Friday, March 30, 2007

all about ice cream

A few weeks ago I went to Dairy Queen for dessert after my SIL's birthday party. I decided I may as well go all out and ordered the brownie mudslide something or other, not expecting to finish it, but thinking to enjoy a taste. I ended up throwing almost all of it out. The brownies didn't even taste like chocolate, more like corn syrup, ditto on the chocolate sauce. I was disappointed, but I also realize that I've been spoiled in the ice cream department. So here for your enjoyment this weekend are several ways to top your ice cream that you can make at home, simply, and are full of REAL FOOD.

My husband is a creative dessert genius so many of these are his specialties. He consistently makes blackberries taste better than anyone else I have known.

Blackberry Ginger Sauce

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan place:

12 oz of blackberries fresh or frozen. (One bag of frozen berries from Trader Joe's is the perfect size)

1/2 cup of honey

2-3 tsp minced ginger

Simmer over medium heat stirring occasionally. The berries will start to break down and turn into a syrup. It is quite alright if it is lumpy. Spoon over good quality vanilla ice cream and eat immediately. Any leftover can be stored in a jar in the fridge and keeps for at least two weeks. (It's never lasted longer than that around here so I don't know past that.)

If it's not sweet enough for you, add some more honey.

Raspberry Sauce

Repeat the steps above only leave out the ginger. Feel free to add cinnamon, to help your blood sugar stay stable. Remember, you are pouring this over sweet ice cream, so it doesn't have to be all that sweet itself, go for a nice balance once the two are combined. You can go on and do this with strawberries, I recommend less honey, and blueberries, and Saskatoons (but only if you are in Canada or somewhere far enough north to pick them.) You get the general idea.

My mother used to make home made chocolate sauce all the time when I was growing up. I've adapted her recipe somewhat as she added more sugar than I like.

Hot Fudge Sauce

In a double boiler melt some dark or bittersweet chocolate, once the chocolate has melted stir in cream until it is of a runny enough consistency to pour, or dollop over ice cream. Be careful not to over heat it or work it as it will become grainy. It will harden once on the ice cream and make a sort of crackle shell.

This will also keep in the fridge indefinitely but will need to be warmed again to reserve.

For less expensive versions of this you can start with butter and icing sugar and add cocoa powder and cream until it is smooth and fudgy. Or you can start with baker's chocolate and add sugar and cream. In both of these options you are in complete control of the sugar content, remember it is going with something already sweet. Serve it alone, or add strawberries, bananas, peanuts, etc. and make your own ice cream creations.

Finally we come to caramel sauce. There is a creamery in Bakersfield California that makes the best Caramel sauce I have ever tasted, it's called Rosemarie's and they also make their own ice cream. But since I don't live there and have only stopped through a few times on road trips, we have attempted to make our own, and it's as good I think. Caramel is really just caramelized sugar and butter. I've never tried to make it from scratch completely because real caramel is easy to find. So I start with caramels and a double boiler. Melt the caramels in the double boiler, add a bit more butter (unsalted) for a runnier consistency, and stir in a lot of cinnamon.
WARNING: This is highly addictive and you with find yourself wanting to lick the spoon, your fingers and anything else that gets some on it. This can be poured into a jar while warm and keeps in the cupboard indefinitely. It also needs to be reheated before you can pour it again.

So, if you plan to indulge this weekend, try some of these. They taste way better than anything you can find at the store, I promise. One final word about ice cream. Don't get the yucky fake stuff just because it's cheaper, there's a reason for it being cheaper, get some good quality ice cream and enjoy less of it, you don't need extra servings anyway. If the ingredients contain something other than milk, cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla, chocolate, or other natural flavors, especially if they have added oil, do not buy it. Brands that I can recommend are the Breyer's Original, (Not the new and improved creamy kind, it's not an improvement at all and not all natural anymore.) and Double Rainbow Vanilla and Chocolate Fudge available at Trader Joe's.

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