Gelato Fiasco

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a proper ice cream review here on If the Spoon Fits, but I figured there’s no better occasion than a warm, lazy Sunday to delve into a couple of pints of something new.

When I started this blog last year, my intent was that it would primarily be a forum for ice cream reviews with only a few recipes scattered here and there. Then, I got my awesome ice cream maker, and everything changed! The review to recipe ratio shifted dramatically, with the review portion virtually disappearing from existence (Isn’t it funny how things evolve over time?).

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Reviews fell off my radar for another reason as well: I haven’t gotten out much lately, which means that many of my non-homemade ice cream adventures are limited to the local grocery store…and let’s be honest, although I don’t discriminate against store-bought brands AT ALL, I don’t remember the last time anything I’ve purchased at a grocery store has moved me to near tears.

That is, until now.

My friends, meet Gelato Fiasco – the most delicious ice cream export that the beautiful state of Maine has to offer.

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(Disclaimer: I’ve never been to Maine before, but I can’t imagine anything gets better than this stuff!)

First of all, is this not the cutest packaging that you’ve ever seen?

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Secondly, would you JUST LOOK at this? Let’s take a moment to bask in its creamy delicious glory:

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I also love their brand name; it makes me feel like I’m going to some sort of underground out-of-control ice cream party where things are gunna get CRAZY.

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Gelato Fiasco is an awesome company, too. Not only are the owners dedicated to hand-crafting gelato using the old world techniques of Italy, but they also are committed to the great state of Maine – and we all know I’m a sucker for businesses with hometown pride 🙂

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I bought two flavors from our local specialty market: Espresso Chip and Dark Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt. I bought both varieties thinking that one would be the clear favorite over the other, but you guys I LOVE THEM BOTH!

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I really can’t decide. The Dark Chocolate Caramel is just so deep, dark, rich, and salty; I love it so!

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But then there’s the Espresso Chip – the sweet, dark and roasty Espresso Chip with giant chunks of dark chocolate that I couldn’t stop eating. Let me tell you, I will never again buy Starbucks ice cream when I’m craving frozen java – it would just be an embarassment after having this stuff.

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In other news, my Official Ice Cream Informant from the Field, Awesome Cleveland Brother (who, coincidentally, is now Awesome Boulder, Colorado Brother) brings us Em’s Ice Cream, an awesome find from Denver:

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That lovely scoop of wonderment on top is Burnt Brown Sugar ice cream (with Chocolate on the bottom). Em’s is a certified organic ice cream shop based in downtown Denver (yes – organic!) that serves up delicious flavors like Roasted Banana and Chai Spiced Chocolate. I trust big bro’s judgement completely in all matters pertaining to food, so I got super excited when he texted me his glowing review this morning. I definitely expect him to take us there when we make it out to Boulder (hint hint 🙂 ).

What an awesome weekend full of brand new ice cream treasures!

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What new ice cream have you fallen in love with lately?

Happy scooping! 🙂

The Bittner

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One of the best things about planning a wedding is taking off random days in the middle of the week for super important “vendor meetings.”

…Which, in reality, pretty much means half an hour of actual meeting time, followed by an entire day’s worth of ice cream hopping and other incidences of tomfoolery.

On Wednesday, my soon-to-be husband and I were able to do just that – and I can’t begin to tell you how nice it was to actually be outside in the middle of the day, away from the gray walls of our cubicles! I felt just like a kid skipping school.

Future hubs and I are getting married in a barn located in the lovely little town of Louisville, OH, which is super duper close to Canton – an awesome city that we don’t get to visit all that often. Canton is home to all sorts of amazing things; a booming local arts scene, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, emerging foodie culture, and of course, this guy:

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This, my friends, is The Bittner.

A Canton staple, The Bittner comes to us from Taggarts, a wonderful old-fashioned ice cream parlor and food joint that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time the moment you walk through the door.

For lunch we went to Taggarts and ate giant, cheese-covered hot dogs, crispy fries and onion rings that tasted like they were fried in heaven with the grease from an angel’s wings, and then for dessert, the sweet and salty Bittner.

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What is a Bittner, you may ask? Well let me tell you – what isn’t a Bittner is the more appropriate question.

The Bittner is deceitfully simple: vanilla ice cream, swirled with chocolate sauce, topped with the saltiest of salty pecans. Thicker than a milkshake, but softer than a scoop of ice cream, the Bittner is an infamous Canton treat. Invented in the 1930’s and named after a delivery boy, this is what a real Bittner looks like:

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I’ve been wanting to try this celebrated ice cream treat for years, and finally got the chance to understand the hype. This thing is incredible. As you’re eating, the pecans disperse throughout the ice cream, and you get mouthful after mouthful of sweet and savory. It was a dream come true!

After a middle of the day nap to recover from our full-body food exhaustion, we headed to Willoughby, Ohio to meet up with our wedding caterer, Pranzo Forno, to take a peak at their new store-front venture, Pizzaly. I hate to even use the term “catering” with these folks, because I feel like the word alone conjures up visuals of the worst wedding food you’ve ever had (you know what I’m talking about). Pranzo, however, is not your typical catering company; these folks hand-craft wood fired pizza that is out of this world! A random sample:

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(Please ignore on-the-fly, low quality iPhone quality pic).

When the business portion of the evening was over, we ordered a pizza to take home (of course). While we were waiting, we moseyed over to a lovely little ice cream shop next door for a palette-cleansing appetizer before dinner.

Foster’s, as it is so humbly named, is another old school northeastern Ohio ice cream parlor that makes me happy to be alive. Bright and happy décor, simple delicious flavors, and service with a smile – the recipe for a perfect ice cream date.

We got Superman:

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(Really, when was the last time you had that??)

And chocolate peanut butter:

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(Look at those chunks of PB goodness!)

Sure, all of those trendy one-scoop artisan ice cream shops are great, but nothing beats enjoying an old fashioned cake cone in a gravel parking lot while the sun sets on the horizon. It was pure perfection!

Needless to say, we had a beautiful Ohio day full of fabulous Ohio food. (Thursday morning back at work was a different story, but I’ll keep that negativity to myself 🙂 )

In honor of our adult version of Senior Skip Day, I attempted to recreate The Bittner at home. But I’d like to disclaim today’s post by saying that the original Bittner is undoubtedly the best, and my homemade attempt does not do it justice. But if you’re far from Canton, this will at least give you a sneak preview until you can someday taste the real thing.

Happy scooping 🙂

 

Copycat Bittner Recipe

Yield: 1 Sundae Glass Full

You will need:

2 big scoops vanilla ice cream

2 tablespoons chocolate sauce

A bunch of sea salt

1/3 cup pecans (raw)

1 tablespoon butter

Whipped topping or whipped cream

 

To prepare the pecans:

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking oil.
  2. Place pecans in a small mixing bowl. Slightly melt butter in the microwave; pour atop pecans and stir until all pecans have been touched by the butter. Sprinkle very liberally with salt.
  3. Spread pecans on the baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, stirring half way through. Once finished, remove from oven, sprinkle again with salt, and let cool completely.

 

To assemble the Bittner copycat:

  1. Place 2 scoops of ice cream in a cup and use an immersion blender to soften it slightly. Or, do what I did and leave it out for 15 minutes, then mix it up with a spoon. (It’s a great arm workout!)
  2. Add chocolate sauce, and stir until incorporated. Consistency should be similar to soft serve, or, if you are familiar with it, a Wendy’s frosty (Note: this is WAY better than a Wendy’s frosty but I was struggling to find an appropriate benchmark for comparison).
  3. Pour softened ice cream into a chilled glass. Top with salted pecans and whipped cream. Serve immediately.
  4. ENJOY!!!

Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream

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Why, hello there, September! I can’t believe you’re here already.

Wait, what? You’ve been here for two weeks already, you say?

Oh dear.

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I guess time flies when you’re being lazy – a lazy blogger, that is. I must admit that I’ve been suffering from a bit of writer’s block the past few weeks, but it’s not from lack of trying. Every time I’ve opened up a brand spanking new Word doc with the best intentions of writing a post, I somehow end up on Google, Etsy, or Pinterest, searching for things like “rustic wedding guest book alternatives” or “Brigitte Bardot inspired wedding hair.”

Fifty Pins and half a bag of chocolate chips later, I’m back at square one. No blog post, but ten more things on my wedding to-do list!

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I think every creative cell in my body is currently being monopolized by our impending nuptials in October (we’re about a month away, now!). There’s no activity that kills 5 hours quite like looking at ten thousand tiny pictures of various DIY mason jar projects on Pinterest, or browsing custom rubber stamps on Etsy thinking “HAY I CAN DO THAT” and then heading into a downward spiral of kraft paper and emotions.

Anyway 🙂

I don’t know about you, but I’m 100% ready for fall! You’d think after spending the first half of 2014 under a sheet of Ohio ice and snow, chilly weather would be the last thing on my mind. But I just can’t help it!

The fall season is just so conducive to all of my favorite activities…like eating, sleeping, and laying on the couch in big comfy sweaters, watching football and snacking upon copious amounts of carbs covered in cheese sauces. It’s just the best, isn’t it?

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I know I may be getting ahead of myself here; it’s not quite yet fall…officially. But I’d like to point out that Starbucks released its infamous Pumpkin Spice Lattes at the end of August this year (nearly a month early!), and that’s got to mean something. When one of the world’s largest retailers decides it’s time for a change of seasons, I’m going to respond accordingly (especially since said season happens to be my favorite!) After all, it’s my duty as a consumer to react favorably to seasonal marketing tactics; particularly those that involve pumpkin, sugar, spice, and whipped cream.

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I’ve been wanting to make a pumpkin spice latte ice cream ever since I started this blog last year, but it didn’t quite make it on the list for 2013. However, this year I wanted to offer it the treatment it deserves – complete with its very own decorative accents!

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In all my laziness, I was determined to make a non-egg version of this, but you guys, it just wasn’t good. It tasted like a PSL, but the texture turned out super icy and flaky. So much for my blossoming culinary skills – don’t skip the egg on this one! Also don’t skip the step where you soak the espresso beans – I know it’s annoying, but 1) it makes your house smell lovely, like a coffee shop and 2) it really amps up the coffee flavor. Without the coffee beans, you’re left with just pumpkin ice cream (which is awesome…but not PSL-category awesome).

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This tastes just like a classic PSL but better, because its homemade, creamy, and you can eat it with a spoon 🙂

 

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What’s your favorite fall tradition?

Happy scooping!

 

Pumpkin Spice Latte Ice Cream

Adapted from Annie’s Eats

Yield: 1 Quart

INGREDIENTS

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

¾ cup sugar

1¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground ginger

Large pinch ground cloves

1 cup whole coffee beans

5 large egg yolks

1½ tbsp. espresso powder

1 cup 100% pumpkin puree (homemade or store bought)

Directions:

1) In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the heavy cream, whole milk, sugar, and spices. Heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture starts to steam slightly and you can no longer feel the grittiness of the sugar. Stir in the coffee beans, then remove from heat and cover, letting the mixture steep for 1 hour.

2) In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks just slightly to break them up. Return the saucepan to the stove, and heat at medium temperature until it begins to steam once again. Now you can do the typical French style ice cream thing – pour the hot dairy mixture into the yolks, a little at a time, taking care to whisk the eggs constantly so that they don’t curdle. Once all of the dairy is incorporated into the eggs, return the entire mixture to the saucepan and place over medium heat.  Cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon (about 15 minutes).

3) Pour the custard through a mesh strainer into a storage container (this will catch the espresso beans and any gritty spices that weren’t quite caught during cooking). Stir in the espresso powder (optional – but adds great flavor) and mix until dissolved.  Stir in the pumpkin puree.  Let cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate until completely chilled (at least two hours, but preferably overnight for the best results).

4) Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

5) Enjoy!!! Serve in a big coffee mug with a dollop of cinnamon spiced whipped cream.