Orange Creamsicle Ice Cream

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This week, as I was carefully pondering which ice cream flavor I’d be featuring in the next post, it suddenly dawned on me that July is pretty much a wrap and August is descending upon us in a mere matter of…(gulp)…hours.

You guys!

The summer is almost over!

When did that happen?!

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Maybe I’m being a bit glass-half-empty over here, but August has always been the month that I’ve dreaded the most throughout the year, for obvious back-to-school related reasons. Even now that I’m done with school, I still can’t shake this feeling that August is the beginning of the end.

I love autumn, so it’s really not that big of a deal to me, but at the same time, I always feel like the summer comes and goes and I never make the most of it.

I mean, I always have so many PLANS and IDEAS for the summertime you guys!

Like: getting a natural tan, losing twenty pounds, starting a community garden, learning how to kayak, learning how to swim, achieving effortless beach hair, building a DIY hammock from scratch, and hosting a handful of glorious Ina Garten-style family dinners on the patio.

And did I do any of that so far this summer?

Well, no. Of course not.

I never do.

(I’m not Superwoman, you guys).

But I DID make this awesome, dreamy, orange creamsicle ice cream, and I sort of think that makes up for my lack of productivity in other areas. Don’t you agree?

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Before the summer starts to slip away completely, I wanted to grab the bull by the horns and make a flavor that is best enjoyed during those super hot “Dog Days” in August; those days where nothing satisfies the palate quite like a melty ice cream cone in a flavor that is decidedly summery. For me, Orange Creamsicle is at the top of that list.

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Orange Creamsicle was a flavor that I always gravitated towards as a child, although at that time, I knew it by another name:

Flinstones Push Up Pops.

The Push Up Pop was always my go-to choice from the ice cream truck. Sure, I dabbled with Good Humor’s Strawberry Shortcake Bar, and of course I loved a Drumstick from time to time (who doesn’t?), but the Push Up Pop was my absolute favorite. I liked that there was some effort involved in twisting up the plastic contraption to obtain the ice cream inside; I think it made the experience more rewarding… sort of like crab legs or corn on the cob.

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Once I grew “too old” for the ice cream truck, my love for Creamsicle followed me into my teenage years in the form of a frosted pink Bonne Bell lipgloss that was scented like my favorite childhood treat (all the 15 year old girls in Brimfield, Ohio were wearing it at the time).

Then in college, when I turned 21, Orange Creamsicle yet again surfaced in a subtle but meaningful way as one of the few alchoholic drinks that I could actually tolerate, beacuase the distinct ice cream-like flavor distracted me from the heinous flavor of the actual alcohol.

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Today, I still love Orange Creamsicle flavored things, perhaps even more so than I did in my younger years, because now that I’m an old broad, I can officially label my childhood favorites as guilty pleasures.

Sure, it’s not a flavor that I could eat all the time, but it’s perfect for those hot, lingering August days where all the air conditioning and ceiling fans in the world can’t even cool you down. It’s been 90 in northeastern Ohio all week, so I just knew this was my perfect opportunity to give Orange Creamsicle her 15 minutes of ice cream blogging fame.

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I wanted to make sure this ice cream was full of orange flavor, so I used three different sources of orange: orange zest, orange juice, and orange extract.

Using orange extract gave me a bit of heartburn at first because I always want my ice creams to be TOO LEGIT TO QUIT, and using flavorings or extracts always seems a bit disingenuous. But adding too much liquid to ice cream bases (in this case, orange juice) would have resulted in an icy texture – and this aint’ a SLUSHY blog, folks. It’s an ice cream blog, and ice cream should be creamy and luscious and wonderful.

So, bring on the extract (a full tablespoon, in fact).

I added in some buttermilk for a bit of tanginess, and obviously, a bit of orange food coloring. Again, a bit disingenuous, but in my opinion, totally necessary – orange flavored ice cream should be, well, orange.

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Eating this ice cream, I felt like I was 6 years old again, blissfully standing in line at the ice cream truck. The little cake cone really put it over the top.

Oh, and you know what else did too? This awesome “ice cream salt” that one of my very favorite people in the world got for me. I didn’t realize that my two loves, ice cream and salt, could be combined into one awesome product, but I’m glad I’ve become enlightened. The salt made a subtle yet noticeable impact; it also made the ice cream feel a bit more adult and trendy; because Salted Anything is super cool, right?

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If I ever have an ice cream store, you better believe this flavor will definitely be on the featured menu for the entire summer.

Have a happy last day of July, my friends!

Happy scooping 🙂

Orange Creamsicle Ice Cream

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 14 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print
 Yield: 1 Quart

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1.5 cups whole milk

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

1/3 cup sugar

3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

pinch of kosher or sea salt; or if you’re lucky, ice cream salt

¼ cup buttermilk

2 teaspoons high quality vanilla extract

1 tablespoon orange extract

1/2 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed is best)

zest from one orange (if desired; this will add a bit of texture)

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.
  5. 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 both of the extracts, orange juice, zest, and buttermilk. Lastly, I add in the kosher salt, to taste. Please note: the amounts of the extracts were ball parked; I really wanted a robust flavor, so i just kept adding until I was happy with the flavor. Taste as you go – you may want more or less depending on your personal preference.
  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 or so. Continue adding more ice as needed.
  8. Once the mixture is cold, freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  9. Once the ice cream is finished, add it to your storage container, and store until texture is hardened (preferably overnight). Once ready to serve, let the ice cream sit out for 10 or 15 minutes until softened.
  10. Enjoy!!!!

No Churn Cannoli Ice Cream

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A few weeks ago, a reader reached out to me to see if I had ever featured any “no churn” ice cream recipes on the blog. Naturally, I was perplexed.

No churn?

Ice cream?

In other words, complete and utter madness.

After all, what’s ice cream without, well, the churn?

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I’ve seen no-churn recipes here and there during my late night Pinterest binges, but truthfully, I never gave them much thought. That’s not real ice cream, I would say to myself. Then I would go about my business Pinning some sort of complicated egg yolk-based ice cream with ten thousand ingredients and ten years of prep time. Because, you know, that’s what real ice cream is all about.

However, it was pointed out to me this weekend, after wrinkling my nose in disdain at a less-than-desirable Mint Oreo Blizzard, that I could possibly be turning into somewhat of an ice cream snob.

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(In my defense, the mint syrup wasn’t properly incorporated into the vanilla soft serve; it was just strewn across the sides of the cup like some sort of bright green dejected lover. And the Oreo situation? Don’t even get me started. More like “Mint Oreo Remnants Blizzard”).

I laughed off the comment at the time, but the more I thought about it, the more I was bothered.

I’m not an ice cream snob!

…am I?

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When I started the blog, my mission was to bring beautiful, delicious ice cream into everyone’s lives, regardless of location, season, or dietary preferences.

This message of Complete and Total Ice Cream Proliferation was supposed to be delivered unadulterated, without prejudice or malice. But here I was, alienating an entire segment of people, just because they didn’t own an ice cream maker.

Ashamed and embarrassed, I had a revelation:

Who am I to say what’s real ice cream?

I’m no expert; I just pretend to be one sometimes on my blog. But I think therein lays the root of my smugness: perhaps my quick criticism of these other ice cream methodologies stems from my own petty insecurity.

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All this time, I’d focused so much energy into making sure my flavors and presentation were exciting and unique. But not once, not ever, had I thought about my actual technique.

Cook. Freeze. Churn. Repeat.

This has been my blog life for the past few years, and I never even gave it a second thought. But you know what? THE PEOPLE deserve better. They deserve innovative ice cream, produced in innovative ways. Especially if they lack the necessary kitchen equipment.

Yes. The people need ice cream, and it’s my job to deliver (at least in my own warped imagination).

Well, dear readers, ask and you shall receive!

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I decided to play my first foray into No Churn Land a bit safe; choosing a flavor that had lots of extra stuff in it that could ensure textural and flavor success, even if the ice cream base turned out to be a bit lackluster from this new technique.

I’d been craving cannoli lately, but not just any cannoli – cannoli from Dalo’s bakery in Berwick, PA.

Not only does Dalo’s have amazing cookies, cakes, donuts, and brownies, but they have this cannoli that is sweet and cinnamon-y and amazing and OMG. It’s the best cannoli I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot of cannoli in my life). If I were independently wealthy, I’d purchase a second home in Berwick just to be close to this bakery. It is that good.

I’d also be ten thousand pounds, but sometimes you need to GO BIG OR GO HOME. And when it comes to dessert, I always choose big.

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So, I got to work on my latest creation, extremely skeptical of the whole process. Through all of my no churn research, it seemed that the key was simply lots of heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk, whipped together wih an electric hand mixer. No eggs, no cooking, no churning.

It just felt too easy. So, I started entertaining the idea of making homemade cannoli shells for a few minutes until I realized what a huge pain in the a$$ they were going to be. I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve attempted to fry things in my life, and all 5 times turned my kitchen into a greasy, sticky mess. No thanks.

I had a feeling that unfilled cannoli shells might be difficult to find in my neck of the woods, so my back up plan came in the form of cinnamon sugar pita chips – I knew they’d give the satisfying, cinnamon-y crunch I needed to make this ice cream taste just like real cannoli.

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So, I set to work, unsure of what the outcome would be on this no churn journey of mine.

At first, I was discouraged when the heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk refused to thicken, but DO NOT GIVE UP. Success will be yours, with a little persistence.

Lo and behold, 5 or 6 minutes later, the contents in my bowl doubled in size and I was left with a fluffy, beautiful mess of whipped ricotta cheese. I added in the rest of my cannoli ingredients and popped into the freezer – no cooking, no nothin. It was so refreshing!

A few hours later, I dug my spoon into the container for a sample. And ohmygoodness, it tasted just like real ice cream!

Oh, alright fine – this was real ice cream.

Real ice cream that tasted like real cannoli. I was overjoyed.

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And in case you don’t believe me, my husband said that this ice cream was “top five of all time.” (To give you some context, I’ve made probably upwards of 40 or 50 ice creams on the blog in the past two years. So, some high praise for this one 🙂 )

My only caveat with this ice cream is that is freezes really hard. I’m talking ROCK SOLID. When it’s this hard, the texture can be a bit crumbly, but I imagine that’s partially from the ricotta, and partially because there’s no eggs or cornstarch to hold it all together. Just make sure you leave ample time for the ice cream to soften, and this shouldn’t be a problem.

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This ice cream is delicious and creamy and tastes just like cannoli. And the best part? It’s SO easy!

You’ll definitely see more no churn ice creams pop up on the blog again in the future. Now, if only I could figure out how to skip the freezing process altogether and have instant homemade ice cream, then we’ll be in business!

Happy scooping 🙂

No Churn Cannoli Ice Cream

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 10 hr
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print
 Yield: 1.5 quarts

Ingredients:

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 15-ounce container of whole milk ricotta cheese

2 cups heavy cream

¼ cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup pistachios, shelled, roasted, and salted

3 cups mini chocolate chips (I used the whole bag. But, whatever)

3 cups Stacy’s Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips, crushed (again, I pretty much used the whole bag)

Few pinches of salt, to taste (I used about one tsp)

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine ricotta cheese and sweetened condensed milk. Mix with an electric mixer for one minute, or until fully combined and smooth.
  2. Add in your heavy cream (make sure it’s cold cold cold!), powdered sugar, and vanilla, then mix on high for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened and forms soft peaks and the volume seems to have doubled in size (Yes – 5 minutes. It takes a bit longer for the cream to thicken because of all the other stuff mixed in. Don’t have a panic attack like I did, thinking your cream is faulty; just be patient :))
  3. Fold in the rest of your ingredients (the pistachios, mini chips, pita chips, and salt to taste) or mix with your electric mixer on the lowest speed.
  4. In your storage container, lay down one layer of ice cream, then follow with a layer of pistachios, chocolate chips, and pita chips. Add another layer of ice cream, then top with the remaining pistachios, chocolate chips, and pita chips. Cover the top with plastic wrap and set in your freezer to freeze.
  5. After 4 or 5 hours, the ice cream will be the consistency of soft serve; for a harder ice cream, allow it to set overnight (this will cause the ice cream to freeze very hard; give it about half an hour or so to soften before eating).
  6. Enjoy 🙂

Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Ice Cream Cake

Happy birthday, If the Spoon Fits!

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Two years ago today, I wrote my very first post on this here little blog, and now she’s a TODDLER! Can you believe it?!

They grow up so fast 😦

If I’d had more foresight at the time, I would have waited one more day so that my blog’s birthday didn’t always conflict with Bastille Day, but such is the nature of the blog beast – there’s always some French national holiday trying to steal my thunder.

You’re just gunna have to learn how to share the spotlight, Bastille Day. Not everything is about you!

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In anticipation of today’s post, I spent a few days brainstorming special celebratory ice cream flavors that could measure up to such a momentous occasion as the birth of the blog. But after all was said and done, I settled on my tried and true: mint chocolate chip – the flavor that started it all for me.

Immediately, I had the idea of doing a mint chip cake, but I worried that this wasn’t, well, unique enough. I’ve been experimenting with some weird flavor combinations this year, and doing some sort of artsy variation of mint chocolate chip, like a white chocolate mint julep, seemed more in line with my blog strategy as of late. But at the end of the day, I just couldn’t shake the idea of a simple, green, mint chip cake for two reasons:

1) Despite all of the culinary progression that I’ve made this year, I still haven’t let go of my childish notion that mint flavored things should be green. Unfortunately, white chocolate just doesn’t fit the bill.

2) The bigger issue? I just really, really, really wanted to make a cake for you guys, even if you can’t be with me in person to eat it. Because you deserve a cake. But not just any cake. You deserve the best cake in the whole world – a cake like those beautiful ones on Pinterest that’s all decked out with frosting and flowers and lit sparklers instead of candles because sparklers are HIPSTER and I wanted your cake to be GLORIOUS and CULTURALLY RELEVANT.

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Decision made, I headed into battle, armed with 4 quarts of mint chip and a vision – a vision of a beautiful three or four tiered mint creation with perfect tufts of whipped cream and dark chocolate ganache cascading down the sides. Forget that I’d never made a cake before, let alone used a piping bag. How hard could it be?

Well, as it turns out, it was VERY HARD.

On a scale from 1 to 10, I’d wager that making a beautiful cake is somewhere up there between climbing Mount Everest and performing open-heart surgery.

Disclaimer: I’ve never tried two out of those three things, but something tells me making a cake, especially of the ice cream variety, in all its melty glory, is its own special brand of Extremely Difficult.

And apparently, I’m not very good at it. Case in point:

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See the expert piping in uniform shapes and sizes? Yeah, neither do I.

On Saturday, I made the first version of this ice cream cake, and it was a mess and a half. The layers were uneven and the piping was awful. When I went to cover the top with chocolate ganache, the ice cream melted down the sides and the cake started collapsing in on itself like some sort of bad science project.

I yelled. I screamed. I threw a straight up temper tantrum.

And then, I cried.

I sobbed.

Real tears.

Over an ice cream cake.

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There are people in this world that are sick and starving and their countries are war-ridden, and I’m here crying over an ice cream cake (In my defense, at least I exhibited some level of self-awareness during my emotional breakdown; that counts for something right?). From there, I spiraled into a deep black hole of emotion, marked with bitter disappointment at my failure, but riddled with the shame and harrowing guilt that can only come with the first world problems associated with a part-time, not-for-profit, suburban ice cream blog.

I wallowed about for a few hours, trying to figure out my backup plan.

I started thinking, maybe I’ll just make some sort of dark chocolate mint ice cream, put it in a cone, throw in a candle, and call it a day. I’m clearly not capable of doing anything else.

Then, like a phoenix rising from its ashes, I found my resolve.

No.

I will make a cake, I said. And it will be hipster and green and glorious, because THE PEOPLE DESERVE IT.

And just like that, I decided to start over again.

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Is this cake perfect? No, of course not. In fact, it’s far from it. But you know what? I don’t care – I’m proud of it anyhow! And looks aside, it tastes pretty darn good (after all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts).

This blog isn’t about perfection; it’s about putting myself out there and trying something new. And part of that is realizing that not everything works out perfectly the first time around (or second or third).

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Yes, the blog is a toddler now, and I can’t think of a more appropriate metaphor for how I’m feeling: I know a little bit more than I did last year, but I still have a LONG way to go.

I’m insecure about my writing. I spell things wrong. I still don’t really know how my camera works. Sometimes my ice creams taste or look funny, and I get angry about it. Once in a while, I’ll cry.

But you know what? Those things are starting to feel less and less significant, and after I’ve failed, it’s been easier to pick myself back up again. And it’s all because of you guys! My super supportive, sweet, funny, “online” blogging friends who are slowly starting to feel like genuine, good old-fashioned pals.

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Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to everyone who has visited, liked, followed, shared, and commented on this blog. Heck, even if you dislike this blog, I still appreciate you (you could have spent that five minutes doing something else!).

I’m constantly floored by the level of talent in the blogosphere – people with day jobs who come home at night to bake and blog and take pictures. You’re a constant source of inspiration for me, and I’m lucky to know you all!

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So, dear friends, I present to you this perfectly imperfect mint chip ice cream cake, as a symbol of my appreciation for you and everything you do. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, but there’s a lot of love in between those layers of brownie and ice cream. A lot of love, a little frustration, and a boat load of gratitude. Because that’s what this blog is supposed to be all about 🙂

Happy scooping!!! 🙂

Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Ice Cream Cake

  • Servings: 14
  • Time: 24 hr
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print
 Yield: 1 giant cake

You will need:

Two 8-inch spring form pans

Two quarts of mint chip ice cream, store bought or homemade

1 box of brownie mix (or homemade, but I actually prefer boxed mix for this because I’ve found it stays softer when frozen)

3 or 4 cups whipped cream or whipped topping

1.5 cups chocolate chips (semi sweet or dark)

3 tablespoons coconut oil or veggie shortening (use the shortening if you don’t like coconut)

1/4 tsp peppermint extract, divided (optional)

2 or 3 drops of green food coloring

Directions:

1. Preheat oven and prepare brownie mix according to directions. Split mix between two prepared (aka sprayed with oil or lined with parchment) spring form pans. Bake for about half the time that is suggested (20 minutes or less should do the trick). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Place in freezer for 2 hours or until frozen.

2. Remove the ice cream from the freezer and allow it to soften.

3. Take the pans with the brownies out of the freezer. Remove one of the brownies and set aside; line the empty pan with plastic wrap.

4. Once the ice cream is softened, spread one of the quarts of ice cream into the pan with plastic wrap; this will become one of your ice cream layers later on. Spread the other quart of ice cream directly on top of the brownie that is still in the cake pan. Make sure you spread the ice cream evenly. When finished, add a thin layer of whipped cream or whipped topping to the top of the ice cream to serve as “glue.” Take the brownie that you set aside earlier and press it firmly on top of the ice cream. Freeze both pans for at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.

5. Once the layers are frozen, remove them from the freezer. Take the ice cream layer that is in plastic and unwrap it carefully, placing it on top of the brownie layer in the other pan. Cover with plastic and freeze for another 2 hours.

6. Make the chocolate shell coating: combine chocolate chips and veggie oil in a heat proof bowl and melt in the microwave in 15 second increments until melted completely. Add in the peppermint oil, and allow the mixture to come to room temperature.

7. Remove the ice cream cake from the sprinform pan, and pour the chocolate shell over the top, starting in the center and working your way outwards, allowing the chocolate to spill over the sides. Refrigerate until hardened.

8. Final touches: Make peppermint whipped cream or add peppermint oil and green food coloring to store bought whipped topping. Pipe some cute decorations on the tops and sides, as you see fit. Freeze for a bit longer, until decorations set.

9. Enjoy!!!! For easier cutting, dip a large knife in boiling hot water – easy as pie!

Roasted Cherry and Bourbon Sundae Sauce

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From the very first moment that I set out on this blogging adventure of mine, I made a conscious decision that If the Spoon Fits would be a happy place. A frivolous escape from reality where I’d attempt to maintain a general atmosphere of positivity and keep the focus on things that I love.

And by things I love, clearly I mean pancakes, chocolate, salt, puppies, cookies, donuts, bacon, and booze, among other things.

So, you know.  Basically everything except fruit.

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I know, I know – I’m starting to sound like a broken record here with my “Just because I’m an adult doesn’t mean I have to like fruit” nonsense. Rah rah rah.

But I’m trying to change you guys, I really am! And I’ve been taking steps – albeit, baby steps – to start opening my mind (and palate) to fruit-centric desserts.

I’ve dabbled in apples, dedicated an entire post to mangoes, and I’m starting to develop a rather strong affection for strawberries in particular this summer (I blame you, Brooklyn Homemaker!).

However, despite such commendable progress, there is still one fruit that I’ve been intentionally avoiding.

Cherries.

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Of all the fruits for which I hold disdain, my relationship with cherries is by far the most tumultuous, plagued with an array of emotions ranging from indifference to pure rage. And I can trace it all back to a single underwhelming experience as a 5 year old..

I’m the first to admit that I didn’t have the most refined palate growing up (but in my defense, what typical American kid does?).

I was one of those lovely, agreeable children who always just wanted chicken nuggets and ice cream, and everything outside the bounds of these two items was subject to extreme scrutiny. Like many kids my age, my first experiences with “cherries” revolved more around cherry flavoring than the fruit in its natural state, and this pleased me immensely. In the world of a 5 year old, where the culinary choices can be abundant and overwhelming, I always appreciated when my options were limited to either Red or Blue.

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Popsicles, slushies, suckers, juice boxes, you name it – I almost always went with the Red option. I was a classic gal, and that Blue Razzleberry nonsense didn’t really fit into my lifestyle. Plus, Red always made me look like I was wearing lipstick, and when you’re 5, it’s important to look hot.

After years and years of eating Red Things, I eventually destroyed the ability of my taste buds to recognize natural cherry flavor. The culmination of these faux cherry experiences arrived on the traumatic occassion in which I sampled actual cherries for the very first time; a poignant memory that I hold onto to this day.

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I remember it like it was yesterday: I was painting rocks, going about my business, probably wearing a Disney t-shirt of some sort (probably Little Mermaid. She rocked, before I figured out It’s Not Okay to Change Yourself for a Man. But I still love her).

My mom had brought home some fresh cherries from the store, and called me over to the kitchen to hand me one of the strange pieces of fruit. I was intrigued: it was bright and shiny with an interesting green stem poking out of the top, and best of all, it just looked so RED. This is gunna be good, I thought.

But then, I took a bite, and the reality of the situation shocked my 5 year old conscious.

I’d been lied to.

“Screw that!” I said, throwing the half-bitten cherry to the ground.

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(Okay, so I might have embellished that part just a bit; I’m sure the scene wasn’t that dramatic. At 5, I didn’t yet have that much animocity).

However, I distinctly remember thinking, this isn’t cherry. It doesn’t taste…Red…enough.

You know something is wrong with your world (and your palate) if you prefer the distinctly chemically taste of Fla-Vor-Ice to actual fruit.

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From that day forward, I knew I didn’t want anything to do with cherries.

Needless to say, I’ve never really given them a fair shot.

But then the other day I was at the grocery store and abruptly stopped in front of some fresh local cherries, merchandised so adorably in their little robin’s egg blue containers. I bought them impulsively, but when I got home, I was stumped. After a lifetime of dissing cherries, all of a sudden I had to turn them into something amazing, and I had no idea what to do.

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Cherry pie ice cream? Nah, that seemed too obvious. Homemade Cherry Garcia? Nope, it’s been done before. Cherry Bourbon? Mehhhhh..maybe?

I generally try to be as transparent as possible with you guys when my creations don’t work out as planned…and this particular instance was definitely one for the books. This sundae sauce actually started as an ice cream.

Well, two ice creams to be exact.

It started off as a crème fraiche bourbon cherry ice cream, but then I decided that it was just too much – so many competing flavors that weren’t really complementing one another (but fear not – a crème fraiche ice cream will make an appearance down the road). Then I made a cherry bourbon ice cream that was bright pink and whose appearance pleased me very much, but it just didn’t taste right. The cherry flavor was diluted and strange.

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Eventually, my frustration reached the point of no return, and I decided on a whim that I’d get these cherries drunk, add some sugar and salt, roast them, and see what happened.

Well, let me tell you – what happened next was amazing. The roasting cherries grew plump and soft and fragrant, juices bubbling in the pan.

You guys, I started getting excited. About cherries!

Originally, my idea was to fold some of the finished product into some brown butter or vanilla bean ice cream, as just one component of an overall broader ice cream flavor. But once the cherries cooled, I sampled one, warm and gooey and boozy, and knew right away that this flavor shouldn’t exist as a mere ripple; it deserved to be the star of the show!

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The great thing about roasting the cherries is that it makes the sauce all thick and lucsious – no cornstarch or overnight refrigeration needed. It’s definitely one of the easiest recipes that I’ve had here on ITSF.

So, lessons learned form this whole experience?

1) Cherries aren’t so bad after all. In fact, they’re pretty great! Stupendous, even.

2) You don’t always need ice cream to be the star (but don’t tell the blog I said that 🙂 )

This sauce is rich and delectable; I daresay even a bit sexy. Serve it warm atop vanilla ice cream with some toasted pecans, and watch it melt into a wonderful, boozy mess.

Happy scooping 🙂

Roasted Cherry and Bourbon Sundae Sauce

  • Servings: 12
  • Time: 1 hr
  • Difficulty: Simple
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 Yield: 3 cups

Ingredients:

2 pints of ripe black cherries, stems removed

1.5 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2.5 tablespoons bourbon (or, to taste)

1 tsp good quality vanilla extract

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with baking spray.

2. Lay cherries in the pan, sprinkle with sugar, salt, and 1 tbsp of the bourbon. Stir around with a spoon, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, keeping an eye on them to make sure the juices don’t burn. I’d stir them periodically, like every 7 to 10 minutes or so, and add a little more bourbon (just a bit) when things seemed a bit dry.

3. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool to room temperature. Using your fingers, break the cherries open and remove the pits and discard. Give the cherries a rough chop (or, if they’re soft enough, just do what i did and mash them with a potato masher :)), and stir in the vanilla and remaining bourbon.

4. Pour cherries and their juices into a jar or storage container, and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Serve warm for an out of this world experience. Enjoy 🙂

Salt and Pepper Potato Chip Ice Cream

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Two very important things happened last week.

First, there was this.

(The obvious important thing).

It’s so important, in fact, that I refuse to formally address it here for a number of reasons.

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Primarily, I lack the eloquence and literary prowess to appropriately express just how much it means to me that now everyone in this country can know what it feels like to have a happily ever after. There are simply no words for that level of awesomeness.

And secondly? Such a glorious event as the aforementioned Obvious Important Thing makes ice cream seem insignificant. Silly, even. And to be clear, I will not allow even one of the most momentous days in our nation’s history to trivialize my after-school activity. I’m far too self-absorbed for that.

This blog is supposed to be about me, people. ME. And ice cream. Or one or both of those two things. I will not allow history to get in the way. Over my dead body, History. You shall not steal my thunder!

…Which brings me to Important Thing #2:

Last week, I made a critical realization that could quite possibly change the trajectory of my entire life.

And it is this:

I love potato chips.

Like, a lot.

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Okay, I know what you’re thinking: well, duh. Who doesn’t?

But please remain calm, gentle readers. Before you start hurling judgments, allow me to explain the circumstances of this recent snack food enlightenment.

Of course, I’ve always liked potato chips. I mean, come on – I’m not a monster.

As your typical working class American, potato chips are sort of hardwired into my DNA. And who am I to try and deny the inescapable grasp of my biological programming?

But despite our frequent interactions, my affection for potato chips has always been platonic, at best; our relationship never quite left the bounds of Friend Zone.

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Putting my Wall Street Journal to good use.

However, my feelings for potato chips have evolved. It started slowly at first, with passing interest and stolen glances here and there; but all of a sudden, it seems that I’m finally starting to see what was in front of me the whole time – potato chips are pretty awesome.

I blame my husband and his family almost exclusively for this recent change of heart.

You see, in life I believe there are two types of families: those who are of the salty persuasion, and those who tend to be a bit sweeter. This has nothing to do with behavior of course, but rather, snack consumption habits. Some families, my husband’s included, prefer salty snacks such as chips, pretzels, and peanuts – things that I generally never really cared that much about.

But brownies, candy, and cookies? Now that’s the stuff. Growing up, we didn’t have a ton of true snack food around the house, but you can bet we almost always had dessert (thanks, mom!). So, while my friends at the lunch table made a big deal about potato chips, I just wanted Oreos. Or maybe pudding. (Or probably both).

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So there I was, going about my life eating sweets on the daily, with salty snacks never really making it onto my radar in a major way. But then, I met my husband, and after dating for a few months and spending more and more time with his family, I quickly realized that I had stumbled into a Salty Snacks type situation.

Which is all fine and dandy, unless you’re someone who is a social eater, like me, and tends to eat what everyone else is eating just to fit in.

(Full disclosure: I have a weird practice of adopting the eating habits of those around me. I think it has something to do with my strong needs for Acceptance and Community. For example, I once had a pregnant coworker who went through a serious beet phase, and after witnessing her eat beets twice a day for three weeks, I too, started developing intense cravings for beets, and love them to this day. Except when accompanied with goat cheese. EW. Get. Out.)

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Slowly but surely, I soon became socialized with potato chips via my new family. They made appearances in the typical fashion, during important sports games and family parties, but also in more unexpected ways, like within my amazing mother-in-law’s Potato Chip Chicken, an infamous family favorite.

Soon, I could feel myself becoming wooed by potato chips. There’s something to this, I thought.

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After years of friendly flirting, my feelings for potato chips finally reached their tipping point, and I couldn’t help but succumb to their mysterious and magical powers. It was a dreary Tuesday evening and my Belly Monster hadn’t yet had its nightly feeding, so I was quickly becoming irritable and desperate. I made a quick stop at Target for some laundry detergent and was casually passing by one of the end caps (the scene of most poor decision-making), when all of a sudden – I saw them.

There they were, in all their seductive glory: Utz Salt and Pepper Potato Chips.

You guys, I don’t know what came over me. It was a feeling that I’d never felt before. My heart started racing, my cheeks flushed, and every single cell in my body just wanted those chips.

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Normally, I’ll conclude my Target outings with a stop in the Beauty section, eager to buy yet another bottle of some warm-vanilla-cupcake lotion/body spray/shampoo or other product that I’ll use once and never touch again. But no, not today, my friends. Today, I had business to attend to.

I hurriedly paid for my items at the checkout and walked quickly to my car. I buckled my seat belt, tied my hair back, and braced myself like I was getting ready for a major athletic event. But instead, I grabbed the bag of chips, and in one swift movement, opened the top, exposing the crispy little nuggets inside.

What happened next was an extremely poignant moment in my life, which is unfortunate, because it was all kind of a blur. I don’t remember much, aside from the methodical movement of my hand as it smashed fistfuls of chips into my mouth.

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You guys.

I. Ate. The. Whole. Thing.

We’re not talking like, a Fun Size bag of chips, either. What I consumed in the Target parking lot that night was a Normal bag of potato chips, intended to sustain a Normal individual (or maybe, I don’t know…a family?) for a few days, at least. I wasn’t sure if I felt proud, or ashamed, or a strange mixture of both. But one thing was for sure: my life would never be the same. Potato chips and I had crossed a line and there was no going back.

Later that night, when the potato chip fog had cleared and I was thinking more clearly, I reached a state of enlightenment. As the lightbulb in my mind illuminated, I realized exactly what had gone down:

Aha, I thought. So that’s what it feels like to crave a bag of potato chips!

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So, yeah. After a lifetime of managing to avoid the pitfalls of potato chip addiction, I’m now the proud owner of both a sweet tooth AND a salt problem (Thanks a lot, in-laws!)

As is my habit with most traumatizing life events, I needed a way to rationalize my experience through the creation of ice cream, and knew right away that potato chip ice cream would indeed make its way into my weekend plans.

Because this ice cream represents my first foray into chip addiction, I felt I needed to maintain the authenticity of the experience by incorporating the pepper element. But because a portion of my heart will always belong to Sweet Snacks, I threw some chocolate covered potato chips into the mix.

I know, I know – it sounds super weird, but trust me. It’s so good! And intensely craveable…just like a bag of chips!

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This ice cream is sweet and savory, with a slight kick of pepper that hits the roof of your mouth in a really interesting way. If you hate pepper, by all means leave it out (if we’re being honest here, that’s not exactly the delicious part of this whole thing).

I’m dedicating this week’s post to my wonderful father-in-law, who loves potato chips more than anyone I know. Anddddddd he had a birthday recently (so really, three important things happened last week 🙂 )

Happy belated birthday Pops – I love you! (And potato chips, apparently).

Happy scooping!

Salt and Pepper Potato Chip Ice Cream

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 12 hr
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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 Yield: 1 Quart

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

¾ tsp salt (or, to taste)

1 vanilla bean

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or, to taste)

1 12 ounce bag of milk chocolate chips

1 tablespoon veggie oil (or coconut oil, if you don’t mind the coconutty flavor)

Half a bag/A few handfuls of wavy potato chips (note: you’ll have leftover potato chips this way..but trust mer…youll want them)

Directions:

1. Make the chips: In a medium sized bowl, mix the veggie or coconut oil with the chocolate chips and melt in the microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Working in small handfuls (four or five chips at a time), submerge the potato chips in the melted chocolate, gently pushing them around with forks if need be. Lay chips on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and leave at room temperature until set (about two hours).

2. Make the ice cream: In a small bowl, mix two tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.

3. Whisk the cream cheese in a medium bowl until smooth or almost smooth (some lumps and bumps are just fine).

4. Fill a large bowl with ice water (lots of ice!!!). Set aside.

5. In a 4 quart saucepan, combine milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla bean seeds, and vanilla bean pod, 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 😦

6. 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.

7. Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the cream cheese. Add in the salt and pepper, to taste.

8. 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. Remove vanilla bean pod.

9. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Add crushed chocolate covered potato chips (and some normal ones too!) during the last few minutes of churning. Freeze in an airtight container until hard, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. Enjoy 🙂