Akron’s Best: Pav’s Creamery

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Every day at work around 3 pm, I am hit with an immense wave of boredom and discontent that can only mean one thing: snack break. Usually, I’ll make my rounds in a predictable fashion, hopping from one coworker’s candy dish to the next until I have acquired enough Peanut M&M’s or fun size Milky Way bars to satisfy The Great Belly Monster (which is no small task, let me tell you). Today however, was different.

Today represents the one day each year that I am overcome with the insatiable desire to make healthy, responsible food choices. So rather than indulging my raging sweet tooth, I opted for a snack that screams responsibility – a pretzel rod.  This, my friends, is where my troubles began.

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So, I’m eating the pretzel rod and everything is fine and dandy, when at some point, I get distracted, miss my mouth, and stab the side of my face. How, after twenty-some years of eating experience, you can still manage to make critical errors, is beyond me.

I’d like to think that my minor facial trauma can be attributed to the flawed design of the pretzel rod rather than my own shortcomings, but this whole experience has offered a valuable lesson:

Give the Belly Monster what it wants so that it doesn’t set the rest of my body up for mechanical failure.

And do you know what my belly wants?

Ice Cream from Pav’s Creamery.

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A food that has never let me down, let alone resulted in personal injury.

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Pav’s is a cult favorite amongst Akron-ites, and for good reason: their ice creams and custards are the absolute best around. Located in the infamous Portage Lakes district, Pav’s is a family-run business that has delighted locals with flavors like Chocolate Almond and Pumpkin Pecan Pie since 1969. With Pav’s, there’s no marketing fluff – it’s all about the ice cream. The delicious, smooth, creamy ice cream.

When my better half recently remarked that “This might be my favorite all time ice cream” (which is a statement we don’t take lightly in our household), I knew I just had to dedicate a post to this local favorite.

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Pav’s was introduced to me by my AAB – Awesome Akron Brother (not to be confused with Cool Cleveland Brother, as mentioned in the Mitchell’s PB Cup Post). Akron Brother shares my extreme, somewhat unheatlhy passion for ice cream, often suggesting it as the preferred cure for minor ailments such as the common cold or a bellyache.

Akron Brother has taught me many valuable things throughout my life, including how to count, how to read, and how to change the oil in a car. But by far, the most valuable lesson he has passed on to me is his love and appreciation for frozen treats. Some of my earliest memories involve the two of us eating gigantic bowls of chocolate ice cream, watching reruns of Fresh Prince or whatever show we could find on network TV.

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Ice cream has always been our thing, and when awesome Akron bro met his equally as awesome wife about a decade ago, we made ice cream her thing too (whether she liked it or not 🙂 ). She soon realized that she had married into a family of unstable ice cream fanatics, and from now on, none of her meals would be complete without a bowl (or four) of ice cream to top things off.

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When I was in college, a typical evening consisted of dinner with my brother and sis, ice cream at Pav’s, then 2 or 3 hours of laying on the couch, immobile and drowsy, our bellies full of Caramel Apple Crunch or Chocolate Brownie. As my bro and I would grumble inaudibly, my sis would laugh at our struggles in a way that said, “you’re pathetic and insane, but I wouldn’t have you any other way.” If that’s not love, I don’t know what is!

Each time I taste ice cream or custard from Pav’s, I am taken back to those nights, laughing and carrying on with my family like we didn’t have a care in the world. For me, Pav’s and family go hand-in hand. As odd as that may sound, I suspect many people share this sentiment – which is why this local stand has been in business for nearly 45 years.

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If you are in the northeastern Ohio area (or even if you aren’t, but foresee a road trip in your near future), Pav’s is a necessary ending to any Akron outing.

Time for more!

Time for more!

What’s your favorite local ice cream or custard stand?

Happy scooping!

Saltine Toffee Topping

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Happy Friday!

My better half is home sick today, so naturally I leveraged his discomfort as an excuse to 1) “work” from home and 2) stock up on some of those “only-eat-‘em-when-you’re-sick” treats that we typically otherwise don’t keep around the house. Of course, I’m referring to Gatorade, Popsicles, and a personal favorite – Saltine crackers.

I know what you’re thinking. Crackers? Really? Well, listen up.

Saltines alone? Meh. Saltines covered in toffee and chocolate and crumbled atop caramel ice cream? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

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Saltine Toffee, as it is commonly called, is nothing new. In fact, I was probably one of the last people in the universe to discover its magic. A childhood favorite for many, this sweet and salty treat didn’t come into my life until I was much older.

I’ll never forget the first time I tried this so-called “candy.” I was a sophomore in college, and my ’97 Volvo was bleeding oil like none other. Of course, the only garage within a hundred miles that could supply the part I needed was in the Middle of Nowhere, Ohio, in someone’s backyard (literally…in a junk yard behind my mechanic’s house). As I made the drive into the country, the roads became more and more desolate, and I began imagining the various headlines that would surface when the authorities found my abandoned car in the middle of a field, with no visible trace of me except for the numerous text books, Dairy Queen napkins, and fun-size Snickers wrappers that littered the back seats. “Ohio Girl, 19, Disappears; Volvo Found on Rte. 44 in State of Disarray.”

However, when I pulled up to the address that I was given, what I found wasn’t exactly the makings for an episode of Dateline: I saw only a big, beautiful house in pristine condition, with two Golden Retrievers wagging their tails happily on the front porch.

As I sat in the waiting room (which was really the home’s kitchen), the mechanic’s wife, who was wearing an apron and smelled like vanilla candles, offered me a plate of her homemade toffee bark.

“Try it”, she said. Then her voice lowered to a whisper. “It’s like crack!”

It very well could have been crack, for all I knew. Chocolate-covered crack. Salty and sweet, chocolaty yet buttery…. I was in love.

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“How did you do that?!?!” I cried, eyes wide with curiosity.

When she told me that the secret to this wondrous treat was a sick-day food that I had been eating all of my life, I experienced a moment of bitter regret. Is this what the rest of the world was doing while I was foolishly dipping my saltines in canned chicken noodle soup?

When the Volvo was fully recovered and ready to go, the mechanic’s wife handed me a plateful of the delicious toffee, complete with a recipe card. I am forever grateful to this sweet little lady for showing me what my life had been missing all those years.

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When I got home that evening, I finished the entire plateful of toffee within half an hour. Right away, I got busy making more.

My first batch turned out perfectly, which was quite surprising, considering my culinary talents at age 19 were limited to boiling water and mixing pasta with milk and a powdery cheese substance.

Of course, I couldn’t leave well enough alone…I just had to crush up half of the batch, throw it on some ice cream, and call it a “topping.”

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Try it on top of caramel ice cream, or as a mix-in to vanilla or butter pecan. Yum!!

Not only is this toffee delicious, but it’s easy to make as well. In fact, you only need four ingredients: saltines, butter, brown sugar, and chocolate chips. Then you can customize with your favorite nuts or candies – it’s that simple!

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I hope you enjoy this super easy treat, and may all your sick days be filled with pajama pants and pints of ice cream.

What are your favorite sick-day foods?

Happy scooping!

Saltine Toffee Topping

Ingredients:

1 sleeve of saltine crackers

1/2 cup of butter (1 stick)

1 cup of light brown sugar

1 -12 oz. package of chocolate chips (I like semisweet the best)

1 cup of topping (chopped nuts, white chocolate chips, Heath Bars, etc. I love pretzels!)

Directions:

1)   Preheat oven to 400° and line a cookie sheet with foil.

2)   Combine the butter and sugar in a small saucepan and melt together until it reaches a rolling boil, about 3 minutes (should look foamy when it’s finished).

3)   Lay crackers out side by side on cookie sheet. Pour the sugar mixture on top of the crackers and spread evenly with a spatula. Bake in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes.

4)    Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes until the toffee is solidified but still quite warm. Then, sprinkle liberally with the chocolate chips. Once the chips are warm and melty, spread in even layer across the top (be patient, it may take a few minutes for the chips to melt).

5)   Finally, cover the melted chocolate with the topping of your choice.

6)   Place in the fridge for an hour (or until set), and then break into pieces. To top ice cream, place pieces in a plastic bag and crush into crumbles.

This candy will last for a week or so if stored in an airtight container, but you will probably eat it all before you have to worry about it growing stale 🙂

Enjoy!