Midweek Meltdown: Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

mint chocolate chunk ice cream

excite-MINT

Guess what, people? Meltdowns are back! And since the official start of Summer is this weekend, it seems like the right time for it.

Even after making 8 different flavors of ice cream last year (plus 1 sorbet and 1 gelato), I didn’t make one of my favorites: mint chocolate chip. I’m really glad I did now, because the combination of herby mint and rich, dark chocolate is one of the best flavors ever. I wasn’t going to add food coloring, but my brain couldn’t process “mint” without that traditional green hue. But I do like the way the brown chocolate blends with the minty green in the finished product. Tastes pretty good too.

Mint Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
4 cups (1 quart) of half & half
5 large egg yolks
3/4 cup of sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 ½ teaspoons of mint extract
Green food coloring (optional)
3 oz of dark chocolate mini chunks

In a large saucepan, heat the half & half over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and salt, and whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and thickened, about 3 minutes. Slowly add a little of the heated half & half into the egg mixture and whisk together. Pour the egg-half & half mixture into the saucepan and continue cooking over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and can coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Stir in the vanilla and mint extract, and about 4 drops of green food coloring, if using. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold or overnight.

Place the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the machine’s instructions. Most machines take 20 to 40 minutes to make ice cream. When the ice cream is thick and creamy, add the dark chocolate mini chunks to the machine, or stir them in by hand. Place into a freezer-safe container (with piece of parchment paper between the ice cream and the lid) and let it harden for a few hours. Let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes before scooping, and then eat.

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Pecan Turtle Power

pecan turtle cookies

cowabunga!

Everybody knows what turtles are, right? No, I’m not talking about those shelled reptiles, regular and/or the mutant ninja variety, although those are all pretty awesome. I mean those incredible chocolate-covered clusters with caramel and nuts. It’s the type of treat usually found at quaint candy shoppes alongside homemade fudge and peanut brittle. But if you don’t live near one of these shoppes, they can be hard to find. So in a totally radical move, I decided to reinterpret those candies into cookie form. And add peanut butter, toffee and – since it’s National Pecan Month! – some pecans. Dude, I know. I have a slight obsession with making cookies that include every flavor under the sun. I also made my very own salted caramel sauce because, well, why not? It’s way easier than you could imagine, and makes for a bodacious treat all its own.

Pecan Turtle Cookies
For the cookies:
½ cup of unsalted butter, softened
½ cup of sugar
½ cup of brown sugar
2/3 cup of chunky peanut butter
1 large egg
2 cups of all-purpose baking mix
1 cup of milk chocolate toffee bits
1 cup of salted caramel sauce (see below)
1 cup of pecan halves
2/3 cup of semisweet chocolate chips, melted

For the salted caramel sauce:
1 cup of sugar
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened and cut in pieces
½ cup of whipping cream
2 teaspoons of Maldon flaky sea salt

Heat your oven to 350º.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugars and peanut butter until light and fully. Add the egg and beat until smooth. Add the baking mix a little a time until well combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Stir in the milk chocolate toffee bits.

Roll the dough into tablespoon-sized balls, place on an ungreased cookie sheet and then flatten with the bottom of a glass (or your fingertips). Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, make the salted caramel sauce. Place the sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat. When the sugar starts to melt (keep an eye on it – it could burn quickly), whisk to remove any clumps. When the sugar turns a deep amber color, carefully whisk in the softened butter. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream until smooth. Then whisk in the sea salt. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, and then place in the fridge to cool completely. The sauce will thicken as it cools, but should still remain sticky and liquidity. (Any unused sauce can be kept covered in the fridge.)

Once the cookies are cool, pour a spoonful of salted caramel sauce over each one and top with one or two pecan halves. Drizzle with melted chocolate chips and let set.


Drink Me, I’m Irish Coffee

Irish coffee milkshake

whiskey & cream

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, folks. Even after a day of drinking you still need to satisfy your sweet tooth, right? This frozen twist on the classic Irish coffee certainly does the trick. Sláinte!

Irish Coffee Milkshake
– 1 cup of coffee ice cream
– 1 cup of milk
– 1 shot of Jameson Irish whiskey
– Small bar of chocolate, for garnish

In a blender, combine the ice cream and milk and blend until smooth, or the consistency you prefer. Add the whiskey and pulse to mix. Poor into a glass and top with grated chocolate. Pop in a straw and enjoy.


Peanut Butter Somebody Up Today

peanut butter toffee cookies

love is peanut butter cookies & milk

It can’t be St. Whatever-tine’s Day without showcasing something everybody loves: peanut butter. Ohhh .. I bet you thought I was going to say chocolate. Gotcha! (There’s some of that in these cookies too, so don’t worry.) Throw in some milk chocolate toffee bits and they’ll really know how much you care.

Peanut Butter Toffee Cookies
¾ cup of flour
¼ teaspoon of baking soda
⅛ teaspoon of salt
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup of sugar
½ cup of smooth peanut butter
1 large egg
1 8oz bag of Heath milk chocolate toffee bits

Heat your oven to 350º.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fully. Add the peanut butter and egg and beat until smooth. Add the flour mixture a little a time until well combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Stir in the milk chocolate toffee bits – as little or as much as you like, but save some to sprinkle on top.

Roll the dough into balls and place on a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. Flatten with the bottom of a glass (or your fingertips) and then sprinkle each with a few chocolate toffee pieces. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Then share with someone you love.


Chocolate Chunk Off the Old Block

salted chocolate chunk cookies

it’s chunk! (chocolate chunk)

I’m back to my old tricks this week. Sugar. Eggs. Chocolate. You know, the good stuff. I’m adding flaky sea salt to that list, as you should too.

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies
– 1 ½ cups of flour
– 1 teaspoon of baking powder
– ½ teaspoon of fine sea salt (or regular salt)
– ¼ teaspoon of baking soda
– ½ cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
– ¾ cup of brown sugar
– ½ cup of sugar
– ¼ cup of powdered sugar
– 2 large egg yolks
– 1 large egg
– 1 teaspoon of vanilla
– 6 oz of dark chocolate (72% cacao), roughly chopped
– Maldon (or other) flaky sea salt

Heat your oven to 375º.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, fine sea salt and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the egg yolks, egg and vanilla, and beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the flour mixture a little at a time until well combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Stir in the chocolate chunks.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet about 1 inch apart. Sprinkle a little Maldon sea salt on top of each one. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let them cool a few minutes on the cookie sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Then eat.

salted chocolate chunk cookies

these cookies have been a ‘salted

In the mood for another sweet & salty treat? Check out these blondies.


Let the Chips Melt Where They May

no-bake chocolate clusters

no bake, no fuss

So, remember how just yesterday I gave you oven-fried chicken in an effort to be healthier? Well, these chocolate clusters are the exact opposite. However, I made these way back in 2012 so technically they were still part of my holiday binge. What’s cool about these cookies is that there is no baking whatsoever. Just melt, mix and eat. Can’t get any easier than that, right? Change up the ingredient ratio if you like. A friend suggested Raisinets instead of regular ol’ raisins, and I’d like to try something peanut butter in there, because you know, that’s always good.

No-Bake Chocolate Clusters
– 1 bag of butterscotch chips
– ½ bag of semisweet chocolate chips
– ⅓ cup of potato chips, slightly crushed
– 1 ½ cups of dry roasted peanuts
– ¼ cup of raisins

In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butterscotch and chocolate chips. Add the potato chips, peanuts and raisins and stir to combine. Place spoonfuls of the mixture on sheets of wax paper and let set. Then eat.


Christmas Cookie Day: Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s Brownies

Candy Cane Joe-Joe's Brownies

joe to the world

Okay, brownies technically aren’t cookies. But if you put out a plate of brownies at your holiday party would people complain? Heck no. Especially not brownies made with chopped up Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s. These cookies only make an appearance during the holiday season, but let me tell you – I dream about them all year long. There’s something magical about chocolate cookies filled with candy cane cream. My friends & I have been obsessed with them for years, once we discovered the Trader Joe’s a few blocks away from our office had them. We used to take afternoon field trips to the store to get them, and then secretly hide them away in our desks so nobody would steal our precious treats. Sure, you might say Candy Cane Oreos are just the same. But let me tell you, they are not. The real flecks of candy cane make a big difference. Feel free to add actual candy cane pieces if you want these brownies extra pepperminty.

Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s Brownies
– 8 oz of semisweet chocolate chips
– ¼ cup of cocoa powder
– 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
– ¾ cup of flour
– ½ teaspoon of baking powder
– ¼ teaspoon of salt
– ½ cup of brown sugar
– ¼ cup of sugar
– 2 eggs
– 1 teaspoon of vanilla
– 18 Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s, chopped into pieces

Heat your oven to 350º.

In a saucepan, melt the chocolate chips, cocoa powder and butter over low heat, stirring occasionally. When nearly melted, remove from the heat and whisk until smooth.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the sugars, eggs and vanilla. Slowly add the chocolate mixture and beat until combined, then beat in the flour mixture a little at time until a thick, glossy batter forms. Stir in about ¾ of the Candy Cane Joe-Joe pieces. Pour the batter into a lightly greased 8×8 baking dish and top with the remaining Joe-Joe pieces. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Let cool completely and then cut into squares.

Candy Cane Joe-Joe's Brownies

have a holly jo(e)lly christmas

So tell me: Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s versus Candy Cane Oreos, what’s better?