Wine and Gold Sorbet

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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.

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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.

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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”).

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂

 

Graeter’s Cheese Crown Ice Cream

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As someone who is the youngest of four siblings and thus destined to a lifetime of being the “baby sister” regardless of my age, or maturity, or general attempts at adult-ness, I’ve finally come to accept the fact that I may not necessarily be my own person. Rather, I suspect that I might just be a diluted version of my brothers and sister, all wrapped up into one not-so-neat package.

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Despite my inherent need as a Millennial to be UNIQUELY ME and go boldly where no one has gone before, I actually don’t mind this personal identity crisis. In fact, I embrace it: the way I see it, I’ve had the benefit of observing three people walk through life before me – it’s like having three life coaches. For free! It also explains my eclectic taste: it’s why I love Aerosmith and REO Speedwagon, but can also get down with Flute Dreams and Electronica.

Of my three siblings, it’s really my sister who blazed the trail for the rest of us. As the oldest sibling, she really took one for the team. She did everything first, and of course I wanted to be just like her. Even though I love and respect my brothers equally as much, it’s just different with sisters. For those of you who are lucky enough to be a Little Sister, you know that no one will ever carry a greater influence on your life and decisions than your Big Sis.

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Even though we are 15 years apart, my sister and I have always been the best of friends. Wherever she was, I was right there by her side (whether she wanted me there or not). And because the natural disposition of any Little Sister is to be inherently more interested in the hobbies and passions of her Big Sister than her own, I spent much of my childhood trying to imitate everything that she did.

My obsession with my Big Sister explains why, when most kids my age were watching Sesame Street and pounding Cocoa Puffs, I was more interested in French Impressionism, foreign films, and sipping lattés at cool local coffee shops (Hipsters take note: I was hipster before you!).

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In summary: I owe a lot to my big sister. She’s introduced me to so many different things that I love, and helped shape who I am today. Really, I just wouldn’t be me without her.

But of everything that she’s done, besides the lifetime of love and support and all the more obvious things, she did one very important thing for me that changed my life forever, though I’m not even sure if she is aware of it.

My big sister introduced me to Graeter’s ice cream.

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When Big Sis went off to graduate school and left me to fend for myself in the cruel northeastern Ohio countryside, there was nothing I loved more than visiting her in the urban jungle that is Columbus, Ohio. During one particularly special visit, she took me to her favorite ice cream shop, Graeter’s, and I’ll never forget it – the bright, purple color of my Black Raspberry Chip, and the way the massive, truffle-like chocolate chips melted on my tongue. From that day forward, I was hooked.

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Years of eating Graeter’s has given me what I like to refer to as a “premium ice cream palate” (snob alert!). Greater’s has a distinct richness that’s unrivaled by other ice creams – I’d imagine it’s because it’s made by hand one batch at a time, in small 2.5 gallon French pots (I’m not sure what a French pot looks like, but the idea of it brings me endless delight). Graeter’s is also based in Cincinnati, Ohio, and you guys know how much I love Ohio ice cream. It really doesn’t get any better!

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So a few weeks ago, when the lovely folks at Graeters asked me to review one of their most special flavors, Cheese Crown, I knew I was on the most important mission of my life. I had to go on a bit of a journey to locate the flavor in my area, but when I finally held that pint in my hands, let me tell you: in that moment, at 28 years of age, I felt that I had self-actualized.

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The Cheese Crown, as I’ve learned in recent weeks, is a type of celebrated Danish in the Cincinnati region that resembles a small crown drizzled with frosting. Although I couldn’t find any Cheese Crowns in my neck of the woods to try for myself, from what I could gather from reviews and testimonials, it seems like the pastry itself is a life-affirming experience. Would the ice cream be as good?

And the answer is: yes. Ohmygosh, yes.

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This ice cream has a cheesecake-flavored base, and it’s packed with cinnamon pastry pieces and icing flakes (yes, you read that right. Icing Flakes). Although I wasn’t sure what to expect upon the first bite, I quickly fell in love. I absolutely felt like I was eating a Danish, in ice cream format! It was insane.

Behold, the chunks of cinnamon-y pastry pieces:

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I was skeptical about this flavor at first, because using pastry in ice cream tends to degrade the flavor and texture of the pastry, and it’s not an optimum experience. Of course, the pastry in the ice cream wasn’t as good as a fresh pastry, but it morphed into a delicious, almost crispy bit of deliciousness which was perfect against the backdrop of the creamy cheese base. The softer and warmer the ice cream got, the better this ice cream became – it’d be perfect for a summer day!

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Graeter’s didn’t take the easy way out with this flavor, which I appreciate. Instead of just chopping up pieces of actual cheese crown pastries, they made a point to make the icing its own separate mix-in. I was worried at first that the icing pieces would be hard and flavorless, but they melted into sugary goodness on my tongue and almost gave the effect of white chocolate chips.

Good move, Graeters.

Good. Move.

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I’m not sure if it’s because the name of the ice cream includes the word “crown’, or if it’s my own deeply-rooted sense of self-importance, but I felt like royalty eating this flavor. Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld (yet again, another favorite thing of mine that can be attributed to my sister liking it first), where Elaine eats that really old piece of “vintage” cake that she found in her boss’s fridge? She finds out that it was from a royal wedding, and she gets swept up in the moment and starts dancing around eating her piece of cake?

That’s what I felt like when i was eating this ice cream.

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With its intense cheesy flavor, Cheese Crown is definitely on the savory side, which I know isn’t for everyone. If you’re someone who is typically more of the Strawberry/Vanilla/Chocolate persuasion, you may want to ease into this one. But that’s okay, more for me 🙂

One thing’s for sure: Cheese Crown is a super special flavor that should be shared with someone, well… super special. A big sister, perhaps? To thank her for a lifetime of love and support?

Seems like a fair trade to me 🙂

Have you tried Cheese Crown? What do you think?

Happy scooping!

Matcha Ice Cream with Black Salt Chocolate Chunks

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Now that January is finally over and the dreaded “New Year, New You” idealism is slowly starting to dissipate, I feel like I can finally come out of hiding to continue pushing my “all butterfat, all the time” agenda.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t enjoy a good ol’ fresh start shrouded in optimism and exercise and all the other things we’re supposed to embrace at the turn of a new year. I actually love it: as a marketer, one of my greatest pleasures in life is the ability to take advantage of people when they’re at their most aspirational – and consequently – most vulnerable.

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But what I love even more than the New Year is THIS time of year – the beginning to middle of February, when people fall off the bandwagon just a little bit. It’s not for lack of trying; I think most folks just start to realize they’re pretty awesome just the way they are.

(And I couldn’t agree more!).

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But that’s not to say we haven’t picked up some good habits along the way. One thing I learned to love during my brief stint with health & wellness this January is green tea – it’s one of the last remnants of my personal New Year, New You campaign, but like most healthy foods in my life, I’ve figured out how to turn it into dessert.

(Whoops! My bad).

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I started drinking green tea right after the holidays, as a result of some late-night Pinterest exploration in which a picture of  a green tea latte with the caption BLAST BELLY FAT FAST caught my eye (I know, I know – pathetic). While the jury is still out on the belly fat part, I’ve found that I really enjoy the flavor and daily ritual of green tea. Although nothing will ever top a perfectly brewed cup of coffee in my book, green tea is a nice gentle start to the morning and makes me feel like I’m being healthy at work.

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But it wasn’t just this newfound habit that got me thinking about tea ice cream; it’s actually been quite a longtime coming, the culmination of a few perfect storms of events.

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The primary driver of this flavor is my best friend Kelly, because she’s a huge tea enthusiast and I’ve been promising her a tea-flavored ice cream for quite a while now. But because I’m a terrible friend, and also a procrastinator, I always put it off – I think secretly I was afraid I’d disappoint her and the flavor just wouldn’t be good. And I refuse to give my friend anything but the best!

(See what I did there, Kelly? 🙂 )

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Fast forward a few months later to Christmas, and Santa was kind enough to leave a fancy Vosges Green Tea Chocolate bar in my stocking. Although I was initially apprehensive, once I tore into that thing, I was FEELING IT. The matcha imparted such a nice earthy flavor to the chocolate, and I thought I detected little chunks of salt (or maybe it was cocoa nibs?) that just totally rocked my world. This experience, coupled with all the adorable matcha donuts I’ve been seeing on Instagram lately, pretty much sealed the deal that matcha would be the next flavor to come out of my kitchen.

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Matcha is essentially ground green tea leaves, and it’s allegedly much healthier because rather than infusing and diluting the leaves in water, you’re actually drinking the leaves via the powder. That’s not really the part I care about though; what I’m here to tell you is how delicious matcha is – it has a really beautiful flavor; super savory and comforting, especially when paired with sugar and milk products.

However, as is sometimes the case with my flavor combos, this ice cream was easier said than done.

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Sometimes when I plan out my ice cream flavors, I forget that I don’t live in New York City and may not necessarily have quick access to cool ingredients. What started out a simple errand turned into a wild goose chase in my little town, as I was on the HUNT for matcha powder. We went to two or threes stores then finally found it at our local health food store, and lo and behold, it was a whopping $17.99.

(Are normal people paying this much?)

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The high price was such a bummer, and I was really worried throughout the entire process, right up until I tasted the churned, finished product. Honestly you guys? This ice cream was worth every penny! It was delicious and mellow, but also sweet and super comforting. I was so relieved!

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The texture of matcha is similar to cocoa powder in that you want to whisk it with some milk before you add it to your ice cream base to make sure it gets incorporated. I threw in the chocolate chunks to add a point of interest, but primarily as a vehicle for one of my brand new artisan salts that my husband got me for Christmas. It was the perfect touch!

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A new year’s resolution that I can stick with year-round? Eat more matcha ice cream (always).

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What’s your favorite way to prepare matcha?

Happy scooping!

Matcha Ice Cream with Black Salt Chocolate Chunks

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

Yield: 1 quart

Ingredients:

For the ice cream:

5 egg yolks

2/3 cup sugar

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk + 2 tbs divided

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons matcha powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Black Salt Chocolate Chunks

1.5 cups of semisweet or dark chocolate chips or pieces

1 tablespoon coconut or vegetable oil

½ to 1 teaspoon of black salt

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until all of the yolks are broken and the sugar is well-incorporated.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream, 1 cup milk, 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).
  3. Strain custard through a sieve into a bowl, and add the vanilla extract. In a small bowl, whisk matcha powder into the remaining 2 tablespoons of milk until completely incorporated, then add to the cooked custard. Season with a touch more salt, if needed. Store mixture in the fridge until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.

Make the Chocolate Chunks:

  1. In a heatproof microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips at 15 second intervals until completely smooth. Stir in the oil until completely dissolved.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment, then pour the melted chocolate into the pan, spreading into a thin, even layer. Sprinkle the top with black salt, then freeze for half an hour or so, until set.
  3. Using a knife or your hands, break chocolate into pieces; these can be chocolate chunks, or to make shards, try to emulate the look of broken glass.
  4. Store in an airtight container until ice cream is ready to be churned. Extras can be stored for up to two weeks.

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 chocolate chunks. Move to a cute storage container, then freeze overnight until hardened. Enjoy 🙂

Kir Royale Ice Cream Floats with Chambord Berries

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It seems like just a few weeks ago that I was mustering my very best Sentimental Blog Thoughts to bid adieu to 2014, and now here we are, mere days from a brand new year altogether and once again, I’m wondering how 12 months could have possibly flown by so quickly.

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I’ve always felt a little bad for New Year’s as a holiday, because everyone spends so much time preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas, that New Year’s becomes almost an afterthought (albeit an afterthought that always brings immense pressure).

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In anticipation of NYE, you basically have a few-day-window during which you’re expected to: recover from Christmas bloat, choose an outfit that minimizes said bloat, text a bunch of people to make NYE plans then cancel them in favor of just staying home, and my personal favorite, make public proclamations about how you’re going to be better/different/faster/stronger/more fun the following year.

It’s a lot to think about in a short period of time.

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Maybe it’s not this way for everyone – I’m sure there are some families who have special New Year’s parties every year or who go balls to the wall with NYE traditions. In our house, we have our own little rituals: cheese and champagne on NYE, then pork, sauerkraut, and homemade potato dumplings on New Year’s Day.

One of my absolute favorite things about the small window of time between Christmas and New Year’s is the inevitable end-of-year wrap-up themes and lists that surface everywhere from radio to blogs to magazines to CNN. You know – the “Top 20 Most Shocking News Stories of 2015” or “Top Ten Celebrity Scandals,” etc.

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Call it sensationalized media if you want, but 365 is a lot of days, and it’s hard to consciously keep track of every single thing that happens. I don’t know about you, but I always appreciate others putting in the work for me. I love those dumb lists as a reminder of all the things I’ve forgotten, and it gives me a chance to reflect on just how much has happened in 2015.

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One of the best things about blogging, or journaling, or any kind of creative outlet for that matter, is that it does kind of force you to stop and reflect on the state of your affairs once in a while.

At the risk of sounding too millennial, blogging has been such a blessing. It’s a fun way, through food and writing, to share our memories and keep track of all the things that happen throughout our year.

Gosh, no wonder millions of people have blogs!

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Don’t worry, I’m not going to do a “The Spoon DOES Fit: My 2015 Year in Blogging” post or anything like that. Certainly, it’s been an awesome year and the hubs and I have a lot to be grateful for, but I’m just not feeling the elaborate send-off today.

I’d rather send 2015 out with style. And, with the upmost ease. To celebrate, I give you what might be my easiest recipe ever!

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I didn’t make the ice cream for this float – I bought it from a store (the HORROR!) – and it was seriously so liberating you guys! I might have to do this more often in 2016.

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No, I didn’t make the ice cream, and I don’t have some fun back story for this post or moment of profound inspiration (although it’s debatable whether or not I ever have those!).

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Rather, I just wanted to do something fun and easy for which I could use these adorable glasses that were gifted to us for our wedding shower by a dear, dear friend. Add in the natural prettiness of the Chambord bottle and roasted berries, and voila! Festive float goodness with absolute minimal effort.

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You can use any combination of your favorite berries for this recipe – I used a pint of blackberries, a pint of raspberries, and a handful or so of chopped strawberries just because we had them around and they add a nice sweetness. I roasted them until they were plump and juicy and fragrant, then submerged them in a few tablespoons of Chambord. It’s so easy!

Don’t believe me? Here’s how you make these fancy little floats:

First, pick a pretty glass:

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Add your Chambord soaked fruit to the bottom of the glass. Be generous!

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Then, add a scoop or two of high quality or homemade vanilla ice cream to your glass.

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Would you just look at this beaut?

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Now, top the ice cream with more fruit. Almost done!

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Don’t be shy!

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Yum!!

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Now, the best part: pour in as much (or as little) champagne as you like.

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Garnish with fruit or a fun straw, and go to town!

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Great work!

Now, drink it all up and leave the dishes for the next morning.

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This float is festive and fun without being too labor-intensive. The best part – you should have leftover berries for future sundaes or just to eat on the side (if you know, one of your New Year’s resolutions is to be happy and eat awesome food).

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Thanks for all the memories this year!! You’ve made 2015 so much fun, and I can’t wait to spend 2016 with you all!

So, for the last time in 2015: happy scooping 🙂

Kir Royale Floats

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 2 hrs
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Yield: 4 to 6 Floats

Ingredients:

2 to 3 pints of your favorite berries (I used a combo of blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries)

¼ sugar

3 tablespoons of Chambord or other raspberry liquor

Vanilla Ice Cream

Champagne or sparkling wine

Directions:

  1. Make the Chambord berries: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In an 8 x 8 dish or pan lined with foil or parchment paper, assemble berries and sprinkle with the sugar. Roast in the oven, until plump and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, give them a gentle stir, and allow to cool to room temperature. Move to a storage container (glass jars work great for this!), and fill with a few tablespoons of Chambord. Seal the jar, give it a slight shake so all berries are covered with alcohol, then store the jar in the fridge until ready to make the floats or up to a week afterwards.
  2. Assemble the floats: Spoon a few tablespoons of the Chambord berries into the bottom of a pretty cocktail glass or champagne flute. Top with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream, then more berries. Slowly add champagne to the glass, covering the berries and ice cream completely. Garnish with extra fruit or a pretty straw.
  3. Enjoy!