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Vanilla Bean Caramel Sauce
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Hide your spoons, people!  This vanilla bean caramel sauce is completely impossible to resist spooning over everything!  If it weren’t such a sacrilege to tempt children with sugar in exchange for eating their vegetables, this would be the ultimate temptation.  You may need to keep this stuff on the top shelf of the fridge tucked way in the back if you plan to actually use it for anything…otherwise you run the risk of it mysteriously disappearing.  I’m even having a hard time keeping it away from myself!

This sauce is no joke – it’s rich and smooth and hits on every single reason why you fell in love with caramel sauce as a kid in the first place.  When chilled, it’s a thick sauce that can be dolloped or swirled into brownie batter.  When slightly warmed, it’s pourable or spoonable for drizzling over ice cream (brownies a la mode anyone?) or a slab of warm apple pie and it can be added to frosting for genius creations like these.

If you’ve still never made homemade caramel sauce, what the heck are you waiting for?  Please make this your first attempt – it takes no more than 10 minutes to make and I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll never ever go back to buying jarred, store-bought caramel sauce again.  And wouldn’t it go just awesomely with some of that hot fudge sauce that you’re making at home now?

[CLOSED] Weekend Giveaway: KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker + The Perfect Scoop
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[THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.]

This time of year is quite possibly my most favorite!  Well, it’s not that I can’t make homemade ice cream when the weather is cooler, but man, is there no better time for ice cream than in the summertime??  And whether you’ve been pining after an ice cream maker or you know somebody who would love it as much as you love yours, here’s your chance to win one!

Here’s what 1 lucky person will win:

  1. One KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment
  2. One copy of The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

To enter this giveaway, here are the rules:

[THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.]

  1. Answer this question in the comment section of this post (and only this post):  What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
  2. Only one entry per person will be accepted and you MUST include a valid email address with your comment.
  3. If you don’t see your comment post right away, please don’t post another comment.  The delay happens because I moderate all comments.
  4. Giveaway closes on Monday June 18, 2012 at 11:59am Eastern.
  5. One winner will be chosen by that handy-dandy random number generator we’re all familiar with.
  6. The winner will notified on Monday in the afternoon.  If you do not respond to my email within 24 hours, another winner will be chosen (also at random).
  7. Giveaway is open to entries with U.S. addresses only.

GOOD LUCK!

[THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.]

 

 

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Ice Cream
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Some things in life are worth waiting for.  Warm towels from the dryer on a cold winter morning.  Baseball season after 5 long months of off-season blues.  Hydrangea bushes with bright blue blooms in late June.   Oatmeal raisin cookie ice cream.  Oh my goodness, where has this ice cream been all my life?  Actually, I’ve known about it for quite some time and Josie has been talking about it as one of her favorite homemade flavors for ages, but taking a few extra minutes to make it seemed to be just so elusive to me.  And boy was the wait worth it.  Well worth it.

Clusters of caramel-y oatmeal praline and loads of boozy raisins are scattered throughout creamy vanilla-cinnamon ice cream and even though there aren’t any actual cookies in the ice cream, all of the separate parts come together to taste just like an oatmeal raisin cookie.  The praline remains a little crunchy even though you’d think it would soften after a couple of days in the ice cream and it was those addictive little crunchies that I found myself digging around for in the bowl.  I drizzled this oatmeal raisin ice cream with a little salted caramel sauce and I seriously couldn’t have been happier with a couple little scoops of this very indulgent dessert.  Oh yes, oatmeal raisin cookie ice cream with salted caramel sauce?  Definitely worth the wait.

Cinnamon Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
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Is choosing an ice cream flavor to make ever easy?  Not for me!  But since I made this ice cream back in the fall to go with these Individual Pear Maple Cobblers and never blogged about it, I decided it was time to share the recipe with you.  It’s definitely time…because I know you’ll love it…and with Fall just around the corner (right? right???) you’ll need this cinnamon vanilla bean ice cream to go with just about every dessert you make.  Like those cobblers, or this Hill Country Peach Cobbler that you could totally make with apples and cranberries.

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Needless to say, this ice cream is outstanding.  I combined my favorite vanilla bean ice cream with a delightful cinnamon ice cream and the combination of sweet vanilla with warm and spicy cinnamon is just perfect.  As is usual with custard-based ice creams (made with egg yolks), this ice cream is dreamy-creamy and to ensure that it’s as creamy as you want it to be, allow the ice cream to sit at room temperature for 5-15 minutes (depending on how warm your kitchen is) before scooping.  I’ve found that homemade ice cream is virtually impossible to scoop right from the freezer so a little patience is key here. :)

Roasted Peach Ice Cream Sandwiches
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Are you as excited as I am that it’s July 1st?!  Not only are we kicking off the official start of summer this weekend, but it’s also the start of National Ice Cream Month!  31 days dedicated to cold and creamy ice cream running down from cones to elbows in the blazing summer heat…it’s the food of the American childhood.  Standard flavors aside, I wanted a flavor to really celebrate all that’s great about summer and as I’ve mentioned in a few of my recent posts, summer fruit is certainly one of the things that excites me the most about this season.

I had been dreaming up these roasted peach ice cream sandwiches for a few weeks now and they finally came together this week.  If you’re familiar with The Perfect Scoop, you’ll already know that there is a [likely] very good peach ice cream recipe I could have used but it didn’t contain any eggs…but when I make ice cream, I want a smooth and creamy ice cream that you can usually only get from using egg yolks.  So, working with a vanilla ice cream base I’ve used a few times before, I roasted a few peaches sprinkled with brown sugar and let them steep in the milk and custard mixtures to allow the flavors to blend together.  After the ice cream was finished churning I mixed in the diced roasted peaches and let it freeze…though not without a few spoonfuls of the freshly churned stuff first.

Roasted Peach Ice Cream Sandwiches

The roasted peaches really do add quite a bit of a flavor boost to this already amazing vanilla ice cream and sandwiched between toffee cookies, you’ve got yourself a handful of heaven.   And, if you can manage to wait a few minutes for the ice cream to soften before diving into these sandwiches, you’ll get the full effect of the peachy ice cream because as it softens and warms slightly, your taste buds will be better able to taste the ice cream (true story!).  Toffee cookies aren’t a necessity here, though they were pretty amazing, so you can use any crispy cookie you want.  I imagine even the Toll House recipe cookies without chocolate chips would be excellent as well.  The key to making the sandwiches is to allow them to set up in the freezer for at least 6 hours (overnight would be better) to allow the ice cream to soften the cookie.  And while it seems counter-intuitive to not use soft cookies for ice cream sandwiches, I firmly believe that crisp cookies have more flavor and hold up better overall to freezing that soft ones do.  Regardless of the cookie you choose to accompany this roasted peach ice cream, I’m confident that you’ll love it as much as we both did.  Did I forget to mention that in spite of the fact that Kyle continues to say that he isn’t a big fan of peaches (though he seemed to gobble up this recent dessert), he was blown away by these ice cream sandwiches — and frankly, who wouldn’t be?

Need a few other ideas for some rockin’ ice cream this summer?

Milk Chocolate Brownie Chunk Ice Cream

Tin Roof Ice Cream

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Ice Cream

 

 

 

Roasted Peach Ice Cream Sandwiches

Yield: about 1 ½ quarts ice cream | about 12 ice cream sandwiches

Roasting the peaches for this ice cream deepens the flavor of the peaches and adding a splash of bourbon to the custard base before it's churned lends another level of flavor to an already amazing ice cream base. Alternatively to roasting, you could blanch the peach for 30 seconds in a pot of boiling water and immerse them in a bowl of ice water to remove the skins. Slice them in half, remove the pit, and carefully drop them into the warming milk-sugar-cream mixture to steep away.

Ingredients

  • 4 large peaches (about 1 1/2 lbs), cut in half and pits removed
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup lightly packed brown sugar + 2 tbsp, separated
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 6 egg yolks
  • Splash of bourbon (optional)
  • Crispy Oatmeal Toffee Cookies

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and grease with butter or cooking spray. Lay the peaches on the sheet pan, skin-side down, and sprinkle 2 tbsp of brown sugar over the peaches. Roast the peaches for 30-40 minutes until they begin to brown and start to soften. Remove them from the oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes before removing the skins.
  2. While the peaches cool, warm the milk, sugars, 1 cup of the cream, and salt in a medium saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the warm milk and add the bean and peaches into the warm milk. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  3. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Carefully remove the peaches from the milk mixture and set aside in a medium bowl. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
  4. 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. Put the vanilla bean into the custard and stir until cool over an ice bath. Once the custard has cooled, carefully add the peaches to the custard.
  5. Cover and chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (overnight works best to allow the flavors to blend together). When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, rinsing and reserving it for another use. Remove the peaches and again set them aside in a medium bowl, taking care to remove as much of the custard from the peaches as you can. If you're using it, stir in the splash of bourbon to the custard at this point. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Dice the peaches into approximately 1/2-inch pieces and stir into the ice cream to evenly distribute once it has finished churning. Freeze the ice cream for at least 4 hours before eating or adding to cookies for ice cream sandwiches.

Source

source: adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

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Decadent Double Chocolate Mousse
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Double Chocolate Mousse

Growing up, I always thought chocolate mousse was so fancy.  It was a dessert served only to the adults at holiday dinners and I don’t really remember ever eating it until I was an adult.  And even as recently as last year, I was so intimidated to make mousse because of how special of a dessert it is and how the adults in my family always ooo’d and ahh’d over it when it was served.  But when working out my menu for last year’s Easter dinner, I decided that chocolate mousse was the kind of fancy and decadent dessert I wanted to follow-up my meal.  And it turns out making chocolate mousse is incredibly easy!

Double Chocolate Mousse

I made it again for our Valentine’s dinner (seafood gratin) tonight and I can’t wait to dive in!  This classic French dessert is velvety smooth and is so perfectly chocolaty that I truly understand what all the hoopla was about on those holidays way back when. Because there isn’t any sugar in the mousse, you should use the best quality chocolate you can afford; the better the chocolate, the better your mousse will be.  The recipe calls for either bittersweet or semisweet chocolate but I use a mix of milk and semisweet chocolates – I love love love milk chocolate and had to have it in this mousse.  I also add some Khalua to the chocolate mixture and this coffee-flavored liqueur is the perfect complement to this decadent dessert.  It’s still early enough for you to make this dessert for dinner tonight and what’s even better about the recipe is that the mousse can be made up to five days before serving it so if you’re still figuring out your dessert for your Valentine’s dinner tomorrow night, you’ve got plenty of time.  Pull together the 5 ingredients (yes, only 5!) it takes to make this mousse and get in the kitchen!

Double Chocolate Mousse

Tin Roof Ice Cream
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I’d like to declare that I now eat peanuts.  I can hear my mom gasping from Long Island right now.  See, my aversion to peanuts (and tree nuts but not peanut butter!) started when I was 2 or 3.  My mom gave me some ice cream with nuts in it and I hated it.  The texture of nuts never appealed to me and quite frankly, I can’t say that I like nuts now enough to seek them out but I won’t always turn my nose up at them, as I’ve done for so many years.

This ice cream is a testament to how far I’ve come with my aversion.  I let Kyle pick a flavor to make last week and Tin Roof Sundae is what he chose.  I did a small internal grown about the peanuts in the recipe but decided to put my big girl pants on and not complain.  After all, the peanuts in this ice cream are coated with chocolate – how bad could they be?  Well, the chocolate-covered peanut clusters totally make this ice cream as fabulous as it is.  The recipe is written to use unsalted peanuts but since I had a vat of salted peanuts in the pantry, that’s what I used.  And let me tell you, the saltiness mixed with the sweet and creamy vanilla ice cream and the fudge ripple is absolutely perfect. Perfect.  I doubled the entire recipe and ended up with almost 2 cups of extra fudge ripple which I’ll use for another recipe in the future but if you double the recipe as well, I don’t suggest skimping on the peanuts – add all of them to ice cream and don’t look back!

French Lemon-Glazed Madeleine Cookies
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The elusive madeleine.  It seems as if every food blogger as attempted them and yet only a handful seem to succeed.  See, they’re a tricky bunch.  And apparently there’s two schools of thought regarding the use of baking powder – do you want the hump or not?  The hump and the pretty little scalloped indentations seem to be what get people the most.  So if you want the hump, yes, use the baking powder.  If you want the indentations (isn’t that what makes the presentation?), take the advice of David Lebovitz and freeze your floured molds for at least three hours prior to baking and for the love of all things French, don’t spread the batter in the mold.

(more…)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Torte
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When the summer heat really gets going like it has been this week, is there nothing better than ice cream?  What about peanut butter ice cream with chocolate and peanut butter cups?  Yeah…there’s nothing better than that!  This torte is a little creation Kyle and I put together back in May based loosely on a few different concepts we’ve seen floating around, including an incredibly overpriced ice cream cake from a certain ice cream restaurant based in the Northeast.  This torte is no more difficult to put together than any other cake but it definitely takes some time and patience (which I often have little of when it comes to waiting for homemade ice cream).

As they say though, good things come to those who wait and since I waited all day one Saturday for this treat, I was handsomely rewarded after dinner that night.  This torte is to.die.for.  I’ve made this peanut butter ice cream before but the milk chocolate ganache takes it over the top.  We considered an Oreo cookie crust however, as much as I would never turn down an Oreo, I’m not a huge fan of it in a crust form.  We opted instead for a graham cracker crust with just a hint of cinnamon and the extra level of flavor the crust lends to the torte is just amazing.  It’s like the graham crackers were meant for this torte!  So since we’re still in National Ice Cream Month, why don’t you give this torte a shot!

Chewy-Dense Brownies
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When I picked up The Perfect Scoop last year, I read through the Introduction and The Basics chapter then drooled over about 15 recipes I wanted to make immediately.  But somehow I neglected to pay much attention to the Vessels chapter at the end of the book.  Vessels, as in what you put your ice cream in or on top of, not as in boats…though, I suppose theoretically similar concepts.  Anyway, I’d heard about these brownies in passing over the past year and never thought to make them until I decided to make some Milk Chocolate Ice Cream where David suggests adding brownie chunks to the ice cream.  Well, this could have been the best idea I’ve ever acted on because these brownies were hands down the BEST brownies I’ve ever eaten.  Ever.  And if you’ve been reading SLH for long enough, you know that I’ve tried a few different recipes.  This one tops them all.  These brownies are just as they are promised to be – chewy and dense.  And utterly delicious.  I added 3/4 cup of Heath Bar bits (which you can find in just about any grocery store baking isle) in place of the nuts and they melted into the brownies as they baked – pure heaven!!3

Milk Chocolate-Brownie Chunk Ice Cream
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It’s National Ice Cream Month and I’m celebrating with a big bowl of this downright awesome Milk Chocolate-Brownie Chunk Ice Cream a la David Lebovitz.  How many times have you seen a post dedicated to his ice cream recipes today??  I’ve seen probably 10.  That’s because he’s worshiped.  And rightfully so.  Deemed the king of ice cream, I’ve yet to make a recipe from The Perfect Scoop that has failed me.  And this one is no different. The ice cream on it’s own is fantastic.  The brownies only take it over the edge. Seriously over the edge.  Check back soon for the brownie recipe…a teaser though…they may just be the best brownies I’ve ever made…better than Ina’s Outrageous recipe…and that should say it all. So since chocolate ice cream seems to be the all-American choice, why don’t you give this one a try for the all-American holiday on the 4th?

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Two tips for this recipe:

1.) use high quality milk chocolate (not candy bars) – the better the quality, the better the taste. Simple.

2.) make sure you give the mixture plenty of time to chill before you churn it – overnight is a perfect.  The longer it sits, the deeper the flavor. Again, simple.

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Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Ice Cream
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Is your house like mine in June?  Do you often have so many strawberries that you’re running out of ideas for how to use them?  Well be sure to set aside a couple cups to make a simple swirl to add to this mouthwatering cheesecake ice cream.   Aww heck…even if you don’t have strawberries in the house, don’t skip making this ice cream because it certainly doesn’t need the swirl.  The swirl just takes the ice cream over the top.  That’s all.  I was psyched to be making this recipe by itself since I’ve had my eye on it for some time but when Kyle suggested swapping out the blueberries for strawberries in Lebovitz’s blueberry sauce recipe and using it as a swirl throughout the mixture, my heart skipped a beat.  And once you taste this ice cream, your’s will too!  For an egg-less ice cream, this is by far the creamiest I’ve made yet, likely due to the cream cheese and sour cream in the recipe…yum!!  The recipe only yields 3 cups so I doubled it but kept the swirl recipe to a single recipe and had enough leftover to use as a sauce on top.  And just to up the ante a wee bit more, I crumbled up a graham cracker and sprinkled a few pieces on before eating – delicious!!

Peanut Butter Cookies
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You know when there’s a bobcat in your yard and you need to get your mind off it? You don’t? Well I do and for the past 18hrs I have been freaked the heck out because of it.  See, two nights ago as I was blogging before bed, I heard what I thought was either a female cat in heat or a male cat looking to get some and in the middle of that night, Kyle woke up to animal screams in the yard.  Not a huge deal since we live in a relatively rural area and I had heard those other noises earlier.  Then last night before bed, I heard the same sounds Kyle did (he confirmed it).  He told me then that he had found remains of a raccoon next to the shed in the backyard earlier that day…and they were fresh.  As the pieces come together, I also remembered that on the way to my house one early evening a few weeks ago, my girlfriend had a bobcat cross the street in front of her car.  So yeah.  Amy, if you’re reading this, the bobcat has made it to our yard. And PS to our cat, Wilma, forget about going outside for at least the rest of the spring. Believe me, this will be harder for us than it is for you.

So what does all of this have to do with this food blog, you ask?  Well nothing except for the fact that it’s a gorgeous day and I’m too damn scared to lay in the hammock so I’ve made these incredible cookies to keep my mind off the wild animal in the yard. As it turns out, David Lebovitz not only makes life better with some incredible ice cream recipes, but he also can make you forget about a carnivorous creature lurking in the shadows.  This is the first recipe I’ve made from David’s new book, Ready for Dessert, and I’m thrilled about the other prospects this book has to offer after making this one.  These cookies were fantastic – the best peanut butter cookies I’ve ever made, in fact.  They are chewy, moist and sinfully delicious.  And they totally made a crappy afternoon miles better. In fact, it’s amazing how fast a pile of these cookies can vanish when you’re trying to keep your mind off of other things. :)

Banana Toasted Coconut Ice Cream
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Homemade ice cream has been one of the most fantastic ideas we’ve had in the past year and The Perfect Scoop has seriously been the best cookbook purchase I made in the past year.  It seems like each recipe we try is better than the previous one and this banana toasted coconut is no different.  I’m a huge fan of anything toasted coconut and this recipe is the only ice cream I’ve been thinking about since I came across the recipe a few weeks ago.

The recipe is for a creamy and delectable French-style ice cream that takes a little bit of time to make but is more than worth the effort.  I thought it was a little strange that Lebovitz instructs to toss the toasted coconut after it steeps in the heavy cream-milk mixture but the coconut flavor is fully prominent even without the actual coconut in the ice cream.  I should note that the banana was not in the original recipe but we love the combination of banana and coconut and since I had some frozen slices, I mixed about in about 1 cup after the mixture was finished churning.  I couldn’t have been happier with how this recipe turned out and it’s definitely one I’ll be making again.

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt
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Most of the time, I buy fresh fruits and veggies with a specific purpose in mind to use them – either in a recipe or as a snack.  Sometimes though, I’m a little impulsive in the produce mecca that is Whole Foods and I recently picked up a quart of strawberries feeling thrilled to have found in-season Florida strawberries in the beginning of April.  Here in the Northeast, strawberry season doesn’t happen until mid- to late-June…that’s a long time to wait for fresh, local strawberries! So I got home, ran a few recipe ideas through my head and started craving strawberry ice cream.  I’m not sure why since I’ve never been a fan of it but I pulled out The Perfect Scoop and found this frozen yogurt recipe.  It sounded wonderfully fresh and since I had some Greek yogurt to use up, I knew this was what I was looking for.

When I say this was one of the most simple frozen dessert recipes I’ve ever made, I’m not kidding.  The strawberries are macerated then puréed with the yogurt and some lemon juice, chilled, frozen in the ice cream maker…and it’s done! You can eat it soft or freeze it in the freezer.  I reserved about 1/4 cup of the strawberries before I puréed them and mixed them into the soft frozen yogurt and just loved the chunky berries throughout the smooth frozen yogurt – the recipe below reflects this minor change.  So if it’s been a while since you’ve used your ice cream maker, dust it off and don’t waste another moment before you make this frozen yogurt…you won’t regret searching out some nice fresh strawberries!