Midweek Meltdown: Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

dulce de leche ice cream

dulce delicioso*

Thankfully, the heat spell we’ve been having for the past so-many weeks has finally broken. (At least I hope so.) Now the days have settled into the very pleasant mid-80s, with a bright blue sky overhead and a gentle breeze sailing in from the ocean.

Sounds delightful, doesn’t?

As delightful as a bowl of dulce de leche ice cream.

If you’re not familiar with dulce de leche, it’s a caramel-like substance that’s very rich and creamy, but a little mellower than ordinary caramel. You should be able to find a can of it in the “international” aisle of your grocery store. But if not, there are a few methods out there where you can turn a can of sweetened condensed milk into dulce de leche. One of them involves boiling a can for 3 to 4 hours. While homemade stuff is great, boiling something for 4 hours when you can buy the stuff already in a can seemed like a silly idea. Plus, I didn’t want to ruin one of these very pleasant summer days stuck inside watching a pot boil. I much prefer devouring a bowl of creamy ice cream instead.

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
3 cups of half & half
1 13.4 oz can of dulce de leche, plus more for topping
2 vanilla beans, seeds removed

In a large saucepan, heat the half & half over medium heat until nearly boiling. Remove from the heat and whisk in the dulce de leche until dissolved, and then stir in the vanilla bean seeds. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, 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, 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. Top with lightly melted dulce de leche and eat.

*Thanks Wendy!

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Midweek Meltdown: Blackberry Ice Cream

blackberry ice cream

purple makes me happy

It continues to be hot. Like H-O-T hot. I feel like I’ve been melting, or on the verge of melting, for weeks. Which is good and bad when ice cream is involved. You want your ice cream cold and tasty, but not too cold that you can’t eat it without a dreaded brain freeze. And then you don’t want it too melty so it turns into a big drippy mess and gets all over your face and clothes, or whatever else happens to be around, like your iPhone, or your cat.

These are the things I was thinking about when I was making my latest batch of ice cream. This time I’ve gone the fruity route, using blackberries, those darker, richer cousins of raspberries and strawberries.

I really love the color of this ice cream, it’s such a happy purple. It just makes me smile. It’s like staring into a bowl of Grimace or something. Wait, is that weird? Forget I said that. The heat has gotten to me. It’s nothing like a bowl of Grimace. It’s sweet and creamy and berry good … and might just be one of the tastiest varieties I’ve made.

Blackberry Ice Cream
2 pints of blackberries
1 1/4 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
3 cups of half & half
5 large egg yolks

In a medium saucepan, combine the blackberries, 1/4 cup of sugar and the lemon juice. Simmer over low heat until the blackberries have broken down and are syrupy, about 20 minutes. Next, pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl, using a spoon or spatula to get as much of the liquid through as possible. Discard the remaining pulp and seeds and let the liquid cool.

In another saucepan, heat 1 ½ cups of half & half and 1 cup of sugar over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a bowl until pale yellow and thick, about 3 minutes. Gradually add some of the warm half & half mixture into the egg yolks while whisking constantly. Then 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.

Add the remaining 1 ½ cups of half & half to the blackberry mixture, and then add the egg-half & half mixture and stir to combine. 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, 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.

blackberry ice cream

i color coordinate my ice cream and ice cream containers

Let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes before scooping, and then eat.


Midweek Meltdown: Strawberries & Cream Popsicles

strawberries & cream popsicle

super-cool

Okay, if you’re keeping track, this is technically not ice cream as well, but it is frozen and delicious and a summertime favorite. And it gave me the chance to try out my new super-cool (har-har) Zoku popsicle maker. If you don’t know what that is, then you’re in for a real treat. It’s this magical little invention that freezes popsicles right on your counter in 9 minutes or less. I know! I could hardly believe it myself until I tried it myself, and literally 9 minutes later I was enjoying a strawberries and cream popsicle. Don’t skip the first step – letting the berries sit with the sugar and vanilla makes them soft and juicy. And the Greek yogurt adds some subtle tang, but if that’s not your thing you can use regular yogurt.

Strawberries & Cream Popsicles
1 lb of strawberries, hulled & diced
4 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla
1 cup of Greek vanilla yogurt

Place the strawberries in a bowl along with the sugar and vanilla, and let stand for about 15 minutes until juicy. Place into a blender, add the yogurt and mix until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds (or your properly frozen Zoku machine) and let freeze. Then enjoy.


Midweek Meltdown: Frozen Key Lime Pie

frozen key lime pie

easy as pie

While technically not ice cream, this pie IS frozen, and basically has the same ingredients as ice cream, so I’m qualifying this as a meltdown. And even for people who don’t like pie (this guy) this one is a real treat. I’ll let you in on a little secret too — I’m spilling a lot of them this week — I don’t use regular graham crackers for the crust. I use honey-flavored Teddy Grahams. So, I throw those poor innocent bears into a food processor and pulverize them into little crumbs. If that offends anyone, I’m sorry. But just like the brave limes in this pie, they really do sacrifice their lives for a good cause. As a result, this frozen pie has all the necessary flavors of the perfect summer dessert: zesty, creamy, sweet and, if you leave it out in the sun for too long, melty.

Frozen Key Lime Pie
For the crust:
2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons of butter, melted

For the filling:
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup of sugar
1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons of lime zest
3/4 cup of lime juice (about 4 to 5 limes)

For the topping:
½ pint of heavy cream
3 tablespoons of sugar
½ teaspoon of vanilla

Heat your oven to 350º.

For the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a bowl. Press into a 10 inch pie dish, making sure the sides and bottom are even thickness. Bake for 10 minutes, and then allow to cool completely.

For the filling, beat the egg yolks and sugar on high until thick, about 5 minutes. On medium speed, add the sweetened condensed milk, lime zest and lime juice. Pour the mixture into the baked pie crust, cover with foil and let freeze overnight.

For the topping, beat the heavy cream on high until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat to combine. Spoon over the top of the pie and allow to freeze several hours. Cut into slices and then eat.


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.


Monday Meltdown: Pumpkin Ice Cream

pumpkin ice cream

pumpkin it up

It’s baaaack! Monday Meltdown returns with a very special Halloween-inspired ice cream: pumpkin. Get your Jack-o-Lanterns ready and churn up this treat, which is a lot like the creamiest part of your favorite pumpkin pie – only frozen. Can you give ice cream out to trick or treaters? Hmm. Better to keep it all for yourself.

Also: For anyone in the path of Hurricane Sandy, stay home and be safe. Hopefully you’ve got some good food to hunker down with.

Pumpkin Ice Cream
– 1 cup of pumpkin puree
– 1 teaspoon of vanilla
– 2 cups of heavy cream
– ¾ cup of brown sugar
– 5 egg yolks
– ½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
– ½ teaspoon of ground ginger
– ¼ teaspoon of salt
– Pinch of ground nutmeg
– 1 tablespoon of bourbon (optional)

In a bowl, mix together the pumpkin and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 8 hours.

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, combine 1 ½ cups of heavy cream and ½ cup of brown sugar. Cook until bubbles form around the edges, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cinnamon, ginger, salt, nutmeg, the remaining ½ cup of cream and the remaining ¼ cup of brown sugar.

Remove the cream mixture from the heat. Gradually whisk about ½ a cup of the mixture into the egg yolk mixture until smooth. Pour the egg mixture back into the pan, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick and the custard can coat the back of a wooden spoon. (Do not boil the mixture.) Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, and then whisk in the pumpkin mixture. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and refrigerate at least 3 hours 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. Add the bourbon during the last minute of churning. When the ice cream is thick and creamy, place into a freezer-safe container (with a 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.


Midweek Meltdown: Chocolate Ice Cream

chocolate ice cream

chocolate eruption

Due to our recent Labor Day-ing, this is probably a short week for most of you out there. Does that mean you can’t have a meltdown? Of course not. I actually find these short weeks to be more hectic and crazed than regular ones. But if there’s a way to get through it, it’s with chocolate. I’m pretty much a chocoholic. Chocolate candy bars, chocolate cookies, chocolate milk, chocolate chips straight out of the bag … they’re all great. And this chocolate ice cream satisfies any chocolate cravings, and then some. Since I’m a life-long Hershey fan, I used two of their products. My friends who sampled this batch said it tasted like frozen pudding, which is pretty cool compliment, if I do say so.

Chocolate Ice Cream
– 1 ½ cups of whole milk
– 1 ½ cups of heavy cream
– ½ cup of Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
– 4 oz of Hershey’s Semi-sweet Baking Bar, finely chopped
– 4 egg yolks
– ¾ cup of sugar
– 1 teaspoon of vanilla

Add the milk and cream to a saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until incorporated. Add the chopped chocolate and whisk until melted and completely smooth. Set aside.

Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl until smooth. Gradually add the sugar and whisk until the mixture is pale yellow and thickened, about 3 minutes. Slowly add a quarter of the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and whisk constantly so the eggs don’t scramble.

Pour the egg-chocolate mixture into the saucepan and cook 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 bowl. Stir in the vanilla, then 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, 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.