S’mores Ice Cream with Graham Cracker Cones

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On its surface, this might look like just another standard run-of-the-mill If the Spoon Fits post. And certainly, it has all the elements: dark, messy photography, Millennial self-importance, mild to moderate senseless rambling, and of course, an overly complex and ingredient-heavy ice cream recipe.

But dig a little more deeply, and what you’ll find is a post that’s the cyber embodiment of my darkest insecurities, fears, guilt, familial pressures, and paralyzing perfectionism.

…Okay, so maybe I’m being just a leetle dramatic. But seriously, you guys, I can’t tell you how much this post has tortured me the past few weeks and even, months (gulp).

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First of all, I haven’t posted anything new on the ol’ blog since August, and the guilt alone has brought me to near tears on several occasions. This post has been sitting in “draft” status for nearly 6 weeks now, which produces a very special kind of anxiety in my life; the kind that creates 3am stomach aches and middle-of-the-workday regrets about avoiding my creative pursuits and allowing Corporate America to manipulate my free time.

But obviously, rather than just take an afternoon to finish the post, I’d rather spend two months waging psychological warfare on myself, then tell you all about it in hyper dramatic fashion (like I said, Millennial).

Secondly, I’m apprehensive about this post in general, primarily because s’mores flavored anything is so…overdone. I like to make things that are interesting, or uncommon, or at least what I think are somewhat special, and s’mores is one of the most ubiquitous of flavors. I’m feeling very suburban, basic, and insecure about this decision.

Third, s’mores is a really special flavor to my family and me, and I’ve thus self-imposed an impossible creative standard upon myself, which has resulted in crushing intimidation and unreasonable late-night doubts.

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I’m sure many families in America have fond memories of sitting around a campfire at some point, marshmallows roasting up to a perfect crisp, then smashing said marshmallows into a generous piece of Hershey’s chocolate. My s’mores memories are similar, but swap out a campfire for a toaster oven, and you’ve got yourself a bonafide childhood memory.

I feel a special sentiment towards s’mores because they are the first thing I ever made on my own. I loved watching the marshmallows puff up and crisp on the edges, and experimenting with different varieties of chocolates and toppings.

Culinary pursuits aside, s’mores are also one of the key glues that binds me to my French brother-in-law, Pascal.

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When Pascal first came into our lives so many years ago, I had never met a French person before. In fact, growing up in rural-ish Ohio, I don’t think I’d met anyone from outside my state before. I worried about what we would talk about; did he like ballet? Or Polly Pocket? Because at that time, those were my general areas of expertise, and unless a person shared those interests, I had no idea where to go conversationally.

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I don’t remember when or how, but at some point during Pascal’s first visit to Ohio, we arrived at the topic of s’mores. Although it was unfathomable to me, Pascal revealed that marshmallows and graham crackers were hard to find in Paris, and thus, he had NEVER had a s’more before.

I immediately had the reaction of someone who finds an injured bird on the street – an instant and overwhelming need to take care of him and show him the life he was missing.

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My mom proposed that I make him one of my special smores (disclaimer: nothing really that special about it other than the fact that I made it).

Pascal was SO excited. To this day, I still remember him sitting at the head of the table in the my childhood home, beaming with delight as marshmallow and melted chocolate covered his face.

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And I was beyond proud. That something I made, could make someone so happy. It never occurred to me that he could just be trying to please the little sister of the woman that he was trying to date and ultimately marry, but whatever. I didn’t really care. Because we had a S’mores Bond.

Unspoken. Everlasting. Unbreakable.

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I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the first time in my life that I made the connection between food and happiness and culture. At the end of this summer, when I started craving melty gooey chocolate and the taste of nearly burnt marshmallows, I knew it was time to face my fears and live up to the legacy that my family bestwed upon me so many years ago.

It was time for S’mores Ice Cream.

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There were many different directions that I could have gone for the base, but I opted for roasted marshmallow. Not only did I include blended roasted marshmallows in the base, but i also left chunks of marshmallows intact, which stayed nice and chewy and soft when frozen because of their high sugar content.

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I made my own chocolate chips so that they would have a nice truffle-like texture in the sea of marshmallow cream, and put together some make-shift salty graham cracker “cookie” chunks by mixing some butter, sea salt, and graham crumbs and melting it all together in the microwave. I then swirled these throughout my ice cream base so that every bite contained salty-sweet goodness.

The finishing touch? Super delicious and savory graham cracker cones.

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I invested in an ice cream cone maker early on in my blogging journey because I knew that I would get a lot of mileage out of it. However, if you don’t have a cone maker, you have a few different options: you can bake the cones like cookies and then shape them into cones while they are still hot, you could use a normal waffle iron and just eat the ice cream on top of waffles, or you could bake the cones as previously mentioned into little circles and then drape them on the bottom of glasses to create a “bowl” shape – edible ice cream bowl!

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I did my best with this post (more importantly, this ice cream), even though it was a little bit of an emotional roller coaster.

It’s a little bit like my family – super diverse, salty and sweet, a little bit messy, a little bit imperfect- but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Bon appétit! And happy scooping🙂

S’mores Ice Cream with Graham Cracker Cones

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 12 hrs
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Yield: Heaping 1 Quart

For the Ice Cream Base:

3 cups marshmallows (preferably mini, but normal sized works too!)

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup whole milk, plus 2 tablespoons

2 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Pinch of kosher or sea salt

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened

For the Chocolate Chunks:

1 cup chocolate chips or chunks

1 tablespoon vegetable or coconut oil

For the Graham Cracker “Cookies”

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

3 tablespoons melted butter

Large pinch of salt, or to taste

For the Graham Cracker Cones:

1 whole egg + 1 egg white

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup white sugar

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs

pinch of cinnamon

2 tablespoons melted butter, cooled to room temperature

Make the Ice Cream Base:

  1. Preheat your broiler.
  2. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the marshmallows on the prepared pan, and roast in your broiler for no more than 2 or 3 minutes. WATCH IT like a hawk. Seriously, don’t leave the room! You want toasted marshmallows, not burnt-to-a-crisp ones.
  3. Remove from oven and set aside. Place half in the jar of blender, and reserve the rest for later.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix two tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.
  5. In a large saucepan, combine milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and salt, then bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 4 minutes exactly.
  6. After 4 minutes, remove the milk mixture from heat and gradually mix into your cornstarch and milk mixture that you made in Step 1. Add combined mixture back to the saucepan, and cook over medium high heat for about 1 minute, or until thickened and the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and cream cheese. Once cream cheese is completely incorporated, allow to cool slightly (15 minutes or so). Then, add half the mixture to the jar of your blender with the marshmallows. Blend until completely smooth, then incorporate back with the rest of your mixture. Stir until combined, then move to an airtight storage container, and store in the fridge overnight (or for at least 4 hours).

Make the Chocolate Chunks:

  1. In a microwave safe dish, combine chocolate chips and oil and microwave on 15 second increments until fully melted.
  2. Spread melted chocolate on parchment paper, and chill until set, about 30 minutes.
  3. Once chilled, break into pieces or cut with a pizza cutter into medium or large sized pieces (really, your preference!). Reserve until you’re ready to make the ice cream (try not to eat them all while you’re waiting!).

Make the buttery Graham “Cookies”:

  1. Combine all ingredients into a microwave safe dish. Cook in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  2. Allow to cool, set aside.

Make the Graham Cracker Cones:

1. In a medium sized bowl, beat the eggs and salt until evenly combined, about 1 minute.

2. Add the sugar, and beat for 2 minutes, until combined.

3. Gently add in the 1/3 cup of flour, stirring until it is absorbed into the batter.

4. Add in the graham crumbs.

5. Add the melted butter, and stir until blended.

6. Add about 1/8 cup of batter to preheated waffle cone iron, and let cook until the waffle iron setting indicates that the waffle is finished. You want the cone to be a golden brown – if the waffle isn’t as dark as you would like it, feel free to leave it in the iron for a few more minutes (just make sure it doesn’t burn!)

7. Remove the waffle from the iron with a spatula and immediately place onto a hot towel. Use the towel to tightly wrap the waffle around a cone form, making sure you pinch the bottom of the cone so that ice cream cannot leak out in the future (Or, you can just add a mini marshmallow or some chocolate chips). Hold the cone around the mold for a few seconds to ensure it sets its shape, then place in a drinking glass or cone holder to allow it to cool.

(Finished cones should last a few weeks when stored in an airtight container).

Put it all together:

  1. Remove the ice cream base from your fridge and freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. During the last two minutes of churning, add in chocolate chips and extra toasted marshmallows that your previously set aside.
  3. When placing your ice cream into your storage container, alternate ice cream with layers of graham “cookies” to create a swirled effect.
  4. Freeze overnight until hardened, or for at least 6 hours.

Enjoy!!!!

Buttermilk Peach Crumble Ice Cream

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I don’t know if it’s out of boredom, or old age, or an unrelenting pursuit of gluttony, but lately I’ve grown to absolutely love certain foods that up until recently, never quite tickled my fancy.

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Things like blueberries. And pie. And blueberry pie.

…And crumbles. And cobblers. And crisps.

(Oh my!)

Really, I’ve grown to love any and all dessert in which plump and juicy roasted fruit is the star of the show.

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I know, I know. This is a borderline blasphemous confession considering the extent to which I’ve complained about fruit in such dramatic fashion over the years on this blog. Like this time. Or that time.

But for the past few summers, I’ve been growing fonder and fonder of fruit (and specifically, fruit desserts) and I can’t explain why. Maybe it’s because I’m finally starting to learn when and where to buy the best fruit locality to maximize flavor. Or maybe it’s because of all those amazing homemade fruit pies and cakes Tux over at Brooklyn Homemaker is always using to infiltrate my foodie subconscious. Or, maybe it’s because, after years of living in a world defined only by chocolate, I’ve finally mustered enough courage to further expand my dessert horizons (and consequently, my waistline).

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One fruit that I’ve fallen in love with this summer is the mighty yet humble peach, but I’ll be the first to admit that we didn’t always have such a great relationship.

Like most fruit that I encountered, I was always quite suspicious of peaches growing up. The fuzzy outside reminded me of mold, and I always found the overall taste to be somewhat lackluster. But then recently it dawned on me: it’s because, in all my years on this planet,  I’d never had a really good peach.

The kind that’s fragrant and ripe and beautiful, and when you bite into it the juices dribble down your chin and make your face all sticky but you just don’t care because this peach is the most glorious piece of fruit you’ve ever experienced and you’re questioning how you’ve lived 29 years of your life in sheer ignorance, and now you’re ready to make up for lost time so you spend an entire weekend eating ALL THE PEACHES and get an awful stomach ache but you don’t care because life is GLORIOUS and nothing else matters but you and the peaches and maybe your sweatpants.

You know…that kind of peach.

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This. Kind. Of. Peach.

My profound moment of Peach Clarity happened a few weeks ago when my husband brought home a massive box of peaches from this adorable vendor called The Peach Truck, which carries real Georgia peaches and pecans, and generously makes them accessible to folks like me in the more northern, peach-starved part of the U.S. by making surprise trips to Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana throughout the summer.

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I’ve never been to Georgia, nor have I ever really spent much time south of say, North Carolina, but I’ve always fancied myself a southern belle at heart. Truly, my greatest ambition in life is to secure a home with a sufficiently picturesque wrap-around porch upon which I can sit and drink sweet tea in a yellow sundress, basking in the glory of all that is slow and simple and wonderful.

These Peach Truck peaches are the closest I’ve ever been to living that dream.

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I bit into one of these peaches on a hot summer day, and it was love at first bite. I’d never experienced anything quite like it. Fragrant, juicy, perfectly sweet. Before I knew it, I’d eaten five peaches, and started dreaming of the peach ice cream I’d no doubt be making that evening.

The only problem?

I’ve never liked peach ice cream. This can partly be attributed to 1) my disdain for fruit-flavored ice creams in general and 2) my mom’s seeming obsession with peach-flavored Yoplait, which for some reason was the only flavor of yogurt she would ever buy, even though I begged her every single week to buy me strawberry Go-Gurt, which is what all the cool kids packed in their lunches. After all this emotional trauma, I decided from that moment that I didn’t need any more peach-flavored dairy in my life.

But then, enter these beautiful peaches, and I just had to give peach ice cream a second chance.

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I made a batch where I incorporated the peaches throughout the ice cream by way of a puree, and you guys, I really didn’t love it. At all. The juicy peach flavor was masked by all the heavy cream and eggs, and I was really bored with the texture. The result can be seen below – pretty color, but devoid of any personality whatsoever.

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So, for my second try, I did my favorite thing and I made the ice cream version of a classic comfort food. This time it was none other than -you guessed it!- the infamous peach crumble. I abandoned my egg ambitions and instead made an eggless base with double the vanilla to really emulate the “crumble a la mode” flavor. Then, I made a quick and delicious peach jam by roasting peaches in the oven with some vanilla extract and just a little sugar. The finishing touch? A buttery crumble that comes together in a snap and tastes like honest to goodness pie crust.

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This ice cream is comforting, summery, and delicious. It’s the perfect end to a hot summer day (although I’ll admit I also ate this ice cream for breakfast some mornings, too).

Now, if only I had that perfect wrap around porch…

What’s your favorite way to eat your summer peach haul?

Happy scooping!🙂

Buttermilk Peach Crumble Ice Cream

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 12 hrs
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Yield: 1 Quart

For the Ice Cream Base:

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup whole milk, plus 2 tablespoons

2 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Pinch of kosher or sea salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup buttermilk

For the Roasted Peach Jam:

3 ripe peaches, peeled and roughly chopped

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon sugar (or to taste, depending on sweetness of peaches)

For the Crumble:

1.5 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt, to taste

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 and 1/2 sticks of chilled butter

Make the Ice Cream Base:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix two tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and salt, then bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 4 minutes.
  3. After 4 minutes, remove the milk mixture from heat and gradually mix into your cornstarch and milk mixture that you made in Step 1. Add combined mixture back to the saucepan, and cook over medium high heat for about 1 minute, or until thickened and the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and cream cheese. Once cream cheese is completely incorporated, allow to cool slightly (15 minutes or so). Then, add the buttermilk, move to an airtight storage container, and store in the fridge overnight (or for at least 4 hours).

Make the Roasted Peach Jam:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a glass baking dish, combine peaches, sugar, and vanilla extract. Roast in preheated oven until juices are bubbly and start to evaporate (about 30 minutes). Stir every so often.
  3. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for 1 week or until you need it for your ice cream.

Make the Crumble:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients except butter.
  3. With your hands or a pastry cutter, work butter into the rest of the ingredients until it starts to look crumbly, like pie topping.
  4. Spread on baking sheet and toast until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely; store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Put it all together:

  1. Remove the ice cream base from your fridge and freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. As you move your churned ice cream into your storage container, swirl with generous globs of peach jam, and top each layer with a handful of crumbles.
  3. Freeze overnight until hardened (or for at least 6 hours).

Enjoy!!!!

 

Mint Chocolate Chip Grasshopper Brownie Milkshakes

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It’s that time again, my friends.

Time for mint chocolate chip disasters, endless self-loathing, and massive emotional breakdowns.

Time for blog posts gone wrong, unreasonable hostility, and good old-fashioned hissy fits.

You guessed it – it’s time for another If the Spoon Fits birthday celebration!

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My little blog turned THREE this month (can you believe it?!) and I couldn’t be prouder.

Or more frustrated.

And also a little exhausted.

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On that fateful day in 2013 when I published my very first post, I promised myself that once a year on the blog’s birthday, I’d revisit my favorite childhood flavor: mint chocolate chip. But somehow (at least so far), each blog birthday has turned into a stunning disaster, resulting in anger, frustration, and desperate fast food choices, accompanied by the sweet and salty tears of overwhelming defeat.

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Even though I am 100% aware that my culinary talents are limited to traditional ice cream and NOT all the cool things I see on Pinterest, the temptation of doing something big and grandiose that I’ve never done before is always too much to resist, especially on such a momentous occasion as a blog birthday. Then, when things don’t turn out the way I want them to, I experience such a remarkable sense of self-disgust that it eventually results in massive, teary-eyed meltdowns, typically mid-photoshoot or better yet, in the middle of the night when I should be thinking about terrorism, world hunger, bed bugs, or other real problems much bigger than my ice cream blog.

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But not this year, I thought to myself.

This year, I’ll make a milkshake. But I won’t make just any milkshake. I’ll make THE MOST FANCIFUL milkshake the world has ever seen, and it will be delicious and boozy and the pictures will be awe-inspiring and magnificent to behold!!!

And..just to prove that I can be relaxed and have fun, I won’t even make the ice cream. I’ll just buy it, like a normal person. No eggs, no overnight freezing. It doesn’t get any easier than that. Right?!

Wrong.

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First of all, a milkshake is different enough from my usual ice cream set up that it requires a more decisive strategic approach to styling than a plain ol’ scoop or cone. It requires finesse and an eye for garnish, two qualities that I generally lack when it comes to food.

Secondly, making fanciful wonderful milkshakes isn’t as easy as everyone out there in blogland (and Pinterest) makes it seem. But of course, just like with everything else in my life, I probably overanalyzed even this seemingly simple milkshake process in an effort to make it just perfectly right.

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“Naked” shake. aka, hold the whip.

What started as a fun homage to my favorite childhood flavor turned into an overcomplicated mess of a dessert (albeit a delicious one).

I decided on a whim that I needed to incorporate crème de menthe into my shake, then this somehow spiraled into grasshopper brownies – something that I had never made before (but eaten plenty of, don’t you worry!).

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Despite appearances, grasshopper brownies are way harder to make than regular brownies. It was a little more similar to baking a cake than I would have liked, because we know I am NOT the best at cakes. There was a layer of mint frosting and ganache, which was a little bit more than I could handle on that particular afternoon.

So, even though I didn’t make the ice cream for this messy shake, I spent what felt like an entire day baking, frosting, freezing, and ganaching (is that even a word?).

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Once the brownies were finished, I moved on to my next disaster: my photoshoot.

I knew right away that the lighting wasn’t quite right, but I was cocky. “It’s my trusty blue background! My favorite props! What could go wrong?”

So I pressed onwards, but unfortunately the light never got better and I was already too frustrated to do anything productive about it. What resulted was one of the longest, messiest, and most laborious photo sessions I’ve had since…well, since the last blog birthday.

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As much time as I spent on the photoshoot itself, I think I phoned it in a little. I went with my same stupid standard background, and the same stupid paper straws I’ve had forever because I forgot to order the green polka dot ones I saw on Amazon that would have matched perfectly and now MY LIFE IS IN SHAMBLES AND EVERYTHING IS WRONG.

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In case you were wondering, yes, I did eat all of the brownies that were previously atop this shake.

As I started editing the photos, I hated them all. I stayed up late into the night, poking and prodding at myself, filing my mind with self-hatred. I fell asleep convinced I’d scrap the whole thing and spend my entire weekend re-doing it in exchange for my peace of mind.

But then the next morning I woke up, and thought, you know, these aren’t so bad.

And then, just like that, I decided to put on my big girl pants.

These pictures, although they aren’t my favorite, are just as much a part of the blog as the stuff that goes right, and they deserve their moment in the spotlight, too. You don’t put your heart and soul into something, then completely discount it because it didn’t turn out exactly how you wanted. Right?

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For now, the blog is 3 going on 13, giving me sass from every angle. And just when I think I’m starting to get the hang of it, something happens to completely throw me for a loop.

But in the end, I always know it’s going to be okay, and do you know why? Because of you gorgeous people!

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Through these blog posts I have revealed, little by little, that I am a complete and utter sociopath – the kind of person who picks fights over breakfast and sheds actual tears over ice cream cake. But yet, you my dear friends, keep coming back for more, validating my neuroses and giving me a cozy platform from which to vent about my stunningly dramatic, overblown, first-world blog problems.

I’m grateful for each and every one of you, and you’re all amazing.

Anyhow, enough with the mushy stuff and on to the milkshake!

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As the creator of an ice cream blog, I actually find it somewhat blasphemous that it’s taken me three years to feature a milkshake recipe. However in my defense, I really view milkshakes as more of a beverage than a dessert (which is like…really really fat, I know). I love ordering them when we’re at a burger joint, then I get really gross and American about it and dip my fries directly into the shake. It’s heaven!

I love all kinds of milkshakes, but my preference is to make them so thick, you can barely get them up a straw. So for this recipe, I use about a ¼ cup whole milk to each 1 cup of ice cream. If you’d like a thinner shake, add more milk per cup of ice cream until it fits your fancy.

When whipped cream becomes art.

When whipped cream becomes art.

Everything else in the milkshake is purely optional; though you’ll never find me turning down booze, brownies, or whipped cream! Make the ice cream yourself (there’s even a recipe on this blog!), or use  your favorite store-bought kind. For this recipe, I used Ohio fave Velvet Ice Cream, which makes stupid-good mint chocolate chip (and it’s the perfect shade of mint chip green, if I do say so myself!).

A Vitamix blender makes this smooth and creamy, but you can always use a little more liquid (and some elbow grease!) and mix by hand.

This milkshake was a lot of work, but if you strip away the brownies and the fanfare, what you have is a really delicious, rich and creamy milkshakes. Sort of like this blog. Take away all the hissy fits and the drama, and you’ve got..well, ice cream. And pictures. And me!

Thanks for putting up with me, everyone!

This one’s for you.

Happy scooping!🙂

Mint Chocolate Chip Grasshopper Brownie Milkshake

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 12 hrs (including brownies)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Yield: 2 Milkshakes

Ingredients:

Hot fudge, to garnish the glass (if desired)

¼ cup Andes mints, chopped

4 cups mint chocolate chip ice cream, store-bought or homemade

1 cup whole milk (you can use skim or 2%, but whole milk creates a thicker texture)

1 tablespoon crème de menthe, or to taste (Bailey’s works too!)

1 cup chopped grasshopper or regular brownies, plus extra to garnish

Whipped cream, to garnish

Directions

  1. If desired, prepare milkshake glasses by swirling hot fudge up the sides and around the tops of the glasses. Dip the tops of the glasses in the crushed Andes mints, reserving some to sprinkle on top of the finished milkshakes.
  2. In a Vitamix blender, milkshake spinner, or by hand, combine the mint chocolate chip ice cream, whole milk, and creme de menthe until well blended, or reaches your preferred consistency. Fold in the brownie pieces by hand for chunky texture, or add to blender to pulverize if you prefer a smoother milkshake.
  3. Add milkshake to prepared glasses. Garnish with full-size grasshopper brownies, whipped cream, and crushed Andes mints.
  4. Enjoy!

Triple Blueberry Ice Cream Floats

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As someone with a mild to moderate yet completely unreasonable and sometimes overwhelming case of anxiety, the act of taking a vacation is often more of a challenge for me than an opportunity.

And no, I don’t mean that in the sense that I just love working so much and have such blinding ambition and tireless drive that the mere thought of taking a break is simply unbearable (I’m not that much of sociopath, you guys).

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I dread vacations because I have a deep-seeded uneasiness about basic adult pursuits and am generally afraid of everything, especially being away from home. I view traveling mostly as a series of obstacles designed to either make me vomit, make me cry, give me a migraine, or some delightful combination of the three. Couple this with a heightened awareness of germs and bedbugs, sprinkle in some severe motion sickness, and boom – I’m basically the most perfect travel companion you could ever imagine (and just think, all of this goes down before the vacation even starts!).

So, yeah. I don’t really like vacations.

Until, that is, we had the vacation to top all vacations.

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No, it wasn’t Paris, it wasn’t Rome…it was (drumroll please)…Bar Harbor, Maine!

Maine ended up being the perfect vacation for us because we could do the things we typically do at home (eat, sleep, go to the park, eat some more), but in one of the most beautiful, genuine, relaxed places we’d ever experienced.  And just look at this landscape!

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And this adorable, postcard-perfect view!

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My husband and I loved Maine so much that any anxiety I felt about traveling, blood-sucking parasites, and being away from home just melted away. We even started fantasizing about what it would be like to live there. We examined local real estate, googled deals on used Subarus, and perused the open positions at L.L. Bean (because YOU GUYS who wouldn’t want to work for LL Bean?! Three words: Wicked. Good. Slippers).

We did everything we could think of that was stereotypically Maine: ate lobster on the beach, hit the trails at Acadia National Park, took selfies at all the major landmark lighthouses, and drove the coast at sunset. We spent some time in Portland noshing on poutine and potato donuts, and looked for shells and sea glass in the beaches of South Portland (or as the locals call it, SoPo. Hipster alert!).

But of all we did (and we did a lot!), perhaps our greatest accomplishment is that we fell in love.

…with blueberries.

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Much like vacations, blueberries are another thing in my life that have always given me apprehension. If a fruit could embody a lifetime of anxiety and insecurities, for me that fruit would be the blueberry. Truthfully, I’ve never found them all that interesting, but felt like I should like them because society (aka bloggers on Instagram) told me I should. I’d swear them off for periods of time, but would eventually succumb to the peer pressure and think, “C’mon, clearly everyone loves blueberries! What’s wrong with you?! Give em another try!” So I’d fall for it, just to be bitterly disappointed when the vibrant blue berries just didn’t live up to the hype. Blueberries just don’t taste that good, I’d say to myself. They just don’t taste like anything, quite frankly.

Until I tried Maine wild blueberries. And then I realized, blueberries taste like something…a very, very good something.

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We had blueberry everything – blueberry pancakes, blueberry beer, blueberry ice cream, and my favorite of all, blueberry soda. We loved it so much that as soon as we got back to Ohio, we ordered a case so that we could enjoy a little piece of Maine at home.

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Now, don’t worry – you don’t have to have blueberry soda to make this float. It would taste great with any berry-based soda (a blackberry Izze would work great). However, keep in mind that this is a triple blueberry float. If you sub out one of the blueberry components for a lesser fruit, then it becomes a…double berry float. Definitely less impressive if you ask me🙂

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This float is triple blueberry perfection. Tart blueberry ice cream, drowning in sweet blueberry soda, and topped with fragrant, roasted blueberries. It’s the perfect treat on a hot summer day!

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You don’t have to make the blueberry ice cream (you could always use vanilla or raspberry in a pinch), but you guys. This blueberry ice cream is good. Like, so good. Like, “omg, is this really fruit ice cream?” good. Granted, it’s probably not as good as it could be, because I used Ohio blueberries and not Maine wild blueberries, but it’s nothing a little heavy cream and sugar can’t remedy.

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I added in a bit of fresh lemon juice and cream cheese to give it an almost cheesecake-like intensity. My favorite part about this ice cream? The texture – it’s chunky and jam-packed with blueberries!

Rather than completely pureeing the flesh of the berries, I pulsed them in my Vitamix just once – enough to break them up a bit, but not enough to completely liquefy the berry.

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Don’t like chunks of fruit in your ice cream? No worries – there’s no rules with these floats! (Except the messier, the better, obviously).

Add a splash of bourbon if you like, and pile tons of whipped cream on top. Garnish with blueberries, and voila! Triple Blueberry goodness.

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Dear Maine, I love you. Thanks for showing me how fun (and delicious) vacations can be.

Oh and blueberries, you ain’t so bad yourself. You’re actually pretty awesome after all.

Happy scooping🙂

Triple Blueberry Ice Cream Floats

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 12 hrs
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Yield: 6 Massive Floats

Ingredients:

For the Roasted Blueberry Compote:

3 heaping cups blueberries, divided

¼ cup sugar

For the Ice Cream Base

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup whole milk, plus 2 tablespoons

2 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Pinch of kosher or sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 cups of the Roasted Blueberry Compote

For the Float:

2 bottles of chilled blueberry soda; if not available, any berry flavor will do

Plenty of Whipped Cream

Handful of uncooked blueberries, to garnish

Make the Roasted Blueberry Compote:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place berries in a baking dish or pan and sprinkle with sugar. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until berries are juicy and bursting. Allow to cool for a few minutes; until cool enough to handle.
  3. Place berries in the container of your blender and pulse once or twice for a chunky texture, or puree completely if you prefer a smoother ice cream (but remember, you’ll also use these berries as a layering component in your finished float; even if you prefer smooth ice cream, you may want to leave a cup of the berries chunky and puree the rest). Set aside two cups of the berries for your ice cream base and place the rest in the fridge until it’s time to build the floats.

Make the Blueberry Ice Cream:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix two tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Fill a large bowl or your sink with ice water (lots of ice!!!). Set aside.
  3. In a 4 quart saucepan, combine milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and salt, then bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 4 minutes.
  4. After 4 minutes, remove the milk mixture from heat and gradually mix into your cornstarch and milk mixture that you made in Step 1. Add combined mixture back to the saucepan, and cook over medium high heat for about 1 minute, or until thickened and the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and cream cheese. Once cream cheese is completely incorporated, mix in the fresh lemon and 2 cups of the roasted blueberry compote.
  5. Place mixture in a gallon sized Ziploc bag (not the press n’ seal kind; make sure you get the fancy kind that locks). Submerge in ice bath for half an hour until cold, or, skip the ice bath altogether and place bag in the fridge overnight.
  6. Once the ice cream base is chilled, churn in your ice cream maker. Freeze finished ice cream in the freezer for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

Assemble the Floats:

  1. In a tall glass, layer blueberry ice cream, then compote, then more ice cream, then more compote.
  2. Pour soda into the glasses. Be gentle – soda may foam up out of the glass.
  3. Garnish with plenty of whipped cream and uncooked blueberries.

Enjoy!!!!

Wine and Gold Sorbet

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There isn’t much that I can say about Cleveland, or LeBron James, or Northeastern Ohio, or our beloved basketball team that hasn’t already been said before by someone much more qualified than I am to craft a narrative about the impact of a sports team on its city.

But luckily for me, bloggers don’t need many qualifications aside from a domain name and a mild to moderate case of narcissism, so I’ll do the best I can to express my thoughts on this subject in my usual way: with a simple recipe and heartfelt words.

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I’ve had the urge to write a Cleveland-centric post for some time now, and it’s not just because the Cavs are in the Finals this year. Nor is it because, just days ago, they were down 3-1 and then miraculously clawed their way back to tie up the series after two legendary performances that had the entire city beaming. And it’s also not just because for the first time in fifty-two years, Cleveland is one game away from a championship title and we’re all currently losing our minds.

And above all – it’s certainly not just because the Cavs are doing well right now. Or this year.

It’s because, win or lose tomorrow, I freaking love the Cavs.

And Cleveland.

And I love things that are good for Cleveland.

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So, what does a mere ice cream blogger know about basketball, or sports teams, or athletes? Quite frankly, absolutely nothing (and trust me, I’m reminded of this every time I watch a Cavs game and need my husband to explain to me for the fourteenth time, what it means to “draw a foul”).

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I’m not writing this pretending to be a massive, lifelong Cleveland sports fan, or an athlete, or a basketball expert, or an analyst. Because I am none of those things.

But I don’t have to be.

Because I’m a fan of Cleveland.

And what the Cavs have done for this town – this entire region, even – is bigger than basketball, bigger than sports. They’ve given our humble, hard-working city a unifying rally cry. A reason to believe.

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And whether you like him or not, LeBron James has given this city a hero.

Go ahead, roll your eyes – argue with me that there are individuals much more deserving of the label “hero” than a millionaire sports star. I suppose it’s all a matter of opinion, after all.

But strip away his titles, his celebrity, his supreme athleticism. And what you have left is an inspiring story about a kid from Akron, Ohio with the odds stacked against him, who could have very well been another unfortunate statistic, but instead grew up to be one of the greatest (if not, the absolute greatest) basketball players and athletes of all time. Even more impressive than his athletic prowess is his devotion to his local community, how he tirelessly continues to provide opportunity to disadvantaged children and young adults in the greater Cleveland area. He is a living, breathing example of someone who not only survived the odds but who has flourished, and he offers a glimmer of hope to the struggling youth of Akron who in some cases, don’t have much else to believe in other than the idea that LeBron James was just like us once.

If that’s not at least one definition of a hero, I don’t know what is.

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Sure, winning a championship title in Cleveland isn’t going to remedy our socioeconomic injustices, bad weather, or other numerous troubles that have plagued this city for years and years.  I think everyone in Cleveland knows that.

But if the Cavs are able to take home a title on Sunday, it would be a great day in Cleveland. A really, really great day. And if any city in America deserves a great day, Cleveland is a top contender in my book (but perhaps I’m biased).

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Regardless of how tomorrow’s Game 7 turns out, the Cavs have already given this city, this region, so much. They’re so much more than a sports team – they embody everything we are in this city. Gritty, hard-working, unapologetically passionate. Proud.

And that’s why I love Cleveland. And Akron. And everything in between. And all of Northeastern Ohio, really. It’s why, even though I’m young and I know the world is full of amazing opportunity and unforgettable places, I don’t ever want to live anywhere else. Even if I wanted to, I don’t know that I could. And everyone I know here feels the same way.

Championship title or not, that’s a win in my book.

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Don’t be fooled by this gorgeous sorbet – it’s a bit gritty, too. And drunk (so really, the perfect edible representation of your typical Cleveland sports fan).

Even if you’re not a Cavs fan and the colors of wine and gold hold no significance for you,  or even if you hate Cleveland, or hate me, or hate this blog, this sorbet is undeniably delicious. And boozy (it uses a full bottle of wine!) So there’s that.

Better yet, it comes together with minimal effort. You do need an ice cream maker, but if you don’t have one, you could throw the mix in popsicle molds or stir every few hours in the freezer for a refreshing granita.

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The key flavor (and ingredient) here is wine which makes for a super soft and melty sorbet, but on a hot weekend like this, it’s perfect. The berries add a nice tartness, and I threw in a splash of citrus for brightness.

For the gold swirl, I ordered these tiny gold stars from Amazon, but you could use any gold colored decorations.

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One thing’s for sure – even if you don’t live anywhere near Cleveland, this sorbet will leave you feeling festive and buzzed (which coincidentally, is just how every Clevelander is feeling this weekend).

Because I lack the eloquence and experience to craft a motivational message in anticipation of tomorrow’s game, I will simply say this:

Let’s. Go. Cavs.

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Cleveland fans, I’ll be amongst you tomorrow. Stomach in knots. Heart pounding. Daring to believe.

All in.

Happy scooping, Cleveland!

Wine and Gold Sorbet

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 12 hrs
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Yield: 1 quart

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 bottle of your favorite red wine
  • 3 cups of berries (I used 1 cup blackberries and 2 cups raspberries)
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh orange juice

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, water, and red wine to a boil and let boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and add the raspberries and blackberries. Cover and let steep for 1 hour.
  2. Purée the berries and remove the seeds by hand by using a rubber spatula to press the mixture through a mesh strainer set over a bowl, or use a food processor or blender to puree and then run through a strainer or cheese cloth. Add in orange juice, then chill the mixture in the fridge or freezer until thoroughly cold (I put mine in the freezer for about 2 hours to quicken things along).
  3. Freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t worry if it looks more like a slushy than sorbet – it will harden up in the freezer.
  4. Sprinkle on gold decorations, then place in a storage container and freeze for 4 to 8 hours or overnight until hardened. Sprinkle on a few more decorations before serving.
  5. Enjoy🙂