As of today, summer has officially begun. I mean really, I guess for all you calendar-savvy folk, it began about a week ago. But for me, this week was the week that I finally went into full Summer mode.
On Sunday, I took my first trip to the beach. While there, getting far too crispy I might add, I couldn’t help but notice how badly I was craving ice cream. And since taking time to specifically lay down and do nothing is not something I’m used to, I had A LOT of time to think about how much I needed the frozen goodness. After contemplating which flavor I’d dive into first, I speed-walked as quickly as the rocky sand would allow me, over to the snack shack which was “conveniently” located close by. Upon walking in, I realized that the proximity was just too convenient to be true. As I frantically scanned the walls for the ice cream menu, I finally located it… on the floor, in back of the store, behind the feet of other customers. And on it, was a list of Blue Bunny brand ice cream novelties. You know, ice cream sandwiches, cones, etc. And while there was a Choco-Taco listed there that called my named pretty loudly, I was ultimately disappointed. The 10-year-old me would have been delighted. I mean, this was like an ice cream truck you didn’t have to chase after. These days, however, not even a Choco-Taco was going to cut it.
What I was really looking for was some high quality, scoop-able churned ice cream. I mean, this was the beach for goodness sakes! The beach and ice cream go together like Ree Drummond and her BFF Hyacinth! (Come on, I had to.)
Anyways, it was then that I decided that I really needed to put Stella’s new friend to use. His name, by the way, is Isaac. Isaac the Ice Cream Maker.
As I laid back down, my brainstorming began. Like always, I ran into my usual problem. Too many choices. Therefore, I decided to start with some favorites: one of my own, and one of my family’s. First and foremost, I decided to go with a version of my current go-to, which is Coffee Oreo. Second, since I knew that inevitably, part of this dessert would be going to my family, I chose Black Cherry Chocolate Chip. My dad and brother go crazy for this stuff, and pay an unGodly amount of money for the Ben and Jerry’s version, Cherry Garcia. And because I knew I would just happen to have leftover Oreos from the Mocha Madness recipe, and it would be super irresponsible of me to let them stale, I thought I’d go the extra mile and throw that Black Cherry Chocolate Chip concoction into a homemade pie crust.
Up first, Mocha Madness! (Or as most of us simple people know it, Coffee Oreo.) I loved using this recipe as my first, because it is SO simple. It requires no cooking, just mixing together. And, there are relatively few ingredients! Some heavy cream, whole milk (the whole-ness is necessary) sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, vanilla, and Oreos. I chose the Chocolate Cream Oreos to jazz it up, but you could choose normal ones if you’re in a Plain Jane kind of mood.
First, you’ll mix together the milk, cocoa, espresso powder and sugar until it dissolves. It’ll look ominously dark…too dark.
Don’t worry, it’ll lighten up after you’ve added the cream and vanilla. Once you’ve mixed all that together, chill the mix for a little bit. That’s a step no one tells you, but it’ll make the ice cream firm up faster.
From start to finish, my ice cream took 30 minutes or so to churn in Isaac. Here’s a tip: don’t stare at the ice cream as it mixes. It’ll look like it’s as thin and watery as ever, and you’ll doubt your abilities to read manufacturer’s directions. It’ll thicken up, don’t worry.
Once the ice cream is churning, crunch up your Oreos. Wait to add them to the machine until the ice cream has thickened a bit. Otherwise, they’ll sink to the bottom. I saved about a quarter cup of my Oreos to mix in at the end, just so I had some extra big chunks in there to look forward to.
After pacing around the kitchen for a little (long) while, I finally found that my patience paid off… it worked!
I have to tell you, after my success with the Coffee Oreo, I got a little bit cocky. I thought, “How could anyone possibly mess this simple process up?”. Remind me to stop saying stupid stuff like that. Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. Black Cherry Chocolate Chip ice cream tastes amazing. It just isn’t as easy to make, and it doesn’t always cooperate the way you (or maybe it’s just me) want it to.
First off, this recipe is a tad more complicated. Instead of just mixing all of your ingredients in a bowl together, and pouring into your Isaac, it requires you to cook a custard, or as my favorite kid chef, Penny, calls it, a creme anglaise. So. Fancy. (I’ve ALWAYS wanted to just throw that term out casually in a conversation…this is my first attempt.)
Basically, to make your creme anglaise, you’re going to heat your milk, cream and sugar over medium heat until it steams, but doesn’t come to a boil. This will take about 5 minutes.
While that’s heating, mix your egg yolks and more sugar. Once the milk mixture is hot, pour about a cup of the mixture into the eggs to temper them. After mixing, the egg mixture will go back into the pot over the heat to come to a steaming point again. Then, put your creme anglaise into a bowl over an ice bath and leave it there for 1o minutes, stirring occasionally. Put that bowl in the fridge to cool for at least 4 hours.
Then, we get to the “fun” part: the cherries.
I have to admit, I’ve always rolled my eyes at consumers of tools like cherry pitters. I’m that guy who’s like, “isn’t that what your mouth is for?” Well, 65 cherries and pits later, I send my official apologies to whoever I’ve secretly judged. I’m also promptly adding a cherry pitter to my list of kitchen tools I need to eventually invest in. Needless to say, it’s a bit of a process. Pit your cherries. Quarter your cherries. Clean your counters to clean up the murder-y looking scene. You get the point.
**Here’s a tip!: To pit your cherries, use a piping tip with a small hole. Stick it into the cherry where there stem was attached and push through. The pit will come out the other side.**
But, once you’ve finished prepping your cherries, cook them with some sugar over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until they cook down and thicken. Put them in the fridge to cool next to your custard.
Next up, pie crust! Now, this is completely optional. This ice cream will taste great in a bowl, on a plate, on the floor, anywhere. But, I love Oreos, and I love pie. So an ice cream pie in an Oreo crust sounded like a winning combination. By the way, making a cookie crust is so easy. My recipe is below!
Basically, you put 25 Oreo cookies in a food processor and pulse them to a crumb. Or, if you’re feeling strong/frustrated/food processor-less, you can put them in a plastic bag and crush them with a pin. Either way, pour those crumbs into a bowl with 5 tablespoons of melted butter and mix. Then, put the crumbs in your pie pan, pressing them into the bottom and up the sides. You can then put it in the fridge to cool, or for a crunchier pie, you can bake it in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes.
Back to the ice cream. This is where it started to go slightly downhill for me. Once all of your ingredients have chilled, it’s time to churn. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s at this point that I get to tell you about my first blunder of the Summer! Imagine this: I get out all of my components to Isaac and the ice cream. Plug Isaac in, check. Turn Isaac on, check. Pour creme anglaise into Isaac, check. Watch as the mixture promptly leaks out the bottom, check. Of course, my first instinct is to SAVE THE ICE CREAM by holding the entire contraption over the bowl I had just poured the custard from. As I stand there planning my strongly worded letter to Cuisinart, I hear from the living room, “are all the pieces in there?” Well, of course, they aren’t! I’m missing the main canister that goes in the middle of the machine. You know, the canister that has been freezing in the freezer over night? The one that makes the cream…icy? Smooooth, Erin. So smooth.
Luckily, most of the custard was saved and the show went on! After about 20 minutes, it was thick enough to add my cherries and chocolate. Unfortunately, after I added these, my custard de-thickened for some reason. Maybe the add-ins weren’t chilled enough? Maybe they were too liquid-y? Too heavy? Who knows. Either way, the mixture didn’t turn into as thick of a soft serve as the Coffee Oreo did. After becoming too impatient and tired from all the pacing I was doing, I poured the kind-of-thin ice cream into the pie crust and put it into the freezer. Luckily, even though it didn’t ever thicken up quite to the consistency of the store bought kind of ice cream, it still held it’s shape in pie form. Oh yeah, and it tasted freaking delicious.
All in all, the verdict on Isaac is that he is an ABSOLUTE WINNER. Like a dangerous kind of winner that I might end up using weekly, year round. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Mint Chocolate Chip, Smores, Chunky Monkey, Strawberry Shortcake…I could go on with my list of future creations to be made with my new friend.
Next week, the 4th of July is going to sneak up on us before you know it. Literally. It’s this coming Monday. What the heck? Now, I’m not going to give it all away, but here’s a hint. My next Patriotic project is going to require the most creativity I’ve used yet. You know what that means? A lot of trial and error and pictures of hilarious looking failed attempts. So, be a good American, and tune in next week!