Chocolate-covered strawberry ice cream

Chocolate-covered strawberry ice cream

Chocolate-covered strawberry ice cream

I’m at a loss for words today! I’ve started writing five times and erased it each time. It’s not that I have nothing to say, I honestly think I never have nothing to say, even if the something isn’t actually worth saying, which is probably most of the time! I’ve been thinking a lot about how people say what they say, and why they say it, and thinking about this too much can make it feel foolish to say anything at all! I have a lot on my mind, but I guess it’s not ready to leave my busy head yet, so I’ll let it marinate for a while. In the meantime, I keep coming back to this scene.

It is a sad and beautiful world! I love Benigni’s cheerfulness. I love Wait’s magpie crankiness. I love the fact that they understand each other despite the words. I love that they both love the words so much they repeat them in their own way. I love the honesty and humor of it. And the beauty, of course! It is a sad and beautiful world.

I bought strawberries and then we picked strawberries, so we had a lot of strawberries. I wanted to make them into ice cream, but I don’t always like strawberry ice cream. Sometimes the strawberries lose their flavor when they’re too cold. Aha! I thought to myself, what if they have a protective coating of bittersweet chocolate to shield them from the cold! Because chocolate covered strawberries are delicious, and they could only be better if folded in vanilla ice cream. This turned out really good!! A nice balance of bitter and sweet, fruity and creamy. The boys loved it, and asked for many many helpings. The strawberries aren’t completely coated in chocolate, but they each had enough chocolate clinging to them to get nice and melty with the ice cream. Well, it was very tasty!

Here’s Irma Thomas It’s Raining. Well, it’s also from Down By Law, and it’s beautiful.

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Quadruple vanilla ice cream with cherry-chocolate swirl

Quadruple vanilla ice cream

“And cherry jam? They have it here. You remember how you used to love cherry jam when you were little?”

“You remember that? Let me have jam, too. I still like it.”

Ivan called the waiter and ordered soup, jam, and tea.”

“I remember everything, Alyosha…”

Thus begins what must be one of the most remarkable conversations in literature. It goes on for pages. It goes on for chapters. It has acts like a play, movements like a symphony. And it all starts with the jam. I’m always moved by the intersection of food, memory, and comfort or kindness. The fact that it’s Ivan who remembers just kills me. He’s dark, doubting, cynical almost to the point of cruelty. You relate to him, certainly. He says the things you’re thinking (but more articulately!) or the things you try not to think because they’re too dark and hopeless. But you don’t love him – not until this moment. Everybody loves Alyosha, but I loved him more for still liking cherry jam, and for agreeing to order it. And because of the cherry jam we know that Ivan – cold, distant, disagreeable Ivan – loves Alyosha and always has. And for the first time, Alyosha know it too.

I like cherry jam, too. I like to bake it into cakes and cookies. And in this case, I put it in ice cream. I’m somewhat obsessed with vanilla. I literally dream about it. It’s not boring, or dull, or plain! It’s not white! For some time I’ve been dreaming of an intensely vanilla flavored ice cream. Really smooth and creamy and ridiculously vanilla-y. I got a few gift certificates for my birthday, to various places, and I bought vanilla powder, vanilla paste, and a vanilla bean. Oh yes! I decided to combine these with vanilla essence to make ice cream. If you don’t have any or all of these things, you could use extra vanilla essence. I also used brown sugar, because I didn’t want the ice cream to be white, and because I think the caramelly taste is nice with vanilla. I added a whole teaspoon of salt, to intensify the flavor. And, in honor of Alyosha, I melted some bittersweet chocolate with some cherry jam, and I drizzled it into the ice cream as it was freezing. It semi-hardened, creating lovely pockets of flavor and texture.

Here’s Drink Me with Song of the Ice Cream Truck.
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Pastry cream ice cream

Apricot – cassis ice cream

I’m absurdly excited about this! I feel like it’s a major culinary breakthrough! I’m sure that either people have been doing it for centuries, or there’s some reason they haven’t that I’ll discover eventually, but for now I have a new medium to explore. As I’m sure you’ll recall, on the last episode of As The Ordinary Turns, we made apricot cassis pastry cream to accompany a cake. Well, there was quite a bit left over, and the mad scientists of The Ordinary developed quite a fiendish gleam in their eye. They headed into the kitchens with their bowl of pastry cream, ready to hit it with their freeze ray!! I love ice cream, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s my favorite. My first and longest lasting job (to this day!) was as a soda jerk. I recall, back in those days, I noticed something interesting about the various brands of ice cream we carried at the ice cream parlor. Some turned nice and creamy and smooth as they melted, some melted into a weird sticky jelly-like substance. Since those days, I’ve made my own ice cream, many a time, and I’ve always had trouble making it thick and creamy. It always melts into something like milk. Well, here was a conundrum. How to thicken it without adding guar gum or carageenan or whatever else commercial companies add? A few months ago, when I discovered pastry cream, and developed a little admiring crush on the creamy substance, I began to ponder the possibility of freezing it. When you make ice cream, you generally start with a custard, and then you add unwhipped heavy cream. (At least that’s how I’ve always made it.) What is pastry cream but a thicker, more substantial custard? Why shouldn’t it freeze nicely? And why not lightly whip the cream before you add it, for an even creamier texture? So that’s what we did. It worked!! It’s thick and creamy. You can actually scoop it with an ice cream scoop, and it stays in a little ball!! I’ve never been able to do that with home made ice cream!! I use an old donvier ice cream maker, but I wonder how this would work on a more fancy one. I’ll have to try it some day and find out – there are so many different flavors to try!!

**update** We tried this again last night, but we didn’t whip the cream before we stirred it in (Malcolm’s suggestion). It might have turned out even creamier. If you whip the cream it’s like a frozen mousse, which is nice, but if you don’t, it might feel more like authentic ice cream. Nice both ways!

Here’s Ice Cream Man by Jonathan Richman.
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