Irish Coffee Ice Cream

When it comes to recipe ideas, I have a hard time letting go. My mind will grab hold of a “what if” twist on a classic, and I am off and running until I find the finish line. If that idea seems impossible (or if my first, second and tenth attempt fails), I will ponder it until I figure it out.

This Irish coffee ice cream almost didn’t happen, and that would have been a shame because it shines a light on two things I enjoy—OK, three—coffee, Irish cream and ice cream. You might recall at Christmastime that I had contemplated turning My Dad’s Irish Creme into an ice cream, but I was concerned about how to make it freeze with the amount of Irish whiskey it would take to flavor it correctly. Yes, I have used spirits in my ice creams before, but usually only within the context of a syrup swirl or a splash at the end to help improve the scooping texture. Irish coffee and Irish cream have a great deal of whiskey in them so it wouldn’t be as straightforward. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and when I started searching out formulas for infusing ice cream with booze (and knowing when to say when), I ran across this article on Serious Eats, which gave me enough of a road map to give it a go. But this experiment was not without roadblocks.

The sheer amount of Irish whiskey in this ice cream makes it ultra-scoopable. Is that even a word?

As you can see, it turned out fine, but I had a setback the first time I attempted to freeze the mixture, and it had nothing to do with my formula. Here’s something you may not know, but should, if you happen to have an “extra” freezer that you keep in an unheated garage. When the ambient temperature of the garage (or basement, carport, etc.) drops below the settings on your freezer, trouble kicks in. And over last weekend, we had an overnight low of 19° F (which is, frankly, ridiculous and rare for us in North Carolina this close to Spring), and the freezer bowl for my ice cream maker suffered for it because the freezer could not regulate properly with the fluctuation of the outside temperature. I did not realize this, of course, until I tried to freeze my ice cream base. After more than 30 minutes of churning, my Irish coffee not-quite-ice-cream was basically a thin, boozy milkshake (not exactly a terrible thing, either). But what I really wanted was ice cream.

Armed with the Serious Eats information, I refused to give up when my first attempt at freezing failed. I cleared a space in our kitchen freezer and gave the freezer bowl a good solid 24 hours in deep freeze mode. That made all the difference for the outcome of this ice cream, which is perfect for St. Patrick’s Day.

That frosty mug is so inviting…go on, reach in for the spoon!

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 Tbsp. espresso powder* (see notes)

1 Tbsp. dark cocoa powder*

2 Tbsp. light corn syrup*

14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup 80-proof Irish whiskey*


*Notes


Espresso powder is not just finely ground coffee; this is a specialty ingredient that I used to infuse the milk in my recipe with a deep coffee flavor. Find it in the baking aisle of a well-stocked supermarket or online.

Chocolate is not necessarily an ingredient in Irish coffee, but I considered that a little bit of coffee works to intensify the chocolate flavor of other desserts, so why couldn’t it work the other way around? I chose to dissolve a little dark cocoa powder into the milk at the same time as the espresso powder, and it turned out to be a good decision because my coffee-hating husband found something to enjoy about this ice cream. 😊

I always add a little corn syrup to my ice cream base if I have concerns about ice crystals. Given that I wasn’t sure how the whiskey would behave in the mix, I played it safe.

The Serious Eats article was specific to mention maximum amounts of alcohol that was 80 proof, so I didn’t want to push the limit and mess it up. I used Jameson Irish Whiskey, the same brand I use when I make my Dad’s Irish cream recipe. Lower proof would not be a problem, but if your whiskey is higher, I’d recommend using less.


Instructions

Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the espresso powder and dark cocoa powder until dissolved and evenly incorporated. Remove from heat and stir in the corn syrup.

Transfer the milk to a large bowl and whisk it together with the sweetened condensed milk. These ingredients are at opposite ends of the consistency scale, and I like to combine them first so that I don’t accidentally whisk the heavy cream into thickening.

Gently whisk or stir in the heavy cream until blended, then stir in the Irish whiskey. Cover the bowl and refrigerate several hours to overnight (colder is better).

Stir or whisk the ice cream base just before freezing to reincorporate any settled ingredients. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions, and don’t be surprised if it takes a few extra minutes to achieve soft-serve consistency. Transfer the churned ice cream to an insulated container and put in the coldest spot of your (inside) freezer overnight before serving.

Because of the high alcohol content, this ice cream will scoop very easily and will melt more quickly than typical ice cream upon serving.



Bananas Foster Ice Cream

Every year, I say that I want to make something elaborate for Mardi Gras—a king cake or jambalaya or étouffée (which my computer just tried to auto-correct as “toupee”)—but I usually miss my chance because I’m tied up making things for Super Bowl or Valentine’s Day. As much as I try, I simply can’t do everything at once.

But because Easter has a floating date (blame it on the moon), so does Ash Wednesday and so does Mardi Gras—and as luck would have it, I have had a little free time after Super Bowl to get my act together in time for this year’s Mardi Gras, which will be March 1. Frankly, I wonder whether I am qualified to make something as traditional as a king cake, given that I have never actually been to New Orleans. I do make a good gumbo, and there was that jambalaya deep-dish pizza last year that was pretty awesome, but I am not prone to do too many repeats, and my craving for a dessert was getting the better of me.

And that’s how this Bananas Foster ice cream came to be.

The Bananas Foster swirl is very prominent and so flavorful.

Bananas Foster is a decadently sweet dessert, native to New Orleans. The traditional recipe involves flaming rum-soaked syrup including brown sugar, cinnamon and butter—all spooned over caramelized bananas and served with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. In a previous season of my life, I experienced the pure joy of having Bananas Foster prepared tableside, and those flavors never quite cleared my imagination. It was all at once tropical, sweet, warm, cold, sensual, creamy, boozy and flat-out amazing. What could possibly go wrong, I thought, in skipping the flambé and just adapting that whole mix into an ice cream?

For the richness factor, I started with my go-to custard base for the ice cream, but I used brown sugar rather than white to lay a foundation of warm, molasses-y flavor. I caramelized a couple of ripe, mashed bananas into a mixture of brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg, then I poured in a shot of aged dark rum from Jamaica (the same rum I used recently in those “air fryer” jerk wings). Both components got an overnight chill, and then I froze the ice cream and layered in the bananas foster filling the next day.

One of these days, I’ll get to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras properly. Until then, I’ll just put on some beads and some zydeco music and enjoy another scoop of this frozen delight.

Don’t mind me, I’m just having my own private Mardi Gras over here.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2/3 cup light brown sugar (packed)

3 egg yolks (room temperature is best)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Pinch of kosher salt

1 tsp. real vanilla extract

1 Tbsp. vodka or dark rum, optional (added at the end of freezing)

Bananas Foster Swirl

3 Tbsp. salted butter

1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

A few shavings whole nutmeg

2 very ripe bananas

1.5 oz. dark rum or spiced rum


Instructions for Custard

Full disclosure: I have made my custard-based ice cream many times, and never had this much trouble with foam. Most of the time, the custard cooks up silky and rich. But I got carried away and whipped my egg yolks too much! The ice cream turned out great, but don’t try to replicate this mistake. 🙂

Place a medium, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Combine milk and brown sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until sugar is fully dissolved and milk is steaming.

Using an electric mixer, lightly whip the egg yolks until they are lighter and somewhat airy. This usually works best with a bit of fine sugar in the bowl, but I skipped that step this time because I was using grainy brown sugar in the recipe.

When the milk mixture begins to barely bubble around the edges, transfer about half of it into a measuring cup. Add the heavy cream to the pot and bring it back up to the steaming temperature.

While that’s going, slowly and gradually add the measured hot milk mixture to the egg yolks (with the mixer running constantly). This step is called “tempering,” and it raises the temperature of the eggs slowly to cook them without scrambling them.

Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the saucepot and cook the whole mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is steaming again and the custard has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and strain the custard mixture through a mesh sieve to a clean bowl. Stir in the vanilla and let it cool for a few minutes. Taste it, because oh my goodness. I must make more brown sugar ice cream!

Carefully lay a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard. This serves two purposes—it prevents a skin from forming on the surface, and it prevents condensation from building and dripping into the mixture. Moisture droplets have a way of making unwanted crystals in the finished ice cream. Seal up the bowl, or cover it with an additional layer of plastic. Refrigerate overnight.


Bananas Foster Swirl

Melt the butter in a medium skillet. Stir in the brown sugar until it seems dissolved and a bit syrupy. Stir in the cinnamon and nutmeg.

Add the bananas to the skillet, one at a time, and mash them into the syrup with a fork. It’s OK to keep a few visible chunks of banana—in fact, I recommend it. When the mixture is bubbling all over, stir in the dark rum until evenly blended. Cook a few minutes longer, until it begins to bubble again, and then remove from heat and let it cool.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate it overnight.


Finishing the Ice Cream

Stir the custard to reincorporate any ingredients that may have settled to the bottom of the bowl. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream has reached the consistency of soft-serve, add the vodka or rum (if using) and churn another minute until it’s fully blended.

Layer 1/3 of the ice cream in an insulated container, then spoon or pipe about 1/3 of the banana swirl mixture over it. Continue with another 1/3 of the ice cream, then another 1/3 of the remaining swirl mixture*. Finish with the remaining ice cream. Freeze several hours to overnight.


*Note

When this recipe was finished, I had about 1/4 cup extra Bananas Foster Swirl mixture left over. You can discard this, or mix it into some muffin or pancake batter, or stir it into Sunday morning oatmeal!



Homemade “Cherry Garcia” Ice Cream

When you’re in love, you do crazy things. Not that making your sweetheart’s favorite foods is crazy, mind you, but I do think it’s possible to push the envelope quite far, as I have done at times in my quest to tantalize my husband’s taste buds. This dessert might qualify, because not only did I make a homemade version of his favorite ice cream, I scooped that deliciousness right over a chocolate waffle and drizzled it with a homemade cherry syrup.

This is the way to my lover’s heart! ❤

Les’s all-time favorite sweet flavor combination is chocolate with cherries, and I have mentioned this previously on Comfort du Jour, in these scrumptious posts:


All those desserts were delicious, but when it comes to cherry and chocolate, it is unquestionably ice cream that wins my man’s heart. One of his favorite grocery store ice creams is the Ben & Jerry’s classic flavor, Cherry Garcia, and though I made it back in October 2020 for the triple chocolate-cherry brownie bowls, I felt that it needed a little tweaking, so I didn’t share the recipe at the time. The color of my first batch was off, because I had used my go-to custard base that had a yellowish tint from the egg yolks. And the chocolate chunks were 70% cacao, which proved to be too bitter and a touch gritty in the mix of so much creaminess.

So, I did what I do best and gave the recipe a makeover. And I’m back to share it with you—a homemade version of “Cherry Garcia” ice cream—one that uses sweetened condensed milk in its base, for creamy sweetness without the yellow egg color, a ribbon of sweet-tart cherry syrup that is tinged with a surprise ingredient, and bits of semi-sweet chocolate that bring just the right balance to the sweet cream, vanilla and cherries.

And, in a bold move, I gave it a go with a recipe I’d been eyeing for years on King Arthur Baking’s website—sourdough chocolate malt waffles. This dessert was nothing short of spectacular.

Over the top? Obviously, but c’mon, we’re talking about Valentine’s Day!

Be my ❤ alentine?

Before I get into the making of this lovely dessert, let me acknowledge that a few of you may not be inclined to go this crazy, or maybe you don’t have an ice cream machine yet, or you don’t have sourdough starter to make the chocolate waffles. Please feel free to lift any single part of this dessert for your own celebration, even if it means just making the cherry syrup to drizzle over store-bought ice cream, or serving the ice cream with a store-bought chocolate cookie. I ended up making a second batch of the cherry syrup (with chunks of cherries), and it was fantastic over plain vanilla ice cream.

My ingredients and instructions are all included in a downloadable PDF at the end of the post. Enjoy!


“Cherry Garcia” Ice Cream Base


Cherry Swirl Syrup


Sourdough Chocolate Malt Waffles

Adapted from Chocolate Malt Waffles | King Arthur Baking


Freezing the Cherry Garcia Ice Cream


Chocolate-Cherry Heaven, Coming Right Up!




Peppermint Bark Ice Cream

Ice cream is one of my favorite desserts to make. It’s usually just me and my husband at the table, so I rarely make cakes, pies or other large-scale desserts because we don’t want all those leftovers in the house. But ice cream. Now that’s a treat that we can enjoy over a week or two, and for the holidays this year, I wanted to do a Christmas-y flavor. I had considered doing an ice cream with My Dad’s Irish Creme, which I made last week for sipping by the chiminea, though it has been unseasonably warm in North Carolina so we have only done that once. I’ll need to give that one some thought, because so much of the flavor comes from a hefty amount of Irish whiskey and that will hinder the freezing. I also considered eggnog ice cream, which can be made with less alcohol, but I could not find a commercial eggnog that wasn’t made with high fructose corn syrup (bleh). Maybe next year, with more careful planning.

You can only find this flavor during the holidays, and this week, it will probably be on sale!

This peppermint-and-chocolate combination won me over after my husband tasted one of these little peppermint bark candies. Mint is not a favorite of his, but combined with the chocolate, he declared it a winner. I wanted to include these candies in the finished ice cream, and I also wanted the ice cream base to have a minty flavor.

My inspiration for that part came from a post shared recently by one of my blog pals, Chef Mimi, who presented a gorgeous peppermint chocolate cocktail made with vodka that had been infused with candy canes. I thought, “well, why wouldn’t that kind of infusion also work in a base for ice cream?” And, as you can see, it does!

Unlike most of my ice creams, which begin with a cooked egg custard base, this one gets its rich texture from sweetened condensed milk. The base peppermint flavor and pretty pink color are the result of having dissolved a couple of candy canes into the milk portion of the ice cream, and I added chopped up chocolate peppermint bark squares at the end for a fun candy surprise.

An ice cream machine is recommended for this recipe, which will yield 1 1/2 quarts.

This was a fun way to capture the flavors of the season in an ice cream!

Ingredients

1 cup whole milk

2 regular size candy canes (if you have mini candy canes, I recommend using about 4 of them)

14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk* (see notes)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 tsp. peppermint extract oil

1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract

9 Ghirardelli dark chocolate peppermint bark squares, chopped

1 oz. good vodka*

Your favorite hot fudge sauce (optional, but yum!) for serving


*Notes

Sweetened condensed milk is great for ice creams that do not have a custard base, especially when you want to have a brighter “white” base color. I used the whole milk version of Eagle brand, but I expect you could also use a reduced-fat or even fat-free version of condensed milk; if you choose a lower fat option, expect a slightly “icier” texture in the finished ice cream.

A small glug of vodka, mixed in for the final minute of freezing, ensures that the ice cream will scoop easily straight from the freezer. If you prefer not to add alcohol (or, certainly, if you intend to share the ice cream with children or non-drinkers), you can skip this ingredient. Simply take the ice cream from the freezer about 10 minutes before scooping.


Instructions


Heat whole milk and candy canes in a small saucepan, over medium-low heat. As the milk warms, the candy canes will melt into it, creating a pretty color and a delicately sweet minty base. As I think of it, I imagine that this milk could also be used to make a minty version of hot cocoa. Maybe next Christmas!

When candy canes are fully dissolved, remove milk from heat and cool then chill in the refrigerator.

In a large bowl or mixing pitcher, blend together the sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream. Whisk in the peppermint milk. Stir in the peppermint and vanilla extracts. Cover and chill for several hours (maybe even overnight) until the mixture is very cold.

Put the chopped chocolate-peppermint bark in the freezer while you freeze the ice cream mixture.

Prepare your ice cream machine, following manufacturer’s recommendations for freezing the ice cream mixture. When the ice cream reaches the fully churned stage, add in the chopped peppermint bark pieces and churn an additional two minutes to evenly incorporate the candy pieces.

Finally, add the vodka and churn until the liquid has disappeared. This trick will improve the texture of the ice cream for very easy scooping straight from the freezer. The vodka is indiscernible in the ice cream, but if you (or someone you are feeding) avoids alcohol, it can easily be omitted.

Transfer the finished ice cream to an insulated freezer container and place it in the freezer for several hours, or preferably overnight. Serve it with warmed hot fudge topping for an extra special holiday treat!




S’mores Ice Cream

There is something very special and nostalgic about s’mores, the delightfully sugary campfire treat that I first learned of when I was a young girl. I cannot say for sure that my first experience of s’mores was during my time as a Girl Scout, though legend has it a troop leader named Loretta Scott Crew first dreamed them up to feed 16 hungry girl campers in 1927. But I do know that my first taste of this wonderful confection—toasted marshmallow and Hershey’s chocolate square, melted between two graham crackers—was like a seductive symphony of ooey-gooey summer heaven. The only cooking involved in making s’mores is toasting a marshmallow to golden perfection, and then allowing the contained heat within the marshmallow to melt the piece of chocolate bar when you squish the graham cracker cookies together.

Truth be told, I was prone to wreck my marshmallows by over-toasting them. I’d position my marshmallow stick (and yes, where I come from, we used actual sticks) directly into the hottest part of the campfire until my puffy marshmallows blazed with a blue light around them. I’d blow out the fire, only to skim off and eat the scorched sugary jacket and plunge them back into the fire for another round of overcooking. I’m quite sure that was not the intention behind the “toasted” marshmallow portion of s’mores, but nobody ever accused me of following the rules—I like what I like.

Now that I’m all grown up, I still love the idea of s’mores, but I cannot fathom the notion of sitting around a campfire in the dead heat of summer, and we don’t usually fire up our patio chiminea until at least October. Not even for a sticky-sweet s’more—sorry.

Luckily, I have other plans for those delicious flavors, and just in the nick of time, it seems, given that today is National S’mores Day. Why, I wondered, couldn’t I represent the same s’mores flavors in a cold treat form that was more suitable for the middle of August?

No campfire required!

And that was my approach to this yummy spectacle of summer sweetness. For a change of pace, I skipped the eggs in my ice cream base and used sweetened condensed milk instead. I wanted the vanilla ice cream to be a pure palate of white, but I was also trying to avoid cooking as much as possible. It’s been pretty dang hot here in the South, and if I have the option to keep the stove turned off, I’m taking it. The marshmallow swirl was also a no-cook step, and for this, I relied on a tried-and-true fruit dip recipe that fuses marshmallow fluff with cream cheese. The dairy ingredient gave the fluff just enough body to take away the ultra-sticky consistency but retain the marshmallow flavor.

See how the cream cheese mellowed out the sticky marshmallow fluff? And it still tastes exactly like marshmallow (but creamier).

I did turn on the stove briefly to make the fudgy swirl that represents the melted chocolate square of a traditional s’more, but that was a small price to pay for this delicious final result.

Looks like delicious black gold, doesn’t it?

Happy S’mores Day, everyone!

Yes, please, may I have s’more?!

Ingredients


Ice Cream Base

14.5 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. real vanilla extract

1 Tbsp. vanilla flavored vodka (optional, for improved texture)


Gooey Marshmallow Swirl

2 oz. full-fat cream cheese (this is 1/4 of a regular brick)

1 cup marshmallow fluff (give or take, as this stuff is difficult to scoop and measure)


Chocolate Fudge Ripple

1/2 cup cane sugar

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup water

3 Tbsp. Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa

3 Tbsp. King Arthur Double Dutch Dark cocoa

1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract

Pinch sea salt

and…

Of course, you will also need graham crackers, about 6 cookie sheets, broken into pieces


Instructions

For the base of the ice cream, whisk together the condensed milk, whole milk and heavy cream. When the mixture is smooth and even, stir in vanilla extract. Cover and refrigerate until all other ingredients are cold and ready for layering.

For the marshmallow swirl, use an electric mixer to whip the cream cheese and marshmallow fluff together. Allow enough time for the mixture to settle into a smooth consistency. Cover and refrigerate.

For the fudge ripple, combine sugar, corn syrup, water and cocoa powders in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk constantly until mixture reaches a just-barely-boiling point. Remove from heat and stir in sea salt and vanilla extract. Transfer to a bowl, cool several minutes, then cover and refrigerate until fully chilled.  

To make the layered ice cream: Freeze the base ice cream according to manufacturer’s instructions; my Cuisinart machine takes about 20 minutes. During the final minute, add the vanilla flavored vodka. This ingredient is not essential, but it helps make the ice cream scoopable immediately upon removal from the freezer. If you avoid alcohol—no problem; simply remove the ice cream about 15 minutes before serving to slightly soften.

When ice cream is finished churning, add a slight ribbon of fudgy ripple to the bottom of an insulated ice cream container. Spoon in a few dollops of the ice cream base, followed by the graham cracker pieces and a generous drizzling of the marshmallow fluff mixture. Swirl on more fudge ripple, then repeat with ice cream, graham pieces and marshmallow fluff mixture. Be generous with the s’mores ingredients for best results. Any remaining fluff or fudge swirl mixture can be used to “dress up” your ice cream at serving time.



Transfer ice cream container to the freezer for several hours (preferably overnight) to firm up. Serve with additional topping ingredients.



Salted Maple-Bacon Ice Cream

It wouldn’t be summer without ice cream, and it wouldn’t be Comfort du Jour without some unexpected flavor twists. One of the biggest reasons I love my ice cream machine is that I can choose my own flavors rather than relying on the same old varieties you find everywhere else. Using my easy formula for custard ice cream base, I’ve whipped two of my all-time favorite flavors into one frosty treat.

I’ve swapped out sugar in favor of maple syrup, and paired it with the delicious, smoky flavor of real bacon! These two flavors are like an old married couple, finishing each other’s sentences and picking up each other’s slack. When the maple syrup starts to feel too sweet, here comes the salty, savory bacon to keep it in check. And because we get a little crazy at our house about the sweet-salty combination of maple and bacon, I’ve garnished the ice cream with additional bacon, glazed with maple syrup. I’ll share that, too.

It’s National Ice Cream Day, smack in the middle of National Ice Cream Month, and I am on it!

I know you want some.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/3 cup maple sugar* (see notes)

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup dark maple syrup

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

4 thin slices uncured maple bacon, cooked until crispy, then broken into bits*

1 Tbsp. bourbon (optional but recommended for improved texture)


*Notes

Double maple means double tasty!

My maple sugar is sourced from the same place I order my syrup, Big Tree Maple in Lakewood, N.Y., which is just up the road from where I grew up. Maple sugar is not as easy to find in local stores as maple syrup, but you will be happy to know that Big Tree offers shipping on its products. You could also substitute with caster sugar (sometimes called “superfine” sugar) or simply increase the maple syrup to a total of 3/4 cup.

All 4 pieces of bacon are intended for mixing into the ice cream. Cook a few extra slices of bacon if you want to make the maple-glazed candied bacon garnish. And, trust me, you want to! 😉


Instructions


  1. In a stand mixer or bowl with hand mixer, whip egg yolks until they get frothy and increase in volume. Gradually add maple sugar, whipping constantly and stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. Heat milk and cream until hot and steaming but not boiling. Reduce the heat to very low (or turn it off) at this point, so that the milk mixture doesn’t curdle. Measure out about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture. Stream it slowly into the egg yolk mixture while running the mixer. Use a lower speed on the mixer to avoid whipping too much air into the cream mixture.
  3. Transfer the tempered yolk mixture back to the saucepan with the remaining milk-cream mixture and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until custard is smooth and coats the back of the spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in kosher salt until dissolved.
  4. Whisk in maple syrup, stirring thoroughly to combine. Lay plastic film directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent condensation. Cover the bowl with additional film or lid and refrigerate several hours to overnight.

Time to freeze the ice cream!

  1. Before freezing, remove plastic film and stir mixture to reincorporate any ingredients that may have settled to the bottom. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. In the last few minutes of churning, add bacon crumbles to the ice cream.
  3. Mix in a tablespoon of bourbon in the final minute. The alcohol will just barely flavor the ice cream, but the real benefit will be improved texture for scooping directly from the freezer.


Bonus recipe – Candied Maple Bacon

2 to 3 thin strips uncured maple bacon

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

Cook bacon in the 350°F oven on a parchment-lined baking sheet. When bacon is crisp, transfer to a paper towel and replace parchment paper. Lightly brush maple syrup onto each side of the bacon slices, and return it to the oven for a few minutes. Repeat two or three more times, until syrup is hardened and bacon looks like candy. Cool completely and wrap loosely in foil or parchment. Garnish ice cream portions with a piece of the bacon.



You may be wondering if I’m a paid endorser for the brands and products I spotlight on Comfort du Jour, and the answer is “no.” I do not receive money or merchandise for my recommendations, and what that means for you is that you can count on me to give an honest opinion. If something changes, I will update my disclosures. Either way, you can still count on me to be honest in my recommendations, as I will only stand behind services and products I believe in. Fair enough? 😀

Terrie


Homemade Pistachio Ice Cream

When our new kitchen is installed this fall, organization will be priority one. My husband, Les, and I are not doing all this planning and spending only to fall into the same jumbled mess of stuff we started with. To that point, every gadget we own is going to be catching a little side eye, as we make some hard, overdue decisions about what deserves to stay in our beautiful new prime real estate and what must go.

One small electric that has already passed muster in my mind is my Cuisinart ice cream maker. This device gets plenty of action at our house, and I have no complaints about it whatsoever. It’s easy to use, requires no hand-cranking effort or rock salt, and it quickly churns out up to two quarts of ice cream at a time. I purchased it several years ago (when I lived in a different kitchen) and it was one of the first things I laid claim to when I struck out on my own. I have made some delicious, memorable ice creams with this machine, and it technically does not fall into the single-purpose category because I can also use it to make sorbets and fruity wine slushies. How could I not love that, especially during summer?

Check out these fun ice cream flavors I churned out in summer of 2020:

July is one of my favorite months, not only because I will celebrate my birthday in the late part of the month, but also because it happens to be National Ice Cream Month! For your summer refreshment pleasure, I’ll be sharing several delicious ice cream recipes in the coming weeks. If you enjoy ice cream (especially if you like unexpected flavor combinations), I urge you to make a small, one-time investment in an ice cream machine. Sure, there are about a million “no-churn” recipes for ice cream on Pinterest and other internet sites, but if you look closely at some of those recipes, they often depend on numerous extra steps to produce the texture you expect in an ice cream, including setting a timer to pull it out of the freezer every couple of hours to stir it up. I’d rather just use an ice cream maker and be done with it.

The first ice cream for 2021 is pistachio, and though this was my first time making this particular flavor, it was simple because it begins with my “basic” formula for custard-based ice cream, which is as follows:

  • 1 1/2 cups each of heavy cream and whole milk
  • 3/4 cup organic cane sugar
  • 3 free-range egg yolks

The cream and milk are heated together with half of the sugar, and the egg yolks are whipped with the rest of it. When the cream mixture is hot enough, I whisk it into the whipped yolks to temper them, then it all goes back into the pot to cook until custardy. From that point, you can flavor it up as you like, chill it and then churn it in the ice cream machine. Homemade ice cream has a somewhat shorter shelf life than store-bought because it doesn’t have any weird, chemistry-lab ingredients. But here’s the fun flip side—you don’t need homemade ice cream to have a long shelf life because it’s usually gobbled up within a few days anyway!


To infuse this ice cream with the unique flavor of pistachio, I toasted the pistachios briefly, pulsed them in the food processor, and then infused their flavor into the cream mixture. I double-strained the mixture to remove the gritty bits of pistachio before tempering the eggs, but next time I will use cheesecloth to simplify that step. At the end of the freeze-churn stage, I added roasted pieces of pistachio for extra flavor and texture. A little touch of amaretto churned in during the final minute gave the ice cream a perfectly scoopable consistency for serving, straight from the freezer.


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3/4 cup organic cane sugar, divided

3 egg yolks

1 cup raw, unsalted pistachio meats, divided

1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. pure almond extract

1 Tbsp. amaretto liqueur (optional at the end of churning, for improved texture)


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast the pistachio meats on a parchment-lined baking sheet for about 7 minutes, or until fragrant and toasty. Remove from oven and cool. Divide pistachios evenly, transferring half of them to a food processor bowl. Pulse a few times until the nuts are reduced to small bits, but not to the point of powder. Use a sharp knife to gently chop the remaining pistachios. Set them aside for mixing into the ice cream during freezing.
  2. Combine milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add half the amount of sugar and whisk gently until sugar is dissolved. Add the pulverized pistachios to the milk mixture and simmer until the mixture is hot but not quite boiling. Remove from heat and let this stand for about 10 minutes. This will steep the pistachio flavor into the cream mixture.
  3. When steeping is finished (you will know because the cream mixture will have taken on a slightly chartreuse green color), pour the mixture through a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth to remove the nut solids. Clean out the saucepan and dry it. Return the strained cream mixture to the pan and heat over medium until it returns to the not-quite-boiling stage.
  4. While the cream mixture is heating, use a hand or stand mixer to whip the egg yolks until silky. Add the sugar, a little bit at a time, mixing well and stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Whip until the mixture is soft, light and lemon-colored.
  5. Measure out about 2 cups of the milk-cream mixture. Slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking or beating with electric mixer the entire time. This step will temper the eggs, gradually cooking them without scrambling or breaking them.
  6. Pour the egg mixture back into the remaining milk-cream mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard begins to slightly thicken and coats the back of your spoon.
  7. Remove from heat immediately. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Lay a film of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard to prevent condensation from forming. Cover the entire bowl with a lid or additional plastic wrap. Refrigerate several hours or overnight until fully chilled.
  8. When you’re ready to freeze the ice cream, give the cream mixture a good stirring to minimize any settling that has occurred in the fridge. Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. My Cuisinart takes about 20 minutes. Sift the reserved pistachio nuts in a mesh strainer to remove any powdery crumbs from chopping them. Add them to the ice cream machine only for the last few minutes. Add amaretto (optional, but recommended) for the final minute of mixing. You will not taste the alcohol, but its addition ensures easy scooping of the ice cream straight from the freezer. If you avoid alcohol, or if you will be serving children, skip it and simply remove the ice cream from the freezer about 15 minutes ahead of serving.

Great way to start the summer!


You may be wondering if I’m a paid endorser for the brands and products I spotlight on Comfort du Jour, and the answer is “no.” I do not receive money or merchandise for my recommendations, and what that means for you is that you can count on me to give an honest opinion. If something changes, I will update my disclosures. Either way, you can still count on me to be honest in my recommendations, as I will only stand behind services and products I believe in. Fair enough? 😀

Terrie


Pumking Ice Cream

Didn’t I promise this would happen, when my beloved Pumking ale was released this year? I have been obsessed with the idea of turning this seasonal spiced ale into an ice cream, and here I’ve gone and done it!

Many of the recipes I make are merely altered versions of something I’ve made before. In this case, I followed the lessons I learned when I made the Black Mountain Chocolate Stout Ice Cream I shared back in the summer. As with that recipe, I’ve reduced the beer to intensify its flavors, giving immeasurable boost of pumpkin-y-ness to my standard custard-based ice cream. Throw in a fair amount of pureed pumpkin, and what do you suppose I got?

I can’t wait to dig my spoon right into this!

The pumpkin flavor is amped up three times—first with pure pumpkin puree, and then with the infusion of the pumpkin butter, which is essentially cooked pumpkin with sugar, spices and lemon juice. Finally, the Pumking ale accents the ice cream with a spiced and slightly hoppy flavor that is exactly the right balance to the sweet richness.

Triple threat! The reduced Pumking, pumpkin puree and pumpkin butter will each bring their own flavor to the party.

The other ingredients are straight off my go-to list for homemade custard-based ice cream. Equal parts whole milk and heavy cream, three egg yolks, just shy of one cup of sugar. I heated the milk and cream, plus half the amount of sugar, to the just-barely-boiling point.

While that was working, I whisked the egg yolks together with the remaining sugar until it was lighter in color and fluffed up in volume. Sometimes I do this in my stand mixer, but this time it worked fine in a glass pitcher bowl and a little elbow grease.


I gradually streamed half of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking the whole time to prevent scrambling the eggs. Then, I returned the tempered egg mixture to the pan with the remaining cream mixture, and cooked (stirring constantly) until the custard was slightly thickened and coated the back of my wooden spoon.

The cooked custard mixture went back into the pitcher bowl, and I blended in the pumpkin puree, pumpkin butter and reduced Pumking ale. As always, I laid plastic wrap directly on top of the custard (this prevents a skin forming on top, and also prevents condensation that could screw up the texture of the finished ice cream. Into the fridge for at least 8 hours (I usually leave it overnight), then into the ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Here’s how the rest of the recipe went:

This ice cream surprised me with its super-creamy, unbelievably pumpkin-y flavor and texture. You don’t taste beer in the ice cream—just a complex layered flavor that seems more complicated than it was.

As Thanksgiving desserts go, this is a winner, not only because it’s delicious and satisfies the desire for a rich, creamy pumpkin dessert, but also because you can make it several days ahead to free up time in your schedule for more pressing dishes.

Serve it in an ice cream cone or bowl, or on top of a square of gingerbread or a brownie or a big fat oatmeal cookie or…OK, straight from the container. Why the heck not?

Just like this. 🙂

Ingredients

8 oz. Pumking spiced ale (or another pumpkin seasonal ale)

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

3 egg yolks

3/4 cup organic cane sugar, divided

1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

1/4 cup Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter* (see notes)

1/4 cup crushed ginger snap cookies (optional)

1 oz. vodka (optional, for texture; this is added during final minute of freezing)

*Notes

If you cannot get your hands on the Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter, I would recommend increasing the puree to 1 cup, and cook it with a couple tablespoons of brown sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice and a teaspoon of pumpkin pie spices. Cook until it’s caramelized and thickened, then refrigerate overnight before adding it to the ice cream. It won’t be exactly the same, but darn close.

This tastes exactly like a frozen scoop of creamy, spicy pumpkin pie.

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Follow the steps and pictures above, or click to download a copy for your recipe files. Please let me know how you like it!


Triple Chocolate Cherry Brownie Bowls

There’s dessert for the sake of a sweet tooth, and then there’s DESSERT, as is the case with this ultra-chocolate-y, cherry-infused brownie bowl, packed with “Cherry Garcia” vanilla ice cream, studded with sweet cherries and dark chocolate chunks. Oh, and I almost forgot, the cherry syrup. Over the top? Obviously! But this was a birthday dessert a few weeks ago for my husband, Les, who is himself a little “over the top” crazy about any and all chocolate and cherry combinations. And for such an occasion, during a year that has given us too much to worry about and not enough to celebrate, I went all in.

Well, almost. I did take one easy shortcut and I’m not ashamed to share my little secret with you—I never make brownies from scratch. I have a favorite box brownie mix that meets all my picky ingredient requirements, so why put forth the effort to make it “as good as” theirs, when they already have a product that is a winner every time? Ghirardelli dark chocolate is my go-to, and though the brownies are terrific as directed on the box, I sometimes can’t help but elevate them with my own “extras” to highlight certain aspects of the brownies’ personality. It’s easier than you might expect.

For these birthday brownie bowls, I’ve substituted cherry juice for the water called for on the package instructions, and I’ve added a tablespoon of dark cocoa powder plus a handful each of chocolate chunks and cut up dried cherries. That’s it. The simplest flavor swaps, resulting in the most decadent dessert my hubby could have ever asked for on his birthday (or any other occasion). Luckily, for our ever-expanding pandemic waistlines, it will be another year before we indulge to this degree. But it was kinda worth it. 🙂

Chocolate, cherries, more chocolate, brownie, cherry sauce. What could possibly go wrong?

These brownies are super-sized and shaped like a bowl, exactly right to hold a generous scoop of ice cream (which I did make from scratch, but don’t feel pressured to do so). The special shape is courtesy of a fancy-schmancy pan I bought from King Arthur Baking Company. At $30, it was a bit of a splurge, but in this most ridiculous year, I’ve been willing to invest a bit more in kitchen gadgets and ingredients to make our home meal experiences more memorable. Mark my word, it’ll pay for itself by the time the holidays get here, because I’m already dreaming up other ideas.

The pan has a no-fail nonstick coating. The brownie bowl holds a perfect scoop of ice cream.

If you’re not feeling the love for a special pan to make bowl-shaped brownies, don’t stress about it. Make the brownies in a regular pan according to the mix instructions. You can still swap in the special flavor ingredients and have a spectacular dessert with minimal effort. Remember, stressed spelled backward = desserts, and I’m all about flipping things around! 🙂


Ingredients & Instructions

1 box of your favorite brownie mix (make according to package instructions, but adjust as noted below)

Substitute equal amount of cherry juice for the suggested amount of water

Add 1 Tbsp. dark cocoa powder to the dry mix (Hershey’s special dark will do, and it’s easy to find)

Add 1/2 cup dried dark cherries, cut into smaller pieces (fold in after mixing)

Add 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks or semi-sweet chocolate chips (fold in after mixing)

Bake as directed on the package, but if you use the King Arthur brownie bowl pan, you’ll want to cut the time in half. My brownies were perfect after 25 minutes.

Fill ‘em up!

Cherry Garcia ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s (or whatever other ice cream rocks your world)

I made my own version of “cherry Garcia,” but we usually purchase the Ben & Jerry’s brand, which is great!

Top ‘em off!

Hot fudge topping, whipped cream, or (if you’re feeling inspired) my quick homemade cherry sauce.

Cherry on top of cherries! This sauce is easy to make and also happens to be excellent on crepes or any kind of ice cream.

Cherry Sauce*:

2 cup frozen dark sweet cherries

2 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. pure vanilla or almond extract (or 1 Tbsp. amaretto liqueur or chocolate liqueur)

1 Tbsp. dark chocolate balsamic vinegar* (optional)

2 Tbsp. corn starch, mixed with 2 Tbsp. ice cold water

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add frozen cherries and sprinkle sugar over the top. Stir and cook until cherries are softened and mixture is reduced and bubbly (about 15 minutes). Add extract or liqueur and stir. Blend corn starch and water until smooth, and slowly drizzle into the cherry sauce, stirring constantly. Allow mixture to come back up to full simmer, and continue to stir as it thickens further. Remove from heat. Use the sauce warm over dessert or keep in refrigerator up to two weeks.

*This time around, I strained the cherries from the sauce because they went into the ice cream. Half of the sauce was drizzled through the ice cream like a ribbon, and the rest was reserved for spooning over the brownie bowls. It was a delicious labor of love!

This one’s for you, my birthday boy! ❤

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Grilled Pineapple-Jalapeno Ice Cream

Inspiration for nearly every original recipe I’ve made comes from my experience with the same combination of ingredients in a different type of dish. For example, I love the balance of flavors in pineapple salsa, especially served up alongside fresh grilled foods in the summertime. So why not take the two key elements of the salsa—pineapple and hot pepper—and cross them over into new territory as a dessert? That’s precisely what I’ve done with this unusual ice cream. Holy. Moly. The distinct jalapeno flavor is subtle throughout, thanks to an infused simple syrup, but it’s definitely the sweetness of the pureed pineapple taking the lead. The creamy ice cream is accentuated even further with pieces of sweet grilled pineapple and the tiny bits of candied jalapeno, left over from the syrup creation.

I love the smooth and creamy texture of a custard-based ice cream, so that’s where this recipe begins. Proper tempering of the egg yolks is key to the outcome, so be patient and watch it closely. If you’re not quite ready for the jalapeno flavor, I’m quite certain the ice cream would be good without it. But if you’re game for a tropical flavor adventure, I promise you won’t be disappointed!


Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2/3 cup sugar, divided

3 egg yolks

Pinch kosher salt

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/8 tsp. Fiori di Sicilia* (optional, but yum)

2 oz. jalapeno simple syrup (recipe below)

1 cup pureed fresh pineapple*

1/2 cup grilled pineapple pieces*

2 Tbsp. candied jalapeno pieces

1 Tbsp. neutral alcohol, such as vodka or light rum* (optional, but improves ice cream texture)

*Notes

Fiori di Sicilia is a unique Italian extract, featuring very concentrated citrus and vanilla flavors. It’s optional in this recipe, but adds a special flair. Look for it in specialty stores or online from King Arthur Flour.

It may be best to puree the pineapple just before freezing the ice cream, to preserve the beautiful fresh color.

Earlier in the week, I had grilled pineapple for our Jamaican Jerk pizzas, and I reserved enough pieces to use for this ice cream. If you like pineapple with bold spicy flavors, you’ll want to circle back and check out those pies!

Grilling the pineapple really elevates its sweetness in a lovely way, but don’t let this be a deal-breaker. If you’re pressed for time, skip the grilling and use fresh pineapple bits or even canned tidbits (but drain them first).

The addition of alcohol is optional, but it helps to improve the texture of the ice cream. I used 1800 coconut-flavored tequila, another nod to the tropical flavors.

Instructions

  1. Stir together milk, heavy cream and about half the sugar over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, and mixture comes to a very slight boil. Reduce heat to lowest setting or turn off burner.
  2. While milk mixture is heating, whisk egg yolks, the remaining sugar and kosher salt until light, fluffy and lemon colored. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed, to ensure all sugar gets incorporated.
  3. Prepare an ice bath to be used for cooling the custard. Place a heat-proof glass bowl over another bowl filled with ice cubes and water. It will be helpful to have this ready when the custard has finished cooking.
  4. Ladle out 1 cup of hot milk mixture into a measuring cup with a pour spout. Temper eggs by slowly drizzling hot milk into the mixing bowl, whisking the entire time. Then, return the egg mixture back to the pot with the remaining hot milk and cream. Simmer on medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until custard retains shape on the back of a spoon.
  5. Remove from heat and pour through a mesh strainer into a bowl over ice water to cool custard. I’ll confess here that I often skip this step when making a custard-based ice cream, but the flame seemed a little hot under my pan this time and I wanted to cool it down quickly before the eggs got any ideas about curdling. Stir in vanilla, Fiori di Sicilia and jalapeno simple syrup. Lay heavy plastic wrap directly onto surface of custard, then cover entire bowl with another layer of plastic or tight-fitting lid. Refrigerate overnight.

Here’s a slideshow to help you visualize the process:

The next day, add pineapple puree to chilled custard just before freezing according to manufacturer’s instructions. After 20 minutes, add grilled pineapple pieces and candied jalapeno pieces for final few minutes of churning, adding vodka or rum in final minute. Transfer ice cream to insulated freezer container and freeze at least four hours to ripen. I know it’s tempting to dive right in for a scoop, but this ice cream will be at its best after an overnight freeze.

Oh my, is that a perfect looking scoop? 🙂

Jalapeno simple syrup

1 cup pure cane sugar

3/4 cup filtered water

2 smallish jalapenos, seeded and diced

Heat sugar and water over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and syrup begins to lightly boil at the edges. Add jalapeno pieces and stir, cooking about 2 minutes at low heat. Turn off heat, cool completely, strain jalapenos (reserve them) and keep syrup in a covered jar in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

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FYI, you will only use 2 oz. of the jalapeno syrup in the ice cream recipe. Save the rest for elevating your tropical flavored cocktails—maybe this Watermelon Jalapeno Mule!

A refreshing taste of summer, perfect for sipping in the backyard.