Here’s the challenge. Grab a bowl of ice cream, any flavor will do, or buy yourself a cone, adding sprinkles if you must. Next….. taste. Lick. Savor. Now….. scowl. Frown. Act grouchy. Get mad. I defy you to pull your Unhappy lever. Impossible.
That’s why during our recent 4th of July week-end I made the most heavenly-scrumptious ice cream imaginable, Toasted Almond & Candied Cherry. And, since calories do matter, I balanced off heavenly-scrumptious with a low-cal Skinny Shake that’s still a smiler and Banana Ice Cream that’s you’ll go bananas over.
I realize ice cream, alone, does not make a successful Independence Day. Hopefully, you also packed gaiety, foolishness and good grub into your own memorable flag-waving celebration. Aspen, a resort community, after all, was totally decked in red, white and blue. If you’re local, with a day off, it’s a good bet you marched in the verrry long parade. Our evening’s fireworks were spectacular. There was still time, however, to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with friends, finish up books, begin others, watch the American women win the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and color in my coloring books.
Let’s begin with ice cream, the three recipes are printed below, and finish with the scoop on coloring books.
This summer I am experimenting with ice creams, sorbets and granitas featured in David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop. While conceding there are delicious mass-produced ice creams, what’s wrong with Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia or Bing Cherry Ice Cream by William-Sonoma, nothing replaces homemade. I’m betting you each have fond memories of family ice cream-making sessions. Who gets to lick the dasher? Always the battle at our house. (What’s a dasher? That’s disgusting. Ask Google.) Although the days of hand cranking and churning out ice cream are over, there’s still mystique to creating it yourself.
Even if an inexpensive ice cream maker isn’t in your pantry, you can make ice cream at home. Although the Toasted Almond and Candied Cherry Ice Cream is made in an electric ice cream maker, the Skinny Shake is mixed in a blender and One-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream, a food processor. To compare the Skinny Shake to a Wendy’s Frosty, as was suggested, is a stretch. But my adaption is tasty, filling, healthy and perfect for a 4:00pm snack. Poured into a brandy sniffer, you can almost believe it’s cocktail hour. As for the One-Ingredient Banana Soft-Serve Ice Cream, let’s call it a miracle. Patience is the virtue key to this recipe. Then if you want to go fancy, finish by blending in Nutella, Dark Chocolate or Strawberries & Cream, for example. Try one, two or three of these next week, you’ll be addicted.
It’s easy to enjoy ice cream while reading. Yummy multitasking. That’s why I could finish “Florence Gordon” by Brian Morton and begin “H is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald this past weekend. Not so easy with CD audio books in my car. I’d finished “Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and a Great American Land Grab” by NPR’s Steve Inskeep. By Sunday I’d almost, almost finished listening to Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale.” So I drove to Woody Creek and back. Finished the book. Can anyone relate?
As for those coloring books. Last month I was in a Barnes & Noble when I spotted a sign, Adult Coloring Books. What? I’ll admit to owning two children’s coloring books, “Birds of Prey,” a Dover Workbook, and “L’art à Colorier,” purchased in France. Never told a soul. But seriously, when you color a Northern Harrier inside the lines, you meet that hawk! Now what I discovered at B&N is that grown-ups are borrowing their kids’ markers, crayons and watercolors, choosing from the 994 adult coloring books available on Amazon, unplugging and getting their art on. I picked up “Travel, Coloring to Relax and Free Your Mind.” Another, “The Art of Nature Coloring Book: 60 Illustrations Inspired by Vintage Botanical and Scientific Prints” is on order. No longer a secret. Color me Outed.
TOASTED ALMOND & CANDIED CHERRY ICE CREAM Adapted,The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
Servings: Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole almonds, toasted (one cup, finely chopped; one cup, coarsely chopped)
5 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3 Cups of sour (or, tart) cherries with light syrup, from a jar or can
1 cup granulated sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degreesF. Spread the nuts evenly on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once or twice, until lightly golden brown. Cool completely before chopping per the recipe.
2. Warm the milk, sugar, salt, and 1 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan. Finely chop 1 cup of the almonds and add them to the warm milk. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.
3. Strain the almond-infused milk into a separate medium saucepan. Press with a spatula or squeeze with your hands to extract as much flavor from the almonds as possible. Discard the almonds.
4. Rewarm the almond-infused milk. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a separate large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the rewarmed mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
5. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Stir in the almond extract and stir until cool over an ice bath.
6. Chill the mixture thoroughly, or overnight, in the refrigerator.
7. Mix the cherries with their syrup and the sugar in a large, nonreactive saucepan. Fit the pan with a candy thermometer and cook over medium heat, stirring infrequently, until the syrup reaches 230°F. Remove from the heat, let cool to room temperature and then drain. Be sure to drain the cherries in a strainer very well before folding them into the ice cream. They should be dry and sticky before you chop them up and mix them in.
8. Freeze the cold mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. During the last few minutes of churning, add the remaining 1 cup chopped almonds. After removing the ice cream from the machine, fold in the 2 cups of chopped cherries.
NOTE: This recipe makes 2 cups of candied cherries. If choosing to add one cup of dark chocolate chips, use only one cup of cherries in the ice cream. The leftover cherries can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Allow them to come to room temperature before serving as a topping. Save any leftover syrup as a topping or to mix with sparkling water to make sour cherry soda.
SKINNY SHAKE adapted from Sue Huhn
Servings: 2 Small or One Large
3/4 c almond milk
6 ice cubes
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 frozen bananas, pre-cut into equal sizes before freezing
ONE-INGREDIENT BANANA SOFT-SERVE ICE CREAM by The Kitchn (not pictured)
2 large ripe banana (about 1 lb.)
1. Start with ripe, sweet and soft bananas. Peel and cut them into coins. It doesn’t matter what shape or size the pieces are in, as long as they are chopped up into evenly sized and somewhat small pieces.Put the bananas in an airtight container or freezer bag.
2. Freeze the banana pieces for at least 2 hours but ideally overnight.
3. Blend the frozen banana pieces in a small food processor or powerful blender. A small food processor works best. Pulse the frozen banana pieces.
4. Keep blending — At first the banana pieces will look crumbled or smashed. Scrape down the food processor.
5. Keep blending — Then the mixture will look gooey, like banana mush. Scrape down the food processor.
6. Keep blending — The banana will look like oatmeal, smoother but still with chunks of banana in it. Scrape down the food processor.
7. Watch the magic happen! Suddenly, as the last bits of banana smooth out, you’ll see the mixture shift from blended banana to creamy, soft-serve ice cream texture. Blend for a few more seconds to aerate the ice cream. (If adding any mix-ins, like peanut butter or chocolate chips, this is the moment to do it.)
8. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until solid: You can eat the ice cream immediately, but it will be quite soft. You can also transfer it back into the airtight container and freeze it until solid, like traditional ice cream.
NOTE: Mix-in Ideas: While the one-ingredient aspect of this ice cream is a big part of its charm, it doesn’t loses much when it becomes two- or even three- ingredient ice cream. Here are a few favorite mix-ins to make it even more awesome.
Spoonful of peanut butter
Drizzle of honey
Handful of chocolate chips
A few almonds
Dollop of Nutella
Scoop of cookie butter
Tablespoon of cocoa powder
Half a teaspoon of cinnamon, cardamom, or ginger