Chocolate 7 Ways: Mother’s Day Inspiration

Mother’s Day is just around the corner which means a fantastic excuse to bake. If your mother is anything like mine, she loves chocolate (don’t we all?) and taught you better than to show up anywhere empty-handed.

Heading home this weekend for a Mother’s Day brunch and looking for inspiration on what to bring with you? Look no further than these decadent seven chocolate wonders.

Recipes clockwise from the top left corner:


Peppermint Oreo Ice Cream

When my youngest brother went away to college a few years ago, he picked up a pretty serious Oreo-eating addiction. Somewhere along the way, he graciously passed it along to me, making Oreos a standard item in my pantry and a frequent ingredient in many of my sweet creations.

A personal favorite of mine, this peppermint Oreo ice cream is a slight variation on my vanilla bean recipe. It’s base is a sweet cream base that I use all the time, adding in whatever I have on hand and pretending it was all planned.

If you have a peppermint lover in your life this is the perfect treat! The Oreos add a nice crunch to an otherwise super creamy ice cream. As a note, when working like extras like Oreos, it is important to wait until right at the end of the ice cream making process to add them in because we want the batter to be thick enough to support them. No one wants to make it through a pint of peppermint ice cream only to find that the oreos have sunk to the bottom of the container during the freezing process.

While I’m on the topic of ice cream, I thought I would touch on the ‘egg’ factor. There is some controversy about whether including eggs in homemade ice cream is really necessary. While there are alternatives, the truth of the matter is that eggs play a critical role in homemade ice cream - acting as an emulsifier much as they do in mayonnaise. Basically, the more eggs in the recipe, the creamier the ice cream will be and the longer it will last in the freezer without crystallizing.

Do you need to cook the eggs before making ice cream? Probably. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises heating your ice cream mixture to an internal temperature of 160 degrees fahrenheit to eliminate any chance of salmonella contamination. On the other hand, the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cookbook includes an egg-based recipe that doesn’t call for cooking the eggs and many vocal internet-users have declared that by sourcing their eggs from local farms they trust, they are safe from any sort of contamination. At the end of the day, it is a personal decision but cooking the eggs will always be the safer choice, regardless of where you are sourcing your eggs from.

Working with egg yolks requires a consideration of what color you want your ice cream to be. The more egg yolks you add, the more yellow your ice cream. It is all about striking a balance and finding your personal preference. If you want to know more about figuring out the right amount of eggs, Serious Eats did an experiment a few years ago to find out what people truly prefered. In their words: “Is there a magic ratio of eggs to dairy that we should use? The short answer: not really.”


Ingredients

  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 cups of Oreos (about one row of Oreos in a three-row pack)

Recipe

  • Whisk egg yolks and sugar together vigorously for about 1 - 2 minutes
  • Add the milk followed by the heavy cream to a saucer over medium heat until the temperature reaches 160 degrees fahrenheit
  • Slowly pour cream mixture into egg and sugar mixture, whisking constantly
  • Add batter back to saucer over medium heat until internal temperature returns to 160 degrees fahrenheit
  • Once desired temperature is achieved, remove from heat and mix in peppermint extract
  • Place batter in freezer to completely cool before adding to the ice cream machine, 4 - 5 hours (or overnight)
  • Put batter in ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions
  • While the ice cream batter is in the machine, chop up the oreos to the size of your liking
  • A few minutes before the ice cream is ready, add in the Oreos

*Ice cream lasts about a week when stored in a sealed container in the freezer


Needlepoint Wishlist: Kentucky Derby Edition

The 141st running of the Kentucky Derby, thought to be one of America’s greatest sporting events, is taking place on Saturday! In Washington, D.C., this means an abundance of people in bright colored pants and sun dresses drinking mint juleps on rooftops throughout the city.

I should probably explain that what I have learned over the years about horse races comes from attending races at which I rarely, if ever, see actual horses. In fact, despite living in Virginia for almost eight years, I know relatively little about horse riding culture beyond its social component.

For those who want to look the part for this year’s Run for the Roses but don’t have time to stitch, I’ve pulled together a few of my favorite derby-related needlepoint products that can prep-up any derby outfit!

  1. Derby Needlepoint Belt, Asher Riley
  2. Derby Needlepoint Coaster Set, Smathers & Branson
  3. Mint Julep Needlepoint Key Fob, Smathers & Branson
  4. Mint Julep Flask, Smathers & Branson
  5. Kentucky Derby Needlepoint Life Belt, Smathers & Branson
  6. Derby Horse Needlepoint Hat, Smathers & Branson
  7. Derby Needlepoint Belt, Tucker Blair
  8. Kentucky Derby Needlepoint Key Fob, Smathers & Branson

Baked Cookies and Cream Donuts

If my Instagram feed is any indication, making donuts from scratch is very a la mode with food bloggers these days. Who am I to rebuff such a delicious trend? I wanted a piece of the action.

First things first: ‘donut’ or ‘doughnut’? According to Grammarist, the official (read: dictionary approved) spelling is ‘doughnut’ but the shorter and more colloquial alternative, ‘donut’, has been around since the late 1800s. When the New England-based Dunkin Donuts took off in the late 20th century, it took ‘donut’ along for the ride, making it the more common spelling today in America.

In an attempt to be somewhat healthy, I opted for a recipe from A Beautiful Mess that called for the donut batter to be baked rather than fried. If you have a donut pan I recommend this approach because it is much simpler than frying, especially if you don’t have experience working with hot oil. In this case, the resulting donut was a rich chocolate cake….with a hole in the middle.

Most of the ingredients were pretty standard but if you are like me and don’t keep buttermilk on hand at all times, the easiest solution is to quickly make your own! Adding two tablespoons of white vinegar to one cup of milk, stirring once and letting it sit for 10 minutes will produce buttermilk.

National Donut Day is on Friday June 5 this year so I expect to keep testing out decadent donut recipes over the next few weeks to find my favorite.

The full recipe is available from the A Beautiful Mess website.