Summer evenings when I was a child often found us downtown at the local ice cream parlor. They had the coldest A/C and the best drinking fountain in town. Of course, their ice cream was wonderful: rich, creamy, and advertised as "ho-maid," which my brothers and I found endlessly entertaining.
My mother would take us there, patiently waiting in front of the glass case as we deliberated between bubble gum ice cream and rainbow sherbet, hot fudge sundaes and root beer floats, the line behind us snaking out the front door.
We would sit and eat our treats on the curb in front of the shop, all the seats inside already taken. It was a race against the setting sun to see if we could eat our ice cream before it melted.
When we had finished, my mother would duck back inside to buy one more treat. This one required no deliberation, no agony, for my father is a man who knows what he likes.
"A chocolate malt, please," he would always answer my mother when she would ask if we could bring him something home.
Sometimes she would ask if he was sure he didn't want to try something different, just this once.
"No," he would say. "There isn't anything better than a chocolate malt."
Maybe my dad is right. Maybe there isn't anything better than a chocolate malt. But that doesn't mean you can't make a chocolate malt even better than it was.
So here it is: Dark Chocolate Malted Milk Ball Ice Cream. It's like a Chocolate Malt on steroids, without the weird side effects. And as a bonus, I've thrown in a recipe to turn the ice cream into the ultimate Chocolate Malt.
Dark Chocolate Malted Milk Ball Ice Cream
4 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 t. sea salt
1 cup chocolate malted milk powder
5 large egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 cup malted milk balls, coarsely chopped
Chop bittersweet chocolate into 1/2" or smaller pieces. Put chopped chocolate in the bottom of a large, heatproof bowl and set aside.
Combine cream, milk, salt and malted milk powder in a heavy saucepan. Whisk together until the dry ingredients are dissolved. Warm over medium heat until mixture simmers, stirring frequently.
Meanwhile, in another bowl, beat egg yolks with the sugar until they are light and creamy.
When the milk and cream mixture has started to simmer, slowly pour about a 1/4 cup of it into the egg yolks, whisking the yolks vigorously as the hot liquid is being added. Repeat this process, adding another 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the egg yolks. Remember to add the milk slowly and to whisk the entire time to prevent the eggs from scrambling.
Add the yolk mixture back into the hot milk on the stovetop, again pouring it in slowly and whisking the entire time. Continue cooking until the mixture is just thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, stirring constantly. Do NOT let this mixture boil -- turn down the heat if you need to, and keep stirring.
Strain the slightly thickened mixture through a mesh sieve, into the bowl of chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and combined. Stir in the vanilla.
Cool at room temperature for about 15 minutes, then chill in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.
When the mixture has completely chilled, pour it into the pre-chilled bowl of your ice cream maker and churn until it reaches soft-serve consistency, adding the chopped malted milk balls after the first few minutes of churning.
Freeze for at least four hours to achieve a firmer texture.
Makes about 5 cups.
Dark Chocolate Malted Milk Ball Shake
6-8 scoops dark chocolate malted milk ball ice cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 T. chocolate malted milk powder
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until well-combined and creamy. I recommend blending on low for only a few seconds at a time, then pushing the ice cream down with a rubber spatula before blending again.
Pour into tall, chilled glasses and top with real whipped cream and coarsely chopped malted milk balls.
Um... sorry about that. Summer got away from me a bit.
But now, school has started, and I am easing back into a routine. I will admit, since my oldest started Kindergarten this week, my "routine" includes a good daily cry, but I have faith those will end soon enough, and I will become productive again. Wish me luck!
In the meantime, here is a recipe for Fried Blueberry Hand Pies that we made this summer. I know blueberry season is waning, but there are still good ones to be found, and I think these little pies are one of the very best ways to enjoy them before summer officially comes to a close.
Fried Blueberry Hand Pies
First, prepare the dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 t. granulated sugar
1/2 t. sea salt
1/2 cup shortening
1 egg, beaten
8-12 T. ice water
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and sea salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until mixture is crumbly. Add beaten egg and stir to moisten. Add ice water, one tablespoon at a time, stirring gently with a fork after each addition. Add water until dough holds together in a ball. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic and chill for about two hours.
While dough is chilling, prepare filling:
1 pint fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 T. cornstarch
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. lemon juice
1 T. water
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Stir well, but gently, trying not to crush the blueberries. Cook over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly (but gently!), until mixture is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
When you are ready to assemble your pies:
In a wide, heavy pot, heat about 2" of shortening or oil (I use shortening) over medium heat until it reaches 350 degrees.
Meanwhile, roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8" thickness. Cut into circles with a 3" round biscuit cutter. Cut circles as close together as possible-- dough scraps should be re-rolled no more than twice.
Place about a teaspoonful of blueberry filling in the center of half the dough rounds. Do not overfill, or you will have a mess. You will have blueberry filling left over. Store it, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week, and use it on your pancakes or toast in the morning.
Beat one egg, and brush it along the edges of each of the filling-topped dough rounds. Top with the remaining dough rounds, being sure to line up the edges; press well to seal. For added security, and to make the pies a little prettier, you may gently crimp the edges of each little pie with the floured tines of a fork.
Test the oil's heat either with a candy thermometer or by tossing a little piece of leftover dough in the hot oil. If it sizzles and turns lightly golden, the oil is ready.
Gently lower the pies into the hot oil using a metal spatula. Only fry a few at a time -- you don't want to crowd them. Fry them for a minute or two, then carefully turn them over and continue frying until they are golden brown.
Remove the pies to a cooling rack layered with paper towels to cool.
If you've ever been to a potluck in the midwest anywhere, you've probably had (the uncreatively named) Strawberry Pretzel Dessert, or as I used to think of it, The Greatest Dessert Ever Made. It is that wonderful concoction of sugared pretzels, strawberry Jell-o, and Cool Whip that is always first to disappear from the buffet table.
Despite its humble ingredient list and quick assembly, it is a marvel of a dessert, and I suspected for years that it couldn't be improved upon.
I was wrong.
This pie takes all the basic elements of that classic dessert and spiffs them up a bit, without adding any unnecessary fuss.
Roasted strawberries give it a richer, deeper, stronger strawberry flavor. A graham cracker and pretzel crust adds a layer of sweet and salty, and skipping the artificial ingredients in favor of fresh ones improves the texture and the taste.
Despite its improvements, it is as simple to make as the original, and requires no special skills or equipment, making it the perfect summer treat.
Roasted Strawberry and Pretzel Icebox Pie
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare roasted strawberries:
1/2 lb. ripe strawberries, hulled and quartered
1/2 T. granulated sugar
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange strawberry pieces near center of baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
While strawberries are cooling, prepare pretzel crust:
salted mini pretzels, crushed, to make one cup of crumbs (about 1 1/4 c. whole pretzels)
graham crackers, crushed, to make one cup of crumbs (about 8 graham crackers)
1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 stick butter, melted and slightly cooled
Make pretzel and cracker crumbs by grinding in a food processor or by crushing with a rolling pin. Crumbs should be coarse. In a large bowl, combine pretzel crumbs, graham cracker crumbs, and sugar. Mix well. Stir in melted butter, a little at a time, until crumbs are thoroughly moistened. Press crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
Set crust aside to cool while you prepare filling:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1/4 c. powdered sugar
roasted strawberries, mashed well
Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until it is soft and smooth. Add in granulated sugar and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the roasted strawberries from earlier, being sure that they are well mashed. Set aside.
In a clean, cold, grease-free bowl, combine heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar. Whip with an electric mixer just until stiff peaks form. Watch closely; do not overbeat.
Carefully fold whipped cream into cream cheese mixture, 1/3 at a time, until it is all incorporated. Scoop filling into baked pretzel crust and smooth top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours before slicing or serving.
While pie is cooling, make the pretzel topping:
1/2 c. pretzels, broken
about 1 T. granulated sugar
about 2 T. butter, melted
Mix broken pretzels, sugar, and butter in small bowl. Sprinkle on top of pie just before serving.
I remember, as a child, how long the summer days were. I remember reading Nancy Drew on the front porch, drawing hopscotch boards on the sidewalk, riding my bike around the neighborhood. I remember an inexhaustible supply of popsicles in the freezer, and rootbeer floats on the back porch, and hot dogs on the grill. I remember fishing, and camping, and swimming. And I remember that the days were so long.
It has only occurred to me in the past few years how hard my parents must have worked to give me summers like that.
I am trying to do the same for my own children. At the end of the day, I want them to be dirty, maybe a little sunburned, and completely exhausted. I want them to wear out their sandals and maybe their welcome with the neighbors. I want their clothes to be grass-stained.
I want them to look back, when summers are less carefree, and remember how much fun they had when they were young.
One of the things that made summers special for me when I was young was the relaxed nature of breakfast. Up early, and with nothing to rush off to in the morning, we would often have the type of breakfasts that were reserved for weekends the rest of the year. One of my favorites was my mom's German Pancakes. They were puffed and golden, and she just served them with lemon and a sprinkle of powdered sugar. They are also called Dutch Babies, and I can't help but prefer that name because, well, it's adorable.
I added vanilla and fresh blueberries to my mom's recipe, which makes them taste especially fresh and sweetens them up just a bit. They are a lovely way to usher in a long summer day.
Blueberry Dutch Babies
2 T. butter
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. coarse kosher salt
2/3 c. whole milk
2/3 c. flour, sifted
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 c. fresh blueberries, washed and dried
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set two 9" cast iron skillets or cake pans in oven as it preheats.
Process eggs in a blender until they are very light and fluffy. Add sugar, salt, milk, flour, and vanilla. Process on the lowest setting until ingredients are well blended. This should only take a few seconds. Batter will be very thin.
Carefully remove hot pans from oven and put one tablespoon of butter in each. As butter melts, swirl it over the bottom and sides of the pans. Pour half the batter into each pan. Sprinkle the blueberries over the top of the batter, dividing blueberries evenly between the two pans.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 6-10 minutes. Pancakes should be golden brown, puffy and slightly curled at the edges.
Slide the pancakes out of the pans, and serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a generous dusting of powdered sugar.