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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)


2 cups 2% Greek Yogurt (I used Chobani)

1 cup 0% Greek Yogurt

3/4 cup sugar

The ingredients...pretty basic stuff!


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…

‘One Sunny Night’ Ice Cream

30 May

“The Project Sunshine volunteers not only bring smiles to the faces of our patients, but they are also a vital part of the healing process, enabling children to heal through play. “~ Nuria Claramunt Miami Children’s Hospital

Last week was Project Sunshine Week, an annual week dedicated to Project Sunshine’s mission and services that raises awareness and funds for the organization.  As many of you know, I have been working for Project Sunshine for the past five and a half years. Project Sunshine’s mission is to empower a dynamic and dedicated corps of over 10,000 volunteers to bring programming – recreational (arts), educational (tutoring and mentoring) and social service (HIV and nutritional counseling) – to over 60,000 children facing medical challenges and their families in 150 major cities across the United States and in five international satellite sites: Canada, China, Israel, Kenya and Puerto Rico.

Project Sunshine volunteer Bar Refaeli reads with hospitalized children

Project Sunshine’s volunteers selflessly donate their time to relieve the anxiety of young patients and in a context of fun and play, foster in them the courage and coping skills necessary to confront procedures that lie ahead. Project Sunshine volunteers spread sunshine, restoring a crucial sense of normalcy to the pediatric healthcare environment.

Ever since starting 365scoops, my coworkers have been wonderful guinea pigs for my many flavor concoctions. In fact, the Project Sunshine team was the first to support this ice cream project. So, it is only fair to them – and to the children and families that we serve – that I dedicate this ice cream to Project Sunshine!

A little about this lovely flavor. My mother makes an outrageously delicious lemon meringue pie. Personally, I turn my nose up at lemon meringue pie because, well, it tastes really fake and airy. Not this one. This one, ah, it’s perfect. First, you start with a beautiful meringue crust, then you fill it with home made lemon curd, whipped cream, lemon zest, and top it off with delectably sweet raspberries. The flavor combination is perfect, and this dessert is gorgeous too.

Project Sunshine volunteer, NY Yankee Brett Gardner, high fives a young boy after a hospital event

Being that this dessert is also yellow, I felt that it was a no-brainer to make it the (official) Project Sunshine ice cream. Oh, and one more thing, this year Project Sunshine’s benefit celebration (which culminated the spectacular Project Sunshine week) was called One Sunny Night – and so this ice cream is it’s namesake.

So, raise your ice cream bowls and cheers this wonderful organization! To the 60,000 children and family members served by Project Sunshine each year, this one’s for you!

The creamy ice cream base...yum

One Sunny Night Ice Cream

Inspired by my mom’s famous lemon meringue pie and created by moi!


Lemon Curd

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup whipping cream (whipped)

Ice Cream Base

1 1/2 cups lemon curd/whipped cream mixture

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tbs lemon zest

Egg whites (before they become the meringue)


4 egg whites

1 cup sugar


First make the meringues since they take quite a while to cook. Separate the egg yolks and whites (reserve the yolks for the lemon curd) and using either an electric hand mixer or a mixmaster begin mixing the egg whites until they start to get foamy. Little by little, begin adding the cup of sugar into the egg whites. Pour in a little sugar, and continue mixing. Repeat this process until you have used up all the sugar and the egg whites form small white peaks. This, at least, is the technical way to make meringues. But, if you grew up in my household, the true test to see whether the egg whites are ready, is to hold the bowl upside down over your head, and if they don’t move or fall on you (and heaven help you if they do, it’s a big fat mess to clean up!) they’re ready! Whatever you do, don’t underbeat the eggwhites.

A meringue dollop before it's cooked...

Before baking the meringues, cut two pieces of paper from large brown paper shopping bags (you know, the kind you get a wholefoods if you forget to bring your own bag!) Cut off the handles and cut the paper bag into two sheets, one for each cookie sheet. Again, most people use parchment paper, but I swear that brown paper bags is the best technique. My mom has been been doing it forever in her house, and I’m telling you, it makes these meringues perfect.  Spoon dollops of the meringue batter onto the cookie sheets and bake at 200 degrees for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to two hours. When checking to see whether the meringues are ready, never open the oven door, you’ll lose all the heat. Instead, turn the oven light on. Once the meringues are ready (they’ll brown slightly on top) take them out of the oven and let them cool completely.

Meringues fresh out of the oven (Notice the brown paper bag!)

Now it’s time to make the lemon curd (bear in mind that you’re doing this while the meringues are baking). Combine egg yolks with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk until thickened. Remove from heat and cool for one hour.

While the lemon curd is cooling, beat the whipping cream in a small bowl until stiff peaks form. Using the same beaters, beat the lemon curd filling until smooth. Fold the whipped cream into the lemon filling until blended.  This is the first time in any ice cream recipe that I’ve pre-whipped the whipping cream, and I must say, this made the ice cream extremely airy and soft and the resulting consistency was something very special. More to come on that soon…

The lemons and fresh lemon zest

And finally – the piece de resistance – the ice cream base! Now that you have the lemon curd/whipped cream mixture ready, you’ll use this as one of the main ingredients for the actual ice cream. In a large mixing bowl stir together 1 1/2 cups of the lemon curd/whipped cream mixture, 1 cup of half-and-half, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tbs lemon zest. Once the mixture is completely stirred and the sugar is dissolved, let cool completely in the refrigerator.

Once chilled, pour into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions, which for me was 22 minutes. The resulting ice cream will be very creamy (much creamier than any other ice cream to date, and I think that’s because I used whipping cream that had already been whipped, thereby adding more air into the mixture, making it supremely creamy and delicious.)

Drumroll please...the final product...One Sunny Night!

Sigh. Now it’s time for the assembly. Scoop yourself a few heaps of the lemon ice cream. Crush up one meringue on top and garnish with raspberries.

The Verdict: I may be slightly biased here, because the lemon raspberry meringue pie is one of my favorite desserts, but when turned into an ice cream this recipe is super creamy, airy, delicious and refreshing. You’ll see specks of lemon zest beautifully woven throughout the ice cream, and the combination of sweet meringues with tart lemon ice cream and fresh raspberry is truly perfect. This is an excellent summer dessert, and a perfect way to top off any meal – it truly makes for One Sunny Night!

Truffle-upagus Ice Cream

25 May

“The most sophisticated people I know – inside they are all children.” ~ Jim Henson

I get inspired in the most strange and bizarre ways. Sometimes I come up with ice cream flavors weeks in advance by methodically reviewing recipes from my ice cream cookbook collection. Other times I open my cabinets and see what goodies I have available, and begin concocting accordingly.

This time, I wanted to make something chocolatey that was inspired by Sesame Street. Why? Because what grown up doesn’t love taking a walk down memory lane and relive ‘the good old days’ of apple juice, afternoon naps, and early bedtimes. Ah, to be young!

The ingredients...

I went to Trader Joe’s like usual and decided that I would find a new product on the shelf and make an ice cream with it…and that’s exactly what happened!

While meandering through the aisles at Trader Joe’s I came upon two chocolates that I really needed to try. (Notice I said need not want – that’s the true sign of a dessert lover and inner little kid!) I felt a little gluttonous buying the chocolate bars just to eat them, so instead I put them into ice cream. Chocolate is much healthier chopped into tiny pieces, right? Right.

In my quest to make the best chocolate ice cream, I’ve tried David Lebovitz, Cuisinart reicpes, and now Ben and Jerry’s (each time, putting my own touches on them!). This time, I fashioned a double boiler (I don’t have one), used baking chocolate in addition to cocoa powder, and I have to say, Ben and Jerry did not lead me astray!

I decided to name this ice cream “Truffle-upagus” because is the woolly mammoth of all chocolate ice creams; it’s one large and in charge chocolate beast! Between the creamy milk chocolate base, white chocolate chunks, and milk chocolate truffle bits, it’s truly a chocolate lover’s dream. Snuffleupagus’ nickname is also Snuffy, so if you’re feeling particularly spunky feel free to nickname this ice cream “Truffy”.

Truffle-upagus Ice Cream

Base adapted from Ben and Jerry’s, the rest is mine!

The chocolate melting in my "double boiler"


1 ounce unsweetened chocolate

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 cups milk

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup half-and-half

1/4 + 2 tablespoons chopped milk chocolate truffle pieces

1/4 cup chopped white chocolate

Help! The chocolate is seizing!


Melt the unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot, not boiling water. (If you are like me and do not have a double boiler, simply fill a large pot with water, and place a small saucepan on top, it will work just fine!)

Gradually whisk in the cocoa and heat stirring constantly, until smooth. The chocolate may “seize” or clump together. Don’t worry, the milk will dissolve it!

Whisk in the milk, a little at a time, and heat until completely blended. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Whisk the “chocolate milk” mixture with sugar until it is completely dissolved. Add in the vanilla and mix thoroughly.

Cover and refrigerate until cold, about 1-2 hours.


While the mixture is cooling, chop the chocolate and set it aside.

Once cooled, transfer the ice cream mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Approximately 3-5 minutes before the ice cream is done churning slowly pour in the mix ins so that the ice cream has the appropriate mix-in-to-ice cream-ratio.

This ice cream can be eaten straight out of the machine, or for a slightly firmer texture freeze for approximately 1-2 hours before enjoying.

The Verdict:  Truffy! This happens to be one of my favorite ice cream bases. It was damn good. This is also the first quart of ice cream that I have not given away and as such, have enjoyed an actual bowlful myself!

Truffle-upagus! The finished product.

It’s funny, people always ask me “what does your freezer look like?” or “gee, you must be getting fat eating all this ice cream.” Newsflash: I give away 99% of all the ice cream. Let’s get real folks: we live in NYC, there aint no room in our freezer for all this ice cream. And, we aren’t looking to pack on the pounds right before bathing suit season :) In all seriousness, I much prefer to give it away – it’s good marketing for 365scoops!

So, submit your flavor requests and I’ll happily make one for you.

Until then, enjoy this delicious and creamy flavor. Yum. Yum.Yum.

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

11 May

Key lime pie was invented in the late 19th century in Key West, Florida. The actual idea behind key lime pie is unknown, yet legend has it that William Curry, a ship salvager and Key West’s first millionaire, had a cook named Aunt Sally. Aunt Sally created the pie. However, some believe that Aunt Sally actually adapted a pie that a local sponge fishermen had already created… Nobody really knows!


When I first started 365 scoops I received an outpouring of support from friends and family members. But no comment gave me greater joy than that of one of my best friends and her lovely fiance, both living in Key West.

“You’re really on to something, 365 scoops! I love the idea,” said the fiance.

No sooner did he woo me with his sweet praise, did he say, “I challenge you to make key lime pie ice cream. Looking forward to tasting it.”

Crap. I’m on the hook for this one.

I am always up for a challenge, but I have never had key lime pie (honestly, it doesn’t really interest me) and so I had no idea what the flavor, color, consistency should be. From what I recall (and from what has been confirmed by “the powers that be”) key lime pie is often yellow-ish in color (from the egg yolks) and generally speaking never green. As a matter of fact, the real key lime pie aficionados frown upon those who add green food coloring to their pies, it’s unnatural they say!

I filed this recipe idea away in the back of my mind and carried on making other ice creams.  A few weeks ago, I opened my computer to find an email with the subject line We’re coming to NY!! Flights are booked!. “Hip hip hooray,” I thought to myself.  Then reality set in, and I was reminded of the dreaded key lime pie ice cream request. Maybe they’ll forget. Actually, I was really banking on the fact that they’d forget, praying that I’ll be off the hook. Ha, fat chance. Those two key west geniuses remembered, and the challenge was on!

The squeezed limes!

Alas, I set out to find key limes, and so began the dreaded chase. Gristedes did not carry them, nor did Fairway, Gourmet Garage (aka Gourmet Garbage) nor Trader Joe’s (surprisingly, they usually have everything). I called Whole Foods to see whether they sold key limes, and alas, they did! I went to the store the very next day in search of the smaller, brighter yellow, more acidic, tart and bitter cousin to the Persian limes we are all familiar with. Guess what, there were no key limes in the entire store! Apparently Whole Foods had run out of all the key limes in one day. Go figure. I pleaded with the fruit specialist to find me a few key limes, yet there were none to be found. I told him that I was making key lime pie ice cream, and he immediately assured me that regular limes would be just as good and that key limes are “four times the price, and only 10%  more bitter”. In other words, not worth the money (again, please do not tell key lime pie aficionados about this!).

I purchased four limes just to be safe and went on my merry way.

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

Created by yours truly


2 cups whole milk

1 cup half-and-half

3/4 cup sugar

Juice from 4 limes (I used regular limes since key limes were nowhere to be found!)

Zest from 2 limes (approximately 3 tsp, or more for flavor)

1 cup of crushed graham cracker cereal (I used Three Sisters but Golden Grahams will do!)

Mixing the base


Mix the milk, cream and sugar vigorously so that the sugar dissolves. Set aside or refrigerate to keep it cold.

Zest the two limes first before squeezing the lime juice (trust me, it’s easier to zest a whole lime than a half-squeezed lime, I learned the hard way!).  I did not measure out the zest exactly, but it amounted to about 2-3 tsp of lime zest. The addition of lime juice and zest is sort of done by taste as well, so it’s not an exact science anyhow as you’ll read below.

Juice the four limes into a small, clean bowl.

Slowly add the lime juice into the milk mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, and stir thoroughly. Once you’ve added 3 tablespoons of juice stop and add in 1 teaspoon of lime zest.  Next, taste the mixture. I don’t think I’ve ever read a recipe that tells the home chef to taste along the way, but since this ice cream is based so much on taste, you have to do it! At this point, add in another 2 tablespoons of lime juice and 1 teaspoon of lime zest.  Keep on adding in more juice and zest until you reach the desired tartness.

The ice cream mixture as the zest is being added

I literally added juice, zest, stirred and tasted for a good 5-10 minutes, trying to achieve the correct flavor.

Actually. I lied. I had a sous chef the entire time (my Key West best friend!) who was really the brains behind this operation. Since she knew exactly how key lime pie is supposed to taste, she was able to guide me through this process. I could not have done it without her! Once we reached our ideal flavor, I threw the mixture into the ice cream maker and churned for approximately 20 minutes.

While the ice cream is churning, crush up the graham cracker cereal pieces. Put a cup of cereal into the ziploc bag and use a rolling pin to crush evenly.

The final product...Key Lime Pie ice cream

Many recipes suggested mixing in the graham crackers, which I tried, and though it was delicious for the first hour, it got soggy soon there after. So, I actually recommend that you top the ice cream with the crushed up cereal, making it an upside down key lime pie! (get it, crust on the top, filling on the bottom.)

The Verdict: I served this ice cream to a group of friends, and everyone kept remarking that it tasted exactly like the pie. That is the sign of a good ice cream! We all agreed that it’s much tastier with the graham cracker cereal on top, rather than mixed in. This was a really refreshing ice cream and transported me to the beautiful beaches of Key West, even if just for a moment :)


Soy Latte Ice Cream

9 May

Do Lipton employees take coffee breaks? ~ Steven Wright

At 365 scoops we are always up for a challenge! Last week I made birthday cake ice cream, and challenged myself to use skim milk in lieu of cream and half-and-half and I’m still here to talk about it, so obviously it worked fine!

Well, today there are not one, but TWO challenges.

#1: I am challenging you, the readers, to go on a scavenger hunt (hint: search Whole Foods) and find a Kopali Organics product, take a picture with it, and the amazing Kopali Organics folks will send you some of their outstanding products FREE! (more on this later!)

#2: I am challenging myself, the writer, to make a vegan/soy ice cream to serve as the perfect partner to Kopali Organic’s Chocolate Covered Cacao nibs.

The magic behind this delicious soy latte ice cream

Yeah, I am sweating just thinking about it too!

In making this recipe I came to learn that there are few reputable and field tested vegan ice cream blogs and recipes. But thankfully in my search I came across two vegan ice cream cookbooks: The Vegan Scoop and the other, wait for it…wait for it…Lick It! Creamy Dreamy Vegan Ice Creams Your Mouth Will Love.

Ahem, who in G-d’s green earth named that second book? That is the single worst title I have ever heard. Sorry to be so scathing here, but honestly, it sounds like it should be in an “adult” bookstore, not in someone’s kitchen. Ohy.

I digress…

I’m not complaining here, but this recipe gave me more agita than any other I’ve made so far. Perhaps it was because I am entering new territory with vegan treats, maybe it was because I went to 10 stores before finding arrow root, or perhaps because I have a general aversion to “fake” ice cream. You see, I have such vivid memories of eating “Tofutti Cuties” after dinner as a kid, and feeling like they tasted so incredibly fake and disgusting that I would rather go without dessert. I know that’s hard to believe coming from me, but it’s true. Now as an adult, I am embracing this new chapter in the ice cream making world, grabbing the vegan bull by it’s horns, and diving right in!

One more thing before the recipe. I’m sorry, but I have to kvetch here about arrow root. Let me regale you with how unbelievably difficult it was to find this damn ingredient. I even involved The Husband in this process, and you know that means I was desperate!

The infamous arrow root.... was it even worth it??

Without boring you completely, I first went to Williams Sonoma to find arrow root starch, certain that they would have it. Naturally, they didn’t and suggested I go to Whole Foods (luckily it was just downstairs!). I went to Whole Foods and they were out (and suggested instead that I go to Willams Sonoma. Argh.). Then I went to Trader Joe’s – nope. At this point, I called in the troops (a.k.a. The Husband) and asked him to do me a solid and hunt down this damn product. In a moment of desperation I considered using corn starch (which is allegedly quite similar) but much to my chagrin all sources said corn starch is a fine substitute for arrow root starch except for in ice cream and other frozen concoctions because cornstarch doesn’t stand up to freezing. Grr. So from there I called not two, but six more stores. Gristedes (aka highway robbery supermarket) had one small jar left so I sent The Husband there at once. He brought it home and we found that it was expired three years ago! Seriously? I was going nuts at this point. Obviously we did not use it, and I called one more store, to find that yes, they did have arrow root starch, and no it was not expired, and yes they would hold it so that The Husband could schlep 10 blocks to go get it. And he did. And I owe him big time!

Sigh. I’m out of breath just from typing that story!

After all the schlepping around it was totally worth it for the finished product. You see, what made this recipe truly perfect (and I think that you’ll be missing out if you don’t add them) are theseKopali Organic Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs.  Simply put, they are irresistible and your soy latte will be too with this topping!

Oh, and I should mention that not only does this ice cream taste good, but it’s will also feel good too! When you enjoy Kopali’s organic fruit and fair-trade chocolates you can feel great knowing it’s good for you, good for farmers, and good for the earth! By eating Kopali’s products you are supporting thousands of sustainable farmers and their communities in nearly a dozen countries across the globe.

Lastly – I should note that this recipe is completely vegan, gluten-free, organic and kosher. Can’t get better than that…

Soy Latte Ice Cream with Kopali Organics Chocolate Covered Cacao Nibs

Adapted quite a bit from a vegan ice cream blog


2 cups of soy creamer

1 1/4 cups soy milk

3/4 cup strong brewed coffee (I used Starbucks Via)

2 tablespoons arrow root starch (more on this later!!)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 packet of additional Starbucks Via (stirred in slowly according to taste)

1/4 tsp ground coffee

Arrow root starch and soy milk mixture


Mix 1/4 cup of soy milk with the 2 tablespoons of arrow root starch. Reserve until later.

Whisk the soy creamer, remaining 1 cup of soy milk, coffee and sugar on the stove top until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is almost boiled.

Remove from heat and add the arrow root paste, vanilla and 1/4 tsp of ground coffee.

When you taste the mixture (which you will inevitably do) you will notice that is more on the milky side, and less on the coffee side. At this point, open another packet of Starbucks Via and begin adding in the slightest amounts and whisking. I added approximately 1/2 of another packet, but honestly could have added a bit more. Add bit by bit, whisk and repeat until you get the desired flavor. *Remember, this is a soy latte ice cream, not coffee ice cream, so it should be more milky than coffee-y.*

The coffee mixture swirling...

Once you reach the desired taste, cool in an airtight container in the refrigerator, at least two hours. In an effort to cut corners I cooled the mixture in a bowl, and what do you know? The damn mixture spilled in my refrigerator! Probably only a tablespoon-full spilled, but it was really sticky and made a huge mess. Word to the wise: don’t cut corners! Put the mixture in a sealed container!

Once the mixture is completely chilled, remove from the refrigerator and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For this recipe I churned it for approximately 28 minutes, which is slightly longer than other recipes, but I think that’s because soy milk is by nature a little waterier than regular milk.

The ice cream is still rather creamy, so like usual, freeze for a bit before serving. But, because this is made with soy (which is virtually a water base) , it was slightly more icy the next day, so I would suggest serving this one either right out of the ice cream maker or only once after freezing for an hour or so. It tastes better that way.

The Kopali Organics chocolate covered cacao nibs!

When serving, sprinkle lots of the chocolate covered cacao nibs on top OR if you want, add them about three minutes before the ice cream is done churning and they will mix very well into the ice cream. What a delicious combination! Trust me on this!

The Verdict:

The Husband: “I thought you were making vegan ice cream.”

Me:  This was quite good – everyone should try it! I take back everything I ever said about “fake” ice cream. And with the chocolate covered cacao nibs this was a real winner! Yum Yum Yum.

Please don’t get angry but…we devoured this ice cream before I was able to take a picture of the finished product. I know, I’m sorry. Hopefully the scavenger hunt and FREE Kopali products will enable you to forgive me!

**Remember, the first person to send me a photo of him/herself with a bag of Kopali products wins FREE chocolate and fruit treats! Email the photo to and you’ll be featured on facebook, twitter and more! Good luck!**

Cookie Dough Ice Cream

1 May

“Now what starts with the letter C?
Cookie starts with C
Let’s think of other things
That starts with C
Oh, who cares about the other things?

C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me!” ~ Cookie Monster

C is for Cookie!

I put out a poll on twitter to see whether I should make chocolate or vanilla cookie dough ice cream. Personally, it was a no brainer – chocolate! Much to my chagrin, I was utterly outvoted.  The Husband lobbied heavily for vanilla because its his favorite ice cream flavor. Insane, I know.

So, rather than moping around about the loss of a chocolate ice cream base, I decided to get myself excited for making vanilla bean ice cream, even though it was slightly against my own wishes.

First things first. I needed good vanilla bean yet I did not want to spend crazy amounts of money. So, I decided to buy vanilla bean paste , which, for $11 is a much more reasonable approach. (1 tbs = 1 vanilla bean). Done.

Next I needed pasteurized eggs. Because the cookie dough bits inside the ice cream are raw, I had to be careful not to poison anyone with salmonella. I scoured the internet to try and find places that sell pasteurized eggs. They’ll be marked with a little ‘P’ noted every website. So, I set on my way. Fail. I went to four stores and no one sold pasteurized eggs. The dairy man at Whole Foods told me the closest they had was “pasture-raised” eggs. Totally different I informed him. Duh.

So, I had to settle on Nulaid Reddi-Egg product. I was slightly concerned that it would ruin the consistency of the cookies, since it was essentially egg whites (and coloring to make yolks) so I made the dairy man promise me that if my ice cream or cookies were bad (after his sampling!) he would let me return it. Now that’s customer service.

Armed wit these two key ingredients I went on my merry way to make the ice cream.

There are two main components to this recipe: the vanilla bean ice cream and the cookie dough. You’ll have so much cookie dough left over that it makes sense to make cookies with it, and garnish each serving of ice cream with a home-made cookie. Trust me, the presentation is beautiful!

The vanilla bean paste, milk and sugar on stove top

Vanilla Ice Cream

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop


2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup sugar

pinch of salt

1 tbs vanilla paste

3/4 tsp vanilla extract


Melt the sugar, vanilla bean, two cups of whole milk and pinch of salt on the stove top. Do not boil.

Once the sugar is completely dissolved add the cup of heavy cream and vanilla extract.

The mixture should be a very light khaki color and dotted with black (from the vanilla bean).

Cool entirely in the refrigerator, at least four hours or overnight.

**At this point in the recipe you should make the cookie dough so that it’s ready and chilled by the time you churn the vanilla bean ice cream**

Sugars and butter...mmm...

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Copied exactly from the Nestle Tollhouse recipe (why mess with the best?)


2 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 sticks butter at room temperature

3/4 sugar

3/4 brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs (note: I used 1/2 cup of the pasteurized egg substitute mentioned above)

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (This is actually one bag of chips. I used the Trader Joe’s brand but you can use any good quality chocolate here)

The butter, sugar mixture (before adding flour)


Mix the flours, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.

Beat the butter, white sugar, brown sugar and vanilla together. Slowly add in the eggs one at a time.

Next add in the flour until the dough forms. Make sure to mix it all well and that there are no clumps of flour or butter.

Last, stir in the chocolate chips.

After making the dough it’s important to chill it in the refrigerator. This makes it easier to roll into a log (for cookie dough bits in the ice cream) and into small circles to make the cookies.

**Once the vanilla bean paste mixture is entirely chilled, and your cookie dough mixture is ready, you can start the final steps of this recipe: churning the ice cream and adding in the cookie dough bits!**

Vanilla bean ice cream churning.

Add the vanilla bean mixture into the ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For me, this ice cream churned for 20 minutes. I’m convinced that this recipe would have yielded a lot more ice cream if I had not been eating so much of it out of the container. Truth be told, this one was irresistible!

While the ice cream was churning, I formed approximately 6-8 cookie dough logs (each one approximately 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide). I broke little pieces off of the cookie dough logs and used this to layer and marble the vanilla bean ice cream with cookie dough. This part is not an exact science at all! Remember, you want to add as much or as little cookie dough to this ice cream as you wish.

Here’s the part I invented and it worked really well:

Once the ice cream is done churning (and you’ve tasted a sufficient amount of it!) start by putting 2 scoops of ice cream into the bottom of the storage container. Layer it with miniature balls of cookie dough (broken off the aforementioned cookie dough balls). Continue this process until you are done layering the ice cream and adding cookie dough. When you are done, take a knife and randomly stick it into the ice cream. When you make a little hole, add another few cookie dough balls, for good measure! Repeat this a few times and you’re done.

I was on the phone with my sister when this ice cream was churning. Suddenly it was ready and I realized that I needed to layer the cookie dough and mix it within the ice cream. “I am layering the cookie dough ice cream and I need to call you back, ” I said to my sister in a hurried voice. She burst out laughing and suddenly made it her facebook status. I didn’t think it was so weird, but apparently she thought it was funny! At least her facebook status drove traffic to 365 scoops!

**Note: when baking the cookies using the rest of the dough, make small balls of dough, approximately 12 balls per baking sheet, and bake at 350 for 9-11 minutes, depending on how soft, chewy or hard you like your cookies. Let cool and enjoy!**

The Verdict:  Outstanding!

The Husband said it was his favorite flavor yet (his eyes were bugging out of his head with excitement).

The Friends all came over to devour this quart of ice cream. Nothing remained. It was really, really delicious. Believe it or not, I am so glad that the base was vanilla bean; chocolate would have been too much. (I can’t believe I just said that!)

I had a little leftover chocolate ganache that I reheated and drizzled over the top which was a really nice addition. Enjoy!

The ice cream!

Dulce de Leche Gelato

27 Apr

Not to like ice cream is to show oneself uninterested in foods.

~ Joseph Epstein

All the swirly scoops of Dulce de Leche Gelato

Honestly, there are no words.

In a recent post about my love affair with dulce de leche I described a rather embarrassing moment in my lifetime, and an all-time low in the world of gluttony.

For some odd reason, I find myself there again.

To set the record straight for any of you who may be confused, I love chocolate and caramel. Really – it’s the perfect marriage between creamy, chewy, milky and just thinking about it I am salivating. Writing this post is really hard because I just want to be eating chocolate caramel right now. Ugh.

Back to the point. When The Husband and I were recently in Argentina we made it a point to eat at all the famous ice cream places. There were Freddo and Persico (two of the big chains) and a much lesser known but wildly superior Chungo. We discovered this little known gem on our second to last night in Buenos Aires (how we waited that long to try that place is something I will never understand) and it was on that very momentous night that I had the most perfect dulce de leche gelato EVER. So much so that we went back the next day to purchase a 1/2 kilo “to go” so that we could eat it in the taxi on the way to the airport (a poorly thought out idea, considering I would be sitting on an airplane for 11 hours with nothing but gobs of gelato in my belly!).

When I started this blog I decided that dulce de leche ice cream or gelato would have to be one of my first few posts.

The rationale: I am going through withdrawal.

I also promised myself  not repeat recipes throughout the course of this blog because there are so many incredible ice cream combinations to be had, but I will most certainly be making a variety of dulce de leche products.

The rationale: I cannot live without it.

I realize that in re-reading this blog post I sound a little nutty, but it’s the truth. I love dulce de leche.

So, as you saw in my post last week, I made the dulce de leche, the base for this recipe. You will see how it is incorporated below.


Dulce de Leche Gelato

From Ciao Bella Cookbook


2 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

4 large egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

1 cup dulce de leche (store-bought or you can make your own very easily here)


In a heavy saucepan, combine the milk and the cream. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring or whisking occasionally so a skin doesn’t form, until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges. If you are using a thermometer the mixture should reach a temperature of 170 degrees F.

Meanwhile, in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually whisk in the sugar until it is well incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. A word to the wise about this – you really need to whisk a lot, not only so that the sugar dissolves, but also because you really want to whip the yolks to make them slightly frothy and creamy.

Temper the egg yolks by very slowly pouring the hot milk mixture while whisking continuously. You need to pour the milk mixture little by little so that it does not heat the egg yolks too quickly and create scrambled eggs. NO ONE wants scrambled eggs gelato!

Return the custard to the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon or spatula (and you can run your finger across the spoon and it leaves a clean path where your finger was). If using a thermometer the custard should reach a temperature of 185 degrees F. Whatever you do, do not bring this to a boil.

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl and let cool to room temperature, stirring every 5 minutes or so. It’s important to strain the mixture because inevitably a few clumps of egg will be at the bottom, and you don’t want clumpy, egg gelato!

To cool the custard quickly, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water and placing the bowl with the custard in it; stir the custard until cooled. Once it’s completely cooled, cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least four hours or overnight (I recommend overnight!).


Here comes the dulce part!

Once the mixture is totally cooled, place half of the mixture in a blender and add 1/2 cup of the dulce de leche. Blend until smooth, then whisk into the remaining base.

Pour the mixture into the container of an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions (for me it was approximately 25 minutes).

In a small saucepan over low heat, gently warm the remaining 1/2 cup dulce de leche. Just after churning the custard, transfer a few scoops of the gelato into the container you’re freezing it in, and drizzle a few tablespoons of the dulce de leche over it.

Dulce de leche drizzled in the ice cream container

Repeat layering with the remaining gelato and dulce de leche, then freeze for at least 2 hours before serving. (The gelato layering and drizzling is not an exact science, you cannot mess this up, so don’t worry. The goal is to make sure you swirl dulce de leche into the gelato. Each bite will be slightly different, and that’s OK!)

When I made this amazing treat, the gelato was so extremely soft  and creamy that it needed to freeze over night.

The Verdict: YUMMERS!

I should note here that what made this treat truly extra special was the drizzle of chocolate ganache on top.

Like I said, something about caramel and chocolate really is to die for, and I could not resist adding that ganache to this ice cream. It was heavenly together.

I strongly recommend that you do the same!

Succulent Strawberry Sorbet

24 Apr

Strawberry fields forever. ~ The Beatles

The Strawberries


I purchased and hulled so many strawberries for this sorbet that I felt like I personally depleted an entire strawberry field.

Here’s the story. I try very much to only buy organic fruits and vegetables, especially if they are on the “dirty dozen” list. Living in NYC we have access to lots of moderately priced (I know, shocking) organic options. Trader Joe’s carries many items as does Whole Foods, and of course the plethora of farmers markets in NYC makes it even easier to find great produce. When making this sorbet I went on a hunt for good priced organic berries and after 3 places I found myself, yet again, at Trader Joe’s. They really are a savior here in NYC.

Then came measuring the ingredients.

Honestly, it was embarrassing.

My recipe called for 2 quarts of strawberries, yet the only box of berries available at Trader Joe’s was 2 pounds. “How do you measure quarts in dry goods and how does that relate to pounds?”, you ask. Well, I was wondering the same damn thing myself. I whipped out the iPhone and kept googling every possible combination of “quart + strawberry+ measurement” and found myself on this totally unreliable message board that, funny enough, seemed to have a relatively legitimate post. Two quarts of strawberries, it said, was the equivalent of 8 cups of berries. In other words, one pound of berries was approximately 4ish cups. I wasn’t entirely sold (and neither was my very nice salesman at Trader Joe’s) so he took the box of berries in the back and systematically measured the box for me. He concluded that one pound of berries was indeed approximately four cups. Lifesaver! So, I bought 2 quarts of strawberries and went on my merry way.

The Simple Syrup

Next came making the simple syrup.

Simple syrup gets its name because, well, it’s extremely simple. Though the classic simple syrup recipe is 1 part water to 1 part sugar, this sorbet recipe was slightly altered. In fact, it had less sugar (which is a good thing because these berries were SO sweet on their own they barely needed sugar!).

I used organic raw sugar (which has a brown hue) to make the simple syrup. Two cups water, 1.5 cups of sugar. When it was done boiling and mixing it looked like a cup of rusty water. Ew. I thought maybe I burnt it, and was rather annoyed because I didn’t want to waste it and make it again. Then it dawned on me that it was brown because of the raw sugar! I tasted it for good measure, and sure enough, it was exactly right! Phew.

If you thought the above seemed complicated, just wait until I regale you with the trials and tribulations of hulling strawberries. You should know that I have never hulled a strawberry before. I know, it’s a cooking faux pas. But honestly, I can’t really taste the difference between hulled strawberries and those with their tops cut off. Uh oh, am I starting to sound like The Husband with my unrefined palette? Eek.

Anyhow, for those of you who don’t know how to hull strawberries here’s a great video. I watched it, practiced a few times, and voilà, I was hulling strawberries ad nauseum. But, “to hull” with this – it’s time for the actual recipe!

The pile of hulled strawberries

Succulent Strawberry Sorbet

Straight from Ciao Bella


2 quarts strawberries, hulled

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tbs lemon juice


Hull the heck out of those strawberries!

Make the simple syrup by heating the water and sugar, whisking or mixing vigorously so the sugar dissolves but the water does not boil. The mixture is ready when small bubbles appear around the edges of the liquid. Let it cool completely at least 4 hours or if possible, refrigerate overnight.

Mix half the strawberries with half the simple syrup and 1/2 tbs of lemon juice in a blender until smooth.  Pour it into an ice cream maker and repeat with the second batch of strawberries, simple syrup and lemon juice.

Turn on the ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For me, this took 25-30 minutes, slightly longer than usual, and that’s because I think the ice cream maker was over crowded.


It’s worth noting here that my ice cream maker has a 1.5 quart bowl and this was way too much liquid for the bowl. Actually, this makes 2 batches of the sorbet, in other words nearly 3 quarts. So, either cut the recipe in half to make only one batch OR refrigerate one batch overnight and repeat the process the next day.

I actually did something rather outlandish (and delish!), and I used the other half of the mixture to make drinks for friends. We mixed the fresh strawberry puree with some vodka and a splash of orange juice, served them in martini glasses and they were a HUGE hit. I highly recommend this option because everybody wins with sorbet and cocktails! What’s not to love?

The sorbet is churning...

The sorbet is really creamy and “melty” when it comes out of the machine so like usual you should freeze it for a few hours before serving.

When I served this sorbet I created a trifle-like presentation by layering last week’s lemon sorbet with the strawberry sorbet. It was a perfect marriage of tart and sweet. If you recall, I felt that this lemon sorbet was way too tart, but the strawberry sorbet really cut that tartness and it was a really refreshing end to our, drum-roll please… pizza dinner!

Remember, this is an excellent summer recipe. It’s sure to quench your thirst (especially when mixed with vodka!) and is a real crowd pleaser (thus said our crowd of friends!)

Oh, and one more thing: this sorbet was so good, I didn’t manage to get a photo of the finished product. You’ll just have to imagine. Or better yet, make your own and try it!

Chocolate Ganache

18 Apr

The 12-step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate! ~Terry Moore

Well, lucky for me we live in a 628 square foot apartment in NYC and there probably are not even 12 steps in my kitchen. Ergo, I am NEVER more than 12 steps away from chocolate. Phew!

This week I am on a mission to make ice cream sauces because it’s Passover and I am limited in my ability to make ice creams with mix-ins. In the absence of these mix-ins my ice creams feel naked. Now, you should all know that I am a girl who almost never eats ice cream plain. To me, part of the experience of eating ice cream is to see how many outrageous toppings I can cram on top, without completely losing the essence of the actual ice cream flavor. The only exception to this rule is when I eat an ice cream that is chock full of mix-ins, in which case adding a topping would be like bringing jewels to the queen!

Simply put, I think toppings are to ice cream as accessories are to women. No woman deserves to be void of accessories, and so by the same logic, no ice cream deserves to be void of toppings.

Enter chocolate ganache.

This recipe is extremely easy (are you sensing a trend?). My goal here is to provide simple, inexpensive recipes for ice cream toppings so that if you wanted to create your own ice cream sundae bar you’d have pretty much every topping at your finger tips. So far we have dulce de leche, and now chocolate ganache!

Here’s my recipe for today:

Chocolate Ganache

Copied exactly from Ciao Bella


8oz semisweet, bittersweet or white chocolate (I used semi-sweet from Trader Joe’s – in my humblest of opinions they are the best bang for your buck)

2tbs butter

3/4 cup heavy cream


Melting the butter into the cream

Melt the cream and the butter in a saucepan on low. Whisk or stir continuously so that the butter melts into the cream. Do not boil the liquid; keep it on the stove top only until small bubbles form around the edges and the butter is fully mixed in.

Pour the chocolate into a heat proof bowl.

Pour the cream mixture on top of the chocolate mixture and stir gently until it all mixes together.

Let the mixture cool slightly. If it cools and hardens, rewarm it by soaking the bowl of ganache in warm water. Stir for about 5-7 minutes and the ganache will warm up.

Cream mixture poured over the chocolate

The ganache can be stored in the refrigerator for approximately 5 days.

The Verdict: Excellent. Rich. Yummy!

The Ganache!

This is a wonderful topping to drizzle over ice cream or sorbet, as well as a perfect coating to use for gelato or ice cream truffles.

Dulce de Leche

15 Apr

How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You. ~ James Taylor

Argentinian dulce de leche: where it all began!

You could say that it was love at first sight. Really, I didn’t even need to taste it before I knew I loved it. For someone like me who lives for anything caramelized I knew that I would love Dulce de Leche (literally “candy of milk”). Most people go crazy for the steak and wine in Argentina but I wanted nothing more than to sink my teeth into some good ‘ole dulce de leche.  And that’s just what I did.

I became really obsessed, really fast. Honestly, I have no idea how it happened. I went from having had dulce de leche five times in my life, to eating it every day, on everything. I spiraled out of control. I admit it, but when in Rome…

So there I was at breakfast, eating a dulce de leche croissant, dipping it into dulce de leche sauce (yes, that happend) when The Husband staged an intervention. Thank heavens for him, or else I would have been found passed out in a puddle of dulce de leche, I kid you not. It was not my proudest moment.

But, what came out of this experience was the need to make my own dulce de leche. I had a slight panic attack thinking about how I would return to NYC with only a few little jars of the sugary goodness. I couldn’t quit cold turkey, so I took matters into my own hands.

Before taking the plunge.

Enter Ciao Bella Cookbook. Thanks to an incredibly generous gift from The Mother-In-Law (in the form of amazing ice cream accoutrements, including ice cream bowls, spoons, and the legendary Ciao Bella cookbook!) I was able to replicate this succulent treat.

When I found out how truly simple it was to make dulce de leche I got slightly concerned because it meant that I could make it whenever I wanted. It didn’t help that I already had all (read 1) ingredients in my apartment!

Below is the incredibly simplistic recipe from the geniuses at Ciao Bella.

Dulce de Leche 

Copied exactly from The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto


1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk


All that is involved in this easy but somewhat unusual technique is simmering an unopened can of (organic, which I used) sweetened condensed milk for 2 hours.

Fill a large saucepan with water. Remove the label from the can and place the can in the water.


Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 hours, making sure the can is covered with water at all times. (This is very important because the bottom of the can will caramelize more than top, so you will essentially get a two-toned dulce de leche, slightly uniformed flavor if not.)

Remove the can using tongs and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (this can take up to an hour).

Open the can, spoon the dulce de leche  into a container, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to use, reheat on the stove top on medium-low stirring occasionally so it does not burn and so a skin does not form on top. Serve immediately and it’s simply perfect!

**This dulce de leche serves as the base for the dulce de leche gelato (creation coming soon!) as well as a sauce or topping for any other frozen treat. **

The finished product!