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The Cookstr 10: Ten Ice Creams and Frozen Treats

August 11, 2010

Ice cream has and always will be one of the Best Treats Ever, especially in the belly of summer. And these days in particular ice cream is enjoying that special moment in the foodie spotlight. It seems that our food-obsessed culture enjoys honing in on a particular food group, often a perpetually popular and iconically American one (burgers, hot dogs, cupcakes, pizza) and elevating it to rock star status. These days it’s ice cream that is relishing Justin Bieber-like adulation.

Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner's Pistachio Ice Cream

Creative chefs across the country are playing with ice cream flavors (and ice cream’s frozen cousins) in eye-popping ways. Hibiscus-beet, Guinness beer, candied bacon, garlic…and lox? Some are developing cult followings, some are just creating confusion. But there’s no doubt that the frozen dessert is having its “you go, girl” moment. And if you are feeling a bit mad-sciencey, you might find ice cream to be a great medium for those flavor inspirations. If, however, you’d be quite pleased with yourself just for making a batch of good old ice cream, then here are ten candidates for a scoop of late summer happiness.

P.S. Please note that some ice cream and other frozen dessert recipes call for uncooked or partially cooked egg, which can pose a small risk of salmonella. If you have concerns about eating raw eggs, you may want to pick recipes that include no eggs, or cooked eggs.

1. Mark Peel’s Vanilla Ice Cream. There’s nothing like a batch of homemade vanilla ice cream to dispel the notion that vanilla is boring or unimaginative. The key: fresh vanilla beans, which give it a depth of flavor that most commercial ice creams are lacking.

2. Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan’s Mango Ice Cream. Sweet mangoes make a brilliant base for a brilliantly colored and even more brilliantly flavored ice cream. To test if your mangoes are perfectly ripe, don’t go by color, go by feel; press gently and if the fruit feels soft, it’s ready to eat. You can place them in a paper bag for a day or two to speed the ripening process.

3. Lori Longbotham’s Blackberry and Raspberry Semifreddo. Semifreddo is a semi-frozen dessert, firming up in a soft, velvety way. This silky version gets its gorgeous color and summery taste from a mixture of pureed and strained berries. Cut into thick slabs and sprinkled with fresh berries, it’s a smash of a dessert. No ice cream maker required.

4. Lou Seibert Pappas’s Dulce de Leche Ice Cream. Dulce de leche may have Latin and South American origins, but, man, we’ve embraced it with open arms. It’s been welcomed in this country as enthusiastically and animatedly as a beer at a baseball game. This ice cream uses a shortcut to provide that caramel-y hit, namely butterscotch chips.

5. Robert Steinberg and John Scharffenberger’s Frozen Chocolate Mousse. Smooth, stylish, airy, rich, cold, and as chocolately as can be. You can make these in elegant single-portion ramekins, or one big serving bowl. This is also an ice cream maker-free recipe.

6. Georgeanne Brennan’s Peppermint Ice Cream. You may want to remember this one during the holidays, when peppermint is one of the flavors of the season. But it couldn’t hurt to give it a trial run right now, surrendering to the dueling coolness of the mintiness and the ice cream itself.

7. Sallly Sampson’s Rocky Road Ice Cream. If you are looking for an upper-crusty and somewhat restrained ice cream, this ain’t it. Rocky Road Ice Cream is a bastion of over-the-topness, crammed full of chocolate, marshmallows, and nuts. This one has coconut, too, because sometimes more is, in fact, more.

8. Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner’s Pistachio Ice Cream. Studded with chunks of coarsely chopped nuts, this is a timeless flavor. If you don’t feel like it’s pistachio ice cream unless it’s green, you can absolutely add a few drops of food coloring, but it’s an aesthetic choice.

9. Alice Medrich’s Sour Cream Ice Cream. Who would have thought that a little container of sour cream could be the muse for an ice cream flavor? This gelato-like ice cream has a grown-up tanginess and an unabashed simplicity that is a far cry from some of the more commercial products lining your grocer’s freezers.

10. Daisy Martinez’s Coconut Sorbet. Once you’ve obtained your block of creamed coconut, you’ve done the hardest part of creating this simple tropical sorbet. Dairy free and sultry tasting, this is real wow moment at the end of a warm weather meal.

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