Let’s Celebrate National Ice Cream Day!
As gourmands, we aren’t ones to pick favorites when it comes to food. But if there was one that had captured hearts the world over, that had the power to bring people together in a way that not much else can, we’d probably have to say ice cream takes the cake.
This international favorite has been shaping cultures and cuisines for thousands of years. In fact, people in ancient Persia used to climb mountains to scoop some fresh snow, top it with grape juice and take a big bite. Along the way, some European royals got ahold of the recipes and actually paid off their chefs to try and keep ice cream a big fat royal secret. But they couldn’t keep something as delicious as that away from the masses for too long. The secret got out, and everyone got a taste of the good life.
Fast forward a few hundred (or thousand) years and ice cream is found at just about any and every grocery store, truck stop, gas station, drug store and freezer in U.S. households. What once had one flavor now has more flavors than days in the year. They even have “space” ice cream, those tiny little dots of sweet, creamy goodness better known as Dippin’ Dots. Ice cream is more than a food. It’s a teenage date stereotype, a childhood summer treat and a broken-hearted girl’s best friend. It’s an international language everyone can speak. “You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream.”
In this post, we churn out some of our favorite ice cream facts, treats and recipes to celebrate one of our personal favorite national holidays!
Ice cream, or at least something very similar to it, can be found in the cuisine of just about every country in the world. It kind of makes you want to go on a round-the-world trip where you just go and taste every country’s ice cream, right? Here’s a couple of our favorites:
Gelato: Where Italian’s ice cream equivalent varies is that gelato usually uses more milk fat and a slower churning process which makes their product thicker, creamier and is usually served at a bit of a higher temperature.
Kulfi: Often served in India and southwest Asia, kulfi is the most custard like of all the ice cream variations. The process includes boiling down the milk, flavoring it and then freezing it in trays, never going through the churning process. Popular flavors include rose, mango, saffron and cardamom. Sign us up for a scoop of saffron!
Ais kachang: This Malaysian specialty is more like a snow cone or sorbet due to its complete lack of cream. We’re gonna count it because it’s really good and really different. Ice shavings are topped with rose syrup, grass jelly and cooked red beans to create one seriously unique treat.
Dondurma: Is it ice cream? Is it taffy? Well, it’s kind of a mixture of both. Powdered orchid root is the secret ingredient added to this Turkish sweet that gives it an incredibly stretchy consistency. Apparently street vendors in Turkey often try to show the quality of their creations by stretching them between metal rods, much like what you’d see with taffy on the Atlantic City boardwalk.
I’m sure by now most people know that there are more flavors out there than the 31 Baskin Robbins has boasted for years. But some of the crazy concoctions that people are coming up with these days go even further than bacon and maple syrup. One example of such mad scientists include Salt & Straw out of Portland, Ore., who have somehow captured some classic culinary pairings like blue cheese and pear and melon and prosciutto and encased them in everyone’s favorite frozen treat. But if the sweet and savory thing already weirds you out, you’re probably not gonna want to try a few of their more daring flavors like bone marrow with bourbon smoked cherries or black raspberries and pork belly. Our opinion? Don’t knock it till you try it!
Ice Cream to Make Dr. Frankenstein Jealous
Would you ever eat glow-in-the-dark ice cream? And no, it’s not because of radioactive ingredients. This year a British scientist took the protein that makes certain jellyfish light up and threw it in some good old fashioned ice cream. But there are a few tricks. For instance, it only glows when you lick it, as the proteins need to be agitated in some way for it to work. Also, it costs about $200 a scoop…so it won’t really be a late night trip to the store sort of purchase. But yeah, glow-in-the-dark ice cream. Who could have predicted that one?
The Star of the Show
While there may be a lot of crazy flavors out there, you can never go wrong with good ol’ fashioned vanilla. If you really want to enjoy National Ice Cream Day to its fullest, try making your very own homemade ice cream. Once you’ve got this one down, you can master making your own ice cream cake or learn how to make ice cream sandwiches from scratch. Warning though, this information does come with a lot of power. And the potential for increased late night trips to the freezer.
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream:
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
6 egg yolks
3 cups cream
2 cups milk
1. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla until well incorporated.
2. Warm the cream and milk. Pour the cream and milk into the bowl with the egg yolk mixture and whisk. together. Return to the pot and bring and simmer.
3. Cool the mixture. Place in an ice cream maker and churn for about 20 minutes.
4. Place in a container, cover and freeze.