Ice Cream Dreams


I do believe we’re all kids at heart, to some extent. Hence, my inner child still gets giddy in amusement parks and when receiving Christmas gifts. I’m not ashamed to admit it. As far as food goes, I’m sometimes tempted to order from the kids’ menu. They won’t let me, though. So I’m thrilled when a host serves me a chicken fingers and fries. Even pasta with mini meatballs! And when it’s time for dessert, I can still be heard screaming for ice cream.

Picture it, Brooklyn 1966. I’m playing stickball in the streets, and the ice cream truck’s jingle can be heard from two blocks away. “Ma,” I scream, “it’s here!” That’s all I have to say. She comes to the front door, hands me some change (back then, that’s all you needed) and in a few moments I’m in heaven with a double cone, one side vanilla, the other chocolate, both covered in multi-colored sprinkles. Didn’t take much to make me happy back then. Still the case now.

Ice cream can be enjoyed in so many different ways. Out of tub, ready to be scooped in a large bowl – or just eaten with spoon in hand in front of late night TV. Soft serve, swirled in a cup or cone (I now prefer the harder sugar cones). Sandwiched between chocolaty wafers or, better yet, giant chocolate chip cookies. Or at a gelato shoppe, pressed between two pizzelles (sort of flat Italian waffles). Speaking of gelato, have you tried the olive oil variety? You’ll find it every once in a while at Bomboloni in NYC, on Columbus Avenue and 69th Street. Sounds strange, but man, it’s outrageous. Ultra smooth and rich.

and very, very Italian. Speaks to my inner core.

I’ve been known to create strange concoctions with ice cream. Well, strange to my mother, that is. For instance, I like to add salted peanuts to my bowl of vanilla. A drizzling of fudge syrup and, as we say in Brooklyn, “Who’s better than me?” I’ll sometimes sprinkle cinnamon and cayenne on chocolate ice cream. The contrast of cold cream and hot spice is fascinating to me. Ever mix crushed pretzels and potato chips in your ice cream Sunday? Eat it fast, before the chips and pretzels get soggy.

Well, I can be a traditionalist as well. Banana Splits are favorite weekend treats in my home. Nuts in syrup, chocolate sauce, mini marshmallows, whipped cream…you name it. Always with the cherry on top, of course. I’ll do a Baked Alaska every once in a while. Even ice cream cakes. Oh, the store bought varieties are OK. But I go all out with freshly baked sponge cakes, sliced and spread with preserves and then layered in a spring form pan with different ice cream flavors and crumbled cookies. Freeze and then unhinge the pan before serving. The icing is up to you but one thing is for sure; your guest of honor will be impressed.

I’m not sure if sorbets and Italian ices belong in this blog, but I’ll go ahead and mention them anyway. Sorbets can be very refreshing, as you know. I love when they’re served mid meal to cleanse one’s palate. Flavors can run from ordinary fruit to exotic combos. I tasted a lemon and fresh ginger sorbet once that blew my mind. You can get fancy and serve them in hollowed out oranges, lemons and coconut shells. I don’t really find it necessary though. If it’s a freshly made sorbet, it tastes just as good in a bowl. As for Italian ices, well, that’s another story. I insist on enjoying mine in those flimsy paper cups. The only way to go, as far as I’m concerned. As for a favorite flavor, to me nothing beats melon – especially cantaloupe.

We’re experiencing an early heat wave hear in New York City. So I’m opting for out of the office and into the gelato shoppe a block away. There’s a pistachio two scooper with my name on it.

Victor Ribaudo

Ice Cream Explosion!

Maple Syrup Gelato

The luscious flavor and mouthfeel of this silky confection will prompt you to get out your ice cream maker and check your supply of maple syrup. The procedure couldn’t be easier.

The cornstarch slurry and vodka prevent the gelato from melting too quickly yet keep it soft.

2 1/4 cups whole milk

2 T cornstarch

¾ cup pure maple syrup

2 T vodka (not flavored)

1. Mix ¼ cup milk with 2 T cornstarch to form a slurry. Set aside.

2. Heat 2 cups milk just to the boiling point.

3. Add cornstarch slurry and whisk until slightly thickened. Take off heat.

4. Slowly stir in maple syrup until well blended.

5. Pour into a bowl and cool to room temperature.

6. Place in refrigerator until well chilled.

7. Stir in 2 T vodka and freeze in ice cream maker according to directions.

8. Transfer to a container when thick and creamy and place in freezer. The gelato is best eaten within one or two days, but if you manage to keep it a few days longer, the vodka will prevent it from getting hard. Makes ¾ quart.

Inspired by Chef Jonathan Pratt

Blood Orange Sherbet

1 tbsp. grated zest
7 oz. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 cups freshly squeezed blood orange juice (about 8 blood oranges)
4 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 tsp. vodka or triple sec
2/3 cup heavy cream

1. Place the zest and sugar in a large bowl.

2. Rub the zest and sugar together with your fingers until sandy and wet.

2. Whisk in the salt, orange juice, lemon juice, and vodka.

3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. You can leave the zest in, but the texture won’t be as smooth.

4. Chill the mixture until very cold, about two or three hours. (45 min. in the freezer works, but don’t let it freeze or get icy. It won’t incorporate into the cream.)

5. In a separate, large mixing bowl, whisk the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Slowly drizzle the orange juice against the side of the bowl while whisking.

6. Turn ice cream maker on and pour the sherbet base through the feed hole. Churn until thick. Transfer to an airtight container and let harden for a few hours until serving. Keeps well for 1 week. (It will get icier the longer it sits, but the flavor won’t suffer much.)

Note: You don’t have to use the vodka, but the texture won’t be the same and you will have to let the sherbet soften a bit before scooping. Makes 1 quart.

Adapted from Cooks’ Illustrated

Orange Sorbet

A delightful icy refreshment for a sultry day . . . and soooo easy to make.

1 cup water

½ cup sugar

2 cups fresh orange juice

1. Make a sugar syrup by bringing water and sugar to a boil in a small sauce pan. Keep it at a slow simmer for 20 minutes. Take off heat and let cool.

2. Add orange juice. Taste for sweetness.

3. Chill in refrigerator. Make your sorbet according to the manufacturer’s instructions for your ice cream maker.

4. For a decorative twist you can create frozen orange cups from oranges cut in half. Gently scoop out the contents, removing all the pulp. Place in the freezer for about an hour until the orange halves are frozen.

5. When sorbet is ready, scoop into orange cups, garnish with fruit and serve.

Written by Victor Ribaudo

Recipe Provided by Phyllis Kirigin, aka sweetpaprika

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