London Fog Ice Cream

[Welcome to July AKA National Ice Cream Month! To celebrate, each Friday I will be posting a new delicious ice cream flavor alongside my regularly scheduled posts. Hope you enjoy the series!]

Ten years ago (wow time flies) whilst gallivanting around London with a few high school friends, one of them introduced me to what has remained a favorite of mine ever since. Called a London Fog, it’s comprised of steamed milk, vanilla, and Earl Gray tea. Warm and caffeinated without being overly sweet, it’s one of my go-to treat beverages during the winter months.

It’s not even vaguely chilly outside, but I bribed a friend into watering my garden during a recent vacation with promises of homemade ice cream and she requested I attempt an Earl Gray version (as well as maple chipotle). Given my love of the London Fog I had no qualms about doing so and set off to make it happen. After a stop at our local Townshend’s Tea House for some loose leaf tea, I was pretty much set to give it a whirl. I chose to use loose leaf tea because it is not only typically much better quality, but it infuses into thicker liquids (i.e. milk) much better than bags do. You can certainly try a bagged tea if you really want, but I highly recommend splurging here if you can.

This is one of those flavors that worked beautifully the first time I tried, basically following my usual method for infused ice creams, like the coffee and lavender from years past. The wonderful and cozy flavor of Earl Gray works just as well in chilled dessert as it does in a warm beverage, and makes it much easier to enjoy during this 90*F nonsense we’ve been having. A dash of vanilla adds a mellow touch and, in my opinion, balances the tea nicely with the cream.

 

I like my flavors quite strong so I used a full half-cup of tea and let it infuse in the fridge overnight. It is critical to heat the milk before adding the tea, as the cold-brew method doesn’t quite work here, but it doesn’t take too long to heat some milk on the stove. If you prefer a milder flavor, you can use less tea or steep it for less time (or both). However, keep in mind it will be a bit more mild after churning than straight out of the fridge, since the volume of the ice cream is much larger.

This ice cream is a perfect way to bring a favorite cold-weather beverage into a warm-weather dessert. I enjoyed it plain, but for a little flair it’d be delightful with a shortbread cookie topping.

 

London Fog Ice Cream 

Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cups egg substitute (optional)
3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups whole or 2% milk
1/3 – 1/2 cup loose-leaf Earl Grey tea

1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together cream, egg substitute (if using) and sugar. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat milk on medium until it just starts to simmer, then remove from heat. Add tea to the milk and allow it to steep for about 30 minutes.
  3. Slowly stream into cream mixture, whisking constantly (leave the tea in!)
  4. Cover and chill in the refrigerator completely, or overnight.
  5. Whisk in vanilla, then strain mixture with a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the tea to extract as much milk as possible.
  6. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions
  7. Place in a cold freezer-safe bowl to freeze until firm, or overnight.
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Chocolate Merlot Ice Cream

[Welcome to July AKA National Ice Cream Month! To celebrate, each Friday I will be posting a new delicious ice cream flavor alongside my regularly scheduled posts. Hope you enjoy the series!]

Despite not regularly imbibing in day-to-day life, alcoholic ice creams are typically some of my favorite concoctions. Having experimented with Baileys, Kahlúa, beer, and champagne, this year seemed like a red wine was in order. Although for drinking purposes I don’t stray far from the sweet white delight of a Riesling or Pinot Grigio, I enjoy reds for adding complexity to desserts and entrées alike.

Several years ago I tasted a dark chocolate red wine fudge that was just fantastic. Rich and chocolatey with just the right balance of red wine flavor, it didn’t slam you in the face with the alcohol, but just enhanced the whole chocolate experience. I kept this in mind as my flavor goal and set off to create the chocolate wine dessert of my dreams.

For Christmas my mom gave me Molly Moon’s ice cream recipe book, with the idea that even if I didn’t use exact recipes it would likely spark ideas and give guidance to my own creations. It is a delightful book even just to read, equally filled with traditional flavors as it is more exotic combinations. Their melted chocolate ice cream seemed like the perfect starting point for my newest creation, and it does not disappoint.

High quality dark chocolate bars melted into a pretty standard cream base results in a velvety smooth and rich chocolate experience. It’s worth it to splurge for the fancy chocolate bars instead of the standard Hershey’s. The chocolate will not only have a more decadent flavor, but it will be easier to find a truly dark chocolate with 70-75% cacao. Quality chocolate also has fewer additives and will melt much more smoothly, for a creamier texture in the final product. As an added bonus, you’ll likely be supporting a smaller Fair Trade farm which is always a good idea in my book.

To supplement the chocolate, I chose a Barefoot Merlot. Since I know approximately nothing about red wine, and don’t care for it in its standalone form, it can be challenging to choose a product. If you have a favorite red, go with that. If, like me, you’re not a red wine aficionado, go with one that describes a chocolate note or pairing on the back. After being reduced on the stove and mixed in with a quality chocolate, even a fairly inexpensive red wine will do just fine here.

Velvety smooth and with a light alcoholic bite, this flavor is sure to please any chocolate or wine lover. The wine flavor is not overpowering, and doesn’t slam you in the taste buds, but somewhat slowly grows with each bite. A small serving would be the perfect end to a dinner party, be it anywhere from casual to cocktail.

Chocolate Merlot Ice Cream 

Adapted from Molly Moon
Makes ~6 cups

Ingredients

1 bottle (3-4 cups) dry red wine (I used a Merlot)

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar

6 oz dark (~70%) chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan, gently heat wine at a light simmer until reduced to 1/4 the original amount (3/4 – 1 cup). Let cool on the counter or chill in the fridge at least 10 minutes or until ready to use. (This is a slow process; set aside at least 30 minutes and feel free to do it ahead of time.)
  3. Meanwhile in a medium saucepan, heat half and half, whipping cream, and sugar until sugar is dissolved and mixture is just coming to a simmer.
  4. Pour over chocolate and whisk vigorously until smooth.
  5. Slowly stream in wine reduction (especially if it’s still a bit warm), whisking constantly.
  6. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator completely, or overnight.
  7. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions, then place in a cold freezer-safe bowl to freeze for an additional three hours, or overnight.
  8. Enjoy solo or with a fudgy dark chocolate brownie for an extra decadent dessert.

Blueberry Lavender Ice Cream

[Welcome to July AKA National Ice Cream Month! To celebrate, each Friday I will be posting a new delicious ice cream flavor alongside my regularly scheduled posts. Hope you enjoy the series!]

Each summer in Bozeman there is a weeknight Farmers’ Market just a few blocks from my work. If I remember, I love cruising through to see the array of fresh produce, baked goods, artisan jewelry, and local craftsmen from the area. One of my favorite things is the abundance of jam flavors, everything from the standard mixed berries to the more unusual sweet and spicy concoctions.

Last summer I discovered a delightful blueberry lavender jam that I just fell in love with. Bursting with blueberry and complimented by the lightness of lavender, it’s a flavor profile that is excellent on toast or a scone, but also escalates your standard PB&J into something a bit more exciting. Given its huge success in jam form, I decided it’d be an excellent combination as one of this year’s ice cream flavors.

I combined the ideas from my favorite blueberry sauce and my lavender ice cream from two years ago into one glorious experience. The syrup is excellent on its own and in a thickened form2 would be delicious for pancakes or waffles. Mixed into the ice cream it’s lighter in taste than some of your more traditional flavors (although the nutritional information looks no different.)

This is a fantastic summer flavor and works well with both fresh or frozen blueberries, whichever you have on hand. It’s also a great way to use up last year’s berries to make room for the new crop. Summery blueberry and fragrant lavender is a combination of which I will never tire,  and I encourage you to give it a try. As an added bonus, the ice cream is a beautiful swirled reddish-purple and adds lovely color to your dessert table. If you’re a cake and ice cream person, I’d recommend a light vanilla bean cake to pair it with.

Give this one a try and be sure to come back next week!

Blueberry Lavender Ice Cream 

Makes 6-7 cups

Ingredients

Blueberry Lavender Syrup
2 cups blueberries (if frozen, thaw and drain before using)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp culinary lavender

Ice cream
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup sugar

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine blueberries, water, 1/4 cup sugar, and lemon juice. Bring to a light boil and heat for an addition 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and mashing blueberries to release more flavor.
  2. Meanwhile, gently crush the lavender buds with a spoon (or a mortar and pestle, if you’re fancier than I am).
  3. Remove blueberry sauce from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the berries. Stir lavender into the syrup and allow to steep for about 30 minutes.
  4. Strain syrup through the sieve again, then store in the fridge until chilled or ready to use.2
  5. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together cream, half and half, egg substitute, and 1/2 cup sugar.
  6. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator until completely chilled, or overnight.
  7. Reserve 1/2 cup of blueberry lavender syrup, and whisk 1 – 1.5 cups into the ice cream mixture.
  8. Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s directions. During the last minutes of churn time, stream in the reserved syrup for a marbled effect.
  9. Transfer ice cream to a cold freezer-safe bowl to freeze for an additional three hours, or overnight.
  10. Excellent solo or with extra syrup.

Notes

You can discard the berries or store in the fridge to use as an ice cream topping. I also used some in oatmeal and smoothies which were both excellent.

If you are making the syrup specifically as a topping, you could stir in some cornstarch (mixed with water). Return to a boil for a few minutes to thicken the consistency of the syrup. Add the berries back in for a chunkier sauce if you like.

Cinnamon Rolls

Has winter hit your neck of the woods? It definitely hit Montana and it’s snowy and beautiful outside. I don’t know about you, but cold weather always instills a craving for cozy foods like soup and pot roast, hot chocolate and gingersnaps, oatmeal or waffles.

Cinnamon Rolls {{Baking Bytes}

Although working with yeast is rare for me, a few weeks ago I decided to make a batch of cinnamon rolls from scratch. Cinnamon rolls are one of my favorite decadent treats, and it’s a good thing they are such a time-consuming endeavor or I’d probably make them a lot more often. I am very particular about cinnamon rolls, and don’t often even buy them for this reason. They must be soft both inside and out, heavy on the cinnamon and light on the frosting; a thin glaze is even better. I am not one for heavy frosting on much of anything, but I absolutely feel a quality cinnamon roll doesn’t need to hide beneath cream cheese and butter.

Cinnamon Rolls {{Baking Bytes}

A few years ago when my parents came to visit for Thanksgiving, my mom and I made this cinnamon roll recipe. It’s everything a cinnamon roll should be, with the light flavoring of oatmeal which I find to be a wonderful addition. Like most yeast recipes, this one takes a few hours from start to finish, although most of that is waiting around for the dough to rise.

Cinnamon Rolls {{Baking Bytes}

Nonetheless they result in pillowy rolls perfect for a cozy winter morning. Full of cinnamon and drizzled with a light glaze, they feel a little lighter than your average out-of-the-can variety, and the gentle oatmeal flavor is unique but delicious. Served with some savory options like scrambled eggs or sausage, these would be perfect for Christmas breakfast to treat the family this year.

Cinnamon Rolls {{Baking Bytes}

If you’re appalled at the idea of waking up *even earlier* Christmas morning just to make cinnamon rolls, never fear. I am definitely not suggesting you make a hectic morning even more so, but encouraging you to make these ahead for a simple breakfast that can bake while you open presents.

Since it’s rare that I have a need for 12 large cinnamon rolls, I opted instead to cut my batch into 18 slightly smaller ones. I baked one set right away (because, yum) and put the remainder in the freezer. A couple of weeks later, I pulled them out, shoved them into a pan (with some difficulty; more on that later), and after letting them rise overnight, baked them up fresh in the morning with no more work than preheating the oven. All the delight with little of the work.

Cinnamon Rolls {{Baking Bytes}

You could make these up anytime between now and Christmas and pop them in the freezer until you’re ready for them, which is great for anyone that feels the holidays get even more hectic as the actual day draws near. If you go the freezer route, I highly recommend using disposable pans and freezing the rolls in the pan. Although it’ll take a little bit more space in your freezer, it means less work once you’re ready to bake them. In their frozen state I had quite the time getting them squeezed into a pan, and this effort can be easily avoided by just freezing them that way. If, like me, you try to avoid using disposable things when possible, or just always forget to buy them, you can line the pan you’d normally use with plastic wrap, place your rolls inside, and freeze the whole thing till the rolls are hard. Then you can remove them from the pan, wrap tightly in the plastic and put in a Ziploc, and still have your dish available for using.

Cinnamon Rolls {{Baking Bytes}

Splitting the batch into two pans of nine not only gives you a freezer batch ready for another day, but also results in slightly smaller rolls that are great for portion control or to be served alongside heartier additions. The next time you’re feeling up to a little kitchen challenge, make these rolls. I’m sure you and your family will love them. If you have leftovers, store them covered on the counter. The rolls are great reheated in the microwave for about 20 seconds, just enough to warm them up.

Oatmeal Cinnamon Roll

Adapted from SparkRecipes
Makes 12 or 18 rolls

Ingredients

Dough
1 packet yeast
1 cup warm water, 105 – 115 degrees

1 cup milk, warmed
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
3/4 tsp salt

3-4 cups white bread flour
1 cup whole wheat bread flour (or wheat all-purpose)
1 cup old-fashioned oats, ground fine in a blender

Filling
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp milk

Directions

  1. Run the bowl of your stand mixer under hot water for one minute, or until the bowl feels warm.
  2. Add yeast to the bowl then gently pour in the warm water to dissolve. Let rest 10 minutes, or until foamed.
  3. Stir in milk, butter, sugar, egg, and salt (I do this by hand).
  4. Add wheat flour, oatmeal flour, and 3 cups of bread flour to the bowl. Using the dough hook, mix until well incorporated.
  5. If necessary, add more flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. It will still be sticky. (I used a total of 3.75 cups of bread flour.)
  6. Cover bowl and let rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.1 
  7. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.
  8. Butter or spray one 9×13″ pan (for 12 large rolls) or two 8×8″ pans (for 18 medium rolls). Set aside.
  9. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  10. On a floured surface, roll the dough into an 18×15″ rectangle. (I sometimes make mine slightly wider than 18″ so I can cut off the ends for more even rolls, but it’s not necessary.)
  11. Brush dough with melted butter, leaving one inch of a long edge clear.
  12. Spread sugar mixture evenly over the butter.
  13. As tightly as you can, roll up the long side so you end up with an 18″ cylinder.
  14. Reshape if necessary, then use unflavored dental floss or a very sharp knife to cut into 12 or 18 slices, then place in your pans. (Freezer option: see notes2)
  15. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and the center is 190 degrees Fahrenheit. (I highly recommend using an instant read thermometer for this!) If necessary, cover outer rolls with foil for the last 5 minutes, or until center rolls are done, to prevent excessive browning.
  16. Whisk together sugar, vanilla, and milk until smooth, then drizzle over hot rolls. Serve warm!

Notes

My favorite method for getting dough to rise consistently: Microwave a mug of water for 2.5 minutes. Move the mug to the corner of the microwave, add your bowl or pan of dough, shut the door, and let rise as usual. This keeps the dough warm and humid even if the rest of your house is cold or drafty. If you do this for both stages of rising, use new water each time to avoid super-heating it and having it explode.

Freezer option: Cut log into 18 slices. Either place 9 each into greased 8×8″ disposable pans (recommended) or set them onto a cookie sheet. Freeze until solid, then wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place into a Ziploc bag.
To bake: Remove rolls from freezer and unwrap completely. Place into a greased pan if they aren’t already, then cover with a thin dish towel and let rise overnight (at least 8 hours). Bake until center reaches 190 degrees Fahrenheit, about 30 minutes. You may need to cover the rolls for the last 10 minutes to prevent over-browning while the center cooks through.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

For years and years I’ve used the pumpkin pie recipe found on the Libby’s cans of pumpkin puree. It always turned out consistently delicious so I never really thought to try another recipe.

This was a mistake.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

Last year my mom linked me this recipe and was like “make this immediately and ditch the usual recipe.” She was quite right! This pumpkin pie is amazingly dense, superbly flavorful, and has zero of that occasionally slightly watery texture I sometimes noticed with the Libby recipe. I don’t often use qualifiers like “best” or “perfect” in my recipes, but trust me when I say Sally definitely figured this one out.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

Deliciously creamy and superbly spiced, this is sure to be your new favorite pumpkin pie recipe and a go-to staple for the upcoming holidays. M is not much of a pumpkin fan, so I’m looking forward to having this whole pie to myself over the upcoming holiday weekend. Don’t worry, I’ll make him a pie he can enjoy too; I’m not a complete monster.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

This is a rich pie but very smooth, and goes best with homemade whipped cream and an extra sprinkle of cinnamon. I like my pumpkin pie cold, but it was also excellent at room temperature if that is your preference. Like every pumpkin pie, it works just as well for breakfast as it does for dessert, and I’m sure after your first piece you’ll already be planning your second.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

It does require some overnight chilling, so make sure you plan your Thanksgiving preparations accordingly. This pie could easily be started Tuesday and finished Wednesday, leaving Thursday free for the items that can’t be made ahead. As long as you have fridge space (or a cold garage) you are good to go. I will say that if you are planning to add the pie crust cutouts (which are super easy and really fun), you should wait until just before serving to do so in order to avoid sogginess.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie {{Baking Bytes}}

Try out your new favorite pumpkin pie recipe this year, and don’t forget to thank Sally.

Perfect Pumpkin Pie

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes one deep-dish pie

Ingredients

pastry for a double-crust pie (see below)

15 oz pumpkin puree
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups lightly packed dark brown sugar (light works great too)

1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
dash of ground cloves
dash of ground pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk

Directions

  1. The night before: in a large bowl whisk pumpkin, eggs, and brown sugar until completely combined. Add cornstarch, salt, spices, cream, and milk, and whisk until combined. Cover and chill in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. The next day: if you haven’t already, prepare your favorite pie dough, or use the recipe linked above. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Roll out slightly more than half the dough and gently place into your pie plate. Trim edges to about 1″ then fold over and crimp as desired. Optionally, sprinkle edges of pie crust with cinnamon and sugar.
  4. Briefly whisk filling then pour carefully into the prepared pie plate. If you have extra filling, you can bake it separately in a glass dish (no crust necessary) next to the pie.
  5. Optional: With remaining pie dough, roll out to about 1/8″ thick (or slightly thicker) and cut leaves or other designs. Place on a lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
  6. Bake leaves for about 20 minutes, they should be golden in color. Remove from oven and set aside.
  7. Bake pie for one hour. Pie should still be jiggly in the middle but look solid otherwise. To avoid cracking, turn off the oven and open the door but leave the pie in there while it cools down a little. Once it has settled (hopefully without cracks), move it to the counter to cool completely, at least four hours. I prefer pumpkin pie cold, so I placed mine in the fridge after two hours.
  8. Just before serving, decorate with pie crust shapes. (Eat any extra shapes, or serve them in a small bowl next to the pie). Top slices with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Refrigerate leftovers.

No-Fail Pie Crust

Makes 2 deep-dish pie crusts

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup + 1 Tbsp shortening
5-7 Tbsp ice water

Directions

  1. Measure shortening into a small bowl and place in freezer for 15-20 minutes. Pour water and a few ice cubes into a bowl or cup and set aside. (I typically pour 8 oz of water and then use what I need.)
  2. Mix flour and salt in a larger bowl. Using a pastry blender (or two table knives), cut in the chilled shortening until the pieces are pea-sized.
  3. One tablespoon at a time, add water into mixture and gently mix with your pastry blender (or knives). Repeat until all is moistened and the dough will stick together as one ball, about 6 tablespoons. Divide dough in half and gently roll each half into a ball.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, gently flatten one ball of dough into a disc. Gently roll into a circle large enough for your pie plate. Transfer dough to pie plate, and trim to a half-inch larger than the rim. Fold pastry under itself and crimp, if desired.
  5. Roll out second ball of dough for a second pie, or cut into strips or decorations as desired.