Ah, the simplicity of the brownie sundae. It is by far my all time favorite dessert. Even the fanciest desserts don’t hold a candle to a rich, gooey brownie piled high with sweet ice cream slowly melting under a warm, drizzled blanket of decadent hot fudge. The best part about it — you can change each of the three essential elements to meet your tastes. Switch it up with a nutty, golden brown blondie, butter pecan ice cream, and sticky butterscotch on top. Or stick to the brownie-hot fudge basics and shake up the flavor of the ice cream. Mint chocolate chip, caramel, or cookies and cream come to mind right off the bat.
But for the brownie sundae purists out there, classic vanilla is the way to go when it comes to ice cream. There’s got to be a twist though, right? Something to jazz up this after dinner treat. There’s no way I’m just heading to the store and grabbing a container of plain old vanilla. How about HOMEMADE ICE CREAM? Yeah. There it is.
I recently got back from an annual family vacation deep into the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. Now before you get your banjos out, keep in mind that this house has been in my family since my grandfather was a kid and our yearly summer visit has grown beyond tradition. We hike, swim, sleep outside on the wrap around porch, cook on a wood-burning stove, and spend each evening gazing up at a dark sky studded with more twinkling stars than you could imagine. Ever since we were kids, my mom has been coming up with new ideas to keep us busy and entertained when we’re down at the mountains. There are only so many games of Monopoly one can play. Even though the ‘kids’ in this scenario are now approaching 30, she still seeks out fun activities for us to try. This year it was the Play and Freeze Ice Cream Maker.
This intriguing little toy takes the old school concept of the coffee can ice cream maker and, well, rolls with it. The schoolyard way of making ice cream consists of a container full of tasty ingredients like cream, vanilla, and sugar that is placed inside a larger container (typically a coffee can) and insulated with ice and rock salt. Once it’s sealed, someone just needs to literally kick the can and keep it moving until the liquid ingredients transform into thick, luscious homemade ice cream. The Play and Freeze Ball eliminates the need for an old coffee can. And as long as you’ve got a few friends who don’t mind working for their dessert, you’re on your way to a frosty treat.
The recipe is surprisingly simple, and while not particularly figure-friendly, it at least incorporates only all natural ingredients. You can make any flavor that exists in your grocer’s freezer by adding varying flavors and bits of cookies or candy. We stuck with the traditional vanilla since it’s classic, refreshing, and perfect for the almighty brownie sundaes we intended to make. Also, we were first time ice cream makers and thought it best to stick to the basics. We did run into a few snags along the way…
The recipe suggests using half and half as your dairy base. This would be just fine if, at the end of the recipe, you noticed the footnote that tells you to use heavy cream for thicker, richer ice cream. Thanks so much. Why wouldn’t they just say that to begin with? Also, you really need a lot of time to make ice cream that’s actually scoopable. Even after two sessions of being rolled around and shaken up, the ice cream still needs to be scooped out and chilled until firm. Another essential factor — TONS of ice. Like, a ridiculous amount. Being at our remote cabin with just a few plastic ice trays was not the ideal setting. An unlimited supply of crushed ice would be a necessity for the next time around.
Yes, I know. It does bear a strong resemblance to cottage cheese. This is due to the above factors — lack of ice, lack of time, lack of enthusiasm after 30 minutes of kicking a ball full of cream around. I think they should tell you that in addition to the ingredients, you also need a bunch of 2nd graders with unlimited energy to literally keep the ball rolling. Consistency issues aside, the flavor was outrageous. It was the sweetest, creamiest, vanilla ice cream I’ve ever tasted. The purity of the ingredients and simplicity of the flavors made an excellent complement to the dense brownies and rich hot fudge. There’s also something extremely satisfying in hand crafting your own ice cream. You get to play with your food and eat it too!