There are two kinds of people in this world – those who love ice-cream and those who don’t.
I am firmly in the former camp. For as long as I can remember, ice-cream has been one of my very best favorite treats (second only to cookies).
And let’s be clear – when I say ice-cream, I mean ice-cream. Hard ice-cream. Not soft-serve. Not frozen custard. Not frozen yogurt. Not gelato (although I have learned to appreciate that as a dessert in it’s own right). Not sherbet. Not ice milk. Not frozen treats. I like my ice-cream to be rich and creamy, but I definitely want the kind you have to scoop.
And while we are on the topic of what qualifies as ice-cream, let me also say I only eat “real” ice-cream. By that I mean no fat-free or low-fat options for me. No sugar-free or dairy-free varieties here. Ice-cream is meant to be a treat and I would much rather have a small dish of the real deal every once in a while, then a big bowl of some imposter.
In fact, my love of ice-cream is probably the one reason I could not be vegan. True – the cheese would be hard, especially since I can’t use any nut products in our house, but I think in time I could learn to deal with that. But giving up ice-cream forever, I just don’t think that’s in the cards. And while I’ve never tried cashew-milk or almond-milk varieties (remember no nuts in this house), I couldn’t even get past the 25 ingredients listed on the container of soy milk ice-cream I picked up in the grocery store. I know there are people who cannot eat dairy and my heart breaks for them. And I know there are many people whose convictions are stronger than mine. And I admire them. But I am just not ready to give me up ice-cream yet (or probably ever).
As a child my favorite ice-cream place was Friendly’s. I dreamed about visits to Friendly’s. In fact, my favorite meal was a Friendly Frank and fries, a simple dinner that left plenty of room for ice-cream, usually a Happy Ending Sundae with mint chocolate chip ice-cream and hot fudge. Mmmmmm!
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not romanticizing this diner. The service was often abysmal. It could take two hours to get a sandwich and a sundae. The food was mediocre and definitely not healthy, the restaurant was, how shall we say, not the cleanest, and the staff was rude.
I’ve definitely been to much cuter, quainter, and, frankly better, ice-cream parlors all up and down the east coast. In fact, I could probably name my top ten – including a recent discovery, the Island Creamery on Chincoteague Island, Virginia. But Friendly’s will always have a soft spot in my heart. It was a five minute drive from home and the place we went for celebrations big and small. It was where I had an ice-cream cone between getting my left and right ears pierced, where I went on my first date, the first place I drove after getting my drivers’ license and where we all met up to say goodbye before leaving for college.
Even though I moved away from my home town many, many years ago Friendly’s remained a family tradition whenever we visited. I’m glad my children got to know the happiness of a Friendly’s Sundae before Friendly’s closed up shop.
I am fortunate to live in a town with not one, but two, excellent ice-cream options. Both are chains, and neither have indoor seating – if I were ever to open a restaurant it would probably be a combination coffee shop and ice-cream parlor – but they offer a ton of flavors, including seasonal varieties, and the ice-cream is delicious.
In addition, even the grocery store stocks a number of tasty and quality ice-cream options and if you look hard enough you can usually find a good option with only five or six real ingredients.
But, in my humble opinion, the best ice-cream, like most foods, is made at home.
I haven’t ever posted an ice-cream recipe before for a couple of reasons. The first is that this is a “specialized” recipe in that you need an ice-cream maker to make it. If you search homemade ice-cream recipes on the Internet you will come up with a ton of recipes for ice-cream that don’t require an ice-cream maker, but I have never tried any of those. The only ice cream I have ever made is wit my Cuisinart ice-cream maker.
The second reason is that as much as we love homemade ice-cream, we don’t make it all that often. Despite the fact that it only takes five minutes to throw this recipe together and the ice-cream maker does all the work it’s not something that we do regularly. I think this is in part because although the recipe is easy, you do have to plan ahead. My ice-cream maker takes about 45 to fully churn the ice-cream. And then it needs to set in the freezer for at least 3 hours, unless you want ice cream soup. And, my ice cream maker makes a pretty small batch of ice-cream. We don’t do large servings in this house and yet we are lucky to get 8 servings of fresh ice-cream. So, if you wanted to make ice-cream for a party you’d have to start days in advance.
But then when we do taste the homemade ice-cream – so fresh, so creamy, so velvety smooth – we vow to make it a regular part of our menu. I’ll have to let you know if that happens.
Last nigh we made some mint chocolate chip ice-cream. It was our first batch all summer and it was amazing.
To make this recipe you start by combing some milk, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla and peppermint extract (try the homemade version) in a large bowl. Once those ingredients are combined you pour the liquid into the frozen bowl of your ice-cream maker, insert the paddle and turn it on. I set a timer for 40 minutes, then I add 1 cup of mini dark chocolate chips and allow the ice-cream to continue churning for about 5 more minutes. At that point, I carefully transfer the ice-cream to a freezer safe container and pop it in the freezer for at least 3 hours.
Mint chocolate chip ice-cream is delicious served by itself – in a cone or a dish. As the base for delicious ice-cream pie. Or as part of an amazing dessert – like this brownie mint sundae. However you enjoy it, I promise you won’t be disappointed.