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Watermelon Sorbetto

4 Aug

“When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat.” ~ Mark Twain

Look at that sorbetto!

Yesterday was a great day. Not only was it National Watermelon Day but I also met David Lebovitz. Yes, that’s right. I. Met. David. Lebovitz. It was epic.

So, in honor of this most auspicious day, I’ve decided to make David Lebovitz’s watermelon sorbetto. It just so happens that this is the first of  a few entries for my Watermelon Bombe, which will be debuted (hopefully!) later this week. It’s quite an undertaking, but if all goes as planned, I will be recreating a watermelon from lime sorbet, vegan vanilla ice cream and watermelon sorbetto. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination…

I would be remiss if I forgot to mention Jerry Seinfeld’s hilarious stand-up bit about the seedless watermelon. I first heard this routine on a mixed tape – yes, a mixed tape – one summer at camp. Thankfully, technology has progressed since then and I found the youtube video.

It’s so funny, I know. I keep laughing, and replaying. Some things never change.

If you want to read the complete transcript from Seinfeld’s watermelon bit here you go…

I’ll leave you with one fun fact before the recipe. Did you know that watermelons are not actually a fruit? Contrary to popular belief, watermelons are vegetables and part of the cucumber and squash family. So, next time someone tells you to eat a vegetable, pick up a watermelon and you’ll show them who’s boss!

Watermelon from the trusty fruit vendor

Watermelon Sorbetto

From David Lebovitz’s Perfect Scoop

Ingredients

3 cups of seedless watermelon puree*

1/2 cup sugar

1-2 tbs lime juice

1 tbs vodka (optional)

pinch of salt

1-2tbs of mini chocolate chips (for seeds!)

*To get 3 cups of watermelon puree, you’ll need approximately 3lbs of watermelon. I bought a 5.5lb watermelon which yielded 6.5 cups of watermelon puree.

Watermelon puree. It just looks so refreshing.

Method

Remove the watermelon rind and cut the fruit (actually, the vegetable!) into small pieces. Puree the watermelon in the blender until smooth. There will be small white seeds, don’t worry about it.

Pour 1/2 cup of the watermelon puree and 1/2 cup of sugar into a pot. Turn on the stovetop, heat, and stir until well-blended. Turn off the stove and pour the rest of the 2 1/2 cups of watermelon puree into the pot. Add 1-2tbs of fresh squeezed lime juice, and 1 tbs of vodka (I did!). Remember, using alcohol will affect the freezing temperature, so you may notice that the sorbetto is a little softer than usual when done churning, it will harden more in the freezer.

Refrigerate the mixture until chilled completely. Pour into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Approximately 2-3 minutes before done churning add in the chocolate chips for “seeds”.  Scoop the mixture into a freezer safe container and freeze. Before eating make sure to defrost for 5-10 minutes first; watermelon has a high water content and so the sorbetto will be quite hard straight out of the freezer.

Watermelon sorbetto (check out those chocolate chip seeds!)

The Verdict:

Authentically watermelon! I like that this recipe was no frills – and really highlighted the true watermelon flavor. The lime juice is essential – it actually awakens the watermelon flavor. The vodka helped too as it kept the sorbetto a little softer. And of course, the chocolate chips were too cute to resist.

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Strawberry Basil Gelato

29 Jul

“All the things I like to do, I like to do more with ice cream.”  ~Michael Ian Black

Strawberry Basil Gelato

Hold onto your seats ladies and gentlemen…This is a first.

That’s right. This is the first flavor ever created by The Husband.

Now, let’s not get confused. The Husband took no part in actually making this gelato. Well, that’s a small lie. He went out and bought the lemon, but that’s it. Oh, and he ate the gelato too, but that doesn’t count.

Up close and personal...

This is also a first for me because given my past track record with egg-based ice creams, I’m proud to report that this one went off without a hitch. Heck, I may go so far as to say that “technically” this is one of my best creations yet!

And, this is also a last. It’s the last post during National Ice Cream Month, and frankly, I’m shedding a tear just thinking about it…

Anyhow, a little background of how this flavor came to be. The Husband has a real affinity for basil, so much so that he’s been eating the leaves for breakfast. I kid you not. In fact, he even claims to “brush his teeth” with basil. Don’t get me wrong, and don’t get me started on how strange that is…

I love basil, give it to me on fresh pasta and pizza, and I’m sold. But, please don’t give it to me before noon, thankyouverymuch. Apparently The Husband holds by a different standard because he just can’t get enough of it! We recently purchased a little basil plant to feed his habit. Everything was going smoothly until one night I went to make pizza and noticed that the plant was totally depleted. Naturally I confronted The Husband who remarked sheepishly, “what, I wasn’t supposed to eat the whole thing?”. Ug. No.

Fast forward a few weeks and we’ve replenished our basil collection. I was putting the finishing touches on the New York Cheesecake Ice Cream Pie when boom. It hit him. Strawberry Basil Gelato.

I personally love gelato, but find it’s slightly harder to make it at home because gelato, unlike ice cream, has a lower fat content due to the primary use of whole milk. As a result home-made gelato doesn’t always keep as well in a home freezer. Additionally, it’s often made with eggs, and I personally get rather temperamental when tempering eggs. But, I gave it the old college try because strawberry basil gelato seemed like a good idea.

Lemons for the strawberry base

I came home to make this flavor after an excruciating high interval training workout.  Again, don’t get confused and think that I actually work out like this regularly. The Husband gave me a free one week gym membership so I decided to milk it for all it’s worth. Yeah, well I’ve never sweat that much in my life. And I’m uber sore today too. Thanks a lot…

Anyhow, making egg-based gelato requires an enormous amount of whisking, and after a long upper body workout, I wasn’t thrilled to be doing that again. But, for the love of gelato, I did. And I’m glad I did, because it helped me get over my fear of tempering eggs, and contributed to this delicious flavor. So, without further ado…

Strawberry Basil Gelato

Gelato adapted from Ciao Bella; Flavor created by The Husband

Hull and slice, hull and slice...

Ingredients

1 cup half-and-half

2 cups whole milk

4 large egg yolks

1/2 cup of sugar (for gelato base)

1 pound box of strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced

1/4 cup of sugar (for strawberry swirl)

2 tbs fresh lemon juice

7 large basil leaves

candy thermometer*

*You don’t technically need one, but trust me when I say that it will make your life much easier when tempering and heating the egg mixture

Method

Prepping the yolks before tempering... slowly adding the sugar until the yolks are thick and pale yellow

Day 1 – To make the custard base pour the milk and half-and-half into a medium pot. Heat slowly, and stir occasionally so that a skin does not form on the milk. Heat until small bubbles form on the sides, but do not boil.

In the meantime, whisk the four egg yolks together in a large heat-proof bowl until smooth. Gradually add in the 1/2 cup of sugar until the yolk mixture is very thick and a pale yellow color. Here’s where you’ll begin tempering the eggs. Slowly add the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture and whisk continuously. Once you’ve combined the eggs and the milk, pour back into the medium pot and slowly heat the mixture until it reaches 185 degrees F. Trust me here, you’ll want to use a thermometer. If you overcook the egg mixture, it will scramble, your whole kitchen (or apartment if you live in NYC) will smell like eggs, and the mixture will be ruined.

The eggs have been tempered! Success!

With the heat on low, it will take at least 15 minutes to bring your mixture to 185 degrees. Stir occasionally until the mixture reaches the desired temperature and thickness. Once ready, pour over a fine mesh strainer so that you catch all the little mini pieces of “scrambled egg” that may have formed. Let the mixture cool entirely before refrigerating overnight.

To make the strawberry mixture hull and thinly slice 1lb of strawberries. Put them into a small pot on the stove, cover with 1/4 cup of sugar and 2 tbs of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Let them sit (with the heat off) and marinade for 15 minutes. Then turn the heat on low and let the mixture cook until the strawberries are mushy and a syrup begins to form, approximately 10 minutes. Let the mixture cool entirely before refrigerating overnight.

Day 2 – To actually make the gelato pour 3/4 of the strawberry mixture in the blender with the gelato base and 5 basil leaves. Puree until smooth. Taste the mixture and adjust the basil flavor to your liking. I added 7 leaves and found that was the perfect “earthy” flavor, but yet the basil flavor was not overpowering.

Churning...right after adding the strawberry swirl

Pour the mixture into the base of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Approximately 5 minutes before the mixture is ready (for me this was after 13-15 minutes) add in the remaining 1/4 of the strawberry mixture. Scoop the gelato into a freezer safe container, garnish with a basil leaf and store in the freezer for 2 hours before serving.

Most creative flavor...Strawberry Basil Gelato!

The Verdict: I was so surprised and pleased by these flavor notes. First, I succeeded in tempering the eggs, and therefore the texture was so creamy and smooth. Second, the basil to strawberry ratio was spot on. When you take a bite of this gelato, the first flavor you’ll taste is basil. Then the strawberries hit you and together it’s a perfectly earthy combination. It’s hard to describe, so just trust me on this one.

And the award for most creative idea goes to…drum roll please…The Husband!

Raspberry Lime Rickey Ice Cream Soda

22 Jul

“When life gives you limes…make a raspberry lime rickey!”

In honor of National Ice Cream Month I was invited to write a guest piece on JCarrot’s blog as part of their Frozen Fridays series.

One raspberry lime rickey ice cream soda, coming right up!

Ice cream sodas, once a staple of pharmacies and soda fountains are sprouting up across the U.S., bringing back a lost art form and flavor palette. Given the plethora of soda fountains and pharmacies,  ice cream aficionados like myself have decided it’s time to jump on the ice cream soda bandwagon. I’m doing it with a modern twist on an old classic: The Raspberry Lime Rickey Ice Cream Soda, which traditionally is made with seltzer water, raspberry syrup and a few squirts of fresh lime juice. (Don’t worry, we didn’t leave out the ice cream in our version!)

Seltzer runs deep in my family’s blood. My maternal grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, used to make and sell seltzer water from a pushcart in Latvia. Almost in parallel, across the globe, my paternal great-aunt, the first woman to graduate Massachusetts College of Pharmacy in 1939,  owned and operated a drug store and soda fountain in Boston.

Look at that beautiful raspberry swirl... so refreshing and so creamy

In this family-owned pharmacy and soda fountain, my father and his siblings enjoyed countless ice cream sodas. The options were delicious and cold classics including an orange freeze (vanilla ice cream in orange soda or orange sherbet in club soda), egg creams and root beer floats. My uncle even tells me that he worked as a “carbonics engineer” (a fancy title for soda jerk) which explains my father’s fond memories of guzzling ice cream sodas as a kid. Nothing, however, is as refreshing on a hot summer day as a raspberry lime rickey.

To read the full article and get the recipe for a raspberry lime rickey ice cream soda, visit JCarrot’s blog  here

White Chocolate and Candied Ginger Ice Cream

14 Jul

The importance of ginger can be dated back to the writings of Confucius. In 9th century Europe, powdered ginger was placed on the table alongside salt and pepper.

The candied ginger heart. I did put my heart and soul into this!

Being from Boston I am a big fan of Emack and Bolio’s. In fact, they affectionately refer to themselves as “The Boston Ice Cream Experience” which I think is quite accurate. Though desserts were a rarity in our household growing up, I do remember occasional outings to Emack and Bolio’s. I always thought that their name was really funny. To be honest, I don’t think I ever started pronouncing it correctly until about last year. True story.

Recently a friend wrote to 365scoops in a moment of desperation, panicking because a super fabulous Emack and Bolio’s flavor had been discontinued. The original Emack and Bolio’s flavor, I’m told, was called “Triple Ginger Mama” and was some sort of vanilla base with ginger flavor and lots of texture. This flavor was affectionately referred to as “vanilla/ginger amazingness”. Trying to decode that description was a little hard, so I took some liberties and attempted to recreate this recipe with my own 365scoops flair.

It turns out that this friend was the first person to witness the birth of 365scoops because I actually ran into her on the fateful night that I purchased my ice cream maker . I suppose I owe it to her to create a flavor in her honor. I also owe it to her because she just got engaged and what a better pre-wedding treat than good (I hope!) ‘ole fashioned ice cream…

The beautiful candied ginger

So, since I’ve been wanting to make a white chocolate ice cream for a while, this just seemed like the perfect opportunity. I wanted to subtly introduce the ginger flavor, but not go overboard because I’m not such a fan of ginger in my ice creams (give it to me in Asian cuisine or salad dressings and I’m game though!). Additionally I thought that little chunks of caramelized ginger would give a nice added texture and treat without making the ice cream too “aggressively ginger.” So, that just leaves me with one thing…the recipe!

White Chocolate and Candied Ginger Ice Cream

This ice cream recipe has two parts; the actual ice cream and the candied ginger. You should make the candied ginger first unless you have enough kitchen space/pots and pans to make it while the ginger is steeping in the milk. I, however, live in NYC, and therefore it was just too tight in the kitchen to make all this work at once !

Candied Ginger

Adapted from David Lebovitz (only slightly) 

It may be hard to tell, but that's a lot of ginger!

Ingredients

1/2 lb peeled fresh ginger

2 cups sugar (plus a little extra for dusting)

2 cups water

candy thermometer

Method

Don’t be scared but this recipe calls for a candy thermometer. Actually, you don’t really need one, but I can say unequivocally that I would have ruined this recipe if I did not use the thermometer. There. I said it! So, while I typically shy away from any recipe that requires a candy thermometer, they’re much easier to use then I thought, and way less intimidating!

Slice the ginger as thinly as possible. It can’t be too thin, so use a sharp knife.

Put the ginger slices in a non-reactive pot, add enough water to cover the ginger, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let ginger simmer for ten minutes. Drain, and repeat, simmering the ginger slices one more time. After the second time boiling the ginger, do not drain the water; you’ll be adding to it for the rest of the recipe.

Success! 225 degrees F. Home-made candied ginger is on its way!

Mix the sugar and 2 cups water in the pot, along with the ginger slices, and cook until the temperature reaches 225 degrees F. This is where the candy thermometer comes in handy. The temperature will rise rapidly to approximately 17o degrees F and will hover around there for approximately 10-15 minutes. It will then continue to slowly rise until it reaches 225, again hovering around 215 degrees F for a while. You’ll need to keep watching the mixture, and periodically check the thermometer to make sure. All in, this takes approximately 20-30 minutes.

Remove from heat , drain very well while the ginger is hot, and toss the drained slices in granulated sugar. Shake off excess sugar, and spread the ginger slices on a cooling rack overnight, until they’re somewhat dry. The sugar can be reused in a batter or ice cream base, or for another purpose. The ginger syrup can also be used for home-made ginger ale.

Heaps of candied ginger.

The candied ginger can be stored at room temperature for at least a month. This recipe will yield plenty for snacking or gifting.

White Chocolate and Candied Ginger Ice Cream

Ingredients

1 cup milk

2 cups half-and-half

2/3 cup sugar

2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

8 ounces good quality white chocolate (I used Ghiradelli), chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger

Method

I did not have a ruler to measure out the ginger...so I fashioned one by folding a 4 inch envelope in half. Crafty, I know!

Peel and slice the ginger very thinly and cover it with water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes. Drain away the water but return the blanched ginger to the pan.

Add the sugar, milk and 1 cup of the half-and-half. Rewarm the mixture, turn off the stovetop, cover the mixture and steep for at least an hour, or until you are satisfied with the ginger flavor. I steeped mine for 1 hour and it was a very mild flavor – which is what I wanted. (But if you really like ginger I suggest you use either 3 inches of ginger or let it steep more. Once you add the white chocolate mixture it will dilute the ginger flavor a lot).

Chop the white chocolate and put it in a microwave safe bowl. Melt on high for 30 seconds, stir and see whether you need to melt it again, if so, repeat. Whisk the white chocolate into the milk mixture. Add in the remaining one cup of half-and-half.

Mixing the melted white chocolate. I may have stolen a few licks (after I made the mixture, don't worry!)

Pour the mixture through a strainer and discard the ginger. Cool completely (at least 2 hours) and then pour into the bowl of an ice cream maker. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Approximately five minutes before the ice cream is done churning, slowly pour in the candied ginger pieces.  When finished, scoop into a container and let freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.

You’ll notice that I cut one piece of ginger into a heart, and placed it on top of the ice cream. Let’s just say it was a cute surprise when the newly engaged couple opened the container!

The Verdict: Folks, I think they liked it! One of the royal taste testers got down on one knee and asked me to marry her (I politely declined, though I was flattered. I just didn’t think The Husband would want to give me up that easily!) Another taste tester said “many things are frozen but not all things are chosen”. I liked that rhyme, and again, I was flattered. And of course, the dear friend who requested this flavor seemed really happy with it. I hope you’ll all try this flavor at home.

Alphonso Mango Sorbetto

6 Jul

Hurley: Did either of you see a bald guy with slippers carrying a coconut come through here?

Charlie: No, but I did see a polar bear on roller skates with a mango.

~ LOST

A little shout out to all you LOST fans out there! For those of you who were equally as disappointed as I was at the season finale, that quote just about sums everything up. If you’re thinking WHAT?? just like I am, you’re not alone. Every other LOST fan feels the same way.

Um, woops. I bought way too much alphonso mango puree. I'll just have to save it for a rainy day!

Anyhow, this mango sorbet is very special to me and I’ve been waiting a while to make it so that it would be just right.

A little history about my love affair with mangoes…

For the past six years I’ve been lucky enough to work in Kenya, delivering health programming to children and families living with HIV/AIDS. I first fell in love with the country, its people, and its incredible mangoes,  in 2003. Right before heading to Kenya for the first time, I spent a few days in London with The Boyfriend (who was upgraded to The Husband nearly four years ago!) and we enjoyed one of the most delicious mangoes ever. Then, teary-eyed from saying goodbye, I boarded a plane for Kenya and spent a semester living and studying in Nairobi. Each morning I ate a mango for breakfast, intent on sampling every single mango that country had to offer.  I started to notice that there were hundreds of different varieties of mangoes – some were more sweet and orange in color, others were more tart and yellow in color. The mango shapes and sizes varied greatly as well. I even learned that some coastal Kenyan communities eat unripened mangoes with chili sauce for a really tart and spicy treat! (this will come as no surprise to you that I prefer mine sweet!)

You see, mangoes are one of my absolute favorite fruits in the world. Perhaps because when The Husband and I first started dating many years ago we enjoyed them together in London , or perhaps because they remind me of the time I’ve spent in Kenya. Scents, they say, can really transport you to another place in time and the powerful scent of mangoes elicits in me a special feeling – one that reminds me of very fond memories.

Mango Sorbetto + Dried Pineapple = Pure Tropical Heaven

But, no mango holds as special of a place in my heart as the  alphonso mango. Originally from India, this mango has a very bold “mango” flavor. That might sound sort of weird, but for those of you who regularly enjoy the Mexican mangoes for sale at fruit vendors in NYC, you’ll notice that while they’re really sweet and delicious, they’re more yellow in color than orange, and a little less mango-ey than you may expect. That’s why I chose the alphonso mango as the star of this sorbetto. The alphonso mango is so rich and creamy, and gives off such a true mango smell, it’s really hard to resist. Trust me.

For a little additional burst of the tropics, I decided to add Kopali Organics dried pineapples as a topping. These organic treats not only taste good, but they are also good for you, and good for the small organic farmers, the unsung heroes who still practice truly sustainable agriculture. It’s truly a win-win-win situation.

So, here’s the recipe for a simply delicious, mind-numbingly easy alphonso mango sorbetto. Boy does it bring back good memories…

The sorbetto is churning...what a beautiful color!

Alphonso Mango Sorbetto

From the Ciao Bella Cookbook

Ingredients

1 30-ounce can of Ratna brand sweetened Alphonso Mango Puree (trust me on this brand it came highly recommended from a manager at an Indian restaurant and by the shopkeeper, you can get it at any Indian market, I got mine here )

1 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

I was feeling a little sassy so I gave my mango sorbetto a mohawk. Can you blame me?

Method

This is a hard one. Not sure you can handle it. NOT!

In a medium saucepan, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil, whisking often to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 4 minutes, continuing to whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool, first outside the refrigerator, and then in the refrigerator until cold, which will take approximately 1 hour.

Pour the simple syrup into a bowl, and stir in the mango puree. Whisk until completely blended. Pour the mango mixture into the bowl of an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least two hours before serving.

The Verdict: It was a hit! This mango flavor was so powerful, and sweet, and oh-so-mangolicious!  First, for a tropical twist I ate it with the dried Kopali pineapple. That was awesome. The next day, I decided to eat it with some fresh fruit and topped it with berries. That too was awesome. Sensing a trend? Really good and really refreshing, no matter how you scoop it!

Praline & Cream Ice Cream

29 Jun

“Grab somebody, come on down
Bring your paintbrush, we’re paintin’ the town
Oh there’s some sweetness goin’ ’round
Catch it down in New Orleans” ~ Down in New Orleans, Dr. John

The Husband and I just back from a fantabulous weekend in New Orleans. Actually, now that we’ve been there and we’re super cool, we call it NOLA.

Anyhow, NOLA was amazing. Between celebrating the wedding of our incredible friends, spending the weekend eating beignets and pralines, dancing our pants off at a blowout wedding party, and second-lining our way through the hotel, it was a pretty sweet time!

Ever since we booked our tickets for NOLA I knew that I’d be making a praline ice cream. Upon arriving in NOLA, I decided to throw my New England charm out the window for an afternoon, and adopt a “local” accent.  I marched my tuchas right up to the front desk and asked” Hey y’all, where are the best ‘prah-leens’ in town?” The Husband looked at me like I was nuts and then laughed in my face. What? Can’t a girl dream about being a Southern belle? Apparently not!

Aunt Sally's Pralines all lined up and ready to go!

Despite my ridiculous sounding accent, I still managed to find the golden delicious treats. Though I’ve tried a few pralines in my day, I decided to make this ice cream out of Aunt Sallys Pralines. Or should I say “prah-leens”? Or “pray-leens”? Who knows. But what I do know is that they’re damn good.

I’ve always wondered, however, where pralines came from. Thanks to our trusty ‘ole  Aunt Sally I have a little history lesson for you:

In the days of sailing vessels, a southern gentleman made business trips from New Orleans to Paris and returned with some delicious pralines, which he presented to the head cook of his plantation. By virtue of her excellent cooking, she prepared a confection that has lived through the ages. 

 Instead of almonds, she used a Louisiana nut called a pecan (pronounce “peakon”) and sugar made from Louisiana sugar cane. Instead of one nut she used a handful of pecans for good measure. In his historical writings of early Louisiana, eighteenth century historian Le Page du Pratz praised the pecan and its use in “the praline…one of the delicacies of New Orleans.” 

During the mid-1800’s, Entrepreneurial black women in New Orleans, who had very few opportunities to make extra money for their families, realized the popularity of the praline and found considerable success selling them on the streets, thus making the Praline synonymous with New Orleans and a delicious candy loved by everyone. 

Now that you all know where the praline came from, all that’s left is this ice cream recipe.

Beware. It’s sweet. And addictive.

Pralines lined up before being added to the cream base

Pralines & Cream Ice Cream

Inspired by NOLA.  Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Burnt Sugar Ice Cream recipe. Created by moi.

Ingredients

8 Aunt Sally’s Pralines, chopped

1 cup sugar

3 tbs water

2 cups half-and-half

1 cup whole milk

pinch of salt

1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Clumps of crystallized sugar (after the water has dissolved but before it starts to caramelize)

Method

Gently warm the milk, half-and-half, salt and vanilla bean paste in a pot on the stove top. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove from heat and cover so that it stays warm.

Stir the sugar and water together in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. The sugar will be very liquidy and then it will bubble rapidly (still white or clear in color) and eventually the water will boil off and it will return to clumps of crystalized white sugar. This is normal.

Slightly increase the heat and without stirring, let the sugar begin to caramelize. From time to time, brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush and swirl the pan. I was extremely cautious when making the caramel because the first time I did it, I turned around for 20 seconds, and the next thing I knew my caramel was smoking and burnt. So, on the second try, I watched the caramel like a hawk because it went from golden brown to dark amber in a nanosecond.  But if you keep the sugar mixture on low heat the entire time it takes approximately 15 or so minutes for it to caramelize.

Just the right caramel color

Once the caramel is created, turn the stove top off, put on an oven mitt, step back, and pour the milk mixture into the caramel. The  mixture will smoke and bubble rapidly, and some of the sugar will clump together.  Once mixed, turn the heat back on to low, and stir until the caramel cream ice cream is well blended.

Let cool completely on the stove top and then refrigerate for at least two hours.

Transfer to the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Little chopped "prah-lines"

While the mixture is churning, chop the eight pralines into small chunks. Approximately five minutes before the mixture is done churning add the praline pieces slowly into the ice cream. Let churn for five more minutes and then transfer to a freezer safe container for two hours, or overnight, before serving.

The Verdict: The Bees Knees!

(I’m using an old-fashioned expression because it seems apropos for this recipe!)

Truthfully, this was a really decadent ice cream. The caramel cream base was really smooth and sweet, but not overpowering. In fact, it mimicked the praline flavor quite well. The pralines themselves held up really well in the ice cream because they were soft and chewy, and so when frozen, they didn’t get hard as a rock. Instead they were chewy and delicious. The perfect combination.

I highly recommend this flavor! Happy licking to y’all!

The BEST Plain Frozen Yogurt

28 Jun

“I opened-up a yogurt, underneath the lid it said, ‘Please try again’ because they were having a contest that I was unaware of. I thought maybe I opened the yogurt wrong. …Or maybe Yoplait was trying to inspire me… ‘Come on Mitchell, don’t give up!’ An inspirational message from your friends at Yoplait, fruit on the bottom, hope on top.” ~ Mitch Hedberg

I recently got a comment on 365scoops from a lovely woman (who shall remain nameless) that read:

Although my sister, who shall remain anonymous, thinks plain yogurt tastes like “butt-crack”, I hereby request it with berries. Can you make this happen?
-Mama Z.

Well Mama Z – your wish is my command!

The BEST plain yogurt. Ever.

It all began one summer day in 2008. I had just finished a fun half-hour of free kayaking on 72nd street. Much to my chagrin, I got soaked while paddling in the Hudson River and to be frank, I didn’t smell all that hot. Actually, I stank. Hudson River water smells really bad. Being that it was 95 degrees out, my friends and I needed frozen yogurt to cool us off a bit. And we needed it stat.

All the new, hip frozen yogurt places had not really started popping up on the Upper West Side so we decided to try the famous Bloomingdales Frozen Yogurt to see what all the hype was about.

Walking into Bloomingdales I was hoping for something sweet, when one of my friends informed me, “you know this is tart yogurt, right?”. Um, what? I’m here for sweet, I thought to myself, pondering why I had schlepped all the way across town in my Hudson-River-splashed clothing. This was my first entree into plain frozen yogurt, and I have to say, I was petrified. In case it hasn’t been made clear through this blog I want my desserts sweet. Fruit doesn’t count, and neither did plain frozen yogurt.

Or so I thought.

After ordering a small (which was actually quite huge) and eating the whole thing (plus 1/2 of my friend’s) I promptly proclaimed, “this stuff’s addictive!” and the rest is history!

For the past three summers I’ve been feeding my habit by going out to ice cream quite frequently, if not daily. This started becoming an expensive habit and so I took matters into my own hands, and made tart frozen yogurt instead. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as Mama Z did!

The BEST Plain Yogurt. Ever.

Adapted from 101Cookbooks (who adapted it from David Lebovitz)

Ingredients

2 cups 2% Greek Yogurt (I used Chobani)

1 cup 0% Greek Yogurt

3/4 cup sugar

The ingredients...pretty basic stuff!

Method

Vigorously whisk the yogurt and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved in the yogurt. Cool completely in the refrigerator.

Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Most of the time it takes 20 minutes to make an ice cream, but for some reason this only took 15 minutes and it was done. I recommend eating this as soon as it comes out of the ice cream maker (if you even make it that far) because once you freeze it, it gets a bit hard.

Serve drizzled with the Triple Berry Sauce or smothered with fresh berries. Yum.

The Verdict: Mama Z said it was the best damn frozen yogurt she’s ever hard. If that’s not a glowing report, I don’t know what is… Oh, it was so good that I ate the rest for breakfast with raspberries the next day. Is that embarrassing?

Apologies for not having a photo, you’ll just have to try making it yourself…