Spiced Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon Dolce Cream

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Hello all!

What a wonderful week it has been – not only is it finally cold enough to break out my favorite sweaters, hoodies, and wool coats, but Ohio saw its very first snow of the year on Thursday, and I couldn’t be more delighted! The mini-blizzard came and went faster than you can say I should probably get snow tires, but this little glimpse into the future already has me daydreaming about the upcoming holiday season.

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Isn’t there something about cold blustery days that just make you want to snuggle up under a blanket and watch a movie? (Or, if you’re like me, it makes you want to avoid a term paper, and you start traipsing around the kitchen in your pajamas, eating Oreos while rummaging through your spice cabinet.)

I know, I know, it’s way too early for snow, you say. It’s not even Halloween!

Sure, I get that. But follow my logic for a moment: snow means cold, and cold means you need to put forth extra effort to maintain a comfortable body temperature. This can only mean one thing: warm, decadent beverages topped with whipped cream.

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Now do you see my point?

This week’s cold weather was making me craving something spicy and sweet, so I did some experimenting and ended up with this recipe. It is similar to Mexican hot chocolate, but I hesitate to say that because 1) it does not contain authentic Mexican chocolate and 2) I don’t know enough about traditional Mexican hot chocolate to speak intelligently about it, so…yeah.

Instead of bringing you cultural insights, I offer you this instead: a warm embrace in the form of rich, smooth chocolate, mildly spiced with nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and cayenne, and topped with a soft and sweet cinnamon whipped cream.

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But be warned – this stuff is not for the faint of heart; it’s super rich! Have you heard the term “drinking chocolate?” It’s more like that. So, if you enjoy the milkier, Swiss Miss varieties of hot chocolate out there, this might not be for you. (But you can, of course, always add more milk if it gets too spicy for your liking).

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What’s your favorite cold weather drink?

Enjoy!

Spiced Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon Dolce Cream

Yield: 2 big mugs

You will need:

2 + 1/2 cups whole milk

1/4 cup of white sugar

2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves

1/8 tsp of cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Small pinch of cayenne (seriously, just a pinch, unless you want the “warm embrace” to turn into “serious burn”)

2 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or just use chocolate chips)

For the Cinnamon Dolce Cream:

1 cup of heavy cream

1/4 cup of powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

To make the hot chocolate:

1) In a medium saucepan, warm the milk on medium heat until it begins to steam.

2) Whisk in the sugar, cocoa powder, spices, and salt until sugar and cocoa powder have dissolved, about ten minutes. Be sure to taste as you go along so you can add more spices if need be (or more milk for a milder flavor).

3) Stir in the chocolate until melted, remove from heat.

Make the Cinnamon Cream:

1) Combine heavy cream, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla in a chilled bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form (but do not overheat).

Pour hot chocolate into mugs, then top with cinnamon cream. Garnish with a cinnamon stick or chocolate curls. Then try to contain your excitement as you savor the delicious, spicy flavor 🙂

Pumpkin Oreo Ice Cream

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Hello everyone! I hope you are all thoroughly enjoying the fall season, and that this post finds you knee-deep in football, flannel pajamas, and various pumpkin pie flavored concoctions.

So, I’ve had quite an eventful week: I started a new job on Monday, and it’s dramatically different than my prior place of employment (in a good way, but it still has been quite an adjustment!) New jobs are like the first day of school; you have to make friends, feel out the culture, and practice your best “sponge” impression as you absorb and process all of the new information.

I love my new job, but being a sponge can be pretty tiring!

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At the end of Day One, when I was all tuckered out and in need of a snack, I came home to an awesome surprise: during his lunch break, my better half ran to the grocery store so that he could pick up a few of my go-to comfort foods: Reese’s cups, American cheese, and my personal favorite – Oreos!

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Although I’ve never met a cookie I didn’t like, I have a particular fascination (okay… obsession) with Oreos.

(And apparently I’m not alone – did you see this report that was released earlier this week? Crazy.)

I’ve always considered my case of OOC (Obsessive Oreo Consumption) to be particularly severe. I have a theory that this is because I was deprived of them throughout the majority of my childhood. My mother, bless her heart, tried to maintain a healthy eating environment in the household, and unfortunately, Oreos did not make the cut.

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As a result, I was often forced to get my Oreo fix in another, more sinister way: on the black market.

In the vast marketplace that was the school lunchroom, where everyone engaged in open trade, I was interested in two items only: 1) Doritos and 2) Oreos.  In a world where pudding cups and Lunchables were in high demand, I held out for those crispy, chocolate-y sandwich cookies.

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When I was a little older and learned how to drive, I snuck Oreo’s into the house, eating entire rows at a time, then shamefully hiding the evidence under my bed.

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Then, there was the fateful day in college when I discovered the Double Stuf variety… and my life has never been the same.

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Who doesn’t love Oreos? I mean, I’m sure those people exist somewhere… but I’ve never come across them.

Actually, take that back – I had an acquaintance in college who engaged in the occasional rant about Oreo’s and how they “taste like dirt.”

Yes, dirt.

Needless to say, our friendship didn’t survive much longer. After all, is there a bigger red flag in life than a disdain for America’s favorite cookie?

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With the abundance of Oreos in our house this week, I was determined to make Cookies and Cream for my next blog post. However, as the week progressed, I started to feel a little bored with the idea.

After a thorough inventory of my pantry, along with a brief consultation with my Senior Product Manager aka fiancé, I arrived at Pumpkin Oreo.

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Initially, I was a little nervous about the combination. True, pumpkin chocolate chip this or that seems to be all the rage in the fall months, but Pumpkin Oreo? That’s something you don’t see everyday.  But, after extensive product testing in my own kitchen (i.e. stuffing my face), I can confidently say that this combo is downright wonderful.  In fact, this Pumpkin Oreo business might be one of the very best flavors that has ever come out of my kitchen!

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The spicy sweetness of the pumpkin ice cream, coupled with huge chunks of Oreo, make for a familiar yet exotic combination that delights my palate and leaves the Belly Monster wanting more. I hope you enjoy!

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What’s your favorite Oreo flavor combination?

Happy scooping!

Pumpkin Oreo Ice Cream

Yield: About two quarts.

You will need:

6 large egg yokes

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cloves

Pinch of ground nutmeg

¾ cup brown sugar (unpacked)

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup 2% or whole milk

½ tsp kosher salt

¾ cup pumpkin pie puree, homemade or store bought (but NOT pumpkin pie filling – must be the puree)

½ tsp vanilla extract

10 to fifteen Oreo cookies (Double Stuf rocks, obviously), chopped

Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the egg yolks with the cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and half of the sugar (6 tablespoons). Whisk gently until smooth, and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine heavy cream, milk, remaining brown sugar (6 tablespoons), and salt. Stir and heat through, until the mixture barely simmers.
  3. Add the mixture to the egg yolks, ½ cup at a time, whisking the yolks constantly before, during, and after each addition of warm cream. Repeat until all of the cream has been combined with the yolks, then transfer mixture back to the saucepan.
  4. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon (you will be able to feel the mixture thicken as you stir – should take about ten minutes).
  5. Place a fine mesh sieve atop the bowl or container in which you will be storing the ice cream, then strain the custard mixture into the bowl.
  6. Submerge container in an ice bath, and stir occasionally until cool. Freeze for at least 2 hours (but preferably overnight!).
  7. The next day, add the vanilla and pumpkin to the ice cream base. Stir until combined.
  8. Add to ice cream maker and freeze per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Add chopped Oreo’s to the ice cream after churning is done, and mix by hand. Enjoy immediately for a soft-serve consistency, or store overnight for a harder texture.

Enjoy!!

The Jersey Shore and (Egg-less) Cookie Dough

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Hello friends, family, and fellow ice cream lovers! Oh, how I’ve missed you…

Sorry for my brief hiatus – sadly, I allowed life to get in the way of ice cream, but if there is one thing I’ve learned this week, it is that I will NEVER AGAIN waste precious ice cream-blogging time working on school papers and work projects. It’s not nearly as much fun 🙂

Another thing I learned during my absence? The Jersey Shore is awesome.

No, no…not the TV show. (Although I’m not ashamed to admit that I have spent many a night thinking that too, was awesome).

I’m talking about the actual Jersey shore.

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You see, my better half and I decided to take a little road trip out to the Jersey Shore over the weekend, and we landed in a lovely little ocean town called Bradley Beach. We collected seashells, played in the sand, and had the most amazing corned beef hash, French toast, and crab omelets at a local breakfast spot called The Buttered Biscuit. If you live within driving distance, this place has the best cinnamon butter I’ve ever tasted! Yum.

Also…did I mention that this trip was my first time at the ocean? Like, ever?

Yup.

I know it sounds crazy considering the majority of the world is comprised of water, but the opportunity just never presented itself. Ohio is far enough away from the ocean that it takes a reasonable amount of effort to get there…effort that I just never had until this weekend.

My feet, in the ocean, for the very first time!

My feet, in the ocean, for the very first time!

Also, in Ohio we are lucky enough to have Lake Erie, one of the infamous Great Lakes, in extremely close proximity. I had always thought this was an acceptable substitute for the ocean…until now. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some freshwater beaches – but there is just something so invigorating about ocean air and waves crashing against the shore that makes the experience seem a little more…well, special (but maybe that’s because I didn’t grow up with it).

On our way to the Garden State, we made a stop at my future in-laws’ house in Pennsylvania to celebrate my mom’s birthday. As my gift to her, I brought along my trusty Cuisinart ICE-30BC and offered to make any flavor of her choosing.

(What – you mean you don’t take your ice cream maker with you wherever you go? Weird.)

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Much to my excitement, mom-in-law chose cookie dough as her birthday treat. And, better yet, she already had some store-bought cookie dough in the fridge, so it would eliminate unnecessary time spent preparing the homemade stuff. Perfect, I thought.

Well, turns out, not so perfect. My low maintenance birthday treat of cookie dough ice cream resulted in anger, bitterness, and a household divided.

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Okay, so I’m being a little dramatic.

It did, however, raise a heated debate amongst my family members. Not about the ice cream itself; but rather, the consumption of raw cookie dough and the prospect of food borne illness.

“It clearly states on the package, ‘Do not consume raw cookie dough,’” my responsible fiancé pointed out. “I’m not eating it.”

Naturally, my ballsy mom-in-law scoffed at his concerns.

“Oh, who cares? I’ve eaten raw cookie dough my whole life and I’ve never been sick.”

As the tension in the room grew more palpable, a debate ensued. While one side argued the daunting risks of raw cookie dough consumption, the other was ready to throw caution to the wind and dig into the soft and salty treat.

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Sure, as children we all snuck bites (or entire bowls, but who’s counting) of cookie dough, despite the fair warnings of our parents or other responsible adults. But for some reason, even in adulthood, it’s hard to kick the habit (even though we all know better).

There’s just something so innocent and wonderful about cookie dough that makes it impossible to believe that it could potentially be hazardous to our health. Like, “Oh, just a spoonful wont hurt. I mean, there’s butter and sugar and flour in there, so the bacteria is diluted anyhow…”

This thought process seems even more ridiculous when you consider that most sane people avoid raw chicken, but will readily consume endless amounts of cookie dough without giving it a second thought.

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Although our little debate in Pennsylvania resulted in half of the household eating plain vanilla while the other enjoyed the blissful yet menacing store-bought cookie dough, the experience inspired me to create this recipe, which doesn’t contain a single trace of raw egg.

Is egg-less cookie dough exactly the same as the full-fledged stuff? Well, no, not exactly. For one thing, there isn’t that element of risk, that feeling of “I COULD BE DEATHLY ILL IN 24 TO 48 HOURS BUT IT’S JUST SO GOOD NOM NOM NOM.” So, there’s that.

Also, this cookie dough is a little bit drier than the normal stuff, but that can be remedied quite easily with just a few tablespoons of water or milk. However, this recipe shouldn’t need that much doctoring – it’s pretty good as is, if I do say so myself!

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If you’re like me and you love snacking on cookie dough but your mom’s voice in the back of your head will forever diminish your enjoyment, never fear – take this recipe for a whirl and indulge.

And, for those of you who laugh in the face of food-borne illness, I commend your audacity. However, you should still try out the recipe – because this is some mighty good cookie dough, and it’s even better when swirled into some homemade vanilla ice cream.

Happy scooping!

Egg-Less Cookie Dough

Yield: This makes a sizable log of cookie dough (enough for 2 quarts of ice cream plus extra for snacking).

You will need:

1 stick (half cup) of butter, softened

½ cup of white sugar

1/3 cup of light brown sugar (unpacked)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

½ teaspoon of baking soda

2 teaspoons of hot water

1 cup of flour

1 teaspoon of salt

½ cup to 1 cup of chocolate chips (add as much as you see fit!)

Nuts (optional)

Directions:

  1. Cream the butter and the sugars until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.
  3. Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water and add to the cookie dough.
  4. Add the flour and salt gradually, tasting as you go. You want to be careful here, because adding too much flour will dry out the dough too much.
  5. Add the chocolate chips, and even some nuts if you wish.
  6. Wrap into a log-form using plastic wrap, and refrigerate until hardened, about 1 hour.

Enjoy!