Pot o’ Gold Ice Cream

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Sometimes, you just need a little bit of luck. When facing challenges, a little luck can go a long way. Take for example when you’re borderline late for class, but you’re lucky enough to hit all the green lights and not get stuck behind someone driving 20 mph under the speed limit. Or, think about when you walk by Auntie Anne’s at the exact time the pretzel person is handing out free samples. It’s just a teeny bit of good fortune, but it makes a big difference.

The ultimate reward of good luck is finding a glistening pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Most people say that’s impossible because of science blah blah blah. Lucky for you, I found myself a pot of gold to share with you. And the best part i: you can eat it.DSC_1797

My Pot o’ Gold Ice Cream is better than some cold black pot filled with boring coins; instead, you get creamy, cool mint ice cream studded with crunchy Golden Oreos, hence where the “gold” comes from. Get it? Then we’ve got vibrant rainbow sprinkles to represent the rainbow. I don’t know about you, but I’d take sweet Golden Oreos over actual gold and sprinkles over an intangible rainbow any day.

Pot o’ Gold Ice Cream is as pretty as it is scrumptious. The colors are bright and festive for St. Patty’s Day, and the refreshing mint flavor pairs perfectly with the buttery Golden Oreos. Every mouthful is a mix of smooth and crunchy, crispy and creamy, so your mouth never gets bored. Just be prepared to eat a big fat bowl of this because it’s way too yummy to only eat a scoop or two. You’ll know you scored the luck of the Irish with this ice cream.

I’m sorry, but no Shamrock Shake is going to compare to this minty, cookie-studded, frozen bliss. You’ve got to enjoy this treat before St. Patty’s Day passes.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Mint extract and peppermint extract are two different things. Mint is the flavor you want for this.
  2. Regular Oreos would be DELICIOUS in here; it just won’t be a “Pot of GOLD” anymore.
  3. Double Stuf or regular Golden Oreos will work equally well. But you know me; Double Stuf is always the way to go!
  4. This recipe works without the mascarpone; I’ve made it both ways. It just depends if you want that extra bit of indulgence, or if you just want to keep it simple.
  5. Unlike store-bought ice cream, this stuff stays soft and malleable forever! No need to thaw before scooping.
  6. You have to chill the mixture before churning so plan ahead.DSC_1813

Pot o’ Gold Ice Cream
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. mint extract (not peppermint)
  • Green food dye
  • 2 ½ cups chopped Golden Oreos
  • ¾ cup rainbow sprinkles

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly whisk together the cream, milk, mascarpone, sugar, vanilla, mint, and food dye until well combined. The cheese should be broken up and the sugar dissolved. Cover and chill in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Note: the longer you chill, the faster it will churn, and the more flavor it will garner.  Place a large mixing bowl in the freezer to chill as well. You’ll use this later.
  2. Pour mixture into ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s directions, about 25 minutes. While it churns, get your cookie crumbles and sprinkles at the ready.
  3. Get out your chilled mixing bowl and transfer ice cream to bowl. Gently fold in cookies and sprinkles just until evenly distributed. Serve immediately as soft-serve or transfer to an air-tight container and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.DSC_1816

Copycat Chocolate Candy Shop Blizzards

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In case you’re new here, allow me to make something clear: I have an obsession with Dairy Queen. Loyal readers will know this about me. I’m constantly complaining about not living anywhere remotely near a DQ, and the suffering I experience because of it. I also tell you about how I have to stop at a DQ whenever I travel. And when I can’t get my DQ fix, I make my own frozen bliss at home like these Buster Bars or these Copycat Confetti Cake Blizzards.

When you grow up with something, it makes you that much more fond of it when you’re older. Everything tastes better drenched in nostalgia. I find that to be true with Pizza Hut pizza and Spaghetti-O’s; they’re childhood staples that I still have a soft spot for today.

As a kid, or in what seems like far-off dream, I actually lived near a DQ and frequented it many times. Although I’m far away from the nearest DQ today, a fiery (or should I say frozen) passion still lives on in my stomach today for Dairy Queen treats.

When I saw their Chocolate Candy Shop Blizzard was back as January’s Blizzard of the Month, I was elated because I missed it the first time they debuted it last year. However, I didn’t make any trips out of CNY this month like I expected I would, and as the end of January crept closer, I realized I probably wasn’t going to get to try the Chocolate Candy Shop Blizzard (again).

Rather than wallowing in despair, I decided to be proactive and make my own instead. Although I haven’t tried the actual Chocolate Candy Shop Blizzard to officially compare, I have eaten approximately one million DQ Blizzards throughout my lifetime, and I can say with confidence that my Copycat Chocolate Candy Shop Blizzard is just as good as DQ’s.DSC_0232

I made a super creamy cocoa ice cream base and served it straight out of the ice cream maker so you get that soft-serve texture just like in DQ’s Blizzards. You don’t need eggs or anything complicated to make this soft-serve; It’s four ingredients and yields the absolute creamiest-dreamiest texture you could ever fathom. It’s just wonderful.

Then, I folded in chunks of assorted chocolates, straight out of the fancy box. It’s fun because, with each bite, you never know what kind of chocolate you’re going to bite in to. They say, “Life is like a box of chocolates because you never know what you’re going to get.” Well, this ice cream is like a box of chocolates…because it’s literally got a box of chocolates in it.

There’s no better way to describe my Copycat Chocolate Candy Shop Blizzards than as a chocolate lover’s dream. You get that fluffy, creamy cocoa ice cream plus whole hunks of assorted chocolates with all kinds of surprise fillings. It’s an easy-to-make dessert, perfect for serving to your sweetie this Valentine’s Day. Or, if you’re like me, you can have a little date night with this chocolate bliss all to yourself.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Got leftovers? Just stick it into the freezer, let it chill, and you’ve got yourself some ice cream! The great thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t get rock hard like store-bought ice cream. It stays nice and soft.
  2. The better quality chocolate you use, the better your Blizzard will be. I used Russell Stover’s, which was not very good chocolate. Next time I will definitely get some better stuff.
  3. The soft-serve base is meant to only be light in chocolate flavor. DQ’s Blizzards are never too heavy on the cocoa.
  4. Serve these in little paper cups with red plastic spoons to really get the authentic DQ feel.
  5. You must sift the cocoa powder or you’ll have chunks of it in the ice cream.DSC_0135

Copycat Candy Shop Blizzards
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 cup jarred fudge sauce (recommended: Mrs. Richardsons)
  • 2 cups chopped assorted chocolates, chilled in fridge

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, milk, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt until well-combined. Cover and chill in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Place another large mixing bowl in the freezer to chill as well.
  2. Pour mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s directions, until thick and creamy like soft-serve. Transfer to the chilled mixing bowl and immediately fold in fudge sauce and chilled chocolates until just combined. Serve immediately. Store extra in an air-tight container in the freezer. You can eat extras right from the freezer like ice cream or let soften again before eating.

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Pumpkin Graham Cracker Ice Cream Sandwiches

Remember a little bitty while back when I made those fantastic Pumpkin Spice Graham Crackers? Well, you know me; I can’t leave well-enough alone. So, I took those homemade gems and stuffed them up good with a heaping pile of creamy pumpkin ice cream.

Hello, Pumpkin Graham Cracker Ice Cream Sandwiches. Mind if stuff my face with you?

What really makes these ice cream sammies special are the homemade pumpkin spice graham crackers cradling the ice cream. They’re chewy and tender, not hard and dry like store-bought. Plus they have those warm and sweet spices to compliment the flavor of the smooth pumpkin ice cream.

This is an ice cream sandwich on steroids. I guarantee you’ve never had a sammie like this from a store. You just can’t compete with soft, delicious homemade graham crackers, which better resemble cookies than crackers, and cool, creamy ice cream to help wash it down.

What a beautiful pair!

These are great for you Thanksgiving dessert if you’re having a bunch of people over. Everyone gets their own sandwich, and they’re MUCH easier to make than a pie!

The best part is, you can make the dough ahead of time, so you’re a step ahead of the game. Save yourself some stress with this simple but pretty dessert. When you serve these to whomever is lucky enough to get a sammy, they’ll be beyond impressed that you made your own graham crackers. You go, you fancy little baker!

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Don’t like pumpkin? You can use any flavor ice cream you like in theses sammies.
  2. You don’t have to make all the crackers into sandwiches. Save a few to snack on, or make double batch and freeze half.
  3. These would also be great sandwiched with vanilla buttercream or crumbled into a homemade graham cracker pie crust.
  4. These crackers go from done to overdone in a split second, so make sure you watch ’em.

Pumpkin Graham Cracker Ice Cream Sandwiches
Graham crackers from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures who adapted from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones

Ingredients:

  • Heaping 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups graham flour
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. clove
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3/4 cup cinnamon-sugar
  • 1 1.5-qt carton pumpkin ice cream, softened

Directions:

  1. Whisk both flours, the baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and honey on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes (scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary). With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and beat just until the dough comes together.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a disk. Wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours (or up to 5 days). Remove the dough from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before proceeding.
  3. To make the cookies: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.
  4. Unwrap the chilled dough, and on a lightly floured surface, roll it out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Using a pumpkin cookie cutter (or a ruler and a pastry cutter or a sharp knife), cut the dough into your desired shapes; use a spatula to transfer the rectangles to the prepared baking sheets as you go, leaving about 3/4-inch space between them. Reroll the scraps of dough, and cut out more cookies.
  5. Using a fork, gently poke dotted lines onto the graham crackers. Sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Bake the graham crackers, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until they are golden brown and firm to the touch, about 8 – 10 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and allow the cookies to cool for a minute or two before removing them to the racks to cool completely. The cookies will crisp up as they cool.
  6. Once completely cool, spread about 1/4-1/2 cup of ice cream on to the bottom of a cracker. Place another one on top with the sugared side facing up, pressing down lightly to make your sandwich. use a knife to smooth the edges of the ice cream. Repeat with remaining crackers and immediately transfer sandwiches to freezer until firm, about 20 minutes. Enjoy!

Andes Mint-Mascarpone Ice Cream w/ Brownie Chunks & Fudge

With a title like “Andes’ Mint-Mascarpone Ice Cream with Brownie Chunks & Fudge,” you know it’s going to be good.

Have you ever had Andes candies? The slim half-mint, half-chocolate bar is more of an indie candy; not like Reese’s or Hershey bars that you would go to the grocery store and buy on any given day. In fact, the place I’m most familiar with them from is Olive Garden. At the end of every meal, OG gives you a bite-sized Andes to refresh your palate. Perhaps that’s part of the reason I love Andes so much. After all, you know how much I adore Olive Garden. But it’s not just that; Andes have the perfect balance of smooth, sweet chocolate and cool, creamy mint. It’s decadent and refreshing at the same time, causing a beautifully harmonic experience as it melts on your tongue.

When I saw a bag of Andes baking bits at the grocery store, I knew I had to make something with them. It was an impulse buy. But then they sat in my pantry for months because I couldn’t come up with any use that seemed good enough for such a perfect little candy.At last, it struck me to create an ice cream. But this wouldn’t be your average Mint Chip ice cream; it had to be bigger, better, and more decadent. I knew brownies would work beautifully with the mint. And of course, you can’t have ice cream without the fudge. The only thing left to decide was whether or not to do a custard-based ice cream.

I knew I wanted the richness of a custard-based, but I didn’t feel like making one. How could I achieve that decadence without hitting the hot stove? The answer is mascarpone cheese. Added to a simple ice cream base, it makes it so rich and creamy, just like a custard-based ice cream, except I didn’t need any eggs, nor did I have to cook! Plus, it balanced beautifully with the light mint flavor.

Everything in combination was pure frozen divinity: velvety mint ice cream studded with a generous amount of thick, fudgy brownie chunks and crunchy Andes bits, then laced with rich fudge sauce for that final punch of decadence. It’s like the superhero version of classic mint chip. There ain’t nothing better than brownie chunks and mint ice cream, except perhaps brownie chunks, andes candies, fudge and an extra creamy mascarpone-based mint ice cream.

Ah-maz-ing.

P.S. I am especially excited about this ice cream because it’s my first 100% Smart Cookie ice cream. I made my own from-scratch recipe, and it came out better than I could’ve hoped!

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  • You can skip the Andes if you don’t want the crunch.
  • Looking for some really good store-bought hot fudge? I LOVE the chocolate sauces from Wegmans, but if you don’t have a Wegmans, my second favorite brand is Mrs. Richardsons.
  • Make the brownies and ice cream base a day ahead to save yourself work the next day.
  • Keep all your ingredients as cool as possible when making the ice cream. Freeze all your mix-ins while the ice cream’s churning so they’ll be cold when you fold them in and won’t make the ice cream melt. Also, keep your mixing bowl in the freezer so it’s icy and ready to go.
  • You don’t want to use the edges from the brownies because they’re too crisp and turn rock hard in the freezer.

Andes’ Mint-Mascarpone Ice Cream with Brownies & Fudge
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk (preferably whole)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 oz. mascarpone cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp. mint extract
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • Fresh mint, optional
  • Green food dye
  • 2 cups brownie chunks, boxed mix or homemade (do not use the brownie edges; trim those off before you chop up your chunks)
  • ¾ cup Andes baking chips
  • 1 cup jarred fudge sauce

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together heavy cream, milk, sugar, and mascapone until completely smooth & free of lumps. Mix in mint & vanilla extract until well-combined. Add green food dye if you’d like that iconic green color. I needed a good amount to get my desired vibrancy.
  2. Place a handful of whole fresh mint leaves on top of the mixture. Cover and chill until nice and cold, at least 2 hours or up to overnight. The longer it chills, the more flavor it’ll have.
  3. When chilled, pick out the mint leaves and pour into an ice cream maker. Churn according to manufacturer’s directions, until thickened and resembling a soft-serve consistency, about 25 minutes. While it churns, keep you mixing bowl, brownies, and Andes in the freezer so they won’t melt the ice cream when you mix them in. Do not freeze the fudge.
  4. Immediately pour ice cream into chilled mixing bowl. Gently stir in brownie chunks, Andes, and fudge just until evenly distributed. Transfer to an air-tight container and freeze until it firms up, at least two hours. Enjoy!

Circus Dream Ice Cream + How to Make Custard-Based Ice Cream Video

When I was a kid, animal crackers were cool. Everybody loved them. But there was one snack that even was better: frosted circus animal cookies. I’m not talking about the ones that were dusted with a skimpy, see-through “icing;” I’m talking about the fully-frosted, pink and white shortbread cookies covered in colorful non-pareil sprinkles. Those treats took a top spot in the ranks of childhood snacks, up there with the squeezable Kool-Aid bottles and Dunkaroos.

I’m not going to pretend that I hit a magic age of adulthood where I stopped loving childhood favorites like circus animal cookies; I still love ’em, and I’m still going to love ’em when I’m old, decrepit, and eating them with dentures. There’s no denying that crisp shortbread coated in a thick vanilla icing and rainbow sprinkles is both whimsical and pancake-flippin’ delicious. Every time I walk down the cookie aisle in the grocery store, my eyes meet that bag of pretty pink and white cookies, and a longing takes a hold of my heart. Finally, a few weeks ago, I said to myself: “Who cares if I’m almost 19 years-old? I’m buying some freakin’ cookies.”

It only took one frosting-covered elephant for me to fall in love again. A few bags later, I found myself pondering what else I could do with the cookies. Ice cream crossed my mind…but what flavor does one pair with circus animal cookies? Naturally, you pick another circus-friendly food. And what treat is more synonymous with circuses than cotton candy? So, my friends, I whipped up the creamiest, dreamiest, richest cotton candy ice cream and studded it with the crisp circus animal cookies. This is the ice cream straight from your circus dreams. It’s Circus Dream Ice Cream!

This flavor is sure to make any kid go wild, because what kid doesn’t love cotton candy ice cream and frosted circus animal cookies? However, don’t be surprised if it brings out the kid in you too. You’re never too old to enjoy something whimsical and delicious.

If custard-based ice creams scare you, never fear. They’re super easy, and I’ll prove it to you in my how-to video below. A custard-based ice cream is so rich and creamy in comparison to no-cook recipes. Give it a try; you won’t be sorry.

Now, grab a spoon and take a trip to the circus!

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Make sure you watch the video to catch a step-by-step breakdown of how to make the ice cream base.
  2. I didn’t entirely love the Duncan Hines Cotton Candy Frosting Creations, so if you can get your hands on an alternative cotton candy flavor method, go for it.
  3. Don’t like cotton candy ice cream? Plain vanilla would still be incredible, or try white chocolate.
  4. Quite honestly, I don’t think you need a thermometer for making the ice cream. When the mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon, you know it’s time to take it off the heat.
  5. Add sprinkles to the mix if you like.
  6. Marshmallow sauce would be a fun topping.
  7. Cut recipe in half for a 2-person serving.
  8. The vanilla extract is not added until the end because it burns easily.

Circus Dream Ice Cream
Adapted from Café Lynnylu

Yield: about 1 quart

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 packets of Duncan Hines Cotton Candy Flavor Creations
  • Blue food dye, optional
  • 1 cup chopped frosted circus animal cookies

Directions:

  1. Bring milk and cream to a boil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until very well blended and just slightly thickened. Still whisking, drizzle in about one-third of the hot liquid-this will temper, or warm the eggs so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining liquid. Pour the custard back into the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring without stopping (so it doesn’t burn), until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon; if you run your finger down the bowl of the spoon, the custard should not run into the track. The custard should reach at least 170°F, but no more than 180°F, on an instant-read thermometer.
  2. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the custard into a 2-quart measuring cup or clean heatproof bowl. Stir in vanilla extract.
  3. Refrigerate the custard for at least 2 hours before churning it into the ice cream. Meanwhile, stick an empty mixing bowl in the freezer to chill.
  4. Scrape the chilled custard in the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Immediately pour the ice cream into the chilled bowl you put in the freezer earlier (this will keep it from melting immediately). Gently stir in the cookies just until evenly distributed. Pack the ice cream into an air-tight container and freeze it for at least 2 hours, until it is firm enough to scoop.