Triple Blueberry Ice Cream Floats

IMG_6086

As someone with a mild to moderate yet completely unreasonable and sometimes overwhelming case of anxiety, the act of taking a vacation is often more of a challenge for me than an opportunity.

And no, I don’t mean that in the sense that I just love working so much and have such blinding ambition and tireless drive that the mere thought of taking a break is simply unbearable (I’m not that much of sociopath, you guys).

IMG_6052

I dread vacations because I have a deep-seeded uneasiness about basic adult pursuits and am generally afraid of everything, especially being away from home. I view traveling mostly as a series of obstacles designed to either make me vomit, make me cry, give me a migraine, or some delightful combination of the three. Couple this with a heightened awareness of germs and bedbugs, sprinkle in some severe motion sickness, and boom – I’m basically the most perfect travel companion you could ever imagine (and just think, all of this goes down before the vacation even starts!).

So, yeah. I don’t really like vacations.

Until, that is, we had the vacation to top all vacations.

IMG_6101

No, it wasn’t Paris, it wasn’t Rome…it was (drumroll please)…Bar Harbor, Maine!

Maine ended up being the perfect vacation for us because we could do the things we typically do at home (eat, sleep, go to the park, eat some more), but in one of the most beautiful, genuine, relaxed places we’d ever experienced.  And just look at this landscape!

IMG_1667

And this adorable, postcard-perfect view!

IMG_1675

My husband and I loved Maine so much that any anxiety I felt about traveling, blood-sucking parasites, and being away from home just melted away. We even started fantasizing about what it would be like to live there. We examined local real estate, googled deals on used Subarus, and perused the open positions at L.L. Bean (because YOU GUYS who wouldn’t want to work for LL Bean?! Three words: Wicked. Good. Slippers).

We did everything we could think of that was stereotypically Maine: ate lobster on the beach, hit the trails at Acadia National Park, took selfies at all the major landmark lighthouses, and drove the coast at sunset. We spent some time in Portland noshing on poutine and potato donuts, and looked for shells and sea glass in the beaches of South Portland (or as the locals call it, SoPo. Hipster alert!).

But of all we did (and we did a lot!), perhaps our greatest accomplishment is that we fell in love.

…with blueberries.

IMG_6029

Much like vacations, blueberries are another thing in my life that have always given me apprehension. If a fruit could embody a lifetime of anxiety and insecurities, for me that fruit would be the blueberry. Truthfully, I’ve never found them all that interesting, but felt like I should like them because society (aka bloggers on Instagram) told me I should. I’d swear them off for periods of time, but would eventually succumb to the peer pressure and think, “C’mon, clearly everyone loves blueberries! What’s wrong with you?! Give em another try!” So I’d fall for it, just to be bitterly disappointed when the vibrant blue berries just didn’t live up to the hype. Blueberries just don’t taste that good, I’d say to myself. They just don’t taste like anything, quite frankly.

Until I tried Maine wild blueberries. And then I realized, blueberries taste like something…a very, very good something.

IMG_6050

We had blueberry everything – blueberry pancakes, blueberry beer, blueberry ice cream, and my favorite of all, blueberry soda. We loved it so much that as soon as we got back to Ohio, we ordered a case so that we could enjoy a little piece of Maine at home.

IMG_6071

Now, don’t worry – you don’t have to have blueberry soda to make this float. It would taste great with any berry-based soda (a blackberry Izze would work great). However, keep in mind that this is a triple blueberry float. If you sub out one of the blueberry components for a lesser fruit, then it becomes a…double berry float. Definitely less impressive if you ask me 🙂

IMG_6088

This float is triple blueberry perfection. Tart blueberry ice cream, drowning in sweet blueberry soda, and topped with fragrant, roasted blueberries. It’s the perfect treat on a hot summer day!

IMG_6064

You don’t have to make the blueberry ice cream (you could always use vanilla or raspberry in a pinch), but you guys. This blueberry ice cream is good. Like, so good. Like, “omg, is this really fruit ice cream?” good. Granted, it’s probably not as good as it could be, because I used Ohio blueberries and not Maine wild blueberries, but it’s nothing a little heavy cream and sugar can’t remedy.

IMG_6083

I added in a bit of fresh lemon juice and cream cheese to give it an almost cheesecake-like intensity. My favorite part about this ice cream? The texture – it’s chunky and jam-packed with blueberries!

Rather than completely pureeing the flesh of the berries, I pulsed them in my Vitamix just once – enough to break them up a bit, but not enough to completely liquefy the berry.

IMG_6094

Don’t like chunks of fruit in your ice cream? No worries – there’s no rules with these floats! (Except the messier, the better, obviously).

Add a splash of bourbon if you like, and pile tons of whipped cream on top. Garnish with blueberries, and voila! Triple Blueberry goodness.

IMG_6096

Dear Maine, I love you. Thanks for showing me how fun (and delicious) vacations can be.

Oh and blueberries, you ain’t so bad yourself. You’re actually pretty awesome after all.

Happy scooping 🙂

Triple Blueberry Ice Cream Floats

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 12 hrs
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Yield: 6 Massive Floats

Ingredients:

For the Roasted Blueberry Compote:

3 heaping cups blueberries, divided

¼ cup sugar

For the Ice Cream Base

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup whole milk, plus 2 tablespoons

2 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Pinch of kosher or sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 cups of the Roasted Blueberry Compote

For the Float:

2 bottles of chilled blueberry soda; if not available, any berry flavor will do

Plenty of Whipped Cream

Handful of uncooked blueberries, to garnish

Make the Roasted Blueberry Compote:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Place berries in a baking dish or pan and sprinkle with sugar. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until berries are juicy and bursting. Allow to cool for a few minutes; until cool enough to handle.
  3. Place berries in the container of your blender and pulse once or twice for a chunky texture, or puree completely if you prefer a smoother ice cream (but remember, you’ll also use these berries as a layering component in your finished float; even if you prefer smooth ice cream, you may want to leave a cup of the berries chunky and puree the rest). Set aside two cups of the berries for your ice cream base and place the rest in the fridge until it’s time to build the floats.

Make the Blueberry Ice Cream:

  1. In a medium bowl, mix two tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Fill a large bowl or your sink with ice water (lots of ice!!!). Set aside.
  3. In a 4 quart saucepan, combine milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and salt, then bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 4 minutes.
  4. After 4 minutes, remove the milk mixture from heat and gradually mix into your cornstarch and milk mixture that you made in Step 1. Add combined mixture back to the saucepan, and cook over medium high heat for about 1 minute, or until thickened and the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and cream cheese. Once cream cheese is completely incorporated, mix in the fresh lemon and 2 cups of the roasted blueberry compote.
  5. Place mixture in a gallon sized Ziploc bag (not the press n’ seal kind; make sure you get the fancy kind that locks). Submerge in ice bath for half an hour until cold, or, skip the ice bath altogether and place bag in the fridge overnight.
  6. Once the ice cream base is chilled, churn in your ice cream maker. Freeze finished ice cream in the freezer for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

Assemble the Floats:

  1. In a tall glass, layer blueberry ice cream, then compote, then more ice cream, then more compote.
  2. Pour soda into the glasses. Be gentle – soda may foam up out of the glass.
  3. Garnish with plenty of whipped cream and uncooked blueberries.

Enjoy!!!!

Wine and Gold Sorbet

IMG_1533

There isn’t much that I can say about Cleveland, or LeBron James, or Northeastern Ohio, or our beloved basketball team that hasn’t already been said before by someone much more qualified than I am to craft a narrative about the impact of a sports team on its city.

But luckily for me, bloggers don’t need many qualifications aside from a domain name and a mild to moderate case of narcissism, so I’ll do the best I can to express my thoughts on this subject in my usual way: with a simple recipe and heartfelt words.

IMG_5938

I’ve had the urge to write a Cleveland-centric post for some time now, and it’s not just because the Cavs are in the Finals this year. Nor is it because, just days ago, they were down 3-1 and then miraculously clawed their way back to tie up the series after two legendary performances that had the entire city beaming. And it’s also not just because for the first time in fifty-two years, Cleveland is one game away from a championship title and we’re all currently losing our minds.

And above all – it’s certainly not just because the Cavs are doing well right now. Or this year.

It’s because, win or lose tomorrow, I freaking love the Cavs.

And Cleveland.

And I love things that are good for Cleveland.

IMG_5910

So, what does a mere ice cream blogger know about basketball, or sports teams, or athletes? Quite frankly, absolutely nothing (and trust me, I’m reminded of this every time I watch a Cavs game and need my husband to explain to me for the fourteenth time, what it means to “draw a foul”).

IMG_5918

I’m not writing this pretending to be a massive, lifelong Cleveland sports fan, or an athlete, or a basketball expert, or an analyst. Because I am none of those things.

But I don’t have to be.

Because I’m a fan of Cleveland.

And what the Cavs have done for this town – this entire region, even – is bigger than basketball, bigger than sports. They’ve given our humble, hard-working city a unifying rally cry. A reason to believe.

IMG_5994

And whether you like him or not, LeBron James has given this city a hero.

Go ahead, roll your eyes – argue with me that there are individuals much more deserving of the label “hero” than a millionaire sports star. I suppose it’s all a matter of opinion, after all.

But strip away his titles, his celebrity, his supreme athleticism. And what you have left is an inspiring story about a kid from Akron, Ohio with the odds stacked against him, who could have very well been another unfortunate statistic, but instead grew up to be one of the greatest (if not, the absolute greatest) basketball players and athletes of all time. Even more impressive than his athletic prowess is his devotion to his local community, how he tirelessly continues to provide opportunity to disadvantaged children and young adults in the greater Cleveland area. He is a living, breathing example of someone who not only survived the odds but who has flourished, and he offers a glimmer of hope to the struggling youth of Akron who in some cases, don’t have much else to believe in other than the idea that LeBron James was just like us once.

If that’s not at least one definition of a hero, I don’t know what is.

IMG_5929

Sure, winning a championship title in Cleveland isn’t going to remedy our socioeconomic injustices, bad weather, or other numerous troubles that have plagued this city for years and years.  I think everyone in Cleveland knows that.

But if the Cavs are able to take home a title on Sunday, it would be a great day in Cleveland. A really, really great day. And if any city in America deserves a great day, Cleveland is a top contender in my book (but perhaps I’m biased).

IMG_5977

Regardless of how tomorrow’s Game 7 turns out, the Cavs have already given this city, this region, so much. They’re so much more than a sports team – they embody everything we are in this city. Gritty, hard-working, unapologetically passionate. Proud.

And that’s why I love Cleveland. And Akron. And everything in between. And all of Northeastern Ohio, really. It’s why, even though I’m young and I know the world is full of amazing opportunity and unforgettable places, I don’t ever want to live anywhere else. Even if I wanted to, I don’t know that I could. And everyone I know here feels the same way.

Championship title or not, that’s a win in my book.

IMG_6002

Don’t be fooled by this gorgeous sorbet – it’s a bit gritty, too. And drunk (so really, the perfect edible representation of your typical Cleveland sports fan).

Even if you’re not a Cavs fan and the colors of wine and gold hold no significance for you,  or even if you hate Cleveland, or hate me, or hate this blog, this sorbet is undeniably delicious. And boozy (it uses a full bottle of wine!) So there’s that.

Better yet, it comes together with minimal effort. You do need an ice cream maker, but if you don’t have one, you could throw the mix in popsicle molds or stir every few hours in the freezer for a refreshing granita.

IMG_5954

The key flavor (and ingredient) here is wine which makes for a super soft and melty sorbet, but on a hot weekend like this, it’s perfect. The berries add a nice tartness, and I threw in a splash of citrus for brightness.

For the gold swirl, I ordered these tiny gold stars from Amazon, but you could use any gold colored decorations.

IMG_6000

One thing’s for sure – even if you don’t live anywhere near Cleveland, this sorbet will leave you feeling festive and buzzed (which coincidentally, is just how every Clevelander is feeling this weekend).

Because I lack the eloquence and experience to craft a motivational message in anticipation of tomorrow’s game, I will simply say this:

Let’s. Go. Cavs.

IMG_6006

Cleveland fans, I’ll be amongst you tomorrow. Stomach in knots. Heart pounding. Daring to believe.

All in.

Happy scooping, Cleveland!

Wine and Gold Sorbet

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 12 hrs
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Yield: 1 quart

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 bottle of your favorite red wine
  • 3 cups of berries (I used 1 cup blackberries and 2 cups raspberries)
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh orange juice

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, water, and red wine to a boil and let boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and add the raspberries and blackberries. Cover and let steep for 1 hour.
  2. Purée the berries and remove the seeds by hand by using a rubber spatula to press the mixture through a mesh strainer set over a bowl, or use a food processor or blender to puree and then run through a strainer or cheese cloth. Add in orange juice, then chill the mixture in the fridge or freezer until thoroughly cold (I put mine in the freezer for about 2 hours to quicken things along).
  3. Freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t worry if it looks more like a slushy than sorbet – it will harden up in the freezer.
  4. Sprinkle on gold decorations, then place in a storage container and freeze for 4 to 8 hours or overnight until hardened. Sprinkle on a few more decorations before serving.
  5. Enjoy 🙂

Caramelized White Chocolate Ice Cream with Toasted Almonds

IMG_5905

Why, hello there, gorgeous!

Allow me to introduce myself – I’m the ice cream blogger who fell off the face of the earth for a few months in favor of pursuing more trivial matters, but now who is back and (hopefully) better than ever, daring to believe that her old friends will welcome her back with open arms and minimal judgment (<enter optimistic yet coy emoji face here>).

But seriously. You guys!

I’ve missed you. And this blog. Which, whether I like it or not, may always be a part of me, at least for the foreseeable future. (Which also means I’ll need to figure out how to deal with the crushing, overwhelming guilt I feel when I sometimes choose to ignore this space for extended periods of time).

IMG_1136

I thought about skipping that whole awkward re-introduction thing that Long Lost Bloggers sometimes try to pull (“you guys, I just…I was living my life through a screen and I needed to center myself again”), but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that THE PEOPLE DESERVE THE TRUTH and the only way I could live with myself moving forward is by promoting and sustaining a blog culture of transparency.

Plus, I also have completely legit first world excuses with which I’m hoping some of you can identify, especially those of you with blogs who struggle to uphold the elusive “blog/life” balance conundrum that I seem to be failing at miserably lately.

IMG_5869

Excuses such as:

  • General laziness. I know, I know. This is a sad one. But it’s the truth. For a while there, I just got burnt out on everything and at the time, Netflix and Skittles seemed like a much better release than staging photoshoots, obsessing over every detail, and making a royal mess in the kitchen.
  • I got a Fitbit. Oh, dreaded physical activity! I fought the Fitbit craze for a very long time, but now that I have one, I really can’t imagine leaving the house without it. The Fitbit made me realize that for the most part, I maintain a pretty sedentary lifestyle (which is fine with me, but probably not the smartest for the ol’ heart muscle). I’ve actually been trying to get outside and move my body versus staying inside and scrolling through cookie dough cupcake images on Instagram (but don’t get me wrong – I’d really, really rather do the latter).
  • We started looking for a house. Looking for a house has been both a blessing and a curse. I’m grateful to be in this position, obviously, but this whole experience has made me realize what a picky a$$hole I am. Let’s just say, a lifetime of Country Living Magazine doesn’t necessarily create the most realistic expectations when house-hunting in the real world. My poor husband. And realtor. But you guys, I have a vision. A VISION.  #Centuryfarmhouseorbust.

So, there ya have it. Spilled milk, if I do say so myself. It’s a new day! Now, on to the ice cream.

IMG_5866

I actually crafted this recipe a few months ago when it was still chilly in Ohio, so it’s not exactly light and summery (but in my defense, this is Ohio and practically speaking, it could snow at any time and then this ice cream would be precisely appropriate).

The inspiration for this ice cream came from my brother-in-law (who really, feels like he’s been my brother my whole life, so let’s just go ahead and drop the “in-law” business). He texted me a pic of his favorite new chocolate bar, a carmelized white chocolate with crispy almonds that he found at a local grocery store.

IMG_5882

Immediately, I was skeptical. White chocolate and almonds are pretty much two of my least favorite things in the world, aside from maybe canned peas and goat cheese. I think I replied with some sort of generic “Oh, looks super good!” but in my head I was thinking “White chocolate? Yeah, right.”

IMG_5848

But for some reason, a few days later, I couldn’t get it out of my head.

Wait – did he say caramelized? Chocolate? What does that even MEAN? You can’t caramelize chocolate!

…Can you?

IMG_5855

I did some research, and thank goodness His Majesty of All Things Dessert, David Lebovitz, had a tutorial on how to caramelize white chocolate at home. Caramelizing the chocolate involves roasting it in your oven until it gets all caramel-y and delicious and then you can add salt if you want and OH MY GOD I just knew this was my next ice cream.

And in a case you’re wondering, “well isn’t this just basically caramel ice cream? You guys, it’s not. It’s absolutely not.

IMG_5860

Roasting the white chocolate chips took me nearly an hour and a half (I think our oven runs cool, perhaps). So every ten minutes or so during Jurassic World I had to get up and stir the chocolate, which was the biggest pain in the a$$ ever, but when all was said and done, I was left with the creamiest, richest, most delicious roasted white chocolate you could ever imagine. It was like salted caramel’s very sexy, voluptuous cousin.

IMG_5893

Then, imagine this sexy white chocolate mixed into ice cream –  it’s comforting, slightly smoky, and full of beautiful flavor. The almonds add a lovely crunch and a nice bit of extra salt to cut the richness of the chocolate. I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed this flavor! In fact, if I ever have my own ice cream shop, I’d keep this on my regular menu. It’s made me realize that my “dark chocolate or die” attitude might just be a little narrow-minded.

IMG_1142

Big bro, this one’s for you! Thanks for broadening my horizons and keeping me well-informed about the magical wonders of life…and white chocolate 🙂

Happy scooping!

Caramelized White Chocolate Ice Cream with Toasted Almonds

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 24 hrs
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Yield: 1 quart

Ingredients:

For the Caramelized White Chocolate:

1 bag (12 ounces) of white chocolate chips or chunks (I used Ghirardelli)

1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

Sea salt or smoked salt, to taste

For the ice cream base:

5 egg yolks

½ cup sugar

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the almonds:

2 cups of raw almonds

Pinch of smoked salt, or to taste

Directions:

Make the Caramelized White Chocolate:

  1. Preheat oven to 250. In a bowl, toss chocolate pieces with 1 or 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Spread chocolate on a rimmed baking sheet with a spatula, and place in oven for about an hour, stirring every ten minutes (I know it’s a pain but it’s totally worth it). Start watching it very closely after about 30 minutes – we want roasted chocolate, not bitter burnt chocolate, and 30 minutes may be enough depending upon your oven. Make sure when you stir the chocolate, that you are aggressively scraping the chocolate at the bottom of the pan to help avoid parts of the chocolate getting darker than others.
  2. Once the chocolate looks like caramel (or, as David Lebovitz puts it, “all natural peanut butter”), remove from oven and top with sea salt (I used a combo of normal sea salt and some smoked salt as well). Place into a jar for later use, or, if about to make your ice cream, you can use it right away. For this ice cream, I set aside about a ¼ of a cup to make caramelized chocolate chips (do this easily by spreading the chocolate out thinly on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and freezing or refrigerating for half an hour; then break apart with your hands or a knife).

Make the Ice Cream base:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, lightly stir one cup of the heavy cream and melted caramelized white chocolate (if the chocolate seems like it’s ceasing up, don’t worry – it will melt again once you later add your warm ice cream mixture). Place a mesh sieve on top.
  2. In another medium sized bowl, lightly whisk your egg yolks.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the remaining 1 cup cream, 1 cup milk, sugar, and salt until it just begins to steam. A little at a time, pour the warmed cream mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly until all of the cream is incorporated. Pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan, and continue cooking for ten minutes or so, until the mixture thickens into a custard (if using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, the custard should stick to the back; when you wipe your finger across, there should be a clear “path” through the custard).
  4. Once finished, strain your custard through the mesh sieve into the bowl with the white chocolate and cream. Stir until combined, adding vanilla and season with a touch more salt, if needed. Store mixture in the fridge until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.

Toast the almonds:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a rimmed baking sheet, evenly spread the almonds. Toast for 5 to 10 minutes, monitoring closely. Almonds should be a nice golden brown when finished.
  2. Remove from oven and sprinkle with smoked salt. I used a combo of sea and smoked salt. Before I add the salt, I like to lightly spray with some kind of oil so that the salt sticks better. Set almonds aside for later.

Put it all together:

  1. Freeze the ice cream base in your machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. During the last minute of churn time, add the white chocolate chunks and almonds. Move to a cute storage container, then freeze overnight or until hardened (anywhere from 4 to 8 hours). Enjoy 🙂