Staycation Week


I have been neglecting the blog this week. My brother and sister-in-law are visiting and we have been busy catching up and playing tourists in our own town. So far we have visited the St. Louis History Museum, Penzey’s Spices, Vom Fass olive oil, vinegar and specialty liqueur store, Kakao Chocolate and Schlafly Bottleworks for lunch. We still have the Anheuser-Busch Brewery tour, a concert in the park at the World Bird Sanctuary, a movie and another restaurant visit or two before they leave for home.

Never fear, we are still getting in plenty of home cooking too. One night we had dinner here – cheese stuffed shells, a wonderful salad (that I had no hand in, but thoroughly enjoyed) and garlic bread (alas, not homemade – no time to bake this week), with homemade chocolate ice cream for dessert. I love that I can make ice cream with only five minutes of mixing and half an hour of churning while I do something else, like play a cutthroat game of cards with those nearest and dearest to me.

It has been a great visit so far, as always. Sightseeing is one thing, but the opportunity to spend time together really is what it’s all about. On that note, I should get off the computer and get ready for another round of games, or just sitting around, talking about nothing much. Here’s to fun, family and getting the best of my brother in at least one game this visit.

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.