Chocolate Crepes

Want a decadent brunch or dessert recipe? Perhaps something to serve this Easter weekend?

At the Chocolate class I taught at Thyme to Cook in Guelph a couple weeks ago, one of the recipes I made was Chocolate Crepes with Cream Cheese Filling.

You could easily use another filling of your choice for these crepes: chopped fruit, caramelized bananas, ice cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt, pudding, or ????  What do you suggest?

Or, you could simply roll up the crepes and drizzle them with fruit syrup, maple syrup or chocolate sauce.

Chocolate crepes filled with chocolate ice cream and topped with strawberries and a sprinkle of icing sugar

Chocolate Crepes with Cream Cheese Filling

(Makes about 18 small crepes or 10 large crepes)

2 eggs
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp (45 mL) sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) cocoa
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
1-1/4 cups (300 mL) milk
2 tbsp (30 mL) melted butter
Vegetable oil
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Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

I think Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream may be the best ice cream I’ve made so far.

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream

If you like Nutella and ice cream, I’m quite sure you’ll like this ice cream too! Seriously. Who wouldn’t??

It’s so easy to make, and it just sings with chocolate hazelnut flavour. It’s texture is more creamy than other ice creams I’ve made. I often find that “ripening” homemade ice cream in the freezer tends to make it harden to an extreme and form large crystals that make for a really granular texture in your mouth. I’ve had this Chocolate Hazelnut ice cream in the freezer for almost 3 days now, and although there’s not much left, what there is is firm, but scoop-able.

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream2

So here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream
(Makes 8 cups/2 L)

2 cups (500 mL) whipping cream (35%)
2 cups (500 mL) homogenized milk (3.5%)
1 cup (500 mL) chocolate hazelnut spread
1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped dark chocolate* (optional)
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped hazelnuts (optional)

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, bring cream and milk to a simmer.

In a large bowl, combine hazelnut spread and sugar; stir until smooth. Whisk 1/4 cup (50 mL) of the cream mixture into the sugar mixture; whisk until blended. Whisk in remaining cream mixture until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled or overnight.

Stir cream mixture. Transfer to an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions, adding chopped chocolate and hazelnuts a few minutes before the ice cream has finished churning.

Recipe Source: 125 Best Ice Cream Recipes by Marilyn Linton and Tanya Linton, Robert Rose Inc., 2003

* If you’re adding chopped chocolate, use a good-quality brand. I used Lindt Madagascar (65%) dark chocolate.
* I have a Cuisinart Flavor Duo (two 1 L/1 quart buckets) ice cream maker. This recipe filled both buckets. The mixture had chilled overnight so only took 15 to 18 minutes to process to a soft creamy consistency.
* The recipe can be halved if you can only make 1 L (1 quart) of ice cream at a time.
* If desired, splash a serving of the finished ice cream with hazelnut liqueur and a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts (instead of adding the hazelnuts to the ice cream).

Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream3

Oops, I did it again!

You’d think I was a grocery shopping newbie!

This is the second time in the past few months I’ve bought ice cream without double-checking I was really getting ice cream. Seems weird that you’d actually have to check this, but you can buy something called frozen dessert which, believe me, is not ice cream!

We are never without ice cream in our home. Ice cream is a staple – one of those foods we don’t run out of, or if we do (heaven forbid!), it’s at the top of the list for the next trip to the grocery store.

I was on a mission to buy ice cream recently when I spotted Breyers ice cream on sale and grabbed a carton of vanilla.

A few days later we sat down to enjoy a piece of pie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. With the first mouthful, I know something was very wrong. I’m not sure how to describe the flavour and the feel of the “ice cream” in my mouth. Artificial? Sticky? Just plain yucky? Certainly it wasn’t the sweet creamy vanilla taste I was expecting. An inspection of the carton provided an explanation. Instead of vanilla ice cream, we were eating vanilla “frozen dessert”. Say what??

Breyers Vanilla Frozen Dessert - not ice cream!

Breyers Vanilla Frozen Dessert - not ice cream!

These ingredient lists show the difference between frozen dessert and ice cream:

Breyers Vanilla Frozen Dessert: Modified milk ingredients, water, sugar, modified palm oil, glucose, mono and diglycerides, natural and artificial flavour, cellulose gum, guar gum, polysorbate 80, carrageenan.

Breyers Naturals Vanilla Ice Cream: Evaporated whole milk, cream, sugar, egg yolks, natural vanilla flavour, pure ground vanilla beans.

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The story behind Dairy Queen’s Blizzard

Just got home from a visit to the Dairy Queen where I indulged in a Turtle Pecan Cluster Blizzard. Mmmmm good!

(Don’t know what a Blizzard is? Check out this video to see how the ice cream treat is made and served.)

I learned something new while I was dipping into my smooth, creamy and thick-enough-to-be-turned-upside-down-without-losing-a-drop treat. (I was reading the Blizzard cup between bites.)

Dairy Queen first trademarked the name Blizzard in 1952, but the Blizzard treat as we know it today wasn’t released until 1985! That’s 33 years later! What took so long?

To find out what was going on with the Blizzard for over three decades, check out the history of the Blizzard on Dairy Queen’s website.

If you a real Blizzard lover, you can join the Blizzard Fan Club for coupons, trivia, and more.

And when you’re enjoying your next Blizzard, don’t forget to practice proper Blizzard eating etiquette.

Meat and potatoes for dessert?

Here’s a novel dessert idea from The Nibble (an online magazine) –

Grilled Idaho Potato Ice Cream with Milk Chocolate Cake and Bacon Toffee, garnished with Potato Rings.

If anyone is brave enough to try it, let me know how it turns out!

Get the scoop: “If I had 1,000,000 Flavours” new Ben & Jerry’s flavour of ice cream

I spent the weekend with Ben and Jerry.

Okay, so that would be Ben and Jerry of the feline world (AKA my sister’s cats), not Ben and Jerry of the ice cream world (although the former pair were named after the latter pair due to my sis’ love of the dairy dessert!).

Ben, Jerry and me!

Bonding with Ben and Jerry

It seemed fitting to come home yesterday from visiting Loreen on Long Island, along with her two friendly felines, to hear today that Vermont-based ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s was teaming up with the popular Canadian musicians, the Barenaked Ladies, to introduce the first-ever Canadian flavour of ice cream – “If I had 1,000,000 Flavours.” (If the name of this flavour and band mean nothing to you, the BNL are a well known and beloved Canadian rock band – made up of fully clothed men – who’ve had numerous hits, one of them – “If I had $1,000,000.”)

“If I had 1,000,000 flavours” is a wild and wacky combo of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, peanut butter cups, chocolate-coated toffee chunks, white chocolate chunks and chocolate-coated almonds. Apparently it is the most ingredient-packed ice cream Ben & Jerry’s has created.

Ben & Jerry’s and the Barenaked Ladies are celebrating the launch of “If I had 1,000,000 flavours” by asking Canadians what ingredients they would include if they had a 1,000,000 flavours?

Starting today, Canadians can go to and create your own 1,000,000 flavours ice cream portrait. You also have a chance to win four front row seats to a BNL concert and a year’s supply of the new ice cream. And, you can get a free download of “If I had $1,000,000”.

The new flavour of ice cream will be sold at Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops. Not sure where to find one in Canada? Unfortunately, there aren’t many locations. Check here to see if there’s one near you.

In the pumpkin fields of dreams

Enroute to London from Kitchener a few weeks ago, I drove the back roads to escape the crush of traffic on the busy Hwy 401, and also (and most truthfully!), to enjoy the fall beauty of Ontario’s rural landscape.

My journey took me past a couple fields of pumpkins. A pumpkin patch is one of my favourite autumnal scenes. All those orange globes of varying shapes and sizes dotting the landscape seem like a vast field of creative dreams and artistic possibilities.

The pumpkins in the fields I saw that day were most probably destined to become Hallowe’en decorations, hollowed out and carved into smiling or scary faces.

Pumpkins best suited for cooking are small to medium pie pumpkins. They should feel heavy for their size and not be bruised or cracked.

Pumpkin can be cooked in a variety of ways.

* To bake, cut pumpkin into large chunks. Remove the seeds and fibre. Place the pieces in a baking dish with a little water, cover and bake at 325°F (160°C) until tender, about 50 minutes. Scoop the pulp from the rind; mash or purée.

* To boil or steam, cut pumpkin into large pieces. Remove the seeds and fibre. Cut pumpkin into cubes. Boil in lightly salted water or steam until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove cubes from the water and let cool slightly. Scoop pulp from rind.

* To microwave, cut pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and fibre; peel. Cut the flesh into 1-1/2 inch (4 cm) chunks. Place in an 8-cup (2 L) casserole. Cover and microwave on High (100 % power) until tender, about 15 to 18 minutes, stirring several times during cooking.

Once cooked, puree the pumpkin pulp in a food processor, blender or food mill or mash it in a potato masher until smooth. Let the pulp drain in a strainer for 15 minutes; discard the liquid or reserve it to use in soups and stews. Season the pulp to taste with salt and pepper or pack it in airtight containers and either refrigerate for up to three days or freeze for up to six months.

One cup of cooked pumpkin (250 mL) will yield about the same amount of mashed pumpkin.

Cooked pumpkin can be used to make pies, muffins, breads, cakes, cookies, soups and stews or served as a side dish. Of course if you want convenience, canned pumpkin is readily available on grocery store shelves. Just remember to look for pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling.

Don’t forget about the seeds! An average-sized pumpkin will contain about one cup (250 mL) of seeds. The seeds are edible and contain protein and iron. To prepare them for roasting, first wash them, removing any clinging fibres. Then spread them on a clean baking sheet. Let them dry overnight at room temperature. Toss with 1-1/2 teaspoons (7 mL) vegetable oil. Bake at 250°F (120°C), stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown and crunchy, about 1-1/2 hours.

If you haven’t had your fill of pumpkin pie from Thanksgiving celebrations this past weekend, here’s an easy pumpkin pie recipe worth trying!

Butter Pecan Pumpkin Pie
(Makes one 9-inch/23 cm pie)

1 9-inch (23 cm) graham wafer pie crust (purchased or recipe of your choice)
2 cups (500 mL) slightly softened butter pecan ice cream
1/2 cup (125 mL) brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) ground ginger
1 cup (250 mL) canned or cooked pumpkin
1 cup (250 mL) whipping cream

In pie crust, carefully spread ice cream.

In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Stir in pumpkin until blended.

With an electric mixer, whip cream until stiff; fold into pumpkin mixture. Spread over ice cream.

Cover and freeze pie until firm, at least a couple hours.

Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream – something to scream about?

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.

As much as I love ice cream, it’s not something I tend to scream about.

I scream while riding rollercoasters. (Jump aboard the Millenium Force at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio and you’ll likely agree that full-blown hysteria including top-of-the-lung screaming is perfectly acceptable behaviour before, during and after the ride! Apparently, riding the Behemoth at Canada’s Wonderland (just north of Toronto) also produces high-pitched screeching. I haven’t yet experienced this particular fear-inducing ride.)

Snakes and creepy-looking bugs also make me scream. (Did you hear about the woman in Montreal who found a python under her bed earlier this week? I had to stifle a scream just hearing the terrifying tale on the radio.)

I scream – inwardly, mind you, so as not to alarm my co-workers – when I inadvertently delete something or forget to save something on my computer and there’s no “undo” feature available to retrieve what I’ve lost.

I’d probably scream if I won the lottery. (Guess I’d have to buy lottery tickets for that to be a possibility!

Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream

But let’s talk ice cream, which according to that old familiar rhyme from childhood (I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream) is supposed to incite cries of joy!

Creamy textured homemade Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream with its sweet, perfumed flavour is definitely worth at least a loud “yahoo” or two.

If you’re the lucky owner of an ice cream maker, you’ll know that the warm days of summer are perfect for enjoying homemade ice cream.

Actually, I take that back. There’s never a bad time to savour a batch of homemade ice cream or another frozen concoction such as gelato or sorbet.

So then! Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream. Strawberries you probably know all about, but are you wondering what lychees are and whether they should be added to the list of things to scream about? Rest assured they are in no way related to leeches, although lychee is pronounced ‘LEEchee’. It can be spelled ‘litchi’.

A lychee is a small fruit with a rough, reddish shell. The flesh is creamy white, juicy and sweet, and it surrounds a seed or pit. To eat lychees, you peel them and remove the seed. Eat them as is or add them to salads or desserts.

I tend to purchase canned lychees as they’re already peeled and seeded. And, I am lazy.

This recipe calls for superfine sugar. This is a quick dissolving sugar also known as berry sugar, fruit sugar, castor sugar or instant dissolving sugar. If you wish, you can make superfine sugar by processing granulated sugar in a food processor for 15 seconds.

I have a dual canister Cuisinart yogurt-ice cream-sorbet maker. It makes one or two quarts (1 or 2 L) of ice cream. This Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream recipe makes 8 cups (2 L) of ice cream. Once the churning/freezing cycle was completed (this took about 15 minutes in my machine), the canisters were full – to the brim – with ice cream.

If your machine has a single 4 cup (1 L) canister, halve the ingredients.

Freeze homemade ice cream in a tightly-sealed container for up to a couple weeks.

Be sure to freeze homemade ice cream with a tight-fitting lid to prevent freezer burn and an ‘off’ flavour. Label the container so it’s contents don’t become mystery food.

Although this ice cream tastes great even before “ripening” in the freezer for a few hours, some time in the freezer will further improve the flavour. It’s best to enjoy homemade ice cream within a couple weeks. (Now there’s a problem. Not!)

Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream
Makes 8 cups (2 L)

2 cups (500 mL) strawberries
3/4 cup (180 mL) superfine sugar
1 can (530 mL/20 ounces) canned lychees in syrup (about 2 cups)
2 cups (500 mL) whipping cream (36% butterfat)
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) milk
6 egg yolks

Hull and roughly chop strawberries; place in a bowl along with any juices. Stir in 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the sugar and set aside for 30 minutes.

Drain and finely chop lychees, reserving 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the syrup. Set lychees and syrup aside.

Place cream, milk and remaining sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, cook for a few minutes until sugar dissolves and mixture is just about to boil. Remove from the heat.

Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl or 8 cup (2 L) measuring cup. Whisk in 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the hot milk mixture until smooth. Whisk in remaining milk mixture, then return mixture to saucepan and stir constantly over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 8 to 10 minutes. Do not allow this custard mixture to boil. (To test if the mixture coats the back of a spoon, place a spoon in the mixture. Remove and run your finger through the middle of the custard. If a clear path is left and the custard left on the spoon does not run, the mixture is ready.) Do not allow the custard mixture to boil.

Strain through a fine sieve and set custard aside to cool, stirring occasionally. (If desired, cover and refrigerate overnight.)

Gently stir strawberries and strawberry juice, lychees, and lychee syrup into custard. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. (Alternately, transfer to a shallow metal tray and freeze, whisking every couple hours until frozen and creamy.)

Pack ice cream into container(s). Cover tightly, label and freeze for at least 5 hours or overnight before serving.

Allow ice cream to soften at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Iced – 180 very cool concoctions by Jane Lawson, Thunder Bay Press, 2006