Boozy Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Float

IMG_3357

I have an embarrassing confession to make.

I hate traveling.

Okay, so maybe not traveling so much as flying. Full disclosure: I find airplanes to be downright terrifying. Sure, long car trips can be tedious, and statistically, are much more dangerous than traveling by plane, but as I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, I’m not necessarily a reasonable person who is easily swayed by facts, math, or logic. Rather, I tend to follow much more reliable indicators, such as the feelings of sheer panic and general barfiness I experience each time I step onto a plane.

IMG_3354

The entire air travel experience makes me anxious, from the removal of my shoes and jacket (and consequently, my dignity) in the security line, to boarding the plane, to the actual flying, right up until that sweet sweet moment hours later when the plane touches the ground and slows to a gradual halt without incident.

But the absolute worst part? Taking off. Those few moments in which the plane first ascends into the air are the most complex and fear-ridden of my life.

In addition to a life-long struggle with motion sickness rearing its ugly head, I’m plagued with thoughts of dread and impending doom. So imagine nausea, coupled with anxiety, compounded by my fear of the plane crashing, then topping it all off with thoughts of “omg, I hope I don’t have to actually use this barf bag.” Welcome to my air travel experience.

IMG_3349

While other passengers busy themselves pretending to switch their small handheld devices into airplane mode, I listen to the safety information speech, intently, taking detailed mental notes of all exits and the individuals manning those areas. I look them up and down, thinking, “Does this person look responsible?” I assess their competence based upon appearance. Argyle sweater vest? Okay, that’s a good sign. Sweater vests are a sure sign of reliability and hidden heroism.

But Miss Yoga Pants, over there? Nope. No way. This broad’s about as reliable as a car with no brakes.

After the plane takes off and starts aggressively gaining altitude, I enter what I like to refer to as my Any Minute Now stage. As in, any minute now the engine is either going to fail or explode and my fear-stricken body will go crashing to the ground. Once the plane stabilizes I relax a little, moving from a state of sheer panic to a mode of General Suspicion (so still on guard and aware of my surroundings, but not plagued with heart-racing anxiety). I tend to stay in this state until final descent, at which point I’m so emotionally enhausted I just close my eyes and hope the landing gear (and the pilot) does what it’s supposed to do.

IMG_3370

The sad thing about all of this nonsense? I actually consider myself a well-traveled individual, at least domestically speaking. But no matter how many business trips, destination weddings, or vacations I take part in, I can’t shake those irrepressible feelings of panic and doom that I associate with air travel.

However, there is one thing that I love about traveling by plane: the airports themselves. I love how each airport, to a certain extent, represents the city in which it resides. I love the local art and murals, and the hustle and bustle of busy folks off to exotic places. I love the trinket shops full of mugs and pens and shot glasses, and those little souvenir collector spoons that look like they were made for itty bitty ice cream sundaes.

But above all, I love the standard, run-of-the-mill Hudson News-type shops filled wall-to-wall with books and magazines.

One of my very favorite things about traveling is spending copious amounts of money on said books and magazines, then pouring over the pages to help distract me from my unavoidable feelings of dread and gloom while on the plane.

IMG_3401

Despite the recent influx of technological devices that are designed to assist with the consumption of information, I still really love books and magazines in their natural states. Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPad, but there’s something about a good old fashioned piece of paper with words or pictures on it that I find extremely therapeutic.

(It’s especially comforting during those times when your fate rests in the hands of a yoga-pants-wearing twenty-something slurping on a venti Frapp).

IMG_3379

During our travel this past weekend, I took the opportunity to splurge on a few of my favorite foodie magazines, which were chock full of luscious summer desserts, particularly those of the strawberry persuasion. My favorite article though, was one about ice cream floats in Bon Appetit, featuring the fancy summer treat shot against bold and brightly colored backgrounds. I was instantly inspired, and found myself sufficiently distracted for the rest of the flight.

IMG_3377

I forgot about these themes of strawberries and floats until we returned from our trip late Sunday night, and I realized that Blog Post Day (typically Monday or Tuesday) was right around the corner but I had no energy or time to plan for ice cream. As I gazed at my glossy new magazines strewn across the floor, a lightbulb went off. I thought, hey, why not make a float?

IMG_3404

I’m actually surprised that this is the first time an ice cream float is making an appearance on the blog – I love floats, because they’re basically just sparkly milkshakes. I brainstormed some ideas, because I wanted to make a fancy float like the kind I saw in my magazine. But alas, I’m really not that fancy, so I decided to make something totally fun, old fashioned, and delicious: strawberry shortcake!

This ended up tasting exactly how I wanted it to: creamy, boozy, and full of sweet summery strawberries. The addition of Grand Marnier added a nice depth of flavor, and the cookies got all mushy and fabulous in the ice cream. I think this may be a new summer favorite!

IMG_3368

Making this float is easy as pie! (er, shortcake). Start with an empty glass:

IMG_3333

Add some strawberry compote and cookie crumbles, plus a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream:

IMG_3336

Then, add in your booze and soda:

IMG_3337

Add more ice cream, strawberries, and cookie crumbles:

IMG_3343

Top with delectable vanilla whipped cream and garnish with cookie crumbs, and voila!

IMG_3395

I think this recipe may have opened the float floodgates, because I can’t wait to make more! They’re super easy, customizable to whatever ingredients are in your kitchen, and require very little planning, which is awesome for a lazy summer day.

Side note: I’d like to point out that this is the second fruity dessert that I’ve posted in two weeks. AND it has alcohol. I think I’ve pretty much achieved grown up status.

What’s your favorite summer float combo?

Happy scooping 🙂

Boozy Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Float

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 1 hr
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print
 Yield: 2 floats

Ingredients:

1 pint vanilla ice cream

2 cups roughly chopped strawberries

1 tablespoon sugar

½ tsp cornstarch

Splash of Grand Marnier (or, to taste)

1 cup Blackberry Izze (or other berry sparkling soda/water)

1/2 cup pound cake or sugar cookie pieces, broken into bits (I prefer sugar cookies…they hold up better in the ice cream)

whipped cream (vanilla is awesome, if you have it)

Directions:

  1. Make the strawberry compote: Place the strawberries in a small saucepan over medium heat and sprinkle with sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently and mashing some of the larger fruit pieces against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the cornstarch, cook for another minute or two, then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  2. In a tall glass or mason jar, layer a spoonful of the strawberry compote, then follow with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Top with a sprinkling of pound cake/cookie crumbles. Follow with another spoonful of strawberries, then ice cream, then cookies, and so on and so forth.
  3. Once your layers are complete, pour the Grand Marnier, followed by the blackberry soda, over top of the ice cream. Since the liquids can immediately start to melt the ice cream, I like to add an extra scoop of ice cream on top, followed by whipped cream and cookie crumbles to garnish.
  4. Stick in a straw and enjoy 🙂

 

Mango Ginger Ice Cream with Fresh Mint Syrup

IMG_3281

Throughout the course of my blogwork here on ITSF, I’ve made frequent mention of my general disdain and long-standing resentment for fruit-centric desserts. My primary reasons for this particular position are as follows:

1) My love for chocolate trumps all things, except for the obvious must-haves like family, friends, and guinea pig memes.

2) My brain simply isn’t capable of disassociating “fruit” from “health.” And if there’s one thing I don’t want in my life, it’s a healthy dessert.

3) I never find myself fully satisfied after consuming fruity desserts, so I’m forced to partake in something called Second Dessert (also known as “Real Dessert” or “Better Dessert” in some social circles)

However, as I’m finding more and more in my many culinary exploits, it seems that there is almost always an exception to the rule, and in the case of fruity desserts, mine comes in the form of a sweet-and-juicy, almost-creamy, brightly colored ball of sunshine:

Mango.

IMG_3293

Mango may seem like an odd choice for a country bumpkin from the midwest, but it holds a very special place in my food memory (and heart). As a child in the summertime, my mom would frequently make a stop at the local coffee shop to treat me to a mango smoothie, and I was convinced it was the most delicious thing I would ever taste in my entire life (mind you, this was back in the day before smoothies were green and made with real fruit and vegetables; pretty sure what I was consuming was some sort of frozen mango concentrate mixed with vanilla ice cream, but whatever – I loved it!).

Sadly, as I grew into my teenage years and my natural curiosity for junk foods increased, my love for mango was all but forgotten, until one fateful day as a Sophomore in college when mango re-entered my life in a blaze of glory, in the form of the most amazing ice cream served at our local Indian restaurant.

Like many youngsters away from home for the first time, I went through an experimentation phase in college.

IMG_3300

(Experimentation with food, that is).

The greater Akron/Cleveland area is blessed with a pretty awesome food scene, and my friends and I made it our weekly mission to sample as many different regional cuisines as possible. Not only did we sample the food, but we attempted to fully immerse ourselves in whatever our Culture of the Week was at the time, researching the history of the region and reading up on current events and pop culture.

IMG_3315

We went through phases – one week it was Mexican, the next Brazilian, then Lebanese, our cultural exploration driven primarily by our love of food. By far, through all of the ups and downs of our many and varied “cultural flings,” our obsession with India and its cuisine was the most frequented and enduring of any other phase (except perhaps the French Phase, which is ongoing indefinitely. But what girl doesn’t want to eat brioche and pretend to be Amelie?).

For a long stretch of time, a typical Friday night for me in college included Indian food at our favorite local spot, trips to World Market for chai tea and incense, and Bollywood movie marathons. Looking back on it now, our experience was probably quite suburban, but we did the best we could within the confines of our geographical (and financial) limitations. Besides – I wouldn’t trade those days for anything.

IMG_3331

Even though my college years are long gone, I’m still madly in love with Indian cuisine. It’s my ultimate comfort food. As my husband has witnessed, it will even reduce me to tears if I’m having a bad enough day and it magically appears on the kitchen table (Best.Husband.Ever). But what really puts the experience over the top? That delicious mango ice cream that instantly transports me back to the days of my childhood, sipping on those sweet mango smoothies on a hot summer day.

My goal for this week’s ice cream experiment was to emulate the exact flavor of my beloved mango ice cream from the Indian restaurant, but after all was said and done, I ended up with something new and exciting. I added the ginger in hopes that it would create an interesting spice element, but much to my (pleasant) surprise, the two flavors combined into a lovely, almost floral flavor, while the mint syrup added an earthy freshness that was subtle and unexpected.

IMG_3301

Floral? Subtle?

You guys, I think my palate might be growing up!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my adventures into the Land of Fruity Desserts – who knows, I may have to come back to this place more often, now that I know what I’ve been missing 🙂

Happy scooping!

Mango Ginger Ice Cream with Fresh Mint Syrup

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 24 hrs
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print
 Yield: 1.5 Quarts

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

½ cup sugar

3 egg yolks

Salt (1tsp, or to taste)

Flesh from 3 mangoes (plus the pit – don’t throw it out just yet!)

1.5 tsps chopped ginger

2 tsp vanilla extract

For the mint syrup:

1.5 cups packed mint leaves

1  cup water

1 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks slightly until just broken up.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk, cream, sugar, and salt until it just begins to steam.
  3. A quarter or so cup at a time, begin to ladle the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, and whisk vigorously until combined. Once all of the milk has been incorporated into the eggs, add back to the pan.
  4. Heat over medium heat until mixture thickens and becomes a custard, about 15 minutes or so. Strain through a fine sieve and pour into a storage container or large bowl. Allow to cool slightly then store in the fridge until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.
  5. Puree the mango and ginger in a blender until completely smooth and mix into the ice cream base. Add in the vanilla, and just before you start to churn the ice cream, use your hands to squeeze the excess juice out of the mango pit directly into the ice cream base. I know it sounds weird, but you’d be surprised at how much juice comes out – it really adds a lot of flavor.
  6. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to machine directions, and store overnight to allow it to harden.
  7. Serve alone or with mint syrup (to make the mint syrup, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil for a few minutes, until thickened. Once cooled, steep in the chopped mint leaves for a few hours (a few hours or…24, if you’re hardcore)
  8. Enjoy!!!

Dairy Free Dark Chocolate Rocky Road Ice Cream

IMG_3242

Once in a while, as I mindlessly go about my business living life in an ice cream induced stupor, I’ll stumble across one of those poor unfortunate souls who, for whatever reason, is forced to abstain from the supreme influence and indescribable magic of dairy products.

These conversations become especially poignant when framed within the context of the blog.

“That just looks so delicious!” says Person. “But…I can’t. I can’t have dairy.”

Naturally, my heart always breaks a little upon hearing those four fateful words.

After all, the thought of living a life without dairy is…sad. Tragic, even.

Okay. If we’re being honest, it’s downright unbearable.

IMG_3217

Usually, when these conversations occur, I’m briefly inspired to Do Something About It. I fantasize about becoming a Dairy-Free Hero of sorts, quitting my day job to pioneer a delicious new line of gourmet dairy-free ice creams that put their full-dairy counterparts to shame.

But, like many things that cause me to react emotionally, I buried this concept of dairy-free heroism deep into my subconscious, where it remained hidden behind other ideas and feelings that I refuse to acknowledge.

Until recently, that is, when the concept of dairy-free ice cream reemerged into my life, in the form of my sweet little baby nephew, the newest member of our crazed dairy-loving family. Little Nephew started having some pretty major tummy aches and unexplained rashes right out of the gate, and by process of elimination, it seems dairy may have been the culprit.

Yada yada yada …now my sis-in-law is dairy-free. (For a good cause of course…but it doesn’t make the lifestyle transition any easier).

IMG_3226

After our most recent visit, my dairy-free demons haunted me the whole way home, and a few days thereafter. But I was tortured by an internal conflict. Did I want to be a dairy-free hero? Why yes, of course. But..what’s ice cream without..well, the cream?

I was intimidated by the task ahead of me. In case you haven’t noticed, I have a strict whole milk + heavy cream + many many many eggs formula, and generally it works (well, most of the time. I’m talking to you, banana gelato).

I decided to buckle down and do some experimenting, and after some trial and error, found that coconut milk (full-fat, of course), has a natural richness that lends itself perfectly to the ice creamatic arts. However, there was still that issue of the slight coconut taste of coconut milk. For coconut fans, this is an added bonus, but for those of us who only appreciate coconut in moments of extreme desperation when a wee Almond Joy is the last snack in the candy dish, it can be quite problematic – which is why I went with a rich chocolate – a flavor that would somewhat mask, yet somewhat complement, the coconut-y ice cream base.

IMG_3240

I didn’t decide on Rocky Road until I spotted some dairy-free chocolate chips at my local Target; but as soon as I saw them, I knew this ice cream was going to be BALLS-TO-THE-WALL in dairy-free goodness. Besides, what’s a mere $7.99 per bag if it gets me that much closer to my dairy-free hero status?

Once I gathered my ingredients and got started, the process felt like making ice cream and looked like making ice cream. But in the end, did it taste like ice cream, you ask?

Why yes, dear readers – yes it did! There is a pretty significant coconut aftertaste, so if you are adamantly against coconut, I wouldn’t waste your time. However, if you’re open to an essence of the tropics in your frozen desserts, then you’ll be just fine!

IMG_3259

As far as texture, this ice cream is a bit icy at first, but it’s nothing that 15 minutes on the counter won’t fix. The result? A creamy, palate-pleasing experience that’s darn near close to the real thing.

It’s worth noting that I also cheated a little by keeping in the eggs to serve as a stabilizer, but if you wanted this ice cream to be completely allergen free, you could leave them out – just prepare for a slightly icier texture.

IMG_3245

At the end of the day, I still prefer full-dairy ice cream (shocking, I know). But if for some reason that’s not an option, this is a great substitute.

I’ll continue working on my formula and posting updates as I go; expect to see a few more dairy free posts this summer. After all, perfection – and dairy free heroism – don’t happen over night. 🙂

Happy scooping!

Dairy Free Dark Chocolate Rocky Road Ice Cream

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 24 hrs
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print
 Yield: 1 Quart

Ingredients:

2 cans coconut milk (full fat only)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 egg yolks

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup dairy free dark chocolate chips (or to taste)

1 cup roughly chopped pecans (or to taste; I used raw pecans but you can toast for added crunch)

1 cup marshmallow fluff (homemade is awesome, but store bought works great too!)

Directions

Make the base:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa powder, and salt and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the coconut milk (do not boil!). Once milk is thoroughly heated, add to the cocoa powder mixture a little at a time (about ½ cup) until a paste forms.
  3. Whisk in the egg yolks one at a time, making sure each is incorporated fully into the mixture.
  4. Pour the mixture back into your saucepan, and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes, until it thickens and coats the back of a rubber spatula or spoon (just like custard!!)
  5. Stir in vanilla, and then store mixture in the fridge for a few hours or overnight until chilled thoroughly.
  6. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. During the last few minutes of churning, add in the chocolate chips, pecans, and gobs of marshmallow fluff (marshmallow needs to be dropped in a little at a time in order to prevent a giant ball of hardened fluff from forming). Store in an airtight container in the freezer overnight or until hardened (about 4 hours or so).
  7. Enjoy 🙂