Fruit Popsicles

I'm already hearing chatter about the end of summer, but I refuse to accept the idea that the days of popsicles and trips to the pool are over.  At the beginning of the summer, I purchased a Zoku Popsicle Mold and we've been having homemade popsicles all summer long.  I sound like a broken record at this point, but you know I like my desserts less sweet and when you make popsicles at home, you can reduce the sugar or omit it entirely.  The other "vessels" for popsicles that are perfect for Blythe are Kiddzo Reusable Ice Pop (essentially you can make Otter Pops at home).  The Kiddzo molds are less messy for Blythe, but harder to clean and fill.

Blythe is a big fan of popsicles

Blythe is a big fan of popsicles

I feel a little lame, but I don't have a recipe for popsicles to give you because my approach is to take whatever fruit I have on hand, blend it with coconut water, almond coconut milk, or juice and freeze it! I got the idea to make a layered popsicle from these Tie Dye Popsicles, but I could only manage two layers (which you achieve by making one layer, freezing it until partially frozen (15-20 minutes)).  I'm going to try these Coconut Milk Fudgesicles this weekend, but the popsicles pictured are one layer of strawberries and blueberries blended with coconut water and one layer of watermelon.  Nothing fancy, but they do the trick on a hot summer afternoon. It's not too late for summer 2016 and you know it will be hot well into September anyway!

Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Cherry Compote

Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Cherry Compote

All week I've been reading about how summer is over.  It doesn't help that football season started and swimming pools have closed... but it was 96°F in Denver today and it certainly seems to me that it's still the season for shorts and swimsuits, sunglasses and flip-flops, and corn on the cob and ice cream.

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Coffee Ice Cream

Coffee Ice Cream

One of my favorite things to do while I'm cooking is listen to podcasts, particularly Good FoodThe Splendid Table, and NPR Food.  Last weekend, I heard about how even Girl Scouts feel reluctant about selling cookies (not because of cost but because of palm oil) and a horrifying story about adding aspartame to milk (seriously?  milk needs to be sweetened?).  I also listened to an older podcast in which the lovely Nigella Lawson suggests a Valentine's Day dinner created from her new cookbook, Nigellissima.

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Profiteroles

Profiteroles

Profiteroles can be finicky.  I've had to start the choux over on numerous occasions.  This is a recipe where you need to measure certain ingredients out ahead of time (I've noted them below).  That said, it isn't complicated and it can all be done a day ahead of time.  The chocolate sauce is out of this world good.  You'll have some leftover and you'll likely spoon it on most anything... or just eat it on its own.  Dangerous... but delicious.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

In case it isn't obvious by the frequency with which I post about desserts, I have a sweet tooth.  Dinner in our house is more often than not followed by something sweet.  As the weather turns and fall and then winter arrive, I always look forward to the arrival of my two favorite seasonal ice cream flavors - pumpkin and peppermint stick.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

At this fantastic Cape Cod wedding earlier this summer, we were treated to the most satisfying and easy to eat late-night dessert: the ice cream cookie sandwich.  I've been awaiting the perfect opportunity to make ice cream cookie sandwiches and finally did for a Labor Day BBQ at my parent's house in Palmer Lake.

I have made ice cream sandwiches in the past (Lemon Ice Cream Sandwiches with Blueberry Swirl) but these were simpler and tastier.  The chocolate chip cookie recipe I used comes from Alexandra's Kitchen and is my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.  These are delicious.  Make them!  Better yet, make a batch and freeze 3/4 of them in ready-to-go balls in your freezer so you can bake off amazing cookies on demand (unless, of course, your husband eats the dough balls periodically without you knowing....).

Back to the ice cream cookie sandwiches!  Due to time constraints and, let's face it, practicality, I used store-bought chocolate ice cream to fill my sandwiches.  I am sure these would be even better with homemade ice cream and next time I'll make a point to make them completely homemade.  After freezing the sandwiches, I put each one in a wax paper sandwich bag.  I ordered the plain bags before I discovered these bags with chevron stripes (love!) or these with bright stripes or dots were an option.  Next time, next time.  They were a huge hit and were ready to be served the day before the party.  The cookie sandwiches would be delicious served with vanilla, cookie dough, chocolate chip or sweet cream ice cream, too (the possible combinations are numerous).

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches
Yield = 16 ice cream sandwiches 

Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Alexandra's Kitchen
Yield = 32 cookies 

10¾ oz unsalted butter (1 1/3 cups)
10¼ oz light brown sugar (1½ cups packed)
7¾ oz granulated sugar (1 cup)
2 large eggs
1 T. pure vanilla extract
17 oz unbleached all-purpose flour (3¾ cups)
1¼ tsp table salt
1 tsp. baking soda
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl, beat again on high for one minute. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended, about another minute on medium-high speed. Whisk flour, salt and baking soda together in separate bowl. Add to butter mixture and combine with a spatula or wooden spoon until just blended. Add the chocolate chips and stir till combined. The dough will be stiff.

Portion into 32 small balls.  The original recipe calls for 1 3/4 oz balls, but I wanted to be sure to have an even number.  If you have a digital scale, you can use the 1 3/4 oz size as a guideline.  Otherwise, use a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon.  At this stage, you should chill the portioned balls for at least three hours prior to baking the cookies.  I was, unfortunately, in a bit of a rush, so I froze mine for 30 minutes and then baked them.  

Preheat oven to 375°.  Place portioned balls nicely spaced (they will spread) on a baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper.  Flatten slightly with the back of a spoon.  Bake the cookies for 8-11 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through cooking.  Keep a close watch as you'll want to remove the cookies from the oven when they still look slightly raw—you will think you are removing them too early.  The cookies will continue cooking as they sit on the tray out of the oven.  Let sit for 5 minutes on tray before removing to a cooling rack, and let cool completely before assembling sandwiches.

Creating the Sandwiches

Once your cookies have cooled, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and ensure you have a place in your freezer to accommodate the baking sheet and the sandwiches that will be placed on it.  Scoop ice cream onto the flat side of a cookie -- I found the most effective way was to scrape a thin layer of ice cream, place it on the cookie and repeat.  I filled mine about 1/2 inch full of ice cream -- I've seen them filled with an inch of ice cream and it is really up to you.  I asked people at the BBQ and they felt that there was enough ice cream.  I'd estimate that it was about 3 tbsp of ice cream per cookie.  After you have covered the cookie with ice cream, place the flat side of another cookie on top, press slightly (but carefully) on the top of the cookie and place it on the baking sheet.

You must work quickly to assemble the sandwiches and it is best to work in batches - create 4-6 sandwiches (depending on how quickly they are melting) and transfer them to the freezer.  You don't want them melting too much or they'll lose their shape as the ice cream melts over the edge of the cookie.

Once you have filled all the cookie sandwiches, freeze for at least 30 minutes on the baking sheets and then transfer the sandwiches to the wax paper bag or wrap them in plastic wrap.