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Since July is National Ice Cream Month and technically it is still July, I decided to make today’s post about ice cream. In case you didn’t know it, ice cream is among my top 10 sweets I love and know I shouldn’t eat.

But when the weather is hot  and humid and I’m whiny and lazy, ice cream is a temptation just to delicious to ignore!

Way back when I was growing up on the family farm, the Schwan’s delivery man used to come by our house every two weeks. I thought he was a superhero! There was no mistaking his truck as it drove down our road, dust clouds swirling, letting us know he was on the way. My little head would fill with visions of all the wonderful frozen treats tucked inside his magic truck. He’d come to the door, take Mom’s order and then quickly return, arms laden with frozen canisters of pure delight.

As wrong as this is going to sound, Mom used to buy two or three of their big cans every time he came. They weren’t gallon size. They were even bigger. To my little 6-year-old head, they could have been 40 gallon drums. All I knew is that more ice cream had arrived! We would eat ice cream after lunch and if we were lucky, we might sneak in a frozen treat in the afternoon. Then in the evenings, when the work was done and dusk settled around us and the sky was brushed with streaks of pink, orange and gold as the sun dipped behind the hills, we’d whip out another bowl of ice cream. If we hadn’t worked (and played) so hard, we probably would have all weighed 300 pounds. As it was, I enjoyed it while it lasted. It gave us something fantastic to look forward to every day. We’d tried a lot of new and different flavors, but vanilla was definitely a staple.

Which is probably why vanilla remains my favorite flavor of ice cream. Boring? Yes. But with plain vanilla ice cream you get so many possibilities. You can add fruit or chocolate, nuts or candy pieces, tasty syrups and yummy toppings. You can smoosh it between two cookies, top brownies and dollop it on pie.

What is your favorite flavor? Do you have any ice cream memories from your childhood?

My absolute favorite flavor of vanilla ice cream comes from the Tillamook County Creamery Association. If you like vanilla, you will go loopy over their old-fashioned vanilla ice cream. It is a spoonful of amazing summer memories in every bite.

Eat some ice cream today and see if it doesn’t make you smile!

Enjoy!

Shanna

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Today, I have a very special guest blogger. Mandi Konen is a baker extraordinaire. She is a Pastry Chef at The Marc Restaurant in the historic Marcus Whitman Hotel  in Walla Walla, WA. Today she is sharing a great recipe for a vanilla ice cream base. Enjoy!

Ice Cream!

Ice cream can be traced all the way back to the 4th century B.C.  Roman emperor Nero (A.D. 37-68) ordered ice to be brought down from the mountains and mixed with fruit toppings.  King Tang (A.D. 618-97) of Shang, China had a method of creating ice and milk mixtures.  Ice Cream was more than likely  brought over from Europe.  After the dessert was imported to the United States it was served by several famous Americans, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.  The first ice cream parlor in the United States was opened in New York City in 1776.  American colonists were the first to use the term “ice cream” which came from the phrase “iced cream” but later shortened to ice cream.

Since ice cream uses such few ingredients it is important to use premium ingredients to ensure the best frozen treats!

Vanilla Ice Cream Base

2 c.              Half and Half
1.5 c.            Heavy Cream
1 ea.            Vanilla Bean, split in half lengthwise and seeds scraped
8 ea.            Egg Yolks, Large
.75 c.            Sugar, granulated
.25 tsp.        Salt

In a heavy saucepan combine half and half, vanilla bean and heavy cream.  Over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, bring the mixture until barely comes to a simmer (approximately 5 minutes), also known as scalding.  Meanwhile in a heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt until mixture lightens and doubles in volume, approximately 2 minutes.

Once the cream has been scalded (it will have a distinct odor difference once it has been scalded from when it was cold).  Slowly begin whisking the scalded cream into the egg mixture until smooth.  This technique is known as tempering and prevents the egg yolks from curdling under instant heat.  Pour the egg-cream mixture back into the saucepan, while whisking constantly return to medium heat.  Using a spoon, stir until the mixture forms a custard thick enough to coat the back of the spoon (nappe thickness), about 1-2 minutes.  Do not let it boil!

Meanwhile set up an ice bath (a larger bowl than the one holding the ice cream base filled with ice and a little bit of water) and place the smaller bowl with the ice cream base in it to stop the cooking process.  Pour the ice cream base through a fine mesh sieve (chinois) into a clean bowl or storage container.  Stir the custard until cool in the ice bath, cover and chill for at least 4 hours, up to 3 days.

Pour the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Other ingredients such as fresh fruit, nuts, etc. can be added at this time as well!  Spoon the ice cream into a freezer safe container, cover and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

I hope you have enjoyed this recipe and if you have any questions regarding the process, feel free to email me at pastry@marcuswhitmanhotel.com

Thanks!

Mandi

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Years ago, when Hubby and I had just purchased our first home, we decided to host his family for a Christmas Eve celebration. His Dad loves ice cream, so I found a recipe for a dessert that was frozen, featured ice cream and, best of all, looked really simple to make. After all, how can you mess up ice cream and pudding?

Having no experience with a spring form pan, I didn’t make sure the bottom was secure before I picked up the dessert to return to the freezer. I picked it up and turned away from the counter heading toward the fridge when the bottom fell to the floor and I had a combination of cracker crust and runny, gooey filling all over the kitchen. It splashed so much it was even on the walls and ceiling. The dog, who had been quietly watching the proceedings, thought Santa had arrived early and eagerly dashed around the kitchen lapping up all the sweet goodness she could before she was chased outside.

Luckily, I had enough ingredients to start over and the dessert turned out beautifully. So I share it with you today – with a reminder to make sure your spring form pan is completely secure before you move this from counter to freezer. I like to place it on a cookie sheet and then there are absolutely no worries about spills!

Where the name for this dessert comes from, I don’t know, but the wonderful thing about it is you can substitute any flavor of ice cream or pudding and have dozens of creamy-delicious combinations!

Frozen Fast Forward

Crust:

1 1/2 cups finely ground graham crackers

1/3 cup sugar

6 tbsp. melted butter

Filling:

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened

1 large box of instant pudding

2 cups milk

1 pint of ice cream, softened

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar. Press into bottom of spring form pan and bake for 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely before adding filling. Once crust is cool, mix cream cheese, pudding and milk. When thoroughly combined, mix in the ice cream. Pour filling on top of crust and freeze overnight or for several hours until firm. Garnish with toppings of your choice.

Here are some combination ideas:

•Vanilla pudding and butter toffee ice cream. Top with caramel sauce and bits of crushed Heath Bars before serving.

• Vanilla pudding and Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. Substitute chocolate cookies for graham crackers in the crust. Garnish with chocolate sauce, chocolate chips or sprigs of fresh mint and crushed peppermint candy.

• Chocolate pudding and turtle ice cream. Top with dollops of whipped cream and a toasted pecan.

• Pumpkin pudding and vanilla ice cream. Substitute gingersnaps for the graham crackers in the crust. Garnish with dollops of whipped cream and sprinkles of cinnamon.

What would be your favorite combination?

Happy Entertaining and Happy Holidays!

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Since July is National Ice Cream Month and today is the last day of the month, it seemed appropriate to share an ice cream recipe today.

My Aunt Karen makes the best chocolate ice cream. At a recent family reunion, there were several of us cousins (the known chocoholics) who would have willingly passed up the meal to have a bowl of her ice cream first. Unfortunately, there were too many little ones watching for us to abandon all reason and dive directly into the ice cream. You know, setting a good example, and all that.

So with limited restraint, we anxiously awaited the appropriate time to forsake our hamburgers and get in line for a bowl of this smooth, creamy confection. It isn’t too sweet or too rich. It is frozen perfection with a light chocolate flavor. She has graciously shared her recipe with me, so here it is:

Aunt Karen’s Chocolate Ice Cream

3 cups sugar
Rounded 1/2 cup measure of cocoa powder
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups half-and-half
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 quart heavy whipping cream
Approximately 2 quarts of whole milk

Blend sugar and cocoa powder together then add 1 quart of milk in large kettle (saucepan). Bring to a simmer, add a small amount of the hot mixture to the eggs to temper. Beat well and add back to the kettle.  Bring this to a boil and then remove from heat. After it cools a few minutes add vanilla, half-and-half and the heavy cream.  Refrigerate until cold, stir occasionally.  Overnight is good. Add cold mixture to your ice cream freezer can and fill up to the one gallon mark with whole milk. Freeze as your ice cream freezer directs. Makes one gallon.

If you have a great ice cream recipe you’d like to share or want info on a great ice cream scoop, leave a post here.

Enjoy!

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