Friday, February 25, 2011

Breast Milk Ice Cream

This concept first entered my world in 2008 when PETA wrote a letter to Ben & Jerry's urging them to explore this untapped natural resource. Now, for Freudian fanatics everywhere, the dream has come true and is for sale. This product is from London's The Icecreamists, who when I last reported were being threatened with a lawsuit from the Sex Pistols frontman.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chicago Blackhawks Ice Cream: Phase 2

What is Chicago Blackhawks ice cream? As far as I know, no such flavor exists outside my kitchen. Pictured is Phase 2: a sour cream strawberry ice cream with mini-Oreos, marshmallows and craisins. Each of these ingredients have a symbolic purpose to them. Allow me to explain.

As there is no right or wrong to what makes Chicago Blackhawks ice cream, I have been polling my friends for suggestions. Most have immediately jumped to thoughts of the team colors, most prominently red, black and white with accents of yellow and green. But, as some of my friends have also realized, hockey is more than team colors. Hockey is ice and pucks, hence the mini-Oreos. Hockey is blood and teeth, hence the marshmallows and craisins.

You may notice many similarities to the ingredients that were in Phase 1, but I dropped the red and green sugar crystals in Phase 2. While they played up the team colors, on this sour cream strawberry ice cream they look both childish and nauseating which is not my goal when making ice cream. I mean, I’m not running a Cold Stone here. (Zing!) On a different note, I enjoyed the rough, gritty texture of Phase 1’s chocolate cookies and cream, but team colors are still important. The red of strawberries mixed with Oreos and marshmallows is a combination I will revisit even if this flavor does not become the definitive Blackhawk ice cream.

Suggestions for Phase 3? Leave a comment.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reasons to stay indoors

Some locals called it Snowmageddon. Others called it Snowpocalypse. I called the waist-high tunnels of frozen precipitation a reason to make hot chocolate.

Lucky for me, I had recently discovered some Perugina hot chocolate mix from my Italy trip in the back of my cupboard. For a boxed mix, this was thick, rich and fantastico. But for those of you that haven't been to Italy recently can stock up on grocery items to make your own hot chocolate. This recipe I got from a friend is exactly how I prefer it: like a thin fondue.

2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup cocoa powder
6 oz chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all of the ingredients together in a sauce pan over medium heat with a whisk until everything is melted together and hot. It's that simple.

Sometimes we must venture out.

It snowed again. The previous day's slush caps refroze and had their peaks dusted with white. The shape of the frozen slush reminded me of the doughnut holes my mom would fry up for us when I was growing up. Perhaps I am the only person who would look at a wintry scene and think of doughnuts covered in powdered sugar and bubbling hot oil. Regardless, these thoughts of fried dough made my morning commute warmer.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Step 4 to Becoming a Chocolate Connoisseur

One of the best ways I fill my time is volunteering at 826 CHI, a creative writing and tutoring center that publishes student work, where I tutor there once a week and teach creative writing workshops. I recently read the 826 CHI Compendium Vol. 2 (published 2010) and found inspiration: one of the creative writing workshops had its students participate in a chocolate tasting and wrote about what they found evocative. I will attempt the same, first giving my initial reaction, followed by a simile of what feeling the chocolate brought to mind.

About the chocolate: Parisian chocolatier Michel Cluizel ranks in the tops. According to his website, Cluizel is “one of the rare chocolate manufacturers to process cocoa beans.” I tried a spectrum of 9 small squares of Cruizel’s chocolate, each a different percentage of cacao. The only ingredients are cocoa, cane sugar, whole milk powder, cocoa butter and Bourbon vanilla bean.

99% - I think we all have memories of tasting the baking chocolate and how we were introduced to expectation vs. reality. The bitter hits early and has no relief of sweetness to follow.
Like getting lost on your way somewhere and when you finally get there, people are mad at you for being late.

85% - Everyone has their preference. I usually go no higher than 70% cacao. This was surprisingly nice. It reminded me of the chocolate one tastes in mole sauce with just that small touch of sweet.
Like when you’ve been playing a team sport and you get a water break; it’s enough to fight off the burning without extinguishing it.

66% - Sourced from a single plantation in Venezuela. It was the most fascinating. I didn’t enjoy the flavor at first, but then was introduced to its depths.
Like sitting in Krispy Kreme back when smoking was allowed indoors: tobacco, smoke, coffee, but with enough of a breath of sweetness to find the high worth chasing.

65% - Sourced from a single plantation in Madagascar. The beans seem naturally sweeter at the start with a brick-oven aftertaste.
Like when the water you’ve been wading in starts to feel comfortable.

64% - Sourced from a single plantation in Papa New Guinea. Bitter, rich and long-lasting. My favorite.
Like listening to your latest obsession while owning the dance floor with your s.o.

60% - With cocoa nibs. Sadly this square had bloomed—it had that chalky whiteness that indicates the cocoa butter had come to the surface. It was also more brittle. I found it odd that the chocolate would bloom since all the pieces were kept at the same temperature.
Like discovering the DVD is missing from its case after your friends have already come over for the movie night.

50% - Sourced from a single plantation in Madagascar. This was the lowest cacao percentage with any robust richness to it. Milky with bite.
Like a shy first date that ends with a knockout kiss.

47% - Sourced from a single plantation in Papa New Guinea. Delicate, sweet, appealing for its nostalgic qualities, but left me feeling empty. Also a little nutty flavor.
Like listening to a pop hit from yesteryear with today-colored lenses.

45% - I don’t think milk chocolate is his specialty, but milk chocolate also isn’t my preference. This was milky with a slight memory of malt.
Like how a carnival ride feels when your biggest crush rides with her friend instead of you.

You, too, can read the 826 CHI Compendium and their other publications. Or consider donating in support of their free in-school and after-school programming.