Chocolate Chip Pancake Ice Cream

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With the blog’s second birthday just around the corner (I know, can you believe it?!), I’ve been taking some time to pause and reflect about all the great (and not-so-great) times we’ve shared in the past two years.

Old jobs, new jobs, grad school, wedding planning, wedding execution, loss of loved ones. You know my hopes, my fears, my pet peeves, and my darkest secrets; not to mention a whole list of other deeply personal thoughts that I’d never dare speak of in person but will freely broadcast to a blogosphere full of internet friends and strangers alike.

We’ve been through a lot together, you guys.

Which is why, after all we’ve been through, I feel it’s high time that I properly introduce you to the love of my life.

No, I’m not talking about my husband (although he’s pretty awesome. Hi honey!).

I’m talking about the real love of my life. A love that has been with me through twenty-some years of existence; a love that will no doubt endure for all of eternity.

His name is Breakfast.

More specifically, Pancake Breakfast.

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I don’t quite remember when I first met Pancakes, because like most great loves, I have this overwhelming feeling that he’s just always been there. From the moment that I had my first Mickey Mouse-shaped pancake as a toddler, to discovering how to make them myself in college (and eating them everyday for two weeks and subsequently gaining ten pounds), until now, I’ve just always loved pancakes, and it’s a love that only deepens with age.

Truthfully, I’m not sure if I’ve ever loved anything as much as I love pancakes.

I’m only kidding, of course.

Well, sort of.

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My passion for pancakes is such that it’s actually caused palpable tension in my marriage. Sometimes my ride-or-die attitude towards pancakes and breakfast in general can be emotionally overwhelming for the both of us. Me, the girl who hates to talk about her feelings, and my husband, a man who has lived his life with blatant disregard for breakfast, often grabbing something on-the-go or skipping breakfast altogether (I shudder at the thought).

You know what they say: opposites attract, but sometimes it can be a recipe for disaster.

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When I think about it, the only time we ever really get into disagreements is during that small, yet fragile, breakfast window on weekends between 8 am and 10 am.

(I don’t know if this is a good sign, or ridiculous, or a little bit of both).

The worst fight we’ve ever had was one unfortunate Sunday morning when hubby decided he needed to get his oil changed before breakfast (the HORROR), effectively delaying our breakfast outing by at least forty five minutes. By the time we got to our favorite breakfast joint, the line was out the door, and as you’ve probably gathered by now, I DO NOT WAIT FOR BREAKFAST.

I can only describe what happened next as a Jekyll/Hyde like transformation. I went from my usual anxiously optimistic, pre-breakfast Lindsay, to an emotionally disturbed, passive aggressive terror within a matter of minutes.

I think I literally said, through a face full of tears, “Well I just feel like you aren’t taking breakfast seriously enough.”

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I love pancakes so much.

SO MUCH.

I love them to the extent that I even wear small, scented, plastic replicas of pancakes on my person at all times:

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Singular best birthday present ever. This jewelry designer makes amazing food-themed jewelry (and it’s scented!). Check her out here.

I love pancakes so much that I get visibly upset thinking about any extenuating circumstances in which I would be unable to eat them.

For example, What if I lose the ability to taste? Or, the world runs out of maple syrup? What if the zombie apocalypse actually happens, and access to fresh dairy is limited? (…in case you were wondering what I think about while watching the Walking Dead, now you know).

A world without pancakes?

You guys, I just…I can’t.

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Since the last few blog posts have been a little intense, I wanted to give myself a break this week. I thought, what do I love? What’s going to make me the happiest?

(I hope the answer is obvious by now).

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I have Lazy Blogger Syndrome this week and I didn’t feel like fussing with eggs, so I reverted back to the Jeni’s method, which uses a base of cornstarch, milk, cream, corn syrup, and cream cheese, among other things. I used a variation of this base last year for my Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble ice cream, and it was one of the best I’ve ever made. And it’s so much easier and quicker than the custard method, to boot! I’m a little weirded out that it adds corn syrup to the mix, because you know the media is all YOU’RE GOING TO DIE FROM ALL THE CORN AND SYRUP AND CORN SYRUPS but the texture of this is ON POINT, you guys. Not to mention, this method is a money saver because you don’t blow through 5 or 6 eggs at a time.

Not to sound cocky, but I think I nailed it (however, it’s kinda hard to mix butter, sugar, maple syrup, buttermilk, and chocolate and NOT have it work out). Still, this has got to be one of my favorites that I’ve ever made.

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I wanted to emulate the flavor/texture of melted chocolate chips, so rather than just use normal chips (don’t worry, those make an appearance too), I used a two month old batch of hot fudge that I found in the back of our fridge.

Disclaimer: this is not adviseable, as most homemade sauces have a shelf life of maybe two weeks. Of course, you should always strive to use fresh ingredients, but just sayin’ – there’s ways to cut corners here, folks. I call them Pancake Tradeoffs. Sometimes, you just have to make sacrifices to get what you want.

With the fudge and chips added in, the ice cream was approaching awesome. But still, it was missing a little something.

Duh – it was missing actual pancakes!

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Because I’m a lazy blogger, I didn’t want to go to the trouble of making an entire batch of pancakes, nor did I want to do the necessary math to divide my favorite recipe into one eighth. Then, miraculously, I found this nifty recipe for ONE pancake (really, the only time I can ever imagine needing ONE pancake) and thought, why not? So I fried it up in a bunch o’ butter, let it cool, pulsed it up in the blender and voila – pancake swirl. Be warned: the pancake freezes pretty hard, but it’s worth it because you can still taste the crispy brown edges. It’s heavenly.

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I hope this ice cream makes you as happy as it does me. I also hope that after reading this you don’t think I’m a complete sociopath. But, I suppose we all get a little crazy when true love is on the line 🙂

How much do you love pancakes?

Happy scooping! Have a great week! 🙂

Chocolate Chip Pancake Ice Cream

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print
 Yield: 1 Quart

Base adapted from “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home”

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1.5 cups whole milk

1.5 cups heavy cream

1/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

¼ cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ cup maple syrup

2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Hot Fudge, for swirling

¼ cup chocolate chips

1 or 2 pancakes, cooled and chopped into bits

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix two tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the cream cheese in a medium bowl until smooth or almost smooth (some lumps and bumps are just fine).
  3. Fill a large bowl with ice water (lots of ice!!!). Set aside.
  4. In a 4 quart saucepan, combine milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup, then bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 4 mins exactly! Side note: it is necessary that you use a 4 quart saucepan. I used something smaller, thinking I was being sneaky, and my milk mixture almost boiled over 😦
  5. This part starts to look like the “normal” ice cream process, except you use your cornstarch mixture instead of eggs: After 4 minutes, remove the milk mixture from heat and gradually mix into your cornstarch slurry mixture that you made in Step 1. Add back to the saucepan, and cook over medium high heat for about 1 minute, or until thickened and it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat.
  6. Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the cream cheese. Add the melted butter, vanilla, maple syrup, and buttermilk, and stir until smoothly. Lastly, I add in the kosher salt, to taste. I wanted this ice cream to be more savory, so I think in the end I added about 1 teaspoon or so. I like my pancakes with lots of salted butter, and by adding extra salt to the ice cream, I was able to replicate this flavor. But, if you’re not a complacent saltaholic like me, you might want to start out with less and build your way up. Salt has a tendency to become more intense after the ice cream is frozen, so keep that in mind as well.
  7. Once all ingredients are incorporated, pour base into a gallon sized freezer bag and submerge into ice bath. Let stand until very cold, half an hour to thirty minutes.
  8. While mixture is cooling, make your pancake (I prefer buttermilk, but use your favorite! Let it cool, then chop into tiny bits or pulse in your blender.
  9. Once the ice cream is finished, add it to your storage container, swirling in layers of fudge, chocolate chips, and pancake crumbles. Store overnight, or until texture is hardened.
  10. Enjoy!!!!

 

Lola’s Carrot Cake Ice Cream

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I had an entirely different post planned for this week, but as it often does, life threw me a curveball a few days ago and I needed to make an urgent change of plans.

And today, my friends, I urgently need to tell you about Lola.

No, Lola wasn’t an estranged great aunt or a retired burlesque dancer living in Paris, although her name may imply as much. Rather, Lola was someone much more important than that.

Lola was my bunny.

(In reality, as you will gather from reading this post, Lola was really my mom’s bunny. But if you ask her, my mom will sweetly tell you that she was ours).

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After a yearlong battle with declining health, our sweet Lola passed through to the other side this weekend, and I just knew I couldn’t let a single day go by without paying tribute to the amazing impact she had on our lives.

But before I get started, however, I’d like to take a minute to address an annoying, yet seemingly common, misconception about rabbits as pets. And it is this: because Lola wasn’t a typical pet, she was somehow unworthy of the obsessive love, care, and adoration that is characteristic for a pet owner to lavish upon his or her furry friends.

While I understand that most people who believe this falsehood do so out of ignorance or inexperience, I’ve come across a few scornful individuals over the years who would actually turn up their noses in irreverence when I described Lola, like they just couldn’t believe that I would keep a rabbit, a rodent, of all things, as a pet (which, rabbits aren’t rodents, by the way – another misconception. Please see Wikipedia).

What always bothered me the most about this sentiment, aside from the obvious callous delivery, is that at the heart of this reaction, is the suggestion that our love for Lola should have been diminished in some way, because of her small stature, or quiet nature, or general uniqueness as a pet.

Like…a rabbit doesn’t really count because it’s not a dog or a cat.

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For those of you who have kept rabbits as pets or know someone who does, you can skip this next section; because I’m sure you know how awesome bunnies can be. But for those of you who are ignorant to the joys of bunnyhood, listen up, because I’m about to tell you.

For lack of a better comparison, rabbits are basically small, quiet dogs. Lola certainly couldn’t bark, but she could stamp her feet, puff out her chest, and look at you wryly and condescendingly out of the corner of her eye in disapproval. She couldn’t wag her tail, but she could wiggle her nose excitedly, jumping around your legs in a circle while instantly making the stress of the day melt away. She couldn’t purr or pant, but if you rubbed her cheeks in just the right spot, she would grind her teeth together in a blissful motion and her body would melt into the floor.

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Lola was a super active and social pet. She loved to jump up on the couch or the bed and watch tv with us. One of her favorite things seemed to be those times when my sister was home from Paris and the house was full of women, jabbering away; she just wanted to be one of the girls! Lola loved her toys, too –  especially one stuffed rabbit in particular that she bathed lovingly each morning (I affectionately referred to him as her “boyfriend”).

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I brought Lola home with me when I was in college (because what better time to assume the responsibility of caring for another living thing than when you’re a poor college student).

My mom would care for her during the day while I was in class, and then at nighttime, it was my turn to take over. I’m sure our somewhat drab nights paled in comparison to fun days with grandma, but Lola never complained. She would sit up on the bed with me in the wee hours of the night while I studied and wrote term papers, often taking tiny nibbles from the corners of my textbooks and novels, or falling asleep to the melodic sound of my fingers tapping against my laptop keyboard.

Lola, when we first brought her home. She liked to knock over empty cans with her nose; I think it made her feel authoritative.

Lola, when we first brought her home. She liked to knock over empty cans with her nose; I think it made her feel authoritative.

Once I graduated from college, found a job, and got my own apartment, the plan was always for Lola to come with me, but for some reason that just never happened. Aside from the fact that I worked long hours and felt that I didn’t necessarily have the time to take care of Lola in the way she deserved, I could tell that my mom was growing more and more attached to her (I realized at the time that it was unfair of me to dump this responsibility on my mom, but I tell myself that I was doing her a favor because she loved Lola so much 🙂 ).

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Then, when I fell in love with my future husband, a man who suffers terrible allergies to pet dander and hay, the deal was pretty much sealed – this is when Lola formally became my mom’s pet (even though, as you will gather, she was really my mom’s from the very beginning). It turns out that I was correct in my thinking: my mom was a better mother to that rabbit than I ever could have hoped to be.

With her diet of fresh organic produce and purified water, Lola ate better than most upper middle class Americans. She had apple tree branches to chew, her very own critter cottage, and a plethora of toys and noisemakers to keep her preoccupied. But most importantly, she was loved. Dearly.

My mom’s attention to Lola never wavered. Even towards the end of her life, my mom would get up at three and four in the morning to make sure she was comfortable and dry.

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For the past year/year and a half, Lola’s health had been declining. It started slowly at first with some accidents on the carpet here or there (extremely unusual – rabbits are fastidious when it comes to cleanliness), but then eventually she lost the function of one hind leg, then another; the result of what doctors assume was a tumor.

We knew that we had a tough decision to make, but selfishly, we just couldn’t let her go, especially when she was still so full of spirit, right to the very end. Poor thing was so tired, but she always put on a brave face for us.

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No, Lola wasn’t a dog or a cat, but she sure did seem to know when we needed her the most. That’s the funny thing about rabbits – while we think they’re busy being quiet and self possessed, they’re actually analyzing our every mood, almost perceptive to a fault. And when they learn to love you, they are the most loyal of companions.

Once the hard decision was made and we arrived at the vet for the “procedure”, Lola went very quickly. I’d like to think this wasn’t the medicine so much as her telling us that she was ready to move on to her next life.

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Because I’d been so far removed from Lola the past few years, I didn’t think this weekend would be as difficult as it was. My husband and I don’t have a pet right now, and when you don’t have furry family members, it’s easy to think that others are crazy for the amount of time and money that they spend on theirs.

But, on the way to the vet’s office, I couldn’t help thinking about Lola’s little nose wiggling up and down, nibbling on the edges of my homework so many years ago, and more importantly, contemplating in awe the amazing, loyal, and unexpected companion she had become to my mother.

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I went into the weekend thinking I’d be there simply as support for my mother, but it turned out to be the other way around – I was a train wreck, and my mother gave me comfort (as mothers tend to do in times like these).

Lola was our little sweetheart, and words can’t express how much we’ll miss her.

So, I’m writing this post to honor her, in my own tiny way. Of course, it seems silly and almost counterintuitive to dedicate an ice cream to her, as rabbits can’t have dairy, or cake, or eggs, or processed sugar of any kind. But what Lola loved more than anything, aside from fresh banana slices and apple skins, were the leafy green tops of carrots that would just disappear into her mouth the moment she smelled them. But because carrot ice cream (and more particularly, green carrot ice cream) just didn’t seem exciting enough – especially for a girl as exciting as Lola- I settled on carrot cake, which seemed to be much more fitting and ceremonious.

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This ice cream was a little more involved that usual, but I didn’t mind; there was something therapeutic about grating the carrots and slowly cooking them over a stove top with bubbling sugar and butter. The end result tasted just like carrot cake, and although she wouldn’t have been able to taste it, something tells me Lola would have been appreciative all the same. Because that’s the kinda gal she was – sweet, supportive, and grateful.

Trying to hold an Easter photoshoot for our pet calendar at work. She wasn't havin' it.

Lola, age 4. I was attempting to conduct an Easter photoshoot for our pet calendar at work. She wasn’t havin’ it.

As I spent time wallowing on the couch this weekend, I found myself wondering why humans ever bring pets into their homes in the first place, knowing that the eventual and unavoidable end is so difficult. But then, as he always does, my husband was able to offer words of instant comfort:

It’s because it is just so worth it.

Our pets love us unconditionally, even when we’re grouchy or impatient or look a hot mess, writing term papers at 2 am. Their lives are tragic and wonderful and meaningful, and all we can do is love them, to the best of our humanly ability. Albeit even if in the end, our impact on their lives is minute in comparison to the gifts that they give us each and every day.

This ice cream is delicious, comforting, and fun…something you could eat in a bowl while sitting on the floor, with a rabbit’s paws on your knees, nose wiggling away 🙂

For those of you who have lost a pet, ever – my heart goes out to you in the sincerest of ways.

Happy scooping 🙂

Lola's Carrot Cake Ice Cream

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print
 Yield: 1.5 Quarts

Ingredients:

2 cups whole milk

3 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup granulated sugar

Kosher salt (1 tsp, or to taste)

5 egg yolks

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1 block of cream cheese (8 oz)

1 cup brown sugar

¼ cup butter

1.5 cups grated carrot

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped

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 custard, about 15 minutes or so (or until it thickly coats the back of a wooden spoon). Strain through a fine mesh sieve and pour into a storage container or large bowl.
  5. Allow the mixture to come to room temperature, and then stir in the vanilla and cinnamon.
  6. Next, beat in the cream cheese with an electric hand mixer. Store in the fridge until thoroughly chilled, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.
  7. Make the caramelized carrots: melt brown sugar and butter over medium heat (about 5 minutes). Add carrots and walnuts; cook until carrots are soft and walnuts are fragrant (about 10 minutes). Allow mixture to cool completely.
  8. Right before you freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker, add the caramelized carrots and walnuts. Churn according to manufacturer’s instructions, then freeze in a container overnight.
  9. Enjoy 🙂