Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream

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Are you looking for an ice cream with a little twist for summer? Try this grown-up version of the traditional chocolate ice cream, with a fire-ry heat from Cayenne pepper! It uses 2% fat milk and no cream, so it’s a slight healthier version of the popular treat. And you don’t need an ice cream maker to make it.

Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream
(Makes 1 quart)

3 cups milk (I used 2% and it still came out creamy)
3 egg yolks
140 g (5 oz) dark chocolate (I used 70% cacao)
½ cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch of salt

① Heat milk in a saucepan, over low heat. Mix in cocoa powder, chocolate and sugar and stir with a whisk until they dissolve completely. Be careful not to boil the milk.

② In a small bowl (I used a measuring cup), separate the eggs. You’ll only use yolks here. Mix the yolks. Temper by pouring a ladle-full of hot milk into the egg yolks. Once mixed, pour the eggs and milk mixture slowly back into the saucepan and stir. Add vanilla extract and salt. Stir until the mixture thickens (you know you have the right consistency when the mixture thinly coats the spatula).

➂ Remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the mixture into a separate bowl. Set aside for about an hour, covered with plastic wrap, until the mixture cools to room temperature.

④ Once the mixture has cooled, pour it into a one-quart container and put it in a freezer. Take the container out of the freezer every hour, three times, and stir the ice cream. Enjoy!

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I think the bitter chocolates work best for this ice cream. The not-so-sweet lusciousness can stand up to the powerful heat of cayenne pepper. I used the Trader Joe’s chocolates bars that I received as a gift from my friend Mary Lee.

Just to note — because no heavy cream was used, this version doesn’t have the creaminess that you might be accustomed too in ice cream. But it has a really refreshing icy texture that’s simply wonderful. I love cayenne pepper but definitely reduce the amount if you’re not a huge fan of the tingling heat.

Happy June, everyone!

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The Best Ice Cream E-V-E-R: Lavender and Honey

I am hardly ever speechless but the Lavender Honey Ice Cream I made last night left me at a total loss for words. All I can say is that THIS. IS. THE. BEST. ICE. CREAM. I. HAVE. EVER. TASTED. Period. I am not even going to try to describe the flavors or the sense of euphoria I felt after I took the first bite because no words will do this heavenly swirl justice.  It is just, simply, divine.

I highly recommend that you get yourself a copy of David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop immediately, go purchase a lavender plant and a delicious local honey, in addition to the other ingredients this recipe calls for, and make yourself a quart of this ice cream in your kitchen … NOW (you can find the recipe online but this book is so worth every penny)! Don’t let the fact that you don’t own an ice cream maker stop you from trying this out, if that’s the case for you. You can simply freeze the mixture and enjoy it like a regular ice cream after a day or so. The mixture is soft enough that you can scoop it like a regular ice cream. Or better yet, just inject it directly to your vein.  That’s even better.

This ice cream is definitely best when paired with the movie, “It’s Complicated.” (If you haven’t already noticed, I am obsessed with this flick.) If you remember, this is the ice cream that Meryl Streep‘s character, Jane, makes when she can’t sleep.  This recipe is so amazing, it too might keep you up all night.

Homemade Challenge: Strawberry Ice Cream

I respect people who live life proactively. When I see people who live frugally even when money is not an issue, or caring for their bodies even before they become sick, I can’t help but to be inspired by their commitment. I watched an episode of Oprah this afternoon where she introduced some of the most unapologetically resourceful people in the country – from a family who cooks up an entire dinner for six for only $4, to a group of people called Freegans who search through dumpsters for food as a way to protest against consumerism. I still think searching through trash cans for your next meal is pretty extreme but it did make me think about how little we really need to sustain a decent and even richer and more meaningful living. The Thriftiest Family in America, as Oprah called them, said that the key to saving money is in the planning and truly understanding where your money is going. This is not an earth-shattering revelation of any sort and many financial experts have been preaching the same idea for years but it means more coming from people who live this every single day.

As a challenge, I decided to cut down on dining out cost and eat as much at home as possible for the month of August and see how much I can save in one month. The motto for next month is:  if I want to eat it, I need to make it! With that said, I am thankful that I am already a proud owner of Kitchenaid ice cream attachment so I can make myself homemade ice cream and frozen yogurt to survive the Skinny Cow– and Pinkberry-free month.

I purchased the attachment a few weeks ago and have made several batches with wonderful successes, my ultimate favorite being the rich and heavenly Chocolate Ice Cream from David Lebovitz’s book, The Perfect Scoop. I love all the recipes in the book but I was surprise to find that he didn’t include a good old-fashioned strawberry ice cream recipe! There are several recipes for frozen yogurt and other berry-inspired swirls but I had to go elsewhere to find one this time because I really wanted to make his favorite strawberry ice cream for my boyfriend’s birthday! After going through several recipes online, I came across this one by Gourmet and decided to give it a try. I changed some things up, like substituting white sugar with Turbinado brown sugar and heavy cream with regular whole milk, and added a several teaspoons of vanilla, but the result is a yummy, refreshing, wholesome all-natural ice cream!

Strawberry Ice Cream
Inspired by Gourmet, June 2001 with slight modification
Makes about 5 cups (Fits perfectly in a 32 oz container)

1-3/4 cups milk
3 (3- by 1-inch) strips fresh lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1-3/4 cup Turbinado brown sugar
1 lb strawberries, trimmed and cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

(Instruction taken directly from Gourmet)

Combine cream, zest, and salt in a heavy saucepan and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat and discard zest. Whisk eggs with 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl, then add hot cream in a slow stream, whisking. Pour back into saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened and an instant-read thermometer registers 170°F.

Immediately pour custard through a fine sieve into a metal bowl, then cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Chill, covered, at least until cold, about 2 hours, and up to 1 day.  While custard is chilling, purée strawberries with remaining 1/4 cup sugar and lemon juice in a blender until smooth, then force through fine sieve (to remove seeds) into chilled custard. Stir purée into custard.

Freeze in ice-cream maker, then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden.