Mint Chip Ice Cream in the Quest for the Best

Image ©Graeter’s 2009

The other night, Cullen decided it was time for a treat. I had been hurting all day from the kid’s positioning, and we’d been pretty busy out of necessity. We went to Kroger for some lazy supper items, and splurged on a pint of Graeter’s mint chip ice cream. If you’re unfamiliar with Graeter’s, they’re one of the oldest family-run ice cream manufacturers in the States, and they’ve been making ice cream via their French pot method since 1870. All their ice cream is made in two-gallon batches, and hand-packed in containers to ship directly to their scoop shops, grocery stores, or the consumer. I grew up on Graeter’s, but I hadn’t had it since I was small, and couldn’t ever justify the price tag in store.

Boy, was I glad we spent that little extra for some damn good ice cream. It was so worth it.

However good a pint of Graeter’s is, I still can’t justify the price tag every time we make a trip to the grocery. Cullen mentioned making a batch of mint chip at home, and a mild obsession was created. It appears that I don’t nest, so instead I suppose I cook. Continue reading

Spectacular, astounding, delightful peanut butter cookies.

On Monday, I had a serious craving for chocolate and peanut butter. I’m talking life-altering, here – if I didn’t fulfill the craving before the end of the day, my son would surely kick his way out of my abdomen and go find some on his own. As ever, I turned to the Internet, and it didn’t fail me. A one-bowl recipe with less than 10 ingredients, less than 10 minutes hands-on time, and less than 15 minutes to cookie heaven? Yes, please. Even better, the recipe has no flour included, though it does have quite a bit of sugar. (You can, in fact, substitute natural sweeteners if you so desire; one commenter used honey with no ill effects other than a shiny cookie.) Depending on your peanut butter’s sugar content, you may want to decrease the sugar just a touch, though it may affect your final product if you go too low. And be sure to mix the “dough” thoroughly – you won’t overmix it, but mixing until “just combined” may not incorporate all of the egg and vanilla.

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White-chocolate Browned-Butter Beauties (aka Blondies).

(My apologies for the lack of photos, but I am working solely off my Droid until I can get an issue with my blasted Internet resolved. Try the recipe anyway, and let me know how you like it! Maybe even with photos. :) )

I have a thing for browned-butter confections with white chocolate chips, so I find it hard to believe that I’ve slipped up and not posted these blondies before. These beauties are the reason for that “thing,” as a matter of fact. I don’t remember where I found the original recipe, but I don’t suppose it matters. Without the browned butter and white chocolate chips, these are just basic blondies. I added the browned butter one day by mistake – left it too long on the burner, back when I had no microwave – and the white chocolate on a whim. The resulting creation has ruined me for life. I was once of the opinion that blondies were – forgive me – nasty, and could never surpass the chocolaty goodness that is a well-made fudgy brownies. These blondies prove me wrong. Brown sugar, already a rich, velvety flavor on its own, caramelizes further when mixed with hot, browned butter. A stick of butter, at that – these are, in no way, diet food. They are a completely other animal and so utterly worth it. They’re delicious hot out of the oven – dense, almost flat and gooey – but let them cool overnight and marry all that deliciousness together… mm, it’ll make you wanna slap yo’ mama. (But don’t – that might be rude. Just get some icecream.) If anyone adjusts this recipe (adds flour, baking powder, craisins, wheat flour, etc.), please let me know – I want to see how these can be altered for other tastes. I’m sure I’ll be trying my own adjustments at some point, just to get the rise I’m looking for without sacrificing that gooey, creamy mouthfeel.

Besides the fast cooking time, these are essentially a one-pot dessert – you can mix everything in the pot you browned the butter in before pouring it into your greased pan. Just be sure to take it off the heat first.

White-Chocolate Browned-Butter Beauties

yields 9 2½” squares

8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt*
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup of white chocolate chips

Grease or butter an 8×8″ baking pan and preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Brown butter over med-low heat, stirring slowly, until milkfat solids appear and butter turns a caramel color. Remove from heat immediately and combine with brown sugar. Beat in egg until mixture is thick and glossy. Add vanilla and salt, stir, and fold in flour until just combined. Fold in white chocolate chips – 1-2-3 should be enough – and pour into baking pan. Bake on middle oven rack for 20-25 minutes, or until edges have browned and/or a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for at least 10-15 minutes before cutting. Serve plain, or with icecream and caramel sauce.

Warm, buttery, flaky croissants at home.

I am, no question, a complete sucker for laminated pastry. I love tearing a horn off a croissant and biting into  There is a small French bistro-type franchise in East Cobb called La Madeleine, that Mom and I must go to in order to have a proper visit over lattes and croissants, maybe a quiche. For a franchise, its pastries are delightful, thankfully fresh-baked every day. The Bunnery in St. Augustine, FL has every manner of pastry and baked sweet I could want; their croissants are as big as an appetizer plate, and you have to get there early to appreciate them fresh and warm from the oven. (Their coffees are equally huge-sized, and the specialty beverages artfully done.) I have yet to find a local (Athens-area) bakery that I can rave over for their pastries and atmosphere, but I haven’t been looking too hard, especially after recently I made up my mind to tackle croissants at home.

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No Yeast Required Cinnamon Rolls

I’m not sure I fall under the category of “normal” pregnancy. Yes, I’m hungry often, but not for weird food combinations (any weirder than usual, anyway, if you ask my husband – who else eats ketchup on scrambled eggs?), or really for anything in particular. Except for sushi. I am all about some sushi. But anyway. I don’t really want chocolate, ice cream, or sweets in general; more likely, I’m in the market for some chips, super-buttery-salty popcorn, or something else savory/salty.

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