I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream

A friend of mine’s recent Facebook status aked, “Ice cream is an acceptable dinner, isn’t it?” I responded in the affirmative and added that it can make for a great breakfast too.  While my answer was a little tongue in cheek, I have to admit that I am guilty of this simple pleasure: one July I spent a week in Rome and found that several of the fruit flavoured gelatos made an excellent early morning treat as the heat began to rise.

Ice cream flavours(Photo: Wanderlust and Lipstick)

I know that I’m not alone in my obsession with ice cream. According to the National Geographic Explorer, the United States produces 1.6 billion gallons of frozen desserts each year, exporting 40 million gallons to other countries (with Japan being the most popular destination). We keep the rest to enjoy ourselves, spending $20 billion annually on icy treats.

Jeni's Splendid ice creams(Some of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams Photo: As Ink Remains)

No longer content with traditional flavours, artisan scoop shops that boast rosters of unusual and exotic combinations have opened up all over North America. One of the pioneers in this growing trend is Jeni Britton Bauer who runs Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, Ohio. Her seasonal offerings, like Juniper Lemon Curd and Goat Cheese with Red Cherries, actually have me considering the eight-hour roundtrip drive. Fortunately, for those who live further away (and aren’t willing to pay $50 for the four pint delivery), Britton Bauer has published a book with over 100 of her splendid flavours. I recently picked up a copy and can’t wait to try such whimsical delights as Orange Blossom Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Freckles.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream at Home

(Photo: Simply Stated)

Another ice cream guru for the home cook is David Lebovitz. I adore his blog, which intersperses tales of his enviable life in Paris with truly delectable recipes. A former pastry chef at Alice Water’s Chez Panisse, Lebovitz is famous for his desserts, many of which are of the frozen variety. His blog offers several recipes including one for a refreshing Red Grapefruit Campari Sorbet that would make an excellent end to a summer dinner party.

Grapefruit Campari Sorbet(Grapefruit Campari Sorbet; Photos: David Lebovitz)

In addition to the recipes on his blog, Lebovitz has also published a tome dedicated to cool treats: The Perfect Scoop. What I like about this book is that it includes recipes that don’t require an ice cream maker, including one for a Strawberry Granita that might be the destination of the last of my hand-picked berries.

Strawberry Granita by David Lebovitz(Strawberry Granita; Photo: David Lebovitz)

Personally, I see the ice cream maker as an essential kitchen appliance (and this is coming from a girl without a toaster). If you are in the market for one, I recommend reading The Kitchn’s review of five different models to make sure which one is best for you.

Mexican style Paletas(Photo: Wendalicious)

But don’t fret if you don’t have the money or the space to splash out on one. In addition to recipes for machine-less versions like Stone Soup’s Creamy Lemon Ice Cream, granitas and homemade popsicles make great treats. I especially love the fresh fruit-filled Mexican style paletas.

homemade popcicles(Photo: Wall Street Journal)

The best thing about making your own popsicles is knowing that they have more nutritional value than the frozen sugar water sold in supermarkets. And no store I shop at has exotic flavours like Pineapple Chile or Cucumber, Elderflower, and Tequila. Olé!

Zoku Quick Pop Maker(Photo: William Sonoma)

You can go old-school with your popsicles, freezing the mixture in Dixie cups with wooden sticks or you can go high tech with a Zoku Quick Pop Maker. At $50 it isn’t cheap, especially considering it only makes three popsicles at a time; however, you can’t beat it if you are looking for almost instant gratification: popsicles freeze in as little as seven minutes and three batches can be made before the base needs to be refrozen.

When the mercury rises this summer I hope you take a walk on the wild side a try a few of these exotic homemade frozen treats!

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