What do Wavy Gravy, Zen Butter, Creamed Cod, and Kitty Kitty Bang Bang all have in common?
Believe it or not, they're all ice cream flavors. As Bill Shakespeare once wrote, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet."
After all, why call it cream cheese raspberry chocolate ice cream, when Kitty Kitty Bang Bang is just begging to be used? Would you rather order up a scoop of bourbon corn flake, or whisper to the clerk that you'll take a dish of Secret Breakfast?
An ice cream cone brings out the kid in all of us, and having silly, unique names just makes the experience that much more fun.
Vermont's own Ben and Jerry's are probably the most well-known for crazy monikers, but long-time New Englanders also have a special place in their hearts for Gifford's, a premium ice cream company based in Maine.
Their Outdoor Adventure series features flavors such as Muddy Boots (vanilla, caramel, and brownie); Appalachian Trail (banana ice cream with honey crunch cashews & chocolate), and several different animal "tracks" flavors. Choose your favorite critter and follow the path to great flavor. Maine Deer Tracks, Fly Fishing Fudge, Maine Lobster Tracks (contains no seafood, just little lobster-shaped chocolates), and the great grand-daddy of them all, Moose Tracks®.
Our Fudge Swirl Peanut Butter Cup ice cream pays homage to this all-time classic with a rich vanilla base, funky chunky mini peanut butter cups, and chocolate swirls. If you can't get to New England to try the original, give our home version a whirl.
In a medium-sized saucepan, bring 2 cups heavy cream and 1 cup milk just to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla.
In a small bowl, whisk together 5 egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum. The gum is completely optional; but it yields smoother texture by acting as a binder.
Because you want to make ice cream and not vanilla scrambled eggs, you'll want to gently warm the eggs before adding them to the milk/cream mixture. Remove about 1 cup of the hot liquid from the pan, and slowly drizzle it into the eggs while you whisk. I like to pour the hot liquid down the side of the bowl so I can control the flow. This step is called tempering the eggs.
Once you've tempered the eggs, you can add that warmed mixture back to the saucepan, and return it to the heat to cook into a custard.
Stirring slowly but constantly, cook the custard base until it reaches between 170°F and 180°F. When I picked up the camera, this baby was reading a nice 175°F. Reminder to self: leave time for focusing the lens.
If you don't have a thermometer handy, you can test the mixture by dipping in a soup spoon. If the base leaves an even coating that you can swipe clean with a finger, it's good to go.
Transfer the hot base to a new container, and chill it well for several hours, or overnight. In fact, you can make several bases in one day and keep them in the fridge, freezing them in your ice cream maker over the next few days.
Freeze according to your ice cream maker's manufacturer's directions.
During the last 5 minutes of freezing time, add 1 cup mini peanut butter cups* and 2 tablespoons rum, brandy,or vodka. The alcohol keeps the ice cream from freezing rock-hard, but you can leave it out if desired.
*Check the grocery store for "movie candy" sized boxes. Mini is "in," and you can find just about every candy in petite packages.
During the final 30 seconds, drizzle in 1/2 cup of your favorite melted chocolate or fudge sauce. You want swirls, rather than blended chocolate.
Spoon the ice cream out of the machine, and serve it immediately. Or place it in a sturdy container in the freezer for several hours to harden (a.k.a. ripen).
Many years ago, while working atop New Hampshire's Mount Washington, my husband awoke in his sleeping bag to find a dinner plate-sized moose print about a foot from where his head lay. I think when he gets up from a nap later this weekend, I'll surprise him with this instead.
If you're lucky enough to be on the East Coast this summer, check out the local shops for Gifford's ice cream. I'm sure at least one of their flavors will have YOU making tracks to come back again and again.
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I know you don't need much arm twisting to share your favorite ice cream flavors and stories, but if you do need a nudge, here it comes --------> *nudge*.