It appears that a large grocery chain is the place to go to most likely to find Moose Tracks ice cream rather than local or independent grocery stores.
The original Moose Tracks flavor was vanilla with fudge and peanut butter cups swirled into the ice cream. Over the years, Denali has expanded their offerings such as chocolate, mint, caramel and yogurt varieties. “Extreme Maximum Fudge Moose Tracks” which we sampled in Houston was excellent and we loved the very rich chocolate flavor and the large chunks of fudge which were swirled into the ice cream.
I am going to make homemade vanilla ice cream to duplicate Denali’s® original vanilla flavor. Since I don’t have Denali’s® formulation, mine will have a different taste; hence, Moose Tracks – inspired ice cream. Here’s my own vanilla ice cream and fudge swirl attempt..
Moose Tracks-Inspired Vanilla Ice Cream with Fudge Swirl
For my vanilla ice cream, I am going all out. I am making a cooked custard-type of ice cream with half & half cream and heavy whipping cream. I rarely make ice cream with heavy whipping cream any more because of the fat and calories, but this time I’m splurging. For the fudge sauce, I have my own delicious recipe. See end of post for recipe. Include chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, if desired, in the ice cream.
Making the Ice Cream
Since this is a custard-type of ice cream, it is cooked on the stove. First scald the half-and-half cream in a medium-sized pot. This means to heat the cream over low heat until steam comes off. Scalding the cream denatures the whey protein in the cream and improves the protein foaming and emulsification. It also improves the flavor of the ice cream. Basically, it makes a better ice cream.
Next, beat the eggs and sugar using an electric mixer until the eggs are pale and smooth. Then very gradually add some of the scalded cream to the beaten egg (go slow so you don’t cook the eggs.) After all the cream is added, return the custard to the stove and cook over low heat it becomes thicker. This may take about five minutes. Stir constantly. Remove from stove, add heavy cream and and vanilla extract. Transfer to a refrigerator-proof bowl and chill for several hours or overnight. The ice cream won’t freeze unless the custard is really cold.
Process the custard in an ice cream maker until frozen. I use my trusty Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. Now, here’s the hard part — swirling in the fudge sauce. I didn’t add the fudge sauce to the ice cream while it was freezing since I didn’t want chocolate ice cream. Instead it is best to transfer the soft, frozen ice cream to a flat container. Add the ice cream in layers while you swirl in the fudge sauce and chopped peanut butter cups.
I added more fudge sauce when I served the ice cream. This ice cream is delicious. It is rich and is some of the best vanilla ice cream that I have made. Enjoy!
Vanilla Ice Cream with Fudge Swirl
- 2 cups (16 oz) half & half cream
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup (8 oz) heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup fudge sauce, plus more for serving (if desired)
- 1/2 cup Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, chopped (optional)
Method and Steps:
- To scald half & half cream, add cream to medium-sized saucepan over low heat. Heat until steam appears. Do not let cream boil. Remove pot from heat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, add eggs to in small electric mixer bowl. Mix on high speed until eggs are pale yellow.
- Add sugar and mix another minute.
- Gradually add scalded cream, one spoonful at a time, to egg/sugar mixture. Stir constantly. When all the cream is added in, transfer custard mixture back to the saucepan.
- Return saucepan to stove over low heat. Stir constantly until custard thickens slightly (you will feel resistance against wooden spoon while stirring. This will take about five minutes.
- Remove from stove, and transfer custard to refrigerator-proof bowl. Cover bowl and chill in refrigerator for several hours to overnight.
- Transfer to ice cream maker and process ice cream according to manufacturer’s directions.
- When ice cream is semi-hard, transfer to freezer-proof rectangular container, several dollops at a time. Add some of the fudge sauce and peanut butter cups (if using). Continue adding more dollops of ice cream, fudge sauce and peanut butter cups until all is added.
- Use a knife to swirl in the fudge sauce. Cover and place in freezer to harden.
- Use an ice scoop to scoop out ice cream. If desired, add additional fudge sauce..
Now, I’ll have to think of several Louisiana-inspired ice cream names and varieties for my next ice cream batch. Perhaps, I’ll make “Gator Ripple” chocolate ice cream with expresso coffee, Kahlúa liqueur and caramel sauce.
Here’s my recipe for fudge sauce; so simple to make.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder
- pinch salt
- 1-1/2 cup milk (may substitute 1 can evaporated milk)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 cup butter
Instructions and Steps:
- Combine sugar, Hershey’s cocoa powder and pinch of salt in medium sauce pan over low heat.
- Wisk in milk to combine. Continue to cook and stir over low heat until the sugar and cocoa powder thick and begin to bubble.
- Remove from heat, add vanilla and butter. Stir to combine.
- Cool to room temperature prior to mixing with ice cream to make fudge swirl.
- Store remaining sauce in refrigerator.