Category: frozen

Whiskey (or bourbon) caramel & a Guinness ice cream float.

Shamrocks on the windowsill.

God bless shamrocks that signal it’s spring. God bless Guinness. God bless whiskey. And… God bless the Irish.

I don’t believe in (a) God, per se. I’m more of an Agnostic myself. But if I did I’d ask him to bless the Irish- the people who make the best whiskey, make (some of) the best beer, have the best sense of humor, & who know how to have a good time. I mean… GUINNESS, PEOPLE. GUINNESS.

Oh what the hell. Hey, universe: bless the Irish.

And bless me, because I made this:

Guinness ice cream floats with vanilla ice cream & whiskey caramel.

Oh, what’s that, you ask? That’s just a Guinness ice cream float.

Just like it says. Yup. Oh and it’s topped with whiskey caramel. Mmm hmm. Yes. Ohhhh yes.

Guinness floats with whiskey caramel.

Continue reading

Millions of peaches, peaches for me.

A big ol' box of Washington State peaches!

Please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks of that Presidents of the United States of America song when I see peaches… please… someone… anyone? I sing it to myself in the supermarket. At the farmer’s market. Anywhere I see peaches. And I distinctly remember the video; specifically seeing it on MTV at my aunt & uncle’s house when I was in 9th grade. I believe that was when Jenny McCarthy was the host of Singled Out, not to mention when the show was actually popular.

Damn I’m old.

I don’t mind being “old”, though. Not really. I mean, let’s face it… 32 isn’t really old. I’m being facetious here. But either way, old people are my favorite kinds of people, so I don’t care about “getting old.” I’d rather spend my time knitting, baking & listening to Wingy Manone or Dean Martin with the Golden Girls than hanging out with a bunch of gum-snapping Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift fans ANY DAY.

Beautiful fresh peaches.. turned into a vanilla brandied peach jam!A quick wash & dry does a lot to make them even more beautiful…

 

And let’s face it: some of my favorite pastimes used to be considered old fashioned. It used to be (and not that long ago) that baking pies or making jam were outdated concepts. That “home-y” domestic stuff was something that was relegated to history books or old WWII propaganda posters. It was old fashioned. It was for old ladies. It wasn’t cool for a while there to have anything to do with the kitchen. It was the in thing to act as if you couldn’t even boil water or stored sweaters in your stove. Blame Carrie Bradshaw, blame whoever you want, but it was a fact. Women who stayed home & liked to be domestic were once frowned upon, looked at as boring or even worse, dubbed “ambition-less.” That sucks. I’m just glad things have changed. I’m glad there are people like Erica from P.S. I Made This who show that you can be quirky, crafty & love to cook but also be cool, & have a wicked sense of fashion. Not to mention that a career can be made from it! Whoda thunk it. Move over, Martha, there’s more of us.

Continue reading

Chocolate chocolate whiskey ice cream.

‎”Ice-cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.” —Voltaire‎

Kings County Distillery chocolate flavored whiskey.

One can only imagine what Voltaire would say about this ice cream in particular: a double whammy of both chocolate and chocolate-flavored whiskey from the Kings County Distillery, made for my favorite guy’s 32nd birthday. Yup, that’s right. Jay turns the big 3-2 today! Just so you know- he’s older than I am (by a whopping 2 months & 7 days, but let’s not get into that). See the thing is, usually I ask him what he wants me to bake for him for his birthday (as I do with everyone), then I bake it and give it to him on the actual day. But this year, Jay’s been on tour for over a week and he’s got a show tonight too. So tomorrow is his only day off and then Saturday it’s back to work. I decided to make something that would keep well and only get better with age (like Jay!).

What better than whiskey ice cream?

Chocolate whiskey ice cream. Made with two types of chocolate and chocolate "flavored" whiskey from Kings Co. Distillery.

I mean, the man’s been on tour for a week drinking probably nothing but bourbon & whiskey. Why not just keep the streak going?

Not to mention the fact that I believe it’s officially ice cream time. Memorial Day is next week, and the weather was a partly cloudy yet humid 75° F when I made this batch. To me, that means it’s the start of ice cream season. The whiskey I used for this is, like I said, from Kings County Distillery in Brooklyn, NY. It has actual bits of dark chocolate floating around in it. It’s pretty strong, in my opinion it’s not a terrific “sipping whiskey,” more so one that’s best suited for mixing or baking. However it also has a strong chocolate aftertaste that makes this ice cream super special. But a regular whiskey or bourbon works just fine, too. And I can just imagine using that cherry bourbon chocolate sauce on this… lawdamercy. But the topping I used was pretty spectacular (keep reading for that).

This should probably be called ‘triple chocolate whiskey’ ice cream since there’s two types of chocolate PLUS chocolate whiskey. Call it whatever you want. Either way, it’s amazing.

Chocolate chocolate whiskey ice cream made with two kinds of chocolate PLUS chocolate 'flavored' whiskey from Kings Co. Distillery.

Triple chocolate ice cream: the creamiest ice cream you'll ever make. Or eat. Made with Kings Co. Distillery's chocolate whiskey.I love the way the light reflected & made a halo around the bowls. Even Mother Nature loves this ice cream!

CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE WHISKEY ICE CREAM

Recipe can be doubled

Ingredients:

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup Kings County Distillery chocolate flavored whiskey
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
  • 2 ounces chopped dark chocolate

Directions:

  1. Whisk together egg yolks, whiskey and 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, whisk together cream, vanilla, chocolate and 1/4 cup of sugar. Simmer over low heat until the chocolate is melted. Temper egg yolk mixture by slowly adding hot cream mixture to the egg yolk mixture, with a ladle, a little at a time. Once egg yolk mixture is thoroughly warmed add to the saucepan with the warm cream mixture. Stir until thickened and remove from the heat.
  3. Strain mixture into a bowl over ice. Place the bowl into the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes. Spin in an ice cream maker for 25 minutes… it probably won’t get much firmer, but this helps “churn” it. Add to a freezer-safe container & freeze for 12-24 hours so it gets firm.

Peanut butter whipped cream!

For an extra special treat, for my peanut butter lover… I made some peanut butter whipped cream to top it with. I know. I know. Don’t even say anything. There’s nothing you CAN say, it’s ridiculous. If you use a creamy peanut butter, yours will look smoother. Mine was crunchy.

Oh. I almost forgot: there are chocolate sprinkles too. Can’t have a birthday without sprinkles.

PEANUT BUTTER WHIPPED CREAM (from Yes, I Want Cake)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter (chunky peanut butter works also, I used it)
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it’s almost but not quite “stiff.”
  2. Add the peanut butter, sugar and vanilla. Beat for another minute & serve.

Triple chocolate WHISKEY ice cream. Two types of chocolate and chocolate whiskey come together to make the creamiest, smoothest, most chocolatey ice cream ever. Oh, and there's peanut butter whipped cream to go with it.

Yeah. Not much to say about that. Well, other than WHOA. This is literally the softest, most creamy ice cream I ever made. It’s super decadent, fudgy & delicious. But it also has a little whiskey bite. Not much, mind you, just enough. However… it melts fast! So be careful. Only take it out right when you’re gonna serve it. It does NOT have to sit out & soften. In my experience, it’s ready to go right out of the freezer. Of course, if you freeze it for weeks, it might get a bit harder, but it still isn’t going to take long to “defrost” enough to serve. I also wouldn’t serve it in cones, it’s far too creamy.

Chocolate chocolate whiskey ice cream. Dark chocolate & semisweet chocolate combine with chocolate whiskey to make a smooth, creamy, rich ice cream that you'll LOVE. Add some peanut butter whipped cream & chocolate sprinkles to complete the experience.

On that note I’ll end this by saying…

Happy birthday Jay! And many more…

Chocolate chocolate whiskey ice cream with peanut butter whipped cream!

Psst.. .the tiki mug giveaway is still going strong. You’ve got until May 27th at 11:59 p.m. to enter. So go!

Sources & credits: Arcoroc French made smoky-clear glass bowls; vintage, Le Creuset mini coccottes in “Twilight” (white shown).

Flu fighting sorbet, anyone?

Now that Valentine’s Day is over & there’s one whole month until you’ll be ingesting green beer, feel free to get sick. No seriously. After reading this post, you just might not mind it so much. Okay… that’s a lie. You will. But at least this will ease your suffering just a bit.

A couple of years ago, on a hot summer night, me & my other half were being lazy, drinking some beers & watching a show on either the Food Network or the Travel Channel & it just so happened that on said show they featured Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. We were immediately attracted to the variety of hand-crafted ice creams & sorbets; specifically the ones like the cherry lambic sorbet & the whiskey pecan. Unfortunately we don’t live in Ohio, and it was the peak of summertime so there was no way we’d chance having ice cream shipped to NY, dry ice or no dry ice. And even if we had, it wouldn’t have arrived that night! So we were two sad pandas.

Cut to about two or three weeks ago… I discovered the newest thing in sorbets: the influenza sorbet. Genius! We’ve all been sick here on and off all winter, with either a mild flu-ish thing or a stomach thing or some other weird thing that gave us insane headaches, and I wish I had had some of this on hand. The idea of a FLU FIGHTING SORBET!? Holy balls. I love it. Now, apparently, the company has changed the name to the Hot Toddy sorbet because seemingly there were some idiots who thought either the sorbet contained the flu or actually cured the flu. But either way the concept & ingredients stayed the same! Orange & lemon juice, honey, ginger, cayenne pepper and of course, Maker’s Mark. Perfect for when your throat starts to hurt, and you can’t keep anything heavy down. An icy cold citrus-y delight, with a hit of bourbon & ginger, and cayenne pepper so subtle you probably won’t even know it’s there. But at $12 a pint, and it being all the way in Ohio… I knew I wasn’t getting my hands on any.

I decided I was going to come up with my own recipe and make my own version of Jeni’s infamous flu sorbetto.

But see, I don’t have Maker’s Mark. I have other bourbons. So I used Basil Hayden’s bourbon instead, because it’s a milder one, and I’m not such a crazy bourbon fan. I’ve gotta say though.. the idea of it this sorbet made me really happy. Really, really happy. And Jay has quite the selection to choose from… but I chose Basil. Of course, this is NOT Jeni’s recipe, this is my own creation. And it can be tweaked to accentuate whatever ingredient you want to be the main player. Just don’t add too much bourbon- it won’t freeze properly. And because I didn’t use an ice cream maker, it’s more of a granita. So that’s what we’ll officially call it:

Influenza Granita.

Granita (in Italian also granita siciliana) is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings. Originally from Sicily, although available all over Italy (but granita in Sicily is somewhat different from the rest of Italy), it is related to sorbet and italian ice. However, in most of Sicily, it has a coarser, more crystalline texture. Food writer Jeffrey Steingarten says that “the desired texture seems to vary from city to city” on the island; on the west coast and in Palermo, it is at its chunkiest, and in the east it is nearly as smooth as sorbet.[1] This is largely the result of different freezing techniques: the smoother types are produced in a gelato machine, while the coarser varieties are frozen with only occasional agitation, then scraped or shaved to produce separated crystals. Although its texture varies from coarse to smooth, it is always different from the one of an ice cream which is creamier, and from the one of a sorbet, which is more compact; this makes granita distinct and unique.

Influenza, commonly known as the ‘flu’ , is an infectious disease of birds and mammals caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae, the influenza viruses. The most common symptoms are chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, headache (often severe), coughing, weakness/fatigue and general discomfort.[1]Although it is often confused with other influenza-like illnesses, especially the common cold, influenza is a more severe disease caused by a different type of virus.[2] Influenza may produce nausea and vomiting, particularly in children,[1] but these symptoms are more common in the unrelated gastroenteritis, which is sometimes inaccurately referred to as “stomach flu” or “24-hour flu”.[3]

INFLUENZA GRANITA, A.K.A. THE FLU FIGHTING SORBET

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed, but a low sugar or all-natural bottled variety will work)
  • 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon juice, but it must be fresh squeezed!)
  • 1/4 cup regular lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar plus two tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon GOOD bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • anywhere from a pinch to 1/4 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper, depending on taste or intensity of illness

Directions:

  1. Put the orange & lemon juices & sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir over low heat to dissolve sugar. Once sugar is dissolved, raise heat to medium & add honey, 2 tablespoons of bourbon, ginger & cayenne. Stir well. Bring to a boil.
  2. Once everything is boiled, add the last teaspoon bourbon. Stir. Strain into a container and let cool to almost room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from freezer and whisk to crush ice crystals. Re-wrap and re-freeze. Continue doing this once every hour for 4-5 hours with either a whisk or a fork.
  3. Before you serve, if the mixture is still too chunky or icy, simply beat (in a cold bowl) with an electric mixer on low until fluffy. DO NOT LET IT MELT. Place it back into container and re-freeze until it sets. Serve & enjoy!

If you’ve got an ice cream maker or attachment (like I do, but I forgot to freeze the bowl before hand so I had to do this the manual way), then you can just freeze it according to the manufacturer’s directions. You’ll end up, most likely, with a smoother, softer less chunky version. More like sorbet, less like Italian ice. It doesn’t really matter what the texture is, though, as long as it isn’t just a crunchy block of ice. And even then, you could really just shave off pieces to eat. So it doesn’t matter much what you end up with. Oh- and Meyer lemons are way sweeter than regular lemons. So if you use all regular lemons, you might want to up the sugar amount. Remember: the cold lessens & dulls the sweetness of the sugar, but also remember that too much sugar will result in the same problem as too much bourbon in that it just won’t freeze properly.

Now, in no way am I telling you this will cure your flu (or your cold, or pneumonia or whatever you’re suffering with). What I will say is that there’s a lot of Vitamin C in here, and in addition honey, lemon & ginger are known for their flu-fighting properties. Cayenne pepper thins mucus, allowing you to breathe again. Plus, not only is bourbon an old-timey “helper” for all illnesses, it helps numb a sore throat a bit, as does the bracing cold iciness of the granita. No dairy to increase mucus production, either!

And if you want something hot to soothe what ails you, then you should definitely make a few jars of spiced honey. I guarantee you between this granita & some hot tea with spiced honey in it, you’ll be feeling better in no time. And if you aren’t… there’s always that NyQuil too.

Winter warmth in the form of… squash.

;

Christmas is over. The cold weather is just kicking into high gear here in New York, as is expected.

I’m guessing most people in your house are preoccupied with new gadgets or toys right about now. That’s the best part of the week after Christmas: playing with your new toys! And sleeping late, too, if you’re able. Because pretty soon it’s back to business. Back to work, back to school… and it’ll be cold out there. So when it’s blustery & cold, and the hubbub of Christmas has worn down, and even when the new year doesn’t feel so new anymore, it’s important to have something warm & comforting to look forward to. Or to come home to. You know, a reason to turn on the oven. And of course, for me, that warmth almost always comes in the form of desserts. Although a beautiful new coat & some boots doesn’t hurt either… this is about pie.

Black pie plate from Longaberger, black appetizer plate from Ikea, little cocotte from Le Creuset

;

I found this recipe way back in November when I bought a little book that contained a variety of best-loved pie recipes; all kinds, for all seasons, from frozen to fruity to creamy to nutty. I originally made it for Thanksgiving, and since it was such an enormous hit, I felt lucky to have some leftover frozen squash in the freezer so I could make it again. And that I did, just this week. The beauty of it is that you can use any of the following squash:

  • Acorn Squash
  • Blue Hokkaido Pumpkin
  • Butternut Squash
  • Cheese Pumpkins
  • Delicata Squash
  • Hubbard Squash
  • Kabocha Squash
  • Red Kuri Pumpkins
  • Rouge Vif d’Etampes Pumpkins
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Sugar Pie Pumpkins
  • Sweet Dumpling Squash
  • Turban Squash
  • White Pumpkins

Depending on the kind you use, your pie will have a slightly different color. I used butternut squash, myself, so my pie has an orange-y brown color that isn’t quite a pumpkin-y color. A white pumpkin might yield a more yellow color, a rouge vif d’etampes would give a redder color, etc. Also, while you can in theory use any of the aforementioned squash, depending on the variety you use you may have to puree the flesh or dice it more finely before using it- especially the varieties that hold their shape while cooking.

Winter squash is a summer-growing annual vegetable,[1] representing several species within the genus Cucurbita. It differs from summer squash in that it is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage, when the seeds within have matured fully and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. At this stage, most varieties of this fruit can be stored for use during the winter. It is generally cooked before eating.

Winter squash is a low-calorie, good source of complex vegetable carbohydrates and dietary fiber.

It is an excellent source of vitamin A, a great source of vitamin C[citation needed], potassium, dietary fiber and manganese, and a good source of folate, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin B1 (thiamin), copper, tryptophan, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid).[2]

It is also a source of iron and beta carotene. Usually, the darker the skin is, the higher the beta carotene content.

-Wikipedia

;

WINTER SQUASH PIE

Ingredients:

  • 1 single 9″ pie crust (frozen works just fine if you need to use it, just defrost according to package directions)
  • 12 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) frozen (or fresh) winter squash, chopped into 1/2″ pieces (thawed & drained first if frozen)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted (for topping)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350° degrees F. Prepare your pie crust, place it into your pie plate and crimp the edges. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the squash, sugar, vanilla, egg & sour cream thoroughly. Add in pumpkin pie spice and salt, and whisk. Then whisk in the evaporated milk.
  3. Pour mixture into prepared pie crust. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until set (mine took about 55 minutes).
  4. Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Serve with whipped cream and top with toasted hazelnuts, if desired.

;

It was so quick to make, the hardest part (and the longest part) was making the pie crust. May I just say, I think this is one of the best pies- visually- that I’ve made so far. The crust came out great, which is usually a problem for me. I’m so impatient I have a hard time making a pretty crust. I just wanna get it into the pie plate and start baking. But this time I ended up with a beautiful pie.

And what’s pie without whipped cream!?

;

I decided to make a brandy whipped cream, a spin-off on that bourbon whipped cream I made before Thanksgiving. It was absolutely perfect with the pie. Regular whipped cream would be just fine, but you know me, I always have to be different. Besides, my grandma always used to say that brandy was “warming”… so it just makes sense to use it at a time when everyone wants to be warm & escape the cold. Not for anything, but check out that big, billowy brandy whipped cream. It’s to die for. I prefer to serve the whipped cream & hazelnuts on each slice individually, but you could also pipe the whipped cream around the edges of the pie and then sprinkle the nuts on top of it before you bring the pie out to serve it. That is, if you’re sure there won’t be much leftover, if any- the whipped cream doesn’t hold up well in the fridge (it’d have to be re-whipped due to lack of stabilizers & preservatives). It would make a lovely presentation that way. I know my audience, though, and that they can’t finish a pie like this in one sitting. So I keep everything separate.

It’s also easier to eat the whipped cream by the spoonful that way. But don’t tell anyone I told you that. Stay cozy & well-fed my friends.

Sources & credits: Recipe from Best-Loved Pies, Longaberger black 11″ pie plate, Ikea black plate, Le Creuset mini coccottes in “Twilight” (black shown).

This is me NOT screwing up caramel apple jam.

;

If I do something, and I screw it up, it bothers me FOREVER. I’m one of those mildly-OCD perfectionist people. I can tell a drawing won’t go well if the first line doesn’t come out right, so I toss the entire sheet of paper (environmentalists avert thine eyes). If I throw on a random outfit & something about it isn’t working for me, I don’t care if all I’m doing is going to the fruit market… my entire day will be messed up. If I screw up a recipe- whether or not it still tastes good, I go over & over in my mind what I did wrong until I make it again & redeem myself.

I sound nuts, right?

Anyway. Moving on. Look- it’s ice cream.

;

Last fall I made caramel apple syrup. It was supposed to be caramel apple jam, but it was kind of a fail in that aspect. Not a massive fail, mind you, because what resulted was a beautifully delicious concoction my father nicknamed “apple pie in a jar.” He ate it right out of the jar, as a matter of fact. Devoured it. It was a much beloved creation, mistake or not. But it still sort of bothered me. It was so stupid to me that I screwed up such a simple jam, especially because it was something so dumb like forgetting to add the pectin… that I wanted to try it again this fall. Because not only was what I made not jam but it no longer existed anyway. The jars were long gone; eaten, emptied, washed out & re-filled with who-knows-what. All that remained were the memories, and questions like “When are you making that apple syrup stuff again?” And I was debating it, actually, since it was such a hit.

Then I found this recipe. ERMAHGERDS.

;

How was I supposed to turn away from that!? It’s apple season! There are apples everywhere I look. I’m bombarded with apples every day; on Pinterest, on blogs, in the supermarket, at the Farmer’s Market, at the fruit market… they’re just all over the place. I got momentarily distracted from my Halloween bacchanalia for apples, and when I went to the farm to pick pumpkins & get apple cider donuts, it just boosted my apple-ness even further. And so of course, I thought this jam sounded especially glorious. And the best part? No pectin! So I wouldn’t have to worry about forgetting to add it again.

The other jam I attempted was yummy, even if it ended up as syrup. But this one is different. The vanilla bean & rum elevate this to a whole ‘nother level. It’s not like your average jam. It’s like a dessert in and of itself.

CARAMEL APPLE JAM WITH VANILLA BEAN & RUM (halved & adapted very minimally from Hitchhiking to Heaven)

Makes about 2-3 half-pint (8 oz.) jars, maybe with some overflow

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened homemade applesauce (store bought is okay, just get the highest quality organic one you can, making sure it’s unsweetened)
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (I used a little Himalayan pink)
  • 3 teaspoons dark rum (*optional)

Directions:

  1. If you don’t have applesauce on hand, make your sauce. Start by coring and slicing the apples; about 1 1/2 maybe 2 lbs of them- (don’t peel ‘em) and cooking them over low heat until they’re soft. I usually add about 1/2 cup of water to the pot so they don’t stick or burn. Cover the pot while the apples are cooking; they should be ready in about 20 minutes. Put the cooked apples through a food mill (use the medium screen if you have a choice) and, voilà, sauce!
  2. Prepare your jars and lids. Set them aside.
  3. In a clean, dry large saucepan, combine 1 cup of the sugar, the water, and the lemon juice. Pour the sugar into the pan evenly, rather than as a big lump to one side or something like that, because you don’t get to stir or shake the pan for the next step, which is caramelizing the sugar.
  4. Without disturbing the contents of the pan, bring the syrup to a boil and let it boil gently — adjusting the heat as needed — until it turns golden brown. Watch the mixture carefully and take it off the heat before it turns darker than you’d like. Mine was a nice light-brown color and smelled caramel-y.
  5. While the sugar is caramelizing, add the additional 3/4 cup sugar and the sea salt into a small bowl. Split your vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds from the bean into the sugar and salt. Combine well, then add the pod into the sugar, too. Set aside.
  6. When the caramel is ready, slowly add the applesauce and the rest of the sugar, vanilla bean and all, off the heat. Be careful- it WILL splatter! Turn the heat back up to medium-low and stir the mixture until the sugar and caramel completely dissolve. Then bring the jam to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, for 8-10 minutes. This is the part where you need to monitor the temperature — reducing it if necessary — and stir the jam steadily enough to keep it from attacking you. You will know the jam is done when it thickens up and your stirring spoon very briefly leaves a clear track at the bottom of the pan.
  7. Remove the jam from the heat, discard the vanilla bean, and stir in the rum. Ladle or pour the hot jam into your sterilized jars. Wipe the rims clean and add the lids. Process 10 minutes in a hot water-bath canner. Remove from canner, let cool and check seals after 12 hours. Any jars that aren’t sealed, pop in the fridge & use immediately.

;

And this time it actually came out like jam, not syrup! Wonder of wonders, glory of glories. Hallelujah & all that jazz. It came out absolutely perfect.

;

I know. Pancakes, ice cream, waffles, oat bran muffins, English muffins and yogurt will never be the same. Neither will oatmeal. I don’t even like oatmeal, but a little of this would upgrade that ish to something way more special. It even works with ham & pork chops (or so I’ve been told, I don’t eat pork chops); both as a glaze melted on top while cooking, or just on the side. It’s good on toast, too, but that seems so banal for a jam like this. This kind of a jam begs for something exciting; like fresh buttermilk pancakes. Or a golden vanilla pound cake. Or… over a homemade vanilla bean ice cream, like I did. Ohh, Rodelle vanilla beans, how I love thee.

HOMEMADE VANILLA BEAN ICE CREAM (courtesy of Epicurious)

Ingredients:

  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs

Directions:

  1. With a knife halve vanilla beans lengthwise. Scrape seeds into a large heavy saucepan and stir in pods, cream, milk, and sugar. Bring mixture just to a boil, stirring occasionally, and remove pan from heat.
  2. In a large bowl lightly beat eggs. Add hot cream mixture to eggs in a slow stream, whisking, and pour into pan. Cook custard over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until a thermometer registers 170°F. (Do not let boil.) Pour custard through a sieve into a clean bowl and cool. Chill custard, its surface covered with wax paper, at least 3 hours, or until cold, and up to 1 day.
  3. Freeze custard in an ice-cream maker, in 2 batches if necessary. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden. Ice cream may be made 1 week ahead.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, try this recipe for the ice cream. It takes a bit longer, but I’ve always had good results! I love me my KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment, though.

And as far as the jam goes… you can also eat it right out of the jar. Which I’m not supporting of course… *ahem*

It’s cheesecake. It’s ice cream. It’s delicious. & ridiculous.

The last week or so, it was hot. Okay, let me rephrase: it was GODDAMN hot. So hot, an ice cream truck could melt.

The handy Weather Channel app on my phone informs me of this as if I haven’t noticed. As if my t-shirt sticking to my back as I water my vegetables wasn’t a clue. Or as if the fact that even when the A/C is on high it isn’t quite cold enough wasn’t a clue, either. Yeah. I’m pretty much uninterested in anything unless it involves air-conditioning, eating ice cream, eating ice pops, or swimming. Or listening to my summer music on full blast; Dr. Dre, Snoop, Incubus, Sublime, Beastie Boys, Wu-Tang Clan and of course, the Notorious B.I.G. (those just scream summer to me for one reason or another). I also try to avoid the 6 million mosquitos that want to feast on me like I’m one of those naked sushi-platter chicks. Yeah, I know I’ve said it before, but that’s pretty much all I want to do in a nutshell.

‘Cause really… when it’s this freakin’ hot, who wants to cook? Or bake? Not I, says the girl who runs the BAKING BLOG.

But honestly. I know I’ve posted a lot of baked stuff lately; pie, cupcakes, galettes, etc. In spite of all that even I sometimes really can’t face turning the oven on. Not in this heat, not even with my A/C on full blast and not even at night when it’s slightly cooler. So when you want something sweet, what else is there to have? Ice cream! Ice cream screams summer, too. And coincidentally, July is also National Ice Cream month (thanks to Ronald Reagan; it was probably the best thing he did as President). And I decided that I wanted to make some ice cream inspired by cheesecake after seeing an ad for ice cream made with Philadelphia Cream Cheese. So I adapted it a little to suit my needs.

;

Hey, it’s also my birthday month. If I want ice cream, I’ll have ice cream. Not only is it my birthday month, but my birthday is in just 9 days. Ice cream is practically a requirement right now! But first, a little history:

In the Persian Empire, people would pour grape-juice concentrate over snow, in a bowl, and eat this as a treat, especially when the weather was hot. Snow would either be saved in the cool-keeping underground chambers known as “yakhchal“, or taken from snowfall that remained at the top of mountains by the summer capital — Hagmatana, Ecbatana or Hamedan of today. In 400 BC, the Persians went further and invented a special chilled food, made of rose water and vermicelli, which was served to royalty during summers.[4] The ice was mixed with saffron, fruits, and various other flavours.

Ancient civilizations have served ice for cold foods for thousands of years. The BBC reports that a frozen mixture of milk and rice was used in China around 200 BC.[5] The Roman EmperorNero (37–68) had ice brought from the mountains and combined it with fruit toppings. These were some early chilled delicacies.[6]

Arabs were perhaps the first to use milk as a major ingredient in the production of ice cream.[citation needed] They sweetened it with sugar rather than fruit juices, and perfected means of commercial production. As early as the 10th century, ice cream was widespread among many of the Arab world’s major cities, including Baghdad, Damascus, and Cairo. It was produced from milk or cream, often with some yoghurt, and was flavoured with rosewater, dried fruits and nuts. It is believed that the recipe was based on older Ancient Arabian recipes, which were, it is presumed, the first and precursors to Persian faloodeh.

Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat asserts, in her History of Food, that “the Chinese may be credited with inventing a device to make sorbets and ice cream. They poured a mixture of snow and saltpetre over the exteriors of containers filled with syrup, for, in the same way as salt raises the boiling-point of water, it lowers the freezing-point to below zero.”[7][8] Some distorted accounts claim that in the age of Emperor Yingzong, Song Dynasty (960-1279) of China, a poem named Ode to the ice cheese (詠冰酪) was written by the poet Yang Wanli. Actually, this poem was named Ode to the pastry (詠酥; 酥 is a kind of food much like pastry in the Western world) and has nothing to do with ice cream.[9] It has also been claimed that, in the Yuan Dynasty, Kublai Khan enjoyed ice cream and kept it a royal secret until Marco Polo visited China and took the technique of making ice cream to Italy.

In the sixteenth century, the Mughal emperors used relays of horsemen to bring ice from the Hindu Kush to Delhi, where it was used in fruit sorbets.[10]

When Italian duchess Catherine de’ Medici married the Duke of Orléans (Henry II of France) in 1533, she is said to have brought with her to France some Italian chefs who had recipes for flavoured ices or sorbets.[11] One hundred years later, Charles I of England was, it was reported, so impressed by the “frozen snow” that he offered his own ice cream maker a lifetime pension in return for keeping the formula secret, so that ice cream could be a royal prerogative.[12] There is no historical evidence to support these legends, which first appeared during the 19th century.

The first recipe in French for flavoured ices appears in 1674, in Nicholas Lemery’s Recueil de curiositéz rares et nouvelles de plus admirables effets de la nature.[11] Recipes for sorbetti saw publication in the 1694 edition of Antonio Latini’s Lo Scalco alla Moderna (The Modern Steward).[11] Recipes for flavoured ices begin to appear in François Massialot’s Nouvelle Instruction pour les Confitures, les Liqueurs, et les Fruits, starting with the 1692 edition. Massialot’s recipes result in a coarse, pebbly texture. Latini claims that the results of his recipes should have the fine consistency of sugar and snow.[11]

Ice cream recipes first appeared in 18th-century England and America. The recipe for ice cream was published in Mrs. Mary Eales’s Receipts in London in 1718.[13][14]

-Wikipedia

Before modern refrigeration techniques, ice cream was a rare treat to be consumed only on special occasions. Luckily now it’s something we can have any time we want, in any flavor we want, morning, noon or night. Birthdays or not. And we’re most especially lucky to have it in cute little ice cream cups like I have. ¡Viva Mes Nacional del Helado!

CHEESECAKE ICE CREAM (inspired by & adapted from a recipe from Philadelphia Cream Cheese)

Ingredients:

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 cup whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 4 graham crackers, coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. Mix the first four ingredients in a stand mixer until thoroughly blended. Freeze for 4 hours or until almost solid.
  2. Re-beat the mixture with the stand mixer until creamy. Add graham crackers to mixture, mix well.
  3. Freeze for 8 hours or until firm. Remove from freezer around 15-20 minutes before serving. Let stand at room temperature to allow it to soften before scooping into bowls.

And that’s basically that’s all. You can sit back, relax, and have a refreshing dessert that doesn’t require an ice cream maker, an oven or a stove-top at all. Hallelujah! It reminds me of the kind of ice cream you get at one of those super cute little retro ice cream parlors. Smooth, creamy, delicious.

And it tastes just like a slightly melted cheesecake!

It reminds me of a much richer, higher fat version of the Red Mango plain yogurt + crushed graham cracker combo I usually get. You can substitute crushed Oreo cookies for the graham crackers too, kind of like an Oreo cheesecake. Or, incorporate fresh berries into the mix before freezing.

Serve it with anything you’d top a cheesecake (or ice cream sundae) with: fresh berries, strawberry sauce, chocolate chips, chocolate sauce, salted caramel sauce, crushed Oreo cookies, etc. I had some fresh raspberries so that’s what I put out for a topping. But even sprinkles are fun. Go nuts. Like I said, it’s National freakin’ Ice Cream month. Do I really need to elaborate further?

No. No, I do not.

Snackle Mouth part 2: frozen yogurt parfaits.


Remember my Snackle Mouth post from a few days ago?

I was so excited to use it to bake something, and I did (coffee cake), and it was glorious. But if I’m being 100% honest- that wasn’t my first idea.


See my first idea was to make some homemade frozen yogurt and top it with some Snackle Mouth granola nut clusters and some homemade conserves I made. You might remember them, one is cherry, cranberry, dark chocolate & almond and one is fig, plum and walnut. Kind of like “build your own ice cream sundae” time except more like “build your own healthier version of an ice cream sundae by using frozen yogurt” time. It’s also reminiscent of those famous fast food fruit/nut yogurt parfaits, except much healthier & homemade, obviously.


I wanted to do that because the Snackle Mouth arrived on a really hot day, and it was way too hot for me to face an oven. So I figured I’d use it to make yogurt parfaits. But then the weather changed, it got very cool and rainy, perfect baking weather. And so I decided to make the coffee cake first. However, it soon got pretty damn warm again, and frozen yogurt parfaits were back on the menu.

First things first… the fro-yo. I used a tried and true David Lebovitz recipe I’ve made before in my KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment. It’s easy, delicious, and quick. Then, once that was made & ready, I put it in some Ball jars, alternating with some Snackle Mouth granola, and topped it off with some conserves. It was pretty awesome. We loved it. The most popular combination? The yogurt topped with the double C dark chocolate almond conserves and the peanut cranberry Snackle Mouth. Needless to say it was a success.


FROZEN YOGURT

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups (24 ounces) strained yogurt (see below) or Greek-style yogurt *
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Directions:

  1. Mix together the yogurt, sugar, and vanilla (if using). Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Refrigerate 1 hour.
  2. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions (for mine, it’s just 20-30 minutes in the bowl being mixed by the “dasher”). For a firmer set, freeze for 20-30 minutes before serving.
  3. If you aren’t using Greek yogurt, you have to strain regular plain yogurt. To make 1 cup of strained yogurt, line a mesh strainer with a few layers of cheese cloth. then scrape 16 ounces or 2 cups of plain whole-milk yogurt into the cheesecloth. Gather the ends and fold them over the yogurt, then refrigerate for at least 6 hours. For the above recipe you’ll need to start with and strain 6 cups of yogurt.

I used Greek-style yogurt, I didn’t feel like going through the pain of straining regular yogurt. I also opted to use the vanilla, but that’s 100% optional. You can also add fresh fruits to the yogurt itself, if you wish, or add some jam or preserves or even lemon curd to it as it’s being mixed. I’m sure you could experiment by making all kinds of different flavored fro-yo if you want. And you can also use the granola with fresh fruit instead of conserves or preserved fruit.

...

The coolest thing about making yogurt parfaits in a jar is that if you don’t finish it, you can put the lid on and pop it in the freezer, and it’ll keep it’s fresh taste. Is there no end to how cool Mason jars are? Methinks not. I even used them to store the granola once I opened the packages so it would stay fresh.

Again, I tell you: go get yourself some Snackle Mouth. It isn’t available in stores (yet!) but you can get it at Abe’s Market.


OH! And Cupcake Rehab now is now print friendly! You asked for it, you got it. Directly below this, you’ll see a little printer icon and the words “Print Friendly.” Click on those and you’ll be brought to a printer friendly version of this post. Perfect for printing the recipes! There are plenty of options, i.e. print with photos or without, and it’s very easy to use, so get on it. Print out your favorite recipes from Cupcake Rehab with a few clicks! Now you can share this on Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, Pinterest and you can print it, too. Do I give you options or what?

Une petite glace à l’amande avec les financiers.

Before I start in on ice cream & financiers & such, I just wanna say that Jay is home from Switzerland! In case you didn’t know, Mr. Rockstar was over there playing a music festival in Muotathal. He’s safe & sound back in New York now. It’s nice to have him back in the same time zone as me, let alone the same breathing space. It was really weird to imagine he was somewhere 6 hours ahead of me. But anyway, I got my Swiss chocolates, and plenty of them. I shall be gorging myself on these for a few days, or at least a couple more hours. The first one there, the Cailler of Switzerland Lait & Caramel Pointe de sel? I can’t wait to hang my fangs on that one. The Lindt assortment is pretty amazing, though, in and of itself. I haven’t opened the Camille Bloch Torino one yet, but I’m intrigued to try it; it’s a ‘chocolat au lait suisse fin fourre creme de noisettes et d’amandes’ or, as it’s said in English, fine milk chocolate filled with a creme of hazelnuts & almonds. Mmm.

So speaking of Europe & European confections, last month, the people at Donsuemor contacted me and asked me if I’d come up with a recipe featuring one of their delicious French cookies for their Dessert a Day project. Being a little bit of a  francophile (although also an anglophile, and pretty much someone who’s enthusiastic about everything in general, especially desserts), I immediately jumped at the chance. I chose the French almond cakes, or financiers & I could not wait to get my hands on them. For a non-French company that’s fairly new (started in 1976), the selection of items & the implied quality impressed me. So I really was excited to make something with these little cakes… oh, and eat some too.

And then… they arrived! Pretty quick, actually. Oh, happy day!

Sacré bleu! I’d been brainstorming all kinds of recipes for these guys. Ah, little did they know when I first opened that box what their ultimate fate would be. Mes petits financiers, mes pauvres. Groped at by greedy hands was the least of it.

French Almond Cakes, or <financiers>, as they are known in France, are elegant little cakes with the rich and nutty taste of sweet almond. Soft and moist with crisp edges – a “Donsuemor signature” – these elegant treats are made with the finest quality, all natural ingredients.

Led by the drive and determination of our talented French pastry chef and dedicated team, inspired by the Parisian original, Donsuemor proudly launched the French Almond Cakes in September 2009. Although we had the desire to bake other products over the years, we committed to do so only if they could live up to the standards of the madeleine. The French Almond Cakes exceed our standard, and thus became the first new product Donsuemor developed since the first madeleine was baked in Berkeley in 1976.

History of Financiers

Financiers were created by a baker named Lasne in the financial district of Paris in the 1890′s. Named after the rich financiers who frequented his bakery, traditionally baked in the shape of gold bars, Lasne designed the little unglazed cake to be enjoyed without utensils or risk to suit, shirt or tie.

Financiers are as rich as the bankers they were named for. They are made with ground almonds, butter, sugar, flour, and eggs – pure and simple ingredients.  Once you taste Donsuemor’s French Almond Cakes, you will know why Donsuemor is the one you remember.

- text & French Almond cakes photo from Donsuemor.com

I had to resist eating them all before making the recipe, but I managed. I also managed to keep them out of everyone else’s hands. Partly because I hid the box. Yes I did, & I have no problem admitting that. Although people I know will read that & get a bit miffed, I’m sure, considering I think I told them there weren’t any more. Oops.

The quality & taste was definitely what I had expected. Anyone who knows me or reads the blog knows I’m honest to a fault, so trust me here. My father liked them so much, he asked for the website name (perhaps ordering me a gift… hmmm?).  They were very moist, very cake-like, and had a great almond flavor. Because it was so warm & humid, I decided to go with an ice cream instead of a baked dessert; an almond ice cream to be exact. I crumbled up some of the cakes and mixed it in with the ice cream, and then topped each serving with a cookie. Mmmm.

Delicious little surprises in the form of chunks of almond cake throughout, plus those sliced almonds.

Do you love my ice cream sundae glasses? Not to mention ma petite tour Eiffel!

I’m not kidding when I say this is some amazing ice cream. Fantastique. You know birthday cake ice cream? It has bits of cake floating through it, and sometimes ribbons of buttercream or sprinkles? Well, that’s awesome, but too much for me. I find it too sweet after a few bites. This was not. I ate way more of this ice cream than you’d think was humanly possible. Seriously. I even ate it for dinner one night. I broke out my grandmother’s vintage jadeite dessert plates, too. This ice cream (& me) certainly deserved it.

Okay, enough teasing. You want the recipe, don’t you?

ALMOND ICE CREAM WITH CRUMBLED DONSUEMOR FRENCH ALMOND FINANCIERS

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4-6 Donsuemor French almond cakes, crumbled, plus more kept intact for topping (if desired)

Directions:

  1. Whisk together cream, milk, sugar, and eggs in a heavy medium saucepan until they’re completely combined.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture is thick enough to coat back of a spoon. Strain custard through a sieve into a medium bowl. Add vanilla & almond extracts and stir to mix thoroughly. Cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator (covered), 6-8 hours.
  3. Freeze in ice cream maker according to maker’s directions, adding the crumbled cakes 2-3 minutes before it’s finished. Ice cream will be the consistency of soft serve, freeze overnight for firmer set.

I have the KitchenAid ice cream maker stand mixer attachment, so it took about 20 minutes in there. However I made mine on a night when we had torrential rain, incredibly high humidity and it was pretty hot on top of that. Thanks to those conditions, my first attempt at photos were an epic fail; sure they looked cute, mainly thanks to my vintage plate & Eiffel tower set up… but the ice cream was a melty mess. On top of the initial ice cream’s soft consistency, it just melted all over the place in the high humidity. So I popped it in the freezer and the next day, voilà, perfection. With a mug of hazelnut coffee made in my Keurig… *sigh* However it’s positively French-Victorian picnic style when served with a cut crystal goblet filled with some cold sparkling Effervé lemonade.

Effervé had nothing to do with this post, it’s just delicious lemonade.

A great way to salute the swan song of summer & say a delicious goodbye to that wonderful season. If not grudgingly. Also a good reason to hide in your house & hope Hurricane Irene steers clear of your home. Not that I speak from experience or anything…

Minty Green tea & honey granita.

That’s a mouthful, innit?

Before I continue with this recipe, I want to remind you not to forget to enter to win a gorgeous Shabby Apple apron! Yep, if you’re a U.S. resident you’re eligible to win this super adorable Wildberry Pie apron. The giveaway ends July 2nd, so make sure you go here, read the details, and enter. Also, a few days ago Michelle (from Kissed by Sweets) gave me a blog award! Thank you, Michelle. Lil’ ol me getting a blog award! Mama always said I was special. Anyway it’s called the Versatile Blogger Award, and with this award comes responsibility. I must give the award to other blogs I’m currently loving, so here goes:

..

I happen to be THE WORST commenter ever, so if you’re the owner of one of the aforementioned blogs, don’t expect to see many from me. But I really do read them all the time and love them. So with this award I’m also supposed to tell you a few things (like 7) about myself…  and you all who I mentioned, are in turn, supposed to do this same thing. Although I’m not a stickler for rules (ha!), so I won’t whip any of you with wet noodles if you don’t. Let’s see, 7 things about me, which is kinda rare here. I mean, I talk about myself all the time, but not in minute unrelated-to-baking detail… so I’ll just wrap this up quickly: I’m sunburned (for one of the few times in my born-&-raised-in-NY life I could be called a ‘redneck‘), I have my natural haircolor for the first time in like 8+ years, I’m currently wearing a NOFX t-shirt, I’m currently listening to (very old) White Zombie, I’m planning on making Meyer lemon curd & cream cheese pound cake later on this week, my nail polish is currently Velvet Voyeur by Essie and last but not least… I’m awesome.

So here’s the deal with this recipe. I don’t like Green tea (more on that later). I don’t like Mark Bittman; yeah, sure he’s got some good recipes but he’s such a whiny sourpuss bastard (I’m sorry Mark but you are, and the curmudgeon bit is getting old). The entire time I watched Spain… on the road Again, and the scene featured him, I wanted to slit my throat with all of his bitching & complaining. I don’t really like honey; it’s good in honey cake or some kinds of tea but I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan. I’m more into raw sugar/German rock sugar in my tea. I do like mint, though, and I grow it in my garden. There’s a whole lot about this recipe I’m not a big fan of, but as they say, the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Plus- it’s hot, granita is easy to make, and I’m lazy. I’ve made it before & I have to say, there’s probably nothing simpler. And when it’s so hot out the devil himself knocks on your door & asks if you’ve got central air, you don’t want anything complex.

Granita is an Italian dessert, specifically Sicilian, traditionally made from sugar, water, and flavoring. The most popular in Italy being lemon and almond, it has expanded into chocolate & other flavors. The texture can run the gamut from sorbet-like to snow-cone-like and everything in between. This one is a chunkier, icier one. I like all the different textures, myself, my favorites being the smooth Italian ice kind and the really ice crystal-y kind.

So like I said above, if I can be brutally honest (and when am I ever not?)… I love tea. I really do. I love all kinds of teas; herbal, chai, black, white, oolong, etc. However… personally, and pardon my French… but I think Green tea sucks hardcore balls. It’s not good, at all. And if it is good, it’s because it’s combined with other flavors & sweeteners (i.e. honey, lemon, orange, pomegranate, etc). But I totally get the health benefits of it (source):

1. Lowers your risk of cancer. Although the studies of how green tea affects cancerous cells are still in their infancy, there have been human trials which indicate that it does inhibit cells from developing cancer. EGCG in green tea regulates and inhibits cancer growth by killing cells that are growing inappropriately. In Japan, a study of 500 women with Stage I and Stage II breast cancer found that increasing their green tea consumption before and after surgery significantly lowered the risk of recurrence. Another analysis of 22 studies of the correlation between green tea and lung cancer concluded that by increasing your intake of green tea by two cups a day may reduce the risk of developing lung cancer by 18%.
2. Eases the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Study results reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that polyphenol antioxidants in green tea benefits suffers of arthritis by reducing the incidence and severity of the disease. EGCG protects cartilage destruction and reduces joint swelling and pain. This leads many scientists and health professionals to recommend green tea as a legitimate remedy for treating arthritis.
3. Stabilizes your cholesterol levels. Researchers believe that green tea lowers your cholesterol levels by reducing its absorption in your digestive tract and increasing the rate of which it is excreted. However, your body does need cholesterol to build cell membranes, insulate nerve fibres and create hormones. For this, green tea benefits you by preventing the conversion of LDL cholesterol into it’s more dangerous, oxidized form. Oxidized LDL is one of the main factors in the development of atherosclerosis (the build of plaque that blocks your arteries as LDL gets sticky and clings to your artery walls) and increases your risk of heart attack or stroke. The amazing antioxidant effects of green tea protect this, helping to keep your arteries clean.
4. Prevents cardiovascular disease. A Japanese study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed significant reductions in deaths from cardiovascular disease among green tea drinkers. The study found that over an 11 year test period, individuals who drank more than 5 cups per day had a 16% less chance of mortality and mortality related to cardiovascular disease when compared to individuals who drank less than one cup per day. They also found that green tea was especially beneficially in preventing strokes, due in large part to the antioxidants and how they prevent clogged arteries.
5. Boosts your immune system. Catechins, the antioxidant polyphenol compounds, have been shown to have a major impact in your immune system. Research conducted by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2003 revealed that theanine, found in green tea, boosted the activity of the gamma delta T cells that form part of our adaptive and innate immunity. The study followed a group of coffee drinkers and a group of tea drinkers who each drank 600ml of their drink daily. Blood samples taken four weeks later quite clearly showed that production of these anti-bacterial proteins were five times higher in those drinking tea.
6. Promotes weight loss. Both green tea and green tea extract have been shown to fight obesity and lower LDL cholesterol – both of which ultimately lead to a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. The polyphenols in green tea are extremely useful for dissolving triglycerides, a substance in the liver and small intestine made up of mostly sugar and fat, and this is thought to be the reason green tea benefits fat loss. EGCG is also known to stimulate your metabolism and accelerate weight loss. When combined with the caffeine in green tea, this causes your central nervous system to release fat into the bloodstream to be used as fuel which burns your body fat off.
7. Reduces tooth decay. Antibacterial properties found in green tea are also used by your body to kill the bacteria that causes plaque on your teeth. Research by the Journal of Periodontology has also shown that for every cup of green tea you drink, there is a decrease in indicators for gum disease. Fluoride is also found in green tea which helps to protect against cavities.
8. Effective in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. In 2007, Dr. Orhan Aktas from the Institute of Neuroimmunology conducted a study of how green tea benefits sufferers of multiple sclerosis. While current patients do not have many options to prevent tissue damage and disability, he found that the flavonoid EGCG found in green tea could have a huge impact on multiple sclerosis. He concluded that EGCG is capable of directly protecting against neuronal injury in living brain tissue and that EGCG constituents may open up a new therapeutic avenue for treating MS by combining anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective capacities.
9. Slows the onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. A recent report published in the journal Phytomedicine has found substantial evidence that the enzymes found in green tea protect your brain cells from damage. Another study conducted by the University of South Florida looked at the effects of antioxidant EGCG. It was shown to be a protein blocker which prevented the chemical reactions that can lead to nerve damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
10. Fights the cause of allergies in your body. Methylated epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) has been shown to block a cells receptor involved in producing an allergic response. By blocking the production of histamine and immunoglobulin E (IgE), two compounds in the body that are chiefly involved in triggering and sustaining allergic reactions, EGCG could very well be the compound which prevents you from having watery eyes, sneezing and coughing.
11. Helps to fend off infections. Again, as one of the main benefits of green tea, EGCG has been highlighted by a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology as being able to prevent infections, including the HIV virus. EGCG binds with CD4 immune system T-cell receptors and stops HIV from doing the same to reduce the risk of infection. While it is still way too early to peg green tea as a cure for HIV, an Egyptian study has shown that combining antibiotics with green tea significantly boosts the effectiveness of the antibiotic. In fact, when tested against 28 disease-causing microorganisms, green tea enhanced the bacteria killing power in every single case.
12. Reduces and prevents acne. Green tea benefits acne in a number of different ways. It’s antibacterial properties attack and kill the acne bacteria while the anti-inflammatory benefits of green tea reduce the swelling and redness. Antioxidants fight against free radicals which damage the skin and make it more susceptible to acne also help to balance hormone levels to help prevent future breakouts from happening.
13. Slows the aging process to prevent wrinkles. One of the latest benefits of green tea is the effect it has on your skin and the aging process. It is again down to the antioxidants that prevent cell oxidation and damage that can make you look older than you really are. Studies are mixed on this particular green tea benefit as new research has come to light which suggests the full benefits can only be had by applying green tea topically to your skin. However, many people have found that potent green tea extracts do have a positive effect on their skin, leaving it softer, more supply and younger looking.

So yeah, I see how it’s worth it to imbibe in it once in a while. For me, it’s easier to do so if it’s in a icy, sweet, minty & refreshing form like this granita.

Despite Mark Bittman being annoying, this recipe went over big on a super hot June day when I was at a loss as to what kind of dessert to make. Thanks Mark. Or actually, thanks to the real author of the recipe, Freya Bellin.

MINTY GREEN TEA & HONEY GRANITA

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 green tea bags, or 2 tablespoons loose green tea
  • ¼ cup fresh mint
  • ¼ cup honey, or more as needed
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Directions:

  1. Bring 3 cups water almost to a boil. Add the tea and mint, cover, and turn off the heat. Let steep for 10 minutes, then strain to remove the solids. Stir in the honey and lemon juice. Taste and add more honey if necessary to make a nicely sweet blend.
  2. Pour the mixture into a shallow glass or ceramic pan and freeze for at least 2 hours, stirring to break up the crystals every 30 minutes or so. It should be slushy and crunchy with ice crystals.
  3. If the granita becomes too hard, pulse it (do not puree) in a food processor before serving, or set it in the fridge for a bit and stir once in a while to bring back the desired texture.

Keep in mind, as it freezes it will lose some sweetness, so add the honey accordingly. Also, you could do this with almost any kind of tea, herbal or otherwise. Granita lends itself so well to almost any kind of flavor or liquid. I used fresh lemon juice to make lemon granita, and I used P♥M Wonderful pomegranate juice & orange juice to make pomegranate granita last year, just take off from that stepping stone. Next time I think I’ll try a black tea with some lemon & sugar. Or maybe the traditional almond… mmm.

….

Garnished with fresh mint (as I garnish all the granita’s I make), it’s a deliciously refreshing summer treat, that you don’t need to sweat your balls off in a hot kitchen to make. Those cute little glasses are from Ikea & they’re drinking glasses, but a perfect size for serving granita, mini-parfaits or ice cream.