Bless Your Spoon: Ice cream gifts as sweet as it gets

Published 4:00 pm Thursday, August 17, 2023

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By Stephanie Williams Dean

I had forgotten all about the neighborhood popsicle man. But upon hearing that familiar jingle, I did as I’d always done — I ran to catch him.

The heat of the season calls forth summer’s own precious memories. There’s nothing like music tunes coming from a vintage ice cream truck to remind us of the hot and humid days of childhood. Neighborhood kids would race down the street in hopes of catching the truck — to buy thirst-quenching, ice-cold sweet treats.

Many other memories have to do with the refreshing tastes of frozen cream eaten in many creative culinary forms — homemade and hand-dipped from a crank churn or combined for frozen pies, cakes and other delectable desserts. Ice cream has always been a special occasion food — the dessert associated with holidays, parties, birthdays and other celebrations.

Following piano recitals, my teacher, Mr. Goodman, treated his students to an ice cream social at the restaurant Candyland. With a name like that, you can imagine how much we looked forward to the sweet reward that followed a piano solo well performed.

Another memory was a trip to Shoney’s for the sole purpose of eating their iconic signature dessert — Hot Fudge Cake. A rich chocolate cake was layered with premium vanilla ice cream and then drizzled in a decadent, thick sauce of hot fudge. One bite of that and one would think they’d died and gone to heaven.   

I can’t help but remember Mamma and her love for homemade peach ice cream. She’d pour in the creamy, fresh peach mixture while Dad packed salt and ice around it. And then we’d wait and check it — and wait and check it, again — and again and again, for what seemed like an eternity. That special moment would arrive when the sweet fresh fruit cream would be ready for eating. I still have the vintage, red-handled, metal scooper that belonged to Mamma.

Memories of homemade, creamy, ice-cold cream melting on my tongue are sweet ones. Doesn’t that make you want to pull out your electric ice cream freezer and dust it off? Let’s do it.

Today’s recipes give you some summer treat options, including Mamma’s delicious peach cream. In addition, I want to share with you a cool online gift source so you can treat yourself or someone else. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams sells unforgettable, curated and crave-worthy collections of flavored creams — order the collection of 6 favorite pints. Yes, decadent ice cream treats can now be delivered!

Ice Cream Truck Nutty Buddy

• 1 package melting chocolate, plus

• Chopped salted peanuts/other nuts

• 1 half-gallon premium vanilla ice cream

• Popsicle sticks

In a saucepan or microwave, melt enough chocolate per instructions. Melt enough chocolate for dipping the ice cream balls. In a processor, chop enough peanuts or desired nuts for rolling and pour into a bowl. Cover a large baking pan with waxed paper or foil. With an ice cream scooper, scoop out round balls of ice cream, place on waxed paper and insert a popsicle stick about 2 inches. Using the stick to hold, roll ice cream ball in the melted chocolate.  Then roll in crushed peanuts. Freeze. You can eat these on popsicle sticks or serve in a bowl drizzled with additional hot fudge sauce, if desired.

Shoney-Like Sauce Pan Fudge Cake 

• ¼ cup softened, salted butter

• 1 ½ ounces grated Baker’s unsweetened chocolate

• ½ cup boiling water

• 1 cup cake flour

• ¾ tsp. baking soda

• ½ tsp. salt

• 1 cup granulated sugar

• 1 beaten egg

• ¼ cup sour cream

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

• Softened premium vanilla ice cream

In a saucepan, place butter, grated chocolate and water. Stir until melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add sifted flour, soda, salt and sugar to the saucepan. Stir until smooth. Add beaten egg, sour cream and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Mix well. Pour into a butter-greased 8 x 8 baking dish, and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until cake tests done. Allow cake to completely cool. When cooled, turn out on a flat surface, and cut cake horizontally into 2 layers. Place one layer back in the baking pan. Spoon out softened vanilla ice cream and spread about a 1-inch layer of ice cream on cake layer in the pan. Place remaining cake layer on top of ice cream. Freeze for several hours. When ready to serve, cut into squares and drizzle with warmed fudge sauce. You can also bake the cake and ice it for a single-layer cake. I baked mine in a 9-inch cast iron skillet.

Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce

• 3 ounces Bakers melted baking chocolate

• 1 Tbsp. melted, salted butter

• 1 cup sugar

• 1 can evaporated milk

• ½ tsp. vanilla extract

In a heavy saucepan, melt chocolate with butter. Stir in sugar until dissolved and add milk. Continue stirring until sauce is thick. Stir in vanilla. Drizzle over ice cream. Reheat over hot water when necessary.

Mamma’s Homemade Peach Cream

• 1 quart diced fresh peaches

• 3 cups sugar

• ½ juiced fresh lemon

• Pinch of salt

• ½ tsp. almond extract

• 1-quart whipping cream

• 1 pint Half’ n Half

In a large bowl, combine peaches, sugar, lemon juice, salt and almond flavoring. Mix well. Add whipping cream and 1 pint of half ‘n half. Mix well. Pour into electric freezer. Add more half ‘n half if necessary to fill freezer can ¾ of the way full. Freeze and remove dasher. Keep the can in ice-filled bucket until ready to serve or put can in the freezer. Enjoy the fresh taste of peaches and cream!

Raspberry Parfait Pie

• 2 cups frozen raspberries

• Raspberry juice

• Water

• 1 small package regular raspberry gelatin

• 2 cups premium vanilla ice cream

• Whipped cream

• Prebaked pie shell

Drain all juice from frozen raspberries in a bowl. To a saucepan, add juice with just enough water to measure 1 ½ cups. Bring mixture to a boil, and add 1 small box of regular raspberry gelatin and 2 cups of vanilla ice cream. Stir until gelatin is dissolved and ice cream melts. Beat to blend. Chill slightly. Then fold in raspberries. Pour into a pre-baked 8-inch pie shell, and chill an additional hour.  Top each serving with whipped cream.

Coffee Cream & Fudgy Muddy Pie

• 1 ½ cups chocolate cookie crumbs

• 1/3 cup melted salted butter

• 1 ½ quart premium coffee ice cream

• 9-ounce jar premium hot fudge sauce

• ¾ cup whipped cream

• ¼ cup toasted macadamia or almond nuts

In a bowl, combine cookie crumbs with melted butter and mix well. Press down into bottom of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 8 minutes. Allow to completely cool. Freeze pie shell. After freezing, evenly spread softened ice cream over the crust. Freeze for 1 hour. Evenly spread fudge sauce over ice cream. Mound whipped cream on pie and sprinkle with toasted nuts. Freeze for 3 hours.

Dreamy Pistachio Dessert

• 40 finely crushed Ritz crackers

• 1 stick melted, salted butter

• 2 package instant pistachio pudding

• 1 ½ cup cold, whole milk

• 1 quart softened, premium vanilla ice cream

• Cool Whip

• 1 cup crushed Heath Bar

In a bowl, mix crackers and melted butter. Pat into bottom of a 13 x 9 glass baking dish. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. In another bowl, combine pudding with milk. Beat until thick. Spoon in ice cream and mix well. Pour mixture into crust and freeze for a few hours. Spread Cool Whip over top and cover with chopped Heath bars. You can use frozen yogurt or ice cream.

Fresh Fruit & Cream Bomb with Sauce

• 16 ounces chopped fresh/frozen peaches

• ½ cup fresh peach juice

• 1 cup sour cream

• 1 quart premium vanilla ice cream

Soften ice cream. Peel, pit and chop peaches. Drain peaches and reserve juice. In a processor, puree peaches. In a bowl, combine peaches, ½ cup reserved juice, sour cream and ice cream. Mix well. Pour into any pretty mold and freeze at least 6 hours. Unmold with warm towel onto a platter and freeze again for 30 minutes before serving. Top with blueberry or other fruit sauce when serving. You can use a combo of your favorite ice cream and fruit for the mold and your favorite sauce using chopped strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries or peaches — making sure flavors complement one another.

Blueberry Sauce

• 1 Tbsp. cornstarch

• 2 Tbsp. sugar

• 1 cup water

• 1 cup fresh blueberries/other fruit

• 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

In a saucepan, blend cornstarch with sugar. Add water and stir until both have dissolved. Cook over low heat until thickened. Stir in berries and lemon juice. Can be used with any berries or peaches.

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Pie

• 1 ½ cups crushed pretzels

• ¼ cup melted salted butter

• 1/3 cup sugar

• ¾ cup Peter Pan peanut butter

• 4 ounces Cool Whip

• 1 quart softened, chocolate ice cream

In a bowl, combine crushed pretzels with melted butter and sugar. Press into bottom and sides of butter-greased 9-inch pie plate. Bake 10 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven. Allow to completely cool. In another bowl, combine peanut butter and Cool Whip with the ice cream. Mix well. Evenly spread mixture over the baked pie crust. Cover and freeze 3 hours. Allow to stand at least 10 minutes before serving.

Decadent Toffee Dessert Pie

• ½ package pie crust mix

• ¼ cup light brown sugar

• ¾ cup chopped pecans

• 1 ounce grated Bakers unsweet chocolate

• 1 Tbsp. water

• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Filling

• ½ cup softened salted butter

• ¾ cup sugar

• 1 ounce melted, cooled Baker’s unsweet chocolate

• 2 tsp. instant coffee

• 2 beaten eggs

Topping

• 2 cups heavy cream

• 1 Tbsp. instant coffee

• 1 tbsp. water

• ½ cup powdered sugar

• Chocolate curls

For the crust, in a bowl, combine pie crust mix, brown sugar, pecans and grated chocolate. Add water and vanilla. Use a fork to mix until blended. Turn into a well-greased 9-inch pie pan and press firmly in bottom and up sides. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 15 minutes. Completely cool.

For the filling, in a mixer bowl, beat butter until creamy. Beat in sugar, melted chocolate and coffee. Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Pour filling into pie shell and refrigerate overnight. For the topping, in a bowl, combine cream with coffee dissolved in water and sugar. Beat mixture until stiff. Decorate pie with topping and chocolate curls. Refrigerate several hours before serving.

Candy Bar Torte

• 3 dozen macaroon wafers

• 1 quart softened chocolate almond ice cream

• 1 quart softened coffee ice cream

• 8 Tbsp. chocolate fudge sauce

• 14 small candy bars

• Fudge sauce

• Whipped cream

In a bowl, finely crush 18 macaroon wafer cookies. Spread crumbs in the bottom of a well-greased 8-inch spring form pan. Spread softened chocolate almond ice cream on top of crumbs. Drizzle 4 Tbsp. fudge sauce over ice cream. Crush 18 more cookies and evenly spread over the ice cream. Soften coffee ice cream and spread on top of the crumbs. Drizzle remaining fudge sauce over ice cream. Freeze. Finely crush candy bars and evenly spread over the top. Freeze 5 hours. When ready to serve, remove torte from the pan and place on serving platter. Allow to sit for 20 minutes. Pass bowls of fudge sauce and whipped cream around the table. Can be made several days ahead. Also, you can use any two complementary flavors of ice cream you desire.

Caribbean Citrus Crunch

• 1 stick softened salted butter

• 1 cup all-purpose flour

• ¼ cup sugar

• ½ cup chopped pecans/other nut

• 1 quart orange sherbert

In a bowl, combine the soft butter with flour sugar, and chopped pecans. Pat down onto a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 15 minutes. Crumble the baked mixture into a bowl, reserving ½ cup for the topping. Pat remainder into bottom of a serving dish. Spread softened sherbet over crumbs. Top with reserved topping crumble. Freeze for several hours.