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Ice Cream: A Global History GIVEAWAY

1 Aug

I had always thought that once you grew up you could do anything you wanted – stay up all night or eat ice cream straight out of the container. ~ Bill Bryson

Fellow ice cream lovers, have I got a treat in store freezer for you!!

Ice Cream: A Global History

Laura B. Weiss, the famed author of Ice Cream: A Global History has teamed up with 365scoops for a very special interview and GIVEAWAY. That’s right, you read this correctly. Not only do you have the chance to learn fun and interesting ice cream facts from the ice cream guru herself, but you also have a chance to win an autographed copy of Laura’s wonderful book.

Laura is an author, journalist and editor whose food, travel and lifestyle stories have appeared in numerous national publications, including The New York Times, FoodNetwork.com, Saveur, Travel + Leisure and more.  Formerly a writer and editor for TIME’s school edition, Laura also worked at AOL, where she was responsible for directing and negotiating content partnerships with major news and entertainment brands, such as Teen People, PBS, and Cartoon Network.

How did 365scoops get to team up with Laura? Well, when I wrote the delicious post about Ben’s Bars many moons ago, I was gifted Ice Cream: A Global History as a thank you. I’ve cherished the book ever since and recently Laura reached out asking whether we could potentially work together. Folks – dreams really do come true because now me, little old me, is interviewing her royal ice cream highness, Ms. Laura B. Weiss!

365Scoops: What is your favorite ice cream flavor and why?
Laura B. Weiss: I know this is boring, but chocolate unless I order a sundae, in which case I want really great vanilla with tons of hot fudge. No whipped cream, please.  I like my ice cream in its purest form. If it’s really good ice cream, that’s all you should need
(Laura, I am right there with you! Chocolate is the best!)
365Scoops: Which country consumes the most ice cream in the world?
Laura B. Weiss: Statistics vary but it’s either the US or Australia.
365Scoops: Who actually invited the ice cream cone? Some say it was the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, and other’s say it was in NYC. What is the truth behind the legend?

The real ice cream cone

Laura B. Weiss: The mother of the ice cream cone (yes, it was a woman!) was an English cookbook writer named Agnes B. Marshall who in the 1880s created a recipe for a cone that could be filled with water ices or pudding. You ate the dish with a knife and fork! Then we get to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. That’s where waffle vendors and ice cream vendors got together. They must have said something like  “See all these hot, hungry people? We’ll sell them an ice cream treat they can walk around with and we’ll make a bundle!” There were four and possibly more vendors who claimed credit for the Fair’s cone. A New Yorker named Antonia Valvona came up with a cup-like cone the year before the Fair. So I guess if you come from St. Louis, you like the World’s Fair creation story. If you’re a New Yorker, you’ll root for Vavona.

365Scoops: Tell us a bit about the differences in ice creams across cultures
Laura B. Weiss: Ice cream is pretty universal and vanilla is the most popular flavor around the globe. But each culture adapts ice cream to its own culinary traditions. So, for example,  the Japanese like flavors like kurogoma (black sesame seeds) and  kinako (powdered, roasted soy beans).  Gelato is an interesting case of how each country’s culinary traditions can change a traditional food. In Italy, a classic gelateria will serve only a handful of flavors like pistachio and chocolate. In the U.S. and in other western cultures, gelato has been transformed into a dessert that defies the traditional dish. I’ve seen chocolate chip gelato and dulce de leche gelato.
365Scoops: What is your favorite, most obscure ice cream fact?
Laura B. Weiss: Can I have two?
First, Hollywood movie directors filming Westerns would wave ice cream cones in front of mules used as extras to get them to perform in front of the camera.
Second, it seems that Ben Cohen one of the founders of Ben & Jerry’s has very little sense of taste and smell. That’s why they incorporated texture in the form of chunks of cake and candy into their ice cream.
(365Scoops: I love you Ben Cohen!)
365Scoops: Who is responsible for today’s artisanal ice cream trend?

Yummers!

Laura B. Weiss: A lot of people would credit Haagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s, but I give the nod to Howard Johnson. He came up with the idea of a multitude of flavors–28 to be exact. He tried to wean Americans from those stuffy old standbys–chocolate, strawberry and vanilla and introduce new flavors like Maple Walnut and Caramel fudge.

As if that wasn’t enough, here’s the cherry on top:  The first person who poses a unique and interesting ice cream related question on the 365scoops facebook page, tweets @365scoops and @foodandthings will win a signed copy of Laura’s book. Sounds pretty sweet to me! May the biggest ice cream enthusiast win!

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Ice Cream

10 Jul

“Talk about somethin’ sure gonna make me shout
Go on get some rhubarb pie – that’s what it’s all about” ~ John Fogerty

It feels good to be back!

I’m baaaaaaack.

You read that correctly. I’m officially back from hibernation and it’s glorious! A huge thank you to The Nosher for the little push to come back in the ice cream game! This post originally appeared on their website on July 1st.

Today is a very special day. Not only is it July, and hence my favorite month because it is National Ice Cream Month, but it is also my first blog post since The Husband and I welcomed Baby Sugar into our lives!

When thinking about what ice cream flavor to make for 365scoops’ grand “re-opening” I felt it fitting to write about the marriage of my two favorite desserts: strawberry rhubarb anything (err, pie or crumble) and ice cream.

Beautiful Rhubarb

I have always had a love affair with strawberry rhubarb pie. I literally cannot get enough of it. One of my more embarrassing restaurant experiences happens to involve strawberry rhubarb pie. The Husband took me out to a yummy dinner for my birthday. My only request was warm strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert. The pie came and lo and behold, it was cold. I sent it back. It came again, and alas, still cold. The Hubby, who is normally a very reserved, I’m-not-going-to-return-my-food-and-bother-the-waiter-I’ll-eat-it-no-matter-what kind of guy said, “just eat it, who cares” to which I responded ever so kindly, “oh hell no”. I gently reminded him that it was my birthday and would he be so kind as to ask the server again to bring a warm slice of pie. Consider it my birthday gift, I told him. The Husband begrudgingly motioned for the server to come over, for a third time, and provide us with a warm slice of pie. Picture little beads of sweat pooling on The Husband’s forehead and upper lip. Picture me sinking in my chair out of shear embarrassment and fear. And now picture a piping hot slice of strawberry rhubarb pie landing at our table. That, my friends, was splendid.

Sweet, sweet strawberries

This recipe is a perfect fusion of pie and ice cream. Picture rich vanilla bean ice cream with chunks of strawberry rhubarb crumble. Talk about delicious! For this recipe you’ll make a simple strawberry rhubarb crumble and throw chunks of it into freshly churned vanilla bean ice cream. It’s like deconstructed pie a-la-mode. Need I say more?

Bringing the vanilla bean ice cream mixture to 165 degrees F

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Ingredients

3 cups half-and-half

4 egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

1 tbs vanilla bean paste

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Method

In a medium saucepan, heat two cups of half-and-half until small bubbles begin to form around the edges. Add the vanilla bean paste and vanilla extract and whisk thoroughly.  Set aside.

In the meantime, in a heat-proof bowl, whisk together the four egg yolks, slowly adding in the sugar until the mixture thickens and turns a pale yellow.

Temper the eggs by slowly pouring the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, stirring vigorously until well-incorporated.  Pour back into the medium sauce pan and heat until a candy thermometer reads 165 degrees F, or the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spatula. Remove from the heat.

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, removing any small clumps that may have formed. Pour in the last cup of half-and-half, and set aside. Let the mixture cool completely before refrigerating for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Churning the vanilla bean ice cream. Check out those beautiful specks of vanilla bean

While the mixture is being chilled, make the strawberry rhubarb crumble.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Ingredients

Adapted from Epicurious, originally featured in Bon Appétit

3/4 cup all purpose flour

2/3 cup plus ¼  – ½ cup sugar

Pinch of salt

6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 cup old-fashioned oats (I used quick cook oats and they were fine)

1 tbs vanilla paste

1 pound strawberries, hulled, and sliced (approx 1 container)

12 ounces rhubarb ends trimmed, stalks cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces (if you can’t find fresh rhubarb feel free to use frozen, I did!)

Strawberry and rhubarb marinating with sugar

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble Method

 Preheat oven to 375°F.

Butter a 9 inch round glass baking dish.

Combine flour, 2/3 cup sugar, and salt in medium bowl; whisk to blend.

Add butter. Rub in with fingertips until mixture sticks together in clumps. Mix in oats.

Place ¼  cup sugar in large bowl and add vanilla paste, and mix to blend well.

Add strawberries and rhubarb to sugar in bowl; toss to coat well.

Pour the fruit filling into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle oat topping evenly over filling.

This is how the crumble crumbles!

Place on a baking sheet in case the crumble erupts and bake until filling bubbles and topping is crisp, about 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes.

At this point, the ice cream base should be cold enough for you to churn. Pour the vanilla bean mixture into the base of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions (approximately 20 minutes).

Freshly baked strawberry rhubarb crumble. Yes, I stole a few bites. Can you blame me?

When the ice cream is done, scoop a heaping spoonful of ice cream into a storage container, and break pieces of the crumble into the ice cream. Stir gently and repeat until you have a container full of ice cream and crumble. Return this heavenly treat to the freezer for a few hours to harden, or if you can’t wait, enjoy immediately.

Layering the ice cream

If you’re serving it straight from the freezer, let it sit out for approximately 10 minutes to soften before scooping.

 This ice cream can last in your freezer for up to a month but I have never, ever, seen it last that long.

Enjoy!

Dig in!

A Pregnant Pause

28 Jan

Dear Fellow Readers,

You may all be wondering where I have been these days. Some of you might be downright frustrated that there haven’t been some good recipes. Perhaps you think I’m on hiatus because of the frrrrrreeezing temperatures (no! of course not, ice cream lovers eat frozen treats regardless of temperature and season) and others may think that I ran out of recipes (nonsense! there are truly an unlimited number of ice cream concoctions).

Some of you may be privy to the real reason why I have been pseudo out of commission…

365SCOOPS HAD A BABY!!

That’s right. The Husband and I gave birth to a beautiful and sweet baby boy in December, and as many of you can imagine, there is no time for ice cream making right now.

Fear not, 365scoops will be back soon. In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about dressing Baby Sugar up in this costume, what do you think? I really can’t resist…

I must get this costume for Baby Sugar

Baby Sugar is so excited to eat ice cream as soon as he is old enough. But for the time being, he’ll stick to another type of milk product!

Keep on reading our flavor archives and try your hand at some of these delicious treats.

XO,

The Ice Cream Queen

365Scoops + Kosher Like Me FREE Ice Cream Giveaway

11 Oct

“The best things in life are free.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Luther Vandross and Janet Jackson sang their hearts out in their famous duet, “The best things in life are free” and now you can eat your heart out on some FREE, that’s right, FREE 365scoops ice cream.

Here’s how it works:

In celebration of Kosher Like Me’s one year anniversary, 365scoops and its amazing food blogger, photographer and culinary wiz friend, Liz Rueven of Kosher Like Me, are teaming up to give away one free quart of ice cream to a lucky winner.

Kosher Like Me is a terrific blog that came to be after it’s kosher-observant author, Liz Rueven, had ordered too many monotonous meals of grilled fish and veggie laden pasta. Determined to find more exhilarating and varied vegetarian dining experiences, Liz is on the lookout for restaurants that adjust their offerings as the seasons change. She is interested in chefs who are flexible  enough to accommodate vegetarians (and with a smile, please) and who care about how their food is grown, harvested and handled. Her culinary adventures, restaurant experiences, and delicious recipes and photos are all shared in this blog.

365scoops is thrilled to be joining Liz Rueven and Kosher Like Me for this terrific anniversary celebration and FREE ice cream giveaway.

Here’s what you do to enter the contest:

  • Enter a comment at the end of this Kosher Like Me post and tell Liz what your favorite ice cream flavor is. Be sure to include your email address so that we can contact you!
  • For an extra entry, please “like” the Kosher Like Me facebook page. (While not a requirement for the contest, please “like” the 365coops facebook page as well, so you can learn about other awesome 365scoops recipes and giveaways)
  • If you are not a subscriber to the Kosher Like Me newsletter yet, you may subscribe (see the box to the right of the post that says “sign me up”?) and garner a third chance at winning.

Be sure to return to the comments section here and let Liz know which actions you have taken.

Make sure to enter this giveaway by midnight EST on October 21, 2012.

The winner will be selected by Random Number Generator and announced on Tuesday, October 23.

Prizes must be claimed and you must order your quart of ice-cream by October 31. Claims after that date will not be honored.

Good luck!

Mint Chip Bon Bons

20 Sep

“If you get melted chocolate all over your hands, you’re eating it too slowly.”  ~Author Unknown

Mint Chip Bon Bons

Amen friends, amen. This recipe for bite-sized mint chip bon bons calls for a fast eater! I fully support savoring delicious foods, eating slowly so as to delight in each bite. That, however, does not work with ice cream! The longer you wait, the faster it melts. Same goes for these bon bons. These morsels of goodness are smothered in chocolate, so if you hold them for more than the time it takes to grab from the freezer and pop in your mouth, you’ll be covered in chocolate. A sure sign that you’re eating too slowly!

You may recall the great mint tragedy of 2011. It was epic. The first failure of 365scoops. But hey, it was a learning experience and ever since then, I’ve tried to reclaim my mint ice cream recipes, perfecting them in hopes of an “ah-hah” mint ice cream moment. I think we’re nearly there!

These bon bons are an ode to mint chip ice cream, and a fun twist on the classic ice cream. Rather than having to get a bowl and spoon, and go into the freezer and scoop out ice cream, these special treats are already bite-sized. All you have to do is grab one (or two, or three….) and enjoy. They’re so simple that they’re hard to resist.

The crunchy outer shell, mixed with the refreshing mint chip ice cream is an absolutely satisfying snack. Plus they’re totally adorable and hard to refuse. In fact, I swear that every time I open the freezer (allegedly to get out frozen spinach, or some ice cubes) I hear “eat me, eat me.” I’ve had my ears checked. There’s nothing wrong with me. I swear these things talk. And you know what? I listen. That’s right, I’m a good listener, and I’d hate to disappoint these cute little guys. And so I indulge them and eat one. I’m a real martyr. Thankyouverymuch.

Aaaaaaanyhow….mint chip bon bons. They’re great. Try them yourself. Super easy, super fun, super satisfying. Enjoy!

Pure mint deliciousness

Ingredients – Ice Cream

3 cups half-and-half

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 tsp mint extract

2 oz semisweet chocolate, melted (not chips!)

Ingredients – Chocolate Coating (for 12 Bon Bons)

6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted (not chips!)

1 tsp vegetable oil

Method

Scoops of mint chip ice cream

One of the great things about this recipe is that it is egg-free, which in the ice cream world means hassle free. While I generally prefer custards (they’re much creamier and often a more robust flavor) they require an additional step of tempering eggs. It’s certainly worth it, but in a pinch, egg-free ice cream will do. This ice cream recipe contains 4 ingredients and nothing more. No preservatives, no junk, no nothing. Just pure mint-chocolatey goodness. I’ll raise a scoop to that!

First, make the chocolate chips by melting 2 oz semi-sweet chocolate (not chips, but the 1oz blocks) in the microwave in 30 second increments. Stir and repeat until the chocolate is fully melted. Spread the chocolate into a very thin layer onto a piece of parchment paper. Transfer to freezer and let harden until you’re ready to break the chocolate into chips.

Scoops of ice cream with toothpicks

Next, make the ice cream. Pour three cups of half-and-half and sugar into a medium pan and heat until small bubbles form around the edges. Whisk periodically so that the sugar dissolves completely. Remove from heat and stir in the mint extract. If you want a stronger mint taste then add a bit more mint extract, but remember, a little goes a long way, so I would suggest adding in a drop at a time, whisking thoroughly, and then tasting to be sure you haven’t overdone it! Let this mixture cool completely, and transfer to the refrigerator to chill.

Once the mixture is fully chilled, transfer to the base of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions (approximately 2o minutes). While the mixture is churning, take the chocolate sheet out of the freezer and using a paring knife, slice the chocolate into very thin slivers to make chocolate chips (if done correctly, the chips will almost look like little slivers of glass). Approximately 5 minutes before the mixture is done churning slowly pour in the chocolate chips. Once done churning, transfer to a freezer safe container and let harden overnight.

To make the 12 bon bons line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Take a scoop of ice cream, and transfer quickly to the baking sheet. Put a toothpick in each scoop and return to freezer. You’ll need to work very quickly here or else the ice cream balls will melt. Let them harden in the freezer for a few hours before you begin dipping. (You will have leftover ice cream which you can either enjoy itself, or you can double the chocolate and make an additional dozen bon bons.)

When you’re ready to coat the bon bons, melt the 6 oz of chocolate in the microwave in 30 second intervals. Stir, and repeat until the chocolate is completely melted.

The finished product! Bon Appetit

Remove the ice cream from the freezer, pick up each ice cream ball by the toothpick and dip very quickly into the warm chocolate. Flip over and repeat on the other side. Remove the toothpick and immediately transfer to the freezer. Repeat until you’ve done this with all 12 bon bons. This is an extremely messy process and not an exact science. The bon bons will not be the most beautiful shape, that’s OK. I promise, they taste delicious. Let harden in the freezer for 15-30 minutes before enjoying. Serve with a fresh sprig of mint and voila, you have your very own mint chip bon bons!

The Verdict: Delicious! The chocolate shell is quite thick, so if you don’t want so much chocolate coating, feel free to only dip one side, or to drizzle the chocolate on top instead of fully immersing the ice cream balls into the chocolate. No matter how you shake it, the combination of mint and chocolate is truly irresistible and very refreshing! These are a perfect dessert for any meal!

 

Coffee Heath Bar Ice Cream in Oreo Cookie Pie Shells

20 Jul

“Coffee is a beverage that puts one to sleep when not drank” ~ Alphonse Allais

Voila!

Yes, this happened. And yes, this flavor was delicious.

Here’s how it all came to be. One of my BFFs, let’s call her “Key West Friend” was in town visiting for her birthday. Naturally, I offered to make her a special birthday concoction. Her only request was coffee. My only thought was that heath bar and Oreo needed to be included. The rest is history.

Whenever The Hubby and I go out to ice cream (which, I must admit, happens rather regularly) I always gravitate towards something with coffee, Oreo and Heath bar. It never fails. So, it made logical sense that this creation would take the same shape. The only problem with going out to ice cream with me, is that I’m a horrible critic. I taste about 10 flavors before placing my order, and with each bite, debate the consistency, creaminess, freshness and flavor. I am so annoying. It’s really unpleasant, and I’m sorry. But, every time I go for ice cream, I consider it reconnaissance, and if I don’t know what my competitors are doing, how can we possibly keep improving our product at 365scoops? I rest my case.

Oreos for the crust; heath bar for the mixins. Yes, I ate some of this while preparing the ice cream. I couldn’t resist!

Anyhow, back to the birthday ice cream. I wanted to make an extra special birthday concoction, but felt that transporting an ice cream pie to work and then to visit my friend was totally untenable. Solution? Mini coffee heath bar ice cream pies. We all know that miniatures are so much cuter anyhow, and this way people can eat their own serving, without really feeling too guilty about it. So, I made the ice cream, and individual oreo cookie pie shells and voila, there you have it! A special birthday treat for a very special friend.

Coffee Heath Bar Ice Cream in Oreo Cookie Pie Shells

Created by 365scoops

Whisking in the instant coffee to the milk mixture. I sure could go for a glass of iced coffee right about now….

Ice Cream Ingredients

3 cups half-and-half

3 egg yolks

3 tbs instant coffee ( I use Maxwell House, but Starbucks Via works well too, it’s just more expensive)

3/4 cup of sugar

4 Heath Bars, crushed into varied sized chunks (use 3 for mixing into the ice cream; reserve 1 for a topping)

The oreo pie shell right before baking. Totally delicious.

Mini Oreo Cookie Pie Shell Ingredients

From Chaos in the Kitchen

24 Oreos

1/4 cup butter, melted

Method

First, make the ice cream. Heat 2 cups of half-and-half in a medium sauce pan until small bubbles form around the edges. Stir in the instant coffee and whisk until blended. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, whisk together the three egg yolks, slowly pouring in the sugar until the mixture is creamy, thick, and pale yellow.

Whisking the egg yolks and sugar right before tempering.

Temper the eggs by slowly pouring the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, stirring until the two mixtures are well combined. Pour back into the sauce pan and heat until the temperature reaches 165/170 degrees, or until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and pour in the third cup of half-and-half.  Let cool completely and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

While the mixture is cooling, make the Oreo Cookie Mini pie shells.  Preheat the oven to 350°F and coat 8-10 cupcake molds with spray or butter . Place Oreos in a large plastic zip top bag and smash them either by hand, or using a rolling pin. You can also process in the food processor (which I did) and this will give you a more  consistent crumb.

Melt the butter in the microwave.

A little extra heath bar for topping…

Empty crumbs into a mixing bowl and stir in melted butter until well combined. Pat wet crumbs all over and up sides of pie dish, making an even surface. Bake crust for 8-10 minutes or until hardened.  Cool completely before filling with ice cream.

Once fully chilled, pour into the base of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions (approximately 20 minutes). While the mixture is churning chop up 3 Heath Bars into various sized pieces and approximately five minutes before the mixture is done churning, pour the Heath Bar into the ice cream maker. Once finished, remove from the machine and transfer to a freezer safe container for at least 2 hours before enjoying. You can eat this straight from the machine, but it will be more like a soft serve, rather than “scoopable” ice cream.

The Great Assembly: Place one mini Oreo Cookie pie shell on a plate. Fill with 1-2 heaping scoops of ice cream. Sprinkle with a few chunks of Heath Bar for good measure and enjoy.

I NEED one of these, stat. So extremely delicious.

The Verdict: I’m not going to lie, these were insanely good. The birthday girl and her gal pals agreed. Perhaps the best compliment I got was from the birthday girl’s hubby who said ” This might sound sort of backwards, but I personally hate coffee, and this tastes just like coffee, which means it’s spot on the flavor, so I can actually appreciate how delicious it would be if I liked coffee.” For a second I sat there totally confused, until I realized that what he was saying is for a coffee lover, this stuff is damn good. And I agree. Plus eating ice cream out of an individual oreo cookie pie shell makes it even more outstanding! Enjoy.

The Wackiest Jewish Ice Cream Flavors on Earth

16 Jul

In honor of National Ice Cream Month I was invited to write a guest piece on JCarrot’s blog about wacky Jewish Ice Cream flavors.

Nova Lox Ice Cream…coming right up!

If you’re a fan of Ben and Jerry’s, you’ve likely heard of some comically flavored ice creams — Americone Dream or Phish Food, anyone?

This summer, in honor of National Ice Cream Month (yes, it’s a real thing), we’ve rounded up the craziest Jewish ice cream flavors from herring to cholent and haroset to jelly donuts.

Fan favorites include everything from tzimmes (honey carrot ice cream) scooped up at Max & Mina’s Ice Cream in Queens, N.Y., to hummus, tehina and za’atar offered at Lavan Restaurant in Jerusalem and local Tel Aviv ice cream parlors.

But nothing quite compares with the quintessential Jewish Diaspora flavor — Nova Lox.

Read the entire article here

Red,White & Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

3 Jul

“Our greatest happiness does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed us, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation and freedom in all just pursuits.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

Delicious berries

I have to be honest here. I enjoy a day off just as much as the next guy. I especially like a day off when it comes in the middle of the summer, and it allows me to go to the beach or pool, BBQ with friends, watch fireworks, and cash in on some awesome sales. Heck, who doesn’t love 4th of July?

But when I stop to think about it, I feel sort of guilty that I’m relaxing, reveling in my “freedom” from work and daily obligations, and not really thinking at all about how we got here. So this year I’m making a conscious effort to think, even just for a few minutes, about all the people who fought for our nation’s independence, and how they built the foundation for the incredible country in which we live today.  I spent some time reading about personal accounts of freedom and this beautiful excerpt from Pat (Beanie) Camunes, a Vietnam Veteran, really underscores the meaning of independence.

I literally cannot get enough of these berries. They are too good to be true.

As a Vietnam Veteran, I have considered the personal meaning of the 4th of July. I realize the heart of the 4th of July resides within the great documents and framework of this Republic, but the spirit of the 4th was best summarized by the Prisoner of War who scratched on a wall at the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam: “Freedom has a taste to those who have fought and almost died for it that the protected shall never know.” That “taste”, or lesson, is the truism, also inscribed in stone, of the Korean War Monument in D.C.: Freedom Is Not Free.

Pouring the mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove all seeds and skin

So, on this 4th of July, I pray our protected citizens recognize that our country’s freedom was won by the blood of veterans, is retained by the blood of veterans, and shall exist so long as we, the American people, stand fast against any enemy who would challenge our right to be free, and are willing to pay the price in blood . . . Freedom is not, and never will be free.

Our personal happiness and successes are only possible because of the daily freedoms we enjoy, and this will only last as long as we continue to fight for it, and protect it.  So, as you prepare your BBQ menus, lather on sunscreen for your family trip to the pool or beach, think just for a few moments about our  nation’s independence. I know I will.

Mmm…berries and lemon zest

Red, White & Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

Adapted quite a bit from The Perfect Scoop

Ingredients

16 oz nonfat plain Greek Yogurt

1/4 cup sugar**

1 1/2 cups blueberries

1 1/2 cups strawberries

juice from 1 small lemon (to taste)

zest from 1/2 lemon (to taste)

Red, white and blueberry frozen yogurt, straight from the machine!

Method

Puree the blueberries, strawberries, Greek yogurt and sugar in a blender. Add in lemon juice and lemon zest to taste and mix well. Pour the mixture over a fine mesh strainer to remove the skin and seeds. Chill again in the refrigerator for approximately 1 hour. Transfer to the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions (for me, this was 15 minutes, a bit shorter than the normal 20 minute churn). Scoop into a freezer safe container and freeze for approximately 1 hour so that the yogurt hardens just a bit. Remove from freezer and enjoy immediately.

**This recipe originally calls for 3/4 cup of sugar. I didn’t want to include that much, so I deliberately cut the sugar to 1/4 of a cup. Remember, though, sugar is essential to the flavor and consistency of ice cream. If you use too much sugar (like alcohol) it won’t freeze. If you use too little, it will be grainy and hard to scoop. Therefore, I don’t suggest that you reserve this frozen yogurt for later. Eat it right after churning, because if you try and eat it the next day for breakfast (which I’ve been known to do, hey, it’s yogurt and fruit, right?) it will be hard as a rock. If you want this frozen yogurt to last in your freezer, I suggest following the original recipe and add 3/4 cup of sugar.

The finished product! Delicious and refreshing. Enjoy

The Verdict: Delicious and refreshing! I love the combination of berries and lemon, so adding the lemon zest and extra lemon juice really enhanced the flavor! Because it’s 93 degrees in NYC, this frozen treat really help us beat the heat. I served the yogurt with fresh blueberries and strawberries and The Hubby and I devoured it in one fell swoop. I told you it won’t last until the next morning!

Happy 4th of July!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Sandwiches

14 May

“It is always sad when someone leaves home, unless they are simply going around the corner and will return in a few minutes with ice-cream sandwiches.” ~ Lemony Snicket

Bring. It. On.

Quite frankly, I have no idea what came over me last week. You know that scene in Old School when Will Ferrell has a complete out-of-body experience during the debate, gives a kick-tush speech and then wakes up afterwards having no idea what just happened? Yeah, that was me.

I came home from work, ate dinner, read some cookbooks as usual, and the next thing I knew, I was rolling out dough to make individual chocolate cookies for home made ice cream sandwiches. Then I found myself whipping up a batch of vanilla bean ice cream, and putting together some of the most delicious creations this blog has ever seen. The Hubby walked into the apartment in the middle with the most puzzled look on his face. “What on earth is going on here?” he asked. It was that very question that woke me from my drunken cooking stupor. I literally had no idea what happened over the past few hours, but starting me in the face were a half dozen absolutely beautiful ice cream sandwiches. I suppose my guilty looking puppy face answered his question.

The beginnings of the sandwich cookie

Ever since starting this blog, I’ve been obsessed with creating home-made versions of things you can normally buy at a grocery store – say, S’mores Ice Cream Pie, Classic Hot Fudge or Pinkberry-esque Frozen Yogurt. What can seem like a daunting process at first, these tasks are always the most fun, because at the end, you have a far better home-made version of something that is only mediocre in the store! Plus, by making them at home, you know exactly what goes into them, and baking without preservatives, or added junk, well, it makes the end result that much sweeter! Seeing these ice cream sandwiches come to fruition was really satisfying, and I have to say, gone are the days of buying supermarket brand ice cream sandwiches. Move over Nestle, here we come!

Adding in the flour, little by little…

Before I leave you with this recipe, a few fun facts about ice cream sandwiches. The “modern” version of the ice cream sandwich was invented by Jerry Newberg in 1945 while selling ice cream at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. But, believe it or not, old photos from The New Jersey Shore in 1905 show ice cream sandwiches were popular at 1 cent a piece. I suppose people have always loved ice cream…

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Sandwiches

Cookies from Serendipity Sundaes; Ice Cream from 365scoops

Chocolate Sandwich Cookie Ingredients

(makes 10-12 large cookies)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter plus extra for greasing cookie sheet

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

Cookie cutter perfect

Chocolate Sandwich Cookie Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and butter the paper.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk to mix. Set aside.

Combine butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. On a low speed, alternately beat in flour mixture and milk until well-blended.

Spread the dough evenly over the parchment paper or cookie sheet, about 1/4-inch thick. Be aware – this is harder than it seems. The dough is sticky, yet when you try and spread it on the greased parchment paper, it’s really slippery. My cookies ended up being thicker than 1/4 of an inch, which actually was quite great, because it was more like a thin brownie/thick cookie sandwich. No matter how you make them, they’ll be delicious.

Look at those soft and delicious cookies

Bake until just set, 10-12 minutes. (If yours are as thick as mine, you’ll need to bake them for approximately 15 minutes instead)

Cool for a couple of minutes, and using a round 3-inch cookie cutter or glass with a large mouth (I used a glass), cut out large cookies close together to make as many as possible.  Let the cookies cool completely. Wrap each one in saran wrap and place in the freezer to chill before making the ice cream sandwiches.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Ingredients

3 cups half-and-half

4 egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

1 tbs vanilla bean paste

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Check out the beautiful vanilla bean

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Method

In a medium saucepan, heat two cups of half-and-half until small bubbles begin to form around the edges. Add the vanilla bean paste and vanilla extract and whisk thoroughly.  Set aside.

In the meantime, in a heat-proof bowl, whisk together the four egg yolks, slowly adding in the sugar until the mixture thickens and turns a pale yellow.

Temper the eggs by slowly pouring the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture, stirring vigorously until well-incorporated.  Pour back into the medium sauce pan and heat until a candy thermometer reads 165 degrees F, or the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spatula. Remove from the heat.

A heaping spoonful of vanilla bean ice cream covers the chocolate sandwich cookie

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, removing any small clumps that may have formed. Pour in the last cup of half-and-half, and set aside. Let the mixture cool completely before refrigerating for at least 2 hours or over night.

Once chilled, pour into the base of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions (approximately 20 minutes).

To Assemble…

A few minutes before the ice cream is done churning, remove the sandwich cookies from the freezer and unwrap. Place 6 cookies, face down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Keep the other 6 cookies unwrapped and near by.

As soon as the ice cream is done churning, scoop a heaping portion onto the sandwich cookie, and top with another cookie. Gently press down on the cookie so it affixes to the ice cream. Repeat until you’ve made all 6 ice cream sandwiches.

If you’re feeling particularly sassy (which I was!) feel free to decorate your ice cream sandwiches by adding additional treats. I rolled mine in mini peanut butter cups, which was truly delicious. You could also add healthbar, sprinkles, or your favorite candy. Don’t worry these are absolutely delicious sans candy. In fact, they’re a perfect throwback to the good, old-fashioned ice cream sandwiches of yesteryear.  Enjoy!

And there you have it folks!

The Verdict

I served these at dinner with friends, and despite being stuffed beyond belief from our main course, we all managed to finish our ice cream sandwiches. My parents were in town this weekend and I was given strict instructions from my father to save him an ice cream sandwich. When I gave it to him, his eyes lit up like a little kid, and upon devouring the first bite, all I heard was “Oh Wow!”. Suffice it to say he loved them. The vanilla ice cream is really creamy, and being that it’s a neutral flavor and not too rich, it’s the perfect compliment to the chocolate sandwich cookies. The cookies themselves are sinful as well, nice and soft, almost brownie-like. Together, they are the perfect marriage between chocolate and vanilla. Even better, they keep perfectly well in the freezer for over a week! Enjoy.

Coffee Stracchiatella Ice Cream

8 May

“Espresso is to Italy what Champagne is to France.” ~ Charles-Maurice De Talleyrand-Perigord, French Diplomat 18th century

Coffee Stracciatella. Mmm. Mmm. Good.

Coffee ice cream is my favorite. The other night I decided I needed coffee ice cream, as in, how could I possibly live without it. I took matters into my own hands and whipped up a fresh batch of coffee ice cream. It dawned on me that stracciatella would really make this ice cream off the charts. So, a few minutes before it was done, I melted semi-sweet chocolate and drizzled it into the ice cream. It was, for lack of a better word, insane.

A word about stracciatella. Originating from Italy, stracciatella is the quintessential Italian chocolate “chip” ice cream. It results from a technique in which one pours warm, melted chocolate into cold ice cream. Upon hitting the cold ice cream, the flow of chocolate immediately hardens into streaks, which get shredded (stracciato) into chips as the ice cream is stirred.

David Lebovitz. the guru of all ice cream gurus, notes that the trick to stracciatella is to pour it into your ice cream maker in a very thin stream during the last possible moment of churning. He’s right. I followed his lead, and these chocolate “chips” came out perfectly.

The coffee dispersing in the milk mixture

Back at 365scoops, just as the ice cream was churning The Hubby and his friend (who we shall call The Horse) came home after a sweaty game of basketball. To put it lightly, they smelled like holy hell. I wanted them to shower, stat. But no, not when fresh ice cream is churning! Perched over the machine like little puppies, the two of them proceeded to sweat and drool for 10 minutes until it was done. I transferred the ice cream into a container and placed it gently in front of them. A few minutes later I turned around and it was nearly gone. That’s right, almost completely polished off. I may be slightly guilty myself too… but the good news is that they loved it.

After eating the ice cream, the Husband told me that he had an” ice cream boner”. I was debating whether to put this on the blog. Afterall, ice cream is pretty much the most pure, unadulterated, child-like treat. And ruining this blog with profanities seemed unprofessional. Then I thought about it – and really his description is the best way to describe this treat. And so, my friends, it remains!

Tempering the eggs by slowly pouring in the hot coffee mixture and whisking it into the egg yolks and sugar.

Coffee Stracciatella Ice Cream

Ingredients

3 cups half-and-half

3 egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

3 1/2 tbs instant decaf coffee

5 oz semi-sweet chocolate (not chocolate chips)

Method

What I love most about this ice cream is the simplicity of the recipe. One of the best things about home-made ice cream is that unlike conventional, store-bought, factory-processed ice cream, ours contains very few ingredients. This means less preservatives, and more nutrients. This means less sugar and fat and more quality tastes. In sum, home-made ice cream is so radically different from other ice cream that it shouldn’t even be compared. This flavor is a perfect example of how few ingredients can yield such a robust flavor.

I digress…

Glossy, creamy, beautiful semi-sweet chocolate

First, heat the half-in-half in a medium sauce pan until small bubbles form around the edges. Stir in the instant coffee and whisk until blended. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, whisk together the three egg yolks, slowly pouring in the sugar until the mixture is creamy, thick and pale yellow.

Temper the eggs by slowly pouring the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks, stirring until the two mixtures are well combined. Pour back into the sauce pan and heat until the temperature reaches 165/170 degrees, or until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and let cool completely and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

The stracciatella right before The Hubby and The Horse got to it…

Once fully chilled, pour into the base of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions (approximately 20 minutes). While the mixture is churning melt the the 5 oz of semi-sweet chocolate in the microwave. Begin by heating for 30 seconds, mix, and repeat in 20 second increments until the chocolate is smooth and melted.

At the last possible minute (let’s say 2 minutes before the mixture is done churning) slowly pour in the melted semi sweet chocolate in a very thin drizzle. As soon as it hits the cold ice cream, the chocolate will harden and form little “chips”. When the ice cream is done churning transfer to a freezer safe container and let harden (or in our case, consume immediately) until you’re ready to serve it. And there you have it, coffee stracciatella ice cream! Enjoy

This is about how much remained after the two boys devoured the ice cream!

The Verdict: If The Hubby’s description above isn’t enough of a sell, this ice cream is supremely creamy and utterly delicious. If you’re feeling a little bit sassy, scoop a heaping spoonful on top of a cup of coffee, and there you have it, a coffee stracciatella affogato. Need I say more?