Three Ice Cream Recipes

Word has it that a three-day weekend is coming up. And word also has it that this weekend is the end of summer – the end of school vacation and of summer weather. Eh, not so much here in St. Louis. School started three weeks ago for most of the districts in the area. And summer weather will stick around for at least another month.

End of summer or not, I will still enjoy my long weekend, probably with a batch of ice cream or two along the way.

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Brown Sugar Cinnamon

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Chocolate Amaretto

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Mint Chocolate Chip

No need to turn on the oven to make dessert for any celebrations this weekend. And no need to spend time making a custard and then letting it chill. Most of my ice cream recipes, and certainly these three, start with the same easy formula – half and half and sugar. Add a few flavorings and a little freezing time and you are on your way to eating cold, creamy ice cream.

Whether you are ready to say goodbye to summer, or not, ice cream always helps.

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Brown Sugar Cinnamon Ice Cream

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Our home ice cream production is ramping up with the spring – or sort of. We make ice cream when it is warm and then end up eating the rest of the batch when it is cold again. This has been even more of a roller coaster spring than usual here in St. Louis. But never let it be said that we backed off from eating ice cream just because the weather was a little nippy.

I made this ice cream when we were having my parents over for dinner. We had made mint chocolate chip ice cream the day before, but I wanted to have another kind of ice cream to give everyone a choice (especially me, since mint ice cream isn’t my favorite). We also had a batch of homemade caramel sauce in the fridge that had been calling me, and I wanted an appropriate ice cream to go under it – mint chocolate chip certainly wasn’t it.

I posted a recipe for cinnamon ice cream last year, but it used white sugar instead of brown. The brown sugar adds a caramel flavor that complements the cinnamon nicely. It is amazing what a difference it makes to use brown sugar instead of white. If I were serving the ice cream with apple pie I would probably stick with white sugar, but then again, maybe not. I like brown sugar an awful lot and will almost always use it instead of white sugar, when I have a choice.

Without further ado (or any further rambling) I will give you the recipe, since brown sugar cinnamon ice cream really needs no introduction, especially with caramel sauce on top.

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Download or print the recipe here.

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Ice Cream
From The Cook’s Life
Makes about 1½ quarts

The optional vodka helps the keep the ice cream from freezing quite so hard, especially after a day or two in the freezer.

⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Dash salt
2 cups half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vodka (optional)

Stir brown sugar, cinnamon and salt together in a medium bowl with a whish until the cinnamon is mixed in and there are no lumps in the brown sugar. Add half and half and vanilla and stir until the brown sugar is dissolved. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions – ours takes about 25 minutes. Add vodka, if using, during last 5 minutes of freezing. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and freeze for several hours before serving.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

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Last week I was rummaging through the pantry and discovered part of a chocolate Easter bunny in the pantry. We restrained ourselves a bit with Easter chocolate this year, so Mr. Bunny, from Kakao Chocolate, was our one indulgence. We didn’t restrain ourselves with other goodies (like lamb cake), so the bunny had only lost his head and ears before we moved on to other treats. I decided he would make a nice addition to mint ice cream, as soon as we changed his form a bit.

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Calvin got his first taste of chopping chocolate and he was hooked. He definitely thought it was more fun to perfect his knife skills on chocolate than vegetables. I had to stop him before he chopped the bunny to shavings, which probably wouldn’t have been all bad, in retrospect.

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Rich and Calvin like mint ice cream a lot. It might be one of Rich’s favorite flavors, especially if you add chocolate to it. I can take it or leave it – mostly leave it. But you can’t always cook for yourself. And we had plenty of chocolate amaretto ice cream in the freezer to keep me happy. We topped our ice cream with our favorite hot fudge sauce and we were happy campers.

You really need to like mint ice cream to like this – the mint flavor is strong, though not overpowering. If you aren’t a fan of mint, substitute vanilla or your favorite extract. The chocolate chips and shavings add a nice chocolate hit to every bite. You will want to use chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips in this. Regular size chocolate chips will get too hard in the freezer.

Download or print the recipe here.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
From The Cook’s Life
Makes about 1½ quarts

The optional vodka will help keep the ice cream a little softer and easier to scoop after the first day or two in the freezer. Feel free to skip it if you prefer.

2 cups half and half*
⅓ cup sugar
dash salt
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
1 tablespoon vodka (optional)
1 cup chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips (I used dark chocolate)

Mix half and half, sugar, salt and mint extract together in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions – ours takes about 25 minutes. Add vodka, if using, during last 5 minutes of freezing.

Add the chopped chocolate right before the ice cream finishes churning, just to mix it in. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container. Transfer to the freezer for several hours before serving.

* You can use all cream, which will make a richer ice cream. Half and half makes a creamy ice cream, with a little less fat and without the greasy mouth feel you can sometimes get with all cream.

Chocolate Amaretto Ice Cream

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I was trolling though past posts yesterday, trying to think of some new things to write about. After looking at a few ice cream pictures I was in the mood to make some. The chocolate ice cream pictures were calling to me, but I wanted a new flavor. I remembered that Rich had requested a chocolate amaretto ice cream a while back. It is his favorite flavor to get when we go out for ice cream, but it is hard to find. After my experiments we may be going out for ice cream a little less often this summer. Who am I kidding? We go out for ice cream year round. And I have been known to eat ice cream in the dead of winter, wrapped up in a blanket to keep warm. At home. I don’t tote my blankie to ice cream shops. At least not yet.

This is a deep, dark chocolate ice cream, with undertones of almond. The amaretto gives it a little bite, but isn’t overpowering. I usually use about a tablespoon of vodka in our ice cream, especially in chocolate, to keep it a little softer in the freezer. The large amount of cocoa tends to make it hard to scoop and a little icy after a day or two in the freezer. The alcohol lowers the freezing point of the ice cream just a bit, so it stays creamier and more scoopable.

I figured I would swap in amaretto for the vodka this time. I upped the amount a bit because amaretto is lower in alcohol than vodka. I wouldn’t worry about serving this to kids, since there is less than two tablespoons of alcohol in the whole batch. It works out to less than ½ teaspoon per scoop, depending on how many scoops you get from a batch. The chocolate is pretty dark, though. There won’t be many kids who will enjoy it, though mine does. Vegetables aren’t always a go, but dark chocolate is always on the favorite list.

Rich gave this one an enthusiastic thumbs up. We are already planning a Black Forest amaretto ice cream cake for his birthday, which isn’t until late September. You never can start planning too early for these things, you know.

Do you eat ice cream all year, or only during warm weather?

Download or print just the recipe here.

Chocolate Amaretto Ice Cream
From The Cook’s Life
Makes about 1½ quarts

This is a deep, dark chocolate ice cream that might appeal more to adults than to kids.

⅓ cup granulated sugar
½ cup cocoa
dash salt
2 cups half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1½  tablespoons amaretto liqueur

Stir sugar, cocoa and salt together in a medium bowl. Gradually add half and half, making a paste at first to get all the cocoa mixed in thoroughly. Add vanilla and almond extracts and stir until sugar is dissolved. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions – ours takes about 25 minutes. Add amaretto during last 5 minutes of freezing. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and freeze for several hours before serving.

Any Excuse to Eat Ice Cream

Calvin got his next stage of braces today – two-plus hours to get brackets on every tooth, along with a lot of other additions to his hardware. If he asked me for ice cream for dinner, I would give it to him. He hasn’t asked yet, so I am going with macaroni and cheese, with applesauce and some sort of zucchini as side dishes. Then we will go out for ice cream after dinner. Rich and I aren’t going through orthodontic hassles personally, but we can’t just sit and watch Calvin eat his ice cream. It is rude to stare, especially if we keep asking for bites.

I thought braces galore called for a post on the ice cream we made over the weekend. The inspiration for our Spicy Chocolate Ice Cream came from a recipe for Mexican hot chocolate fudgesicles in Feast magazine, along with our experiments a few years ago to make Calvin’s Triple Chocolate Chip Cookies into cinnamon/chipotle/cayenne chocolate cookies. Those experiments never really panned out the way we wanted, but the ice cream was a winner on the first try.

I started with a teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/16 of a teaspoon of powdered chipotle in our favorite chocolate ice cream recipe. I tasted the unfrozen mix and couldn’t really taste any heat, though it was good. I bumped it up to 1/8 teaspoon and there was the kick, the heat on the tongue I was looking for. If that isn’t to your tastes, use the smaller amount of chipotle powder or leave it out all-together. There is nothing wrong with chocolate cinnamon ice cream.

The spicy version was fabulous with our homemade hot fudge and our failed ice cream cone bits (recipe for those coming after a few more test batches). Rich liked his better without the cone pieces. He had maraschino cherries on his, too, but he thought it would have been better just to keep it simple. Imagine this ice cream on a piece of dark chocolate cake, or mixed with crushed Oreos.

What excuse, if any, do you use when you want ice cream?

Spicy Chocolate Ice Cream
from The Cook’s Life
Makes 1½ quarts

 With the larger amount of chipotle or cayenne, this ice cream has a kick. Feel free to use the smaller amount or leave it out to make cinnamon chocolate ice cream.

 Because of the large amount of cocoa, this ice cream does get a little harder in the freezer than some other flavors. The optional vodka will keep the ice cream a little softer and more scoopable, but feel free to leave it out.

1/3 cup granulated sugar*
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/16-1/8 teaspoon powdered chipotle or cayenne
½ cup cocoa
Dash salt
2 cups half and half*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vodka (optional)

Stir sugar, cocoa and salt together in a medium bowl. Gradually add half and half, making a paste at first to get all the cocoa mixed in thoroughly. Add vanilla and stir until sugar is dissolved. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions – ours takes about 25 minutes. Add vodka, if using, during last 5 minutes of freezing. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and freeze for several hours before serving.

*Use ½ cup sugar for a sweeter ice cream. But try it once with less sugar and see how you like it. You can also use an equivalent amount of Splenda for sugar-free ice cream.

** You can use all cream, which will make a richer ice cream. Half and half makes a creamy ice cream, with a little less fat and without the greasy mouth feel you can sometimes get with all cream.

Download the recipe here.

Unforgettable Chocolate Ice Cream

When Calvin and I experimented with mint chocolate chip ice cream last week, I really thought I had posted on chocolate ice cream the week before. I know we made it, and I know we ate it, but there were no pictures and no post on chocolate ice cream. I guess I was so dazzled by the deep, dark chocolatey-ness that I dreamed writing about it. Since we ate the first batch before I took pictures, I had to make it again. The sacrifices we have to make.

I like to keep ice cream as a quick to make dessert, other than the freezing time. I have tried cooked custard bases a few times, but they never taste as good as I think they should, especially based on the time they take and the amount of dirty dishes they make. I have settled on a base recipe we like, that is easy to change for different flavors. And it couldn’t be easier – stir everything together until the sugar dissolves then freeze in the ice cream machine.

I can never get enough chocolate, so I like to make a sundae with chocolate ice cream, hot fudge sauce and either crushed pretzels or crushed Oreos, if we have them. Bring on the chocolate! It is also just fine in a bowl, with no other adornments. How do you like your ice cream – plain, topped with everything under the sun, or full of mix-ins and swirls of fudge or caramel?

Chocolate Ice Cream
from The Cook’s Life
Makes 1½ quarts

This makes a deep, dark chocolate ice cream. You could reduce the cocoa to 1/3 cup if you want a milder chocolate flavor. Because of the cocoa, this ice cream does get a little harder in the freezer than some other flavors. The optional vodka will keep the ice cream a little softer and more scoopable, but feel free to leave it out.

1/3 cup granulated sugar*
½ cup cocoa
Dash salt
2 cups half and half**
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vodka (optional)

Stir sugar, cocoa and salt together in a medium bowl.

Gradually add half and half, making a paste at first to get all the cocoa mixed in thoroughly.

Add vanilla and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions – ours takes about 25 minutes. Add vodka, if using, during last 5 minutes of freezing.

Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and freeze for several hours before serving.

*Use ½ cup sugar for a sweeter ice cream. But try it once with less sugar and see how you like it. You can also use an equivalent amount of Splenda for sugar-free ice cream.

** You can use all cream, which will make a richer ice cream. Half and half makes a creamy ice cream, with a little less fat and without the greasy mouth feel you can sometimes get with all cream.

 Download the recipe here.

Chocolate Chip Double Mint Ice Cream

While we make all kinds of sundaes with our homemade vanilla and cinnamon ice creams, we have yet to try making more elaborate ice cream flavors. I was looking to branch out into new ice cream territory (at least for us) this week. Rich and Calvin both voted for mint, though I have to say that isn’t my favorite ice cream flavor. But the cook can’t always cook just to please herself.

Calvin and I came up with the embellishments to this one. I had to rein him in a little bit, since he wanted to make the ice cream chocolate, and add chocolate chips and crushed peppermints. I wanted to get the mint flavor first before we started adding chocolate ice cream into the mix too.

We had leftover crushed mints from making Chocolate Peppermint Pinwheels at Christmas. I thought we could just pull those out of the cabinet and pour them into the ice cream, but when I opened the container I found them solidified into a clump the shape of the container. We had to use the food processor to break up the big chunk of candy bits, so we ended up with pink minty dust.

We were going to mix the crushed candies into the ice cream as it churned, but then I realized that would make the ice cream pink, which wasn’t really what we were going for. So we layered them in after the ice cream was done churning, which made for pockets of pink mintiness in the already minty ice cream. We were also going to use a lot more chopped chocolate, but when we started adding it, we realized less was going to be more. Now we have lots of chopped chocolate for sprinkling on top.

Rich and Calvin both decided this experiment is a keeper. Let me know what you think. And share any new ice cream flavor ideas, or your tried-and-true favorites.

Chocolate Chip Double Mint Ice Cream
from The Cook’s Life
Makes about 1½ quarts

Use the larger amount of peppermint extract for a stronger mint flavor. The optional vodka will help keep the ice cream a little softer and easier to scoop after the first day or two in the freezer. Feel free to skip it if you prefer.

2 cups half and half*
1/3 cup sugar
Dash salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ to ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
1 tablespoon vodka (optional)
½ cup chopped chocolate (I used Ghirardelli Bittersweet chips)
¼ cup crushed peppermint candy

Mix half and half, sugar, salt and extracts together in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions – ours takes about 25 minutes. Add vodka, if using, during last 5 minutes of freezing.

Add the chopped chocolate right before the ice cream finishes churning, just to mix it in. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container, alternating big spoons of ice cream with heavy sprinkles of the crushed peppermint candy. When you scoop the ice cream there will be pockets of the pink candy in each scoop. Transfer to the freezer for several hours before serving.

* You can use all cream, which will make a richer ice cream. Half and half makes a creamy ice cream, with a little less fat and without the greasy mouth feel you can sometimes get with all cream.

Download the recipe here.