Tag Archives: #ice cream

Cocoa Amaretto Ice Cream with Cowboy Bark

A subtle amaretto and brown sugar custard base gets a burst of chocolate from cocoa almond spread and chocolate bark. It’s sure to be a crowd pleaser!

For my latest diabolical ice cream creation, I drew inspiration from my favorite nocciola (hazelnut) and amaretto Italian gelato flavors. As I’ve found home ice cream makers and residential freezers distort the delicate texture of a milk-based gelato, I’ve used my standard custard base. The thickness of a cooked, egg-based custard creates an ideal, soft texture and rich product that you’ll enjoy long after it hits the freezer.

For additional texture and an intense burst of chocolate, I incorporated chocolate bark, which is usually less brittle than solid chocolate. Trader Joe’s Cowboy Bark is a personal favorite of mine, with a sweet-salty smattering of chopped nuts, pretzels, and toffee to make it extremely addictive and fun. If you’re avoiding gluten, find another type of bark to suit your needs.

Cocoa Amaretto Ice Cream with Cowboy Bark

Yield – One Quart

  • 1 Tbsp. salted butter
  • 1/4 c. Brown sugar
  • 1 c. Plus 4 tbsp. Heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 c. Amaretto liqueur
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 6 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 c. Granulated sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa almond spread (for a hazelnut flavor, use a chocolate-hazelnut spread, such as Nutella)
  • Chocolate bark, such as Trader Joe’s Cowboy Bark (about one cup, chopped)

In a medium pot over medium heat melt the butter. Quickly whisk in the brown sugar to form a paste. Gradually add the four tablespoons of whipping cream whisk (set aside one cup of cream). Whisk in the amaretto and vanilla and allow to bubble/boil for 5-10 minutes. The liquid’s volume should reduce by 1/3 to 1/2.  

Whisk in the milk and remaining cup of whipping cream. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, separate eggs and place the yolks in a small mixing bowl (save or discard the egg whites). Beat briskly with a wire whisk (small bubbles should appear) for about 30 seconds. Gradually add the granulated (white) sugar and beat with the whisk until sugar is more or less dissolved.  

When the milk mixture has reached a boil, allow it to boil for 2-4 minutes; it should begin to expand or become frothy. Remove from heat. Pour about 1 cup of the milk mixture into the eggs, whisking in gradually to temper the eggs. Add in another cup of the milk mixture to the eggs, whisking continuously. Pour the resulting milk-egg mixture into the pot with the remaining milk and whisk to incorporate fully.

Return the pot to heat. Whisking occasionally, bring to a slight boil; remove the pot immediately from the heat to prevent curdling. The custard should now be thick enough to coat a mixing spoon.

Cool the mixture for about 15 minutes at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until thoroughly chilled (you can chill overnight or for 24 hours). Whisk periodically if possible during the first hour of chilling. You can shortcut the chilling by placing the custard in the freezer for about 30 minutes, but stir/whisk every 5 minutes to prevent a skin from forming and the custard from freezing to the metal.

Outfit your ice cream maker and pour in the custard. Follow instructions for your appliance and begin churning. Meanwhile (if not churning manually), roughly chop chocolate bark into 1/2″ (approx. 1.5 cm chunks). About 5-10 minutes from completion of churning, or when the ice cream is uniformly firm but still churning smoothly, add the cocoa-almond spread, a few tablespoons at a time. Next, complete the ice cream by adding the bark pieces directly to the mixture.

Transfer to airtight containers and freeze.

Voodoo Doughnut-inspired “Memphis Mafia” ice cream

It is quite possibly the most ridiculous ice cream inspired by an equally ridiculous pastry.

Here we have a surprisingly elegant but decadent ice cream, inspired by a gluttonous fritter that in turn is a pop food culture to Elvis Presley and his legendary love of (fried) peanut butter and banana sandwiches. What?? Such a complicated means to an end – but one that’s worth exploring.

A rich peanut butter and banana custard base, with a hint of brown sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Bittersweet, homemade sea salt ganache and cinnamon roll pieces swirl throughout this rich indulgence. It seems so complex, yet it isn’t terribly difficult to execute. You’ll never make boring ice cream again!

You might be baffled why on earth someone would create an ice cream based on a doughnut (more specifically, a fritter), much less such a bizarrely constructed pastry in the first place. If you have ever visited or heard about Voodoo Doughnut, then you have an idea what I’m talking about.

Portland, Oregon’s Voodoo Doughnut has captivated foodies, pop culture devotees, and tourists alike with its uber kitschy, sharp-humored and decadent creations. Check out my related blog post to learn more about this food and cultural phenomenon. During my visit to Voodoo Doughnuts, it was a friend’s selection of pastry that inspired me. Their Memphis Mafia is a gluttonous monstrosity of a pastry: an enormous, glazed cinnamon and banana fritter topped with peanut butter, chocolate icing, and chocolate chips. It is $6 and took three of us three days to eat it. It pays loving homage to The King himself, Elvis Presley. And it is absolutely delicious.

Back home, I couldn’t help but think about that combination of flavors and how great it would be as an ice cream. So here you have it. A deconstructed Memphis Mafia fritter, with a bizarrely synchronous combination of banana, peanut butter, chocolate, and cinnamon. Rather than wasting several perfectly good bakery fritters, I used readily available cinnamon rolls. Their doughy, subtly sweet flavor helps keep the ice cream from becoming cloyingly sweet.

Tip: dip the cinnamon rolls in the chilled custard base and set aside on wax paper just before beginning the churning process. While the custard churns, the cinnamon rolls will soak up some of the liquid, which will help prevent ice crystals from forming (and the pieces of pastry from becoming icy and brittle) during storage in the freezer.

warm ganache

A homemade, bittersweet chocolate witha hint of sea salt ganache adds an element of sophistication.

churned decadence

The end result is nothing short of amazing. Good luck eating more than a scoop at a time – it is so rich and filling that a little goes a long way. Kind of like the Memphis Mafia fritter itself…!

Voodoo Doughnut-inspired Memphis Mafia ice cream

Sea Salt Ganache:

  • 4 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate*
  • 4 oz. (1/2 cup) heavy whipping cream
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract (optional)

*When choosing chocolate, go with good quality chocolate, but don’t worry too much about percentage chocolate/sweetness. You can use chocolate chips or junks but make sure to use only pure chocolate – no fillers or vegetable fats! I use what I have on hand. In this case, I combined 2 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate (Guittard brand) with 2 oz. semisweet chunks. The result needed a bit added sugar, so you can add in 1-2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar with the heated milk to sweeten.

Make the ganache at least two hours before starting the custard. It keeps well at room temperature overnight and can be made well in advance.

Chop chocolate using a serrated knife. Set aside. In a microwave-safe glass container or liquid measuring cup, measure the cream. Microwave on high heat for one minute or until the cream begins to bubble. Add the chocolate to the cream and whisk to melt the chocolate. Add the salt and any additional sugar and/or vanilla if desired and whisk until smooth. Let stand uncovered until the mixture reaches room temperature and the ganache becomes somewhat firm. Cover and store at room temperature until needed per below. Chill about 20-30 minutes immediately prior to incorporating into the ice cream mixer. Leftover ganache is great on anything or makes a lovely truffle on its own.

Ice cream custard base:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 c. Peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract or 1 whole vanilla bean
  • 1 tsp. Ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups (about 4 rolls) baked cinnamon rolls, diced into 1-2 inch pieces

Custard base instructions:

Purée the bananas in a food processor or blender; set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk and cream to a boil; if using a whole vanilla bean, steep it in the milk while heating. While the milk heats, in a small mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with 1/4 cup brown sugar using a wire whisk (about one minute by hand).

When the cream begins to bubble, remove from heat. Remove vanilla bean from the milk; slice in half vertically from top to bottom; scrape the seeds from the pod halves and add them back to the milk. Discard pods or save them for reuse. Whisk in remaining 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract (if not using the bean) until incorporated.

Temper the egg mixture:  Add about 1/2 cup of the milk mixture to the small bowl with the eggs. Whisk quickly to combine. Add another 1/2 cup of the milk to the egg mixture, whisk. Pour the entire egg mixture into the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture and whisk thoroughly.

Return back to heat and reduce heat to medium-low heat. Gradually whisk in the banana and then peanut butter until smooth. Allow the entire mixture to heat until small bubbles form. Remove immediately from heat, whisk, and cool to room temperature. Chill the custard for two hours or overnight; if time is short, chill in the freezer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Ice cream assembly:

When ready to churn the ice cream, prepare your ice cream maker/attachment. Dip the cinnamon pieces in the custard individually or pour a small amount of the custard onto the cinnamon roll pieces and toss to coat. Set cinnamon roll pieces aside on wax paper and allow the custard to soak in.

Pour the custard into the ice cream maker and freeze according to the equipment manufacturers’ instructions.

When the ice cream is finished freezing, add the ganache and cinnamon roll pieces and allow the ice cream maker to continue to churn and mix in the ganache and pastry bits. Remove the bowl from the attachment and if needed, mix by hand with a rubber spatula to disperse the mix-ins. Serve immediately or chill for 1 hour prior to serving. Garnish with chocolate chunks.

If storing long-term, freeze in small, airtight portions. Thaw for 30 minutes before serving.

Recipe Reinterpretation: Salt & Straw’s Strawberry-rhubarb pie coconut ice “cream”

Portland, Oregon’s Salt & Straw makes a killer coconut milk ice cream packed with gooey, tangy chunks of strawberry-rhubarb pie. I recreated it with easy to assemble ingredients. So great you won’t miss the dairy, and non-vegans will miss the fact that it can be vegan.

After trying my sister’s scoop of Coconut with Petunia’s Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, I was enamored – and a bit envious of her choice. After I learned that its base consisted of coconut milk instead of dairy, I was floored. I’ve had nondairy, coconut milk ice cream before, but this version took it to another level. It was so creamy and had the melt-in-your-mouth texture of dairy cream, it seemed rich and indulgent.

Back home on the East Coast, attempting to replicate that experience was a no-brainer. The resulting nondairy ice cream incorporates pureed fruit, which lightens it up for hot summer days poolside. It may be a relatively healthy reinterpretation of the strawberry rhubarb pie coconut ice cream, but it does not skimp on large chunks of fresh strawberry-rhubarb pie. My own version was not completely vegan, since I used a pie containing eggs, but if you can make your own or find an egg and dairy-free store-bought version, you can keep it vegan-friendly.

What The CD used:
I used Silk brand Original coconut milk. It has added (natural) stabilizers, which help it emulsify cleanly with the strawberry purée. Purists may want to use canned coconut milk or cream instead, which is richer and tends to have fewer additives.

I purchased a ready-made, fresh strawberry-rhubarb pie from Trader Joe’s. It is all-natural, preservative free, and best of all, inexpensive at about $6. It also happens to have plenty of crust and gooey fruitiness, which make this a full-fledged dessert. By all means, if you’d like to make your own from scratch, go ahead! Personally, I believe it’s entirely too much effort for an ice cream mix-in.  Since the recipe only calls for half of a pie, however, it’s a great use for the leftover pie we almost always have after large gatherings and potluck meals.

Coconut Milk Ice Cream with Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 1 cup organic (Bio) whole strawberries OR 1/2 c. Strawberries and 1/2 c. Fresh rhubarb, diced – either brought to room temperature
  • 1/2 c. Evaporated cane juice (sugar)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. red dessert wine (optional)
  • 3 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract

Chill the pie 1-2 hours before freezing the ice cream.  In a small food processor or blender, partially purée strawberries (or strawberry/rhubarb blend), leaving some texture.

In a small saucepan, warm the puréed fruit on medium-low heat (3-4 setting out of 10). Add the citrus juice and wine (if desired) and bring to a slight bubble. Remove from heat and bring to room temperature.  Transfer to refrigerator (or freezer to save time) and chill.

Return puree to food processor/blender and gradually pulse in coconut milk until fully incorporated.  Add vanilla extract and pulse to mix. Assemble ice cream appliance, add the coconut milk base, and freeze according to instructions.  While the ice cream is churning, cut the pie into rough chunks.  It need not be pretty! Just before the churning is finished, add in the pie pieces until dispersed evenly.

Freeze for about one hour before serving. If storing long-term, freeze in airtight containers. Thaw for an hour before serving.

Salt and Straw: Portland’s haute ice creamery

Lines stretching far beyond the door are commonplace at each of Portland, Oregon’s Salt and Straw ice cream shops. Locals and visitors alike flock to them – and for good reason. Salt and Straw is an ice cream innovator, concocting dairy and non-dairy ice cream varieties you won’t find anywhere else.

By now, you know that I love ice cream – both eating it and making it. I have enjoyed and often preferred wonderful ice cream from all over the world, and I have to say after recently trying establishments like Jeni’s and Salt and Straw, the USA has come a long way in improving the quality of small-batch ice creameries in the past few years.

Salt and Straw has ridden the wave both of Portland’s vibrant food scene and of a growing trend for what I call haute creameries that incorporate the best in technique and technology, fresh and novel ingredients, and creative flavor profiles. Salt and Straw has mastered the trend, perhaps even aided by its odd name. Its ice cream, sorbet, and coconut milk/cream bases are rich, dense, and smooth.

Everything is fair game for flavorings: from chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels, local marionberries with habanero and goat cheese, olive oil, strawberry with balsamic vinegar and black pepper, pear and blue cheese; brownies with brownie batter; local coffee and bourbon; homemade almond brittle; to a special series of ice creams incorporating local, seasonal berries.

Unfortunately, I was too full to try a tasting flight of four ice cream flavors, so I chose the salted ganache with almond brittle. Its dark chocolate ganache had the most subtle hint of sea salt (I would have added more), and the homemade almost brittle paired with the ganache so well that I could barely separate the elements of the ice cream.

I sampled a few others, such as the Marionberry, goat cheese, and habanero, but it was the coconut milk based, nondairy coconut rhubarb pie that all but obliterated the memory of any other flavor. The coconut was so light and the texture so creamy that my sensitive tastebuds still wouldn’t have realized it was nondairy. The sweet, oversized chunks of rhubarb pie were luscious, bursting with fruit and with the nice contrasts in texture from the cream base, gooey fruit filling, and comforting pie crust. I don’t know why it has never occurred to me to put chunks of pie in ice cream, but what an essential twist on pie a la mode!

My brief fling with Salt and Straw left me wanting more. I can’t wait for my next visit to Portland and a tasting flight or heaping waffle cone of the flavors I didn’t try from Salt and Straw.

Watermelon frozen Greek yogurt

Delicate, light, and refreshing, this easy frozen yogurt is a guilt-free dessert you’ll love. Whether you’re looking for a novel idea for a baby shower or cookout, or just a Tuesday night, try it out. Start to finish in under an hour!

Watermelon is easy is fresh and easy to come by in the summer. So I had this crazy idea to combine it with dairy and turn it into an ice cream. Wanting a healthier alternative, I instead settled on frozen yogurt, using leftover Fage Total 0% plain yogurt I had on hand. I can’t think of a more simple, yet unexpected frozen yogurt flavor! If you are planning ahead, make the yogurt/watermelon base and chill until 30 minutes to 2-3 hours before serving. I don’t advocate freezing a low fat dessert for a long period of time, as it loses that soft, smooth texture and some of the flavor after it hardens in the freezer.

The CD welcomes your feedback!

Watermelon frozen Greek yogurt

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

  • 2 cups fresh watermelon, cubed
  • 1 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, drained
  • 1/4 cup clover or wildflower honey
  • 2 tsp. lime juice

Puree watermelon in a food processor or blender. Strain the watermelon pulp over a bowl or liquid measuring cup.   

Do not rinse excess pulp from the empty food processor/blender bowl.  Add yogurt to the food processor/blender bowl. Return the strained juice (yields about 1/2 cup of liquid) to the food processor. Add honey and lime juice. Blend/pulse thoroughly.   

Transfer mixture to ice cream maker or attachment and freeze/churn according to the equipment’s standard directions. Serve immediately for best flavor and texture.  Leftover watermelon pulp can be used in smoothies. Waste not, want not!


The oddest ice cream I ever ate: The corn sundae

Ice cream.  What could be more perfect on a sweltering day? When you’re traveling in foreign lands, you might get a reminder of how something that seems universal really means something different to other cultures.  When I visited Thailand, several years ago, I had that realization when I encountered the corn sundae.

‘DipNote’:  Before I continue, I’d just like to take a moment to thank all of you readers – whether you are followers or casual friends or fellow bloggers who happened to ‘stop by.’ As of yesterday, The Culinary Diplomat is six months old!  It’s been a lot of work, three food adventures per week for six months, and it would mean nothing if not for each of you!  Thank you!

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Corn is more American as apple pie!  Yet corn is not something Americans typically eat for dessert, much less with ice cream.  It didn’t take long in the great city of Bangkok  to realize that the Thai people (and other southeast Asian people) view corn differently than my own culture.  Where we Americans look at fresh corn and see animal feed; July 4th corn on the cob or perhaps spicy, cheesy Mexican elote; and maybe cornbread or corn pudding, Thai restaurants treat it as a sweet delicacy.  It was an exotic topping for pizza (also, I’ve seen that in Europe and India) and also a sweet filling even in McDonald’s fast-food pies.


So when I walked by a KFC storefront and saw a sandwich board propped outside advertising a corn sundae, I was intrigued. Yes, Americans, it was that KFC; it is huge in Asia, much more popular these days as an export to Asia than in the States. After passing by several more times, I finally decided to convince my friends that we had to try it.

Try it we did. The corn sundae consisted of vanilla soft-serve ice cream, followed by a parfait-like layer of creamed corn (the very stuff your grandmother made you eat as a child), then more ice cream, all topped with canned yellow corn.  Now, I like corn pudding and sweet cornbread.  I thought it would be a bit odd, but doable. One bite … and it was horrendous.

I still giggle, years later, when I see the photos of the look on my face while eating it, and then watching my friends go through the same. All three of us couldn’t eat a bite with a straight face.  We meant no insult to Thai taste buds, but it wasn’t a flavor combination that was remotely pleasing or familiar. And by trying it in a fast-food sundae, I’d hoped to ease into that flavor profile – something not too foreign, but even that was a bit much.

Later in the same trip, we had a similar experience with what looked identical to a giant Rice Krispie treat in a Hong Kong convenience store. It turned out to have no sugar or sweetness whatsoever to it, which was unexpected and thus disappointing!

For as many amazing food adventures as I’ve had since that trip, these are examples of ones that were taste failures.  Why? Not necessarily because they were terrible, but because we had different expectations, and the reality was beyond underwhelming.  Despite that, they were wonderful adventures shared with my best friends. So they were worth every grimace!

I’m still avoiding corn sundaes these days, but I’ll take Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams‘ Sun-Popped Corn in its American kettle corn, candy-sweet glory!

Bourbon Brown Sugar Caramel Ice Cream

Looking to America for culinary inspiration, I bring you an ice cream to wow your friends or guests. Brown sugar, caramel, and cream accentuate the Southern charm of bourbon. Crumbled caramel-cashew cookies add buttery sweetness and crunchy texture to this grown-up dessert.

I wrote my first blog post several months before the launch of The Culinary Diplomat. Though it was not the first published, that post was about the best ice cream I’ve ever had (to date) – at Butter and Cream in Decatur, Georgia. So it’s fitting that at some point, the memory of their Bourbon Toffee flavor would inspire on of my own ice cream creations. This one holds its own and would make an excellent ending to a dinner party – or even Treat Yoself Thursday (Parks and Recreation reference)! While it’s not a dessert you can whip up spontaneously, a small amount of planning and time give you a no-stress culinary experience.

I prefer to eat or serve this ice cream in a softer state, so chilling the finished product in the freezer for one to two hours and then serving immediately is ideal. It also makes a great ice cream sandwich! Instead of crushing and mixing the cookies into the custard in the ice cream machine, keep them whole and fill them with the finished ice cream before it hardens. It’s definitely not your childhood ice cream sandwich!


Bourbon Brown Sugar Caramel Ice Cream

Yield – One Quart

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 c. Dulce de leche or prepared caramel*
  • 1/4 c. Brown sugar
  • 1 c. Plus 4 tbsp. Heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 c. Bourbon whisky
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract
  • 6 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 c. Granulated sugar
  • Crispy cookies of your choice**

In a medium pot over medium-low heat (just under medium), melt the butter. Stir in the dulce de leche or caramel and melt. Add a few tablespoons (about 2) of whipping cream and stir. Stir or whisk in the brown sugar to form a paste; add the remaining 2 tbsp. of cream (setting aside one cup). Add the bourbon and vanilla, stir to incorporate and allow to bubble/boil for about 5 minutes. The liquid’s volume should reduce slightly.

Whisk in the milk and remaining cup of whipping cream. Bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, separate eggs and place the yolks in a small mixing bowl. Beat with a wire whisk (small bubbles should appear). Gradually add the granulated (white) sugar and beat until sugar is more or less dissolved.

When the milk mixture has reached a boil, allow it to boil for 2-4 minutes; it should begin to expand or become frothy. Remove from heat. Pour about 1 cup of the milk mixture into the eggs, whisking in gradually to temper the eggs. Add in another cup of the milk mixture to the eggs, whisking continuously. Pour the resulting milk-egg mixture into the pot with the remaining milk and whisk in to incorporate fully.

Return the pot to heat. Whisking occasionally, bring to a slight boil; remove the pot immediately from the heat to prevent curdling. The custard should now be thick enough to coat a mixing spoon.


Cool the mixture for about 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until thoroughly chilled. Whisk periodically if possible. You can shortcut the chilling by placing in the freezer for about 30 minutes, but stir/whisk every 5 minutes to prevent a skin from forming and the custard from freezing to the metal.

Outfit your ice cream maker and pour in the custard. Follow instructions for your appliance. Crush 8-12 small cookies roughly to produce and uneven mixture of both crumbs and small pieces. About 5-10 minutes from completion of churning, add in the cookies directly to the mixture and continue churning until complete.


Transfer to airtight containers and freeze.

Alternatively, omit the crushed cookies and make ice cream sandwiches by placing the freshly churned, soft ice cream immediately between two individual cookies. Wrap tightly and freeze.

*I used jarred dulce de leche (available at Trader Joe’s or in cans in your grocery’s Latin/International foods stores). I advise against using prepared caramel made for ice cream topping, as it is often made with quite a bit of unhealthy fillers, such as high-fructose corn syrup or preservatives and no butter or milk. Look for varieties with fewer ingredients, or make your own.

**I used Trader Joe’s caramel cashew cookies, which compliment the bourbon and caramel nicely, and they add a nice crunch. Vanilla wafers, crushed biscotti, chocolate chip, or even chocolate sandwich cookies could work as well. Use enough cookies to create about one cup of pieces/crumbs when crushed.