Sweet treat helps beat the heat

Ice cream that tantalizing dessert that has been traced back to at least the 4th century B.C., when Emperor Nero ordered ice to be brought from the mountains and combined it with fruit toppings, is featured this National Ice Cream Month and July 21 is National Ice Cream day. So get ready to celebrate.

The idea of ice cream was likely brought from China to Europe and over time recipes for ices, sherbets and milk ices evolved and were served in the fashionable Italian and French royal courts.

After being imported to the United States, it was served by several famous Americans, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who served it to their guests, along with Dolly Madison who started serving it at the presidential house in 1812.

The first ice cream parlor was in New York and American colonists were the first to use the term ice cream, as the first name was iced cream, because it was similar to iced tea.

The wooden bucket freezer with rotary paddles was a break-through in technology and in 1846 Nancy Johnson patented hand-cranked freezers, establishing the basic method of making ice cream. The ice cream scoop was patented in 1897 and the ice cream shop or soda fountain has since become the icon of American culture.

The first ice cream cone was made at the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 and Eskimo Pies, originally called an “I Scream Bar” were put on the market in 1920, the same year the Good Humor Bar originated and was sold from a fleet of white trucks with bells and music in 1923.

For those who want to indulge without the guilt, Skinny Cow has some new flavors to tempt your tastebuds with low-fat ice cream: Salted Caramel Pretzel candy bars, Cookies ‘n’ Dough candy bars; and in limited edition are Snickerdoodle ice cream sandwiches, Chocolate Covered Cherry ice cream in a chocolate cone, Pretty in Pink truffle bar, Mint to Be Low Fat ice cream cup, Caramel Mochaccino ice cream cup and Cupcake Batter ice cream cup.

This has been a bit of history on ice cream and how it has evolved and grown in popularity. And did you know that soft ice cream is made by doubling the amount of air in the ice cream product?

A hint on keeping your ice cream in tip top shape in the freezer is to not let it soften and refreeze. Otherwise, lumps of ice will form. Keep it at a constant temperature for a smooth dessert.

The Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook has a simple recipe for making ice cream that has four ingredients. From this recipe many varieties can be made.

Vanilla Ice Cream

4 cups half-and-half, light cream or milk, depending on you likeness for richness

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 cups whipping cream

In a large bowl, combine half-and-half, sugar and vanilla. Stir until sugar dissolves. Stir in whipping cream. Freeze cream mixture in a 4 or 5-quart ice cream freezer according to manufacturers directions. It tastes best when allowed to “ripen” for a few hours. Ripening, or hardening, a frozen dessert improves its texture and keeps it from melting too quickly at room temperature. Store in the freezer for four hours or for a traditional-style ice cream freezer, after churning, remove the lid and dasher and cover the top with waxed paper or foil. Plug the lid’s hole with cloth and replace the lid on the can. Fill the outer freezer bucket with ice and rock salt, enough to cover the top of the freezer can, a ration of 4 cups ice to 1 cup rock salt, enough to cover the top of the freezer can. Let stand at room temperature for 4 hours.

Note: To make strawberry or peach ice cream, prepare the recipe but stir 4 cups fresh strawberries or cut-up and peeled peaches that have been put through the blender into the ice cream.

Ice cream drinks can be served in place of dessert in some instances. This is for a drink calling for creme de menthe and creme de cacao.

Frozen Grasshoppers

1/2 cup green creme de menthe

1/2 cup white creme de cacao

1 pint vanilla ice cream

3 cups ice cubes

Whipped cream and fresh mint sprigs, optional

In a blender, combine creme de menthe, creme de cacao and about half of the ice. Cover and blend until smooth. Add remaining ice; cover and blend again. Serve in cocktail glasses and if desired, top each with whipped cream and a sprig of fresh mint.

Note: Just because this is a drink, it has no less calories. A 4-ounce serving has 206 calories.

Liz Matthews gave me this recipe back in the 1970s for a nut roll dough made using vanilla ice cream. It was easy to make and the dough was always flaky and flavorful. I still use it today

Liz Matthews Nut Rolls

1 pint vanilla ice cream

1 pound butter

4 cups flour

Combine butter and flour and then work in the ice cream. Don’t try it with your hands as they will get absolutely frozen. Let the dough set for several hours after being combined. Put fourths of the dough on a floured board and use about 1/4 cup of flour to knead in and roll out into a circle. Cut in pie wedges, spread with a favorite nut filling and bake on ungreased baking sheet at 350 degrees until light brown. When cool, you can roll them in powdered sugar if desired.

Here is a nut filling obtained from the Dobra Cookbook and the filling recipe submitted by Mary Gail of Lake Mary, Fl.

Nut Filling:

2 cups ground nuts

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon honey

2 beaten egg whites

Combine nuts, sugar and honey. Fold in the beaten egg whites and spread on the nut roll dough slices. Roll up and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Cupcake sundaes are a fun dessert. You can have your cake and ice cream in one dessert with this recipe. It is from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.

Cupcake Sundaes

12 vanilla or chocolate cupcakes, not large size

Quart of vanilla ice cream

Chocolate or chocolate peanut butter sauce recipe

Whipped topping

Maraschino cherries

Top each cupcake with a small scoop of ice cream. Spoon sauce over ice cream. Add a dash of whipped topping and top with a cherry.

Hot Fudge Sauce

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate pieces

1/4 cup butter

2/3 cup sugar

5-ounce can evaporated milk, 2/3 cup

In small heavy saucepan, melt chocolate and butter over medium heat. Add sugar; gradually stir in evaporated milk. Bring mixture to boiling; reduce heat. Boil gently over low heat for 8 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Cool slightly. Serve warm over ice cream.

Note: to make peanut butter fudge sauce, make the hot fudge sauce and add 1/4 cup peanut butter after boiling for 8 minutes, beating well.

Here is a iced coffee that can be served in the summer rather than dessert. It is from the Kitchen Keepsake Cookbook. This makes enough for 30 half cup servings.

Iced coffee

Half gallon cold, strong coffee

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Half gallon chocolate ice cream and half gallon vanilla ice cream

Pint heavy cream, whipped

Combine coffee, vanilla and cinnamon. Chill well. Immediately before serving, pour coffee into a large punch bowl. Spoon in ice cream in chunks, stirring somewhat. Fold in whipped cream and serve.

This punch uses sherbet in fruit flavors and is great for a shower or ladies tea. This makes 24 one-half cup servings.

Lime Cooler Punch

1 cup lime juice or 2 small cans limeade

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 quarts water

1 pint lime sherbet

1 pint pineapple sherbet

Lime slices

Mint leaves

Combine lime juice and sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add all other ingredients, except sherbet. Just before serving, fold in the lime and pineapple sherbet. Garnish with lime slices and mint leaves.

This is a quick-to-make pie and it doesn’t heat up the kitchen with an oven blasting hot air. This is from the Kitchen Keepsakes Cookbook.

Mud Pie

Chocolate cookie crust

Half gallon coffee ice cream, softened

Canned or jarred chocolate syrup

8-ounce carton whipped topping

Slivered almonds

Smooth softened coffee ice cream into chocolate crust until even. Generously drizzle with chocolate syrup. Pile on whipped topping and smooth out, covering to the edge like a meringue. Sprinkle with slivered almonds and freeze. Just before serving, take out of freezer and slice. Serves 8.

Note: Vanilla, butter brickle or pecan ice cream can be used instead.

These ice cream squares are quite delicious with a crispy crunch. They are from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.

Butterscotch Crunch Squares

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup quick cooking rolled oats

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1/2 cup butterscotch flavored ice cream topping

Half gallon vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine flour, oats and brown sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in nuts. Pat mixture lightly into an ungreased 13 by 9-inch baking pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. While warm, stir mixture to get it crumbled. Cool. Spread half of the crumbs in a 9 by 9-inch pan. Drizzle half of the ice cream topping over crumbs in pan. Place ice cream in a chilled bowl. Stir to soften. Spread ice cream evenly over topping-drizzled crumbs. Drizzle with remaining topping. Sprinkle with remaining crumbs. Cover and freezer at least 6 hours or until firm. Let stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Makes 12 squares, with 450 calories per square.

(McCoy can be contacted at emccoy@heraldstaronline.com)