21 June 2010


I've been reading so many books written or set in pre decimal Britain (pre 1971, that is) that I went to the trouble of writing out a list of the currencies. At last, I know what farthings and tanners are! (The authors are Joan Aiken, Charles Dickens, E.F. Benson, P.G. Wodehouse and Thomas W. Hanshew. What? Job hunting leaves a lot of leisure for reading.)

Also, and only tangentially related, while I don't know if this lap pillow counts as merely nerdy or weird and actively creepy, I'm going to go ahead and guess that this isn't what the popular kids have in their living room.

Update: I don't have one of these pillows myself. My original wording was a little unclear.

(H/T to geekologie)

15 June 2010

chocolate chocolate peanut butter peanut butter ice cream

I made triple chocolate ice cream the other day and it was reeeeaaally good. I used a David Lebovitz recipe and it worked almost perfectly. The texture was a little, uh, dense - a bit more so than normal for even home-made ice cream. It didn't quite freeze in the machine because I did two stupid things. I got impatient and cooled down the custard in the freezer, AND I didn't let the melted chocolate chips cool enough. (Melted chocolate chips aren't specified in this recipe but every ice cream that I make is stracciatella. It's a compulsion.) So next time I'll avoid that particular scenario, because it was confidence-wrecking to look at my churned ice cream reverting back to custard as fast as it could. Also I might throw a little aged dark rum in there to help prevent it from getting quite so hard; now that I've tasted the chocolate, I think it'll go well with rum. (I wasn't in *that* much doubt about the rum but I've never before met a chocolate ice cream that I actually liked - they all seem to have a little bit of a rough edge to their taste.) Speaking of taste, this is the best ice cream I have ever made (although I usually say that about each new recipe.) But there's no edge to the chocolate flavour at all - it tastes exactly like good chocolate mixed with good cream and rich egg yolks ought to taste. It's an excellent recipe, although kind of a pain in the ass.

However. David Lebovitz's recipe is not a recipe which requires a lot of faffing about. You don't have to bother with separating eggs and cooking very cautiously over very low heat while you wonder what coating the back of the spoon means, really. Just throw some dairy and sugar and cocoa into a pan, bring to a boil, dump in some peanut butter and you're almost done. But of course I'm unsatisfied with a simple recipe like that - something deep at the bottom of my soul cries out in pain until I've turned every recipe into a huge, time-consuming project.* So I've marked up the recipe with the changes I would make. Truthfully, the chocolate ice cream base isn't good enough to stand on its own, but I'm also not up for making the triple chocolate thing that I talked about at the beginning of the post just so that I can dunk some Skippy into it. That triple chocolate number deserves respect, and Skippy is just not a respectful ingredient. So my suggestions are bolded. (To make me feel important!)

Ice Cream:


* 2 cups half and half [I went ahead and used a 2:1 mixture of whipping cream and whole milk. The extra fat means it won't freeze quite so hard. Also more fat means more deliciousness for me.]
* ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* ½ cup sugar
* Pinch of salt
* ½ cup smooth peanut butter [Don't even both trying to use Teddy or some "healthy" hippie brand. What you want here is Jif or Skippy, with all the added salt and sugar and stabilizers.]
[I'd add 1/4 tsp of instant espresso to the cream mixture - I find that a little bit of coffee underneath chocolate flavor can make the chocolate flavor seem stronger and more complex without being identifiable on its own as coffee.]
[I'd also throw in a slug of dark rum at the end to try to lighten up the texture of the end product.]


1. Whisk together the cream, milk, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it comes to a full, rolling boil (it will start to foam up). Remove from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter, stirring until thoroughly blended.
2. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. [It's the easiest ice cream I've ever churned - the peanut butter gives it body and stiffness so it's really easy to transfer into the container you'll freeze it in without making a big mess. It's actually so nice, texturally, that it makes me think peanut butter is a really underrated ingredient.]
[3. At the last minute of churning, I added 2 ounces of melted cooled chocolate chips to the "batter" - it's the easiest way to add chocolate chips ever, and you avoid having too-large, rock-hard lumps of chocolate which threaten your crowns when you bite down unwarily.]

Peanut Butter Chunks


* 6 tablespoons peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
* 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
[Next time I am going to add some salt to these guys - maybe 1/2 or 1 tsp of kosher salt, just to see what that's like. I am a salty-sweet person.]

Mix together the peanut butter and sugar in a small bowl. Line a dinner plate with plastic wrap. Pinch off small pieces of the peanut butter mixture, about ½ teaspoon each, and drop them onto the dinner plate. [It would be a bigger pain in the ass, but next time I'd go for smaller chunks, like 1/4 of a tablespoon, so that you got smaller bites of the chunks more often.] Once you’ve used all of the mixture, freeze the chunks. [It occurred to me that once frozen, you could dip the chocolate balls into melted chocolate to make them extra irresistible. But again, you're almost talking project at that point when all you're really trying to do is make yourself a fucking bowl of ice cream already. So maybe not.]

Mixing them in: Fold the Peanut Butter Chunks into 1 quart of ice cream as you remove it from the machine.

If you do decide to make this recipe, I assure you it will be delicious even if you slavishly follow David Lebovitz's instructions to the letter and disregard my chatty commentary.

Also, no pictures because the only pictures I can ever manage of chocolate ice cream are the kinds of pictures that make you think, "That dog was sick!".

*Ice cream, by the way, is pretty simple to make, especially if you make "philadelphia" style ice creams which don't involve an egg custard. Ice cream should not be a Cook's Illustrated-style project with twenty seven ingredients and an active cooking time of four hours. That I need to make ice cream harder for myself says a lot about me - none of it good. If you were keeping track, I suggested seven modifications to the recipe, and none of them were shortcuts. The life of a perfectionist is not all wine and roses, you know!

07 June 2010


I had the privilege of interacting with a charming and well-mannered bachelor party recently - the groom's note says it all.

(No, seriously, they were actually charming and well-mannered, hence this thank-you from the groom. Sure, they all came in loaded and loud, but I wasn't asleep anyway. My only annoyance was that since Dave failed to warn me that he was bringing the entire party back to our house after the bars closed, I was wearing my giant disgusting bathrobe when a dozen dudes trooped through the door. No one cared but me, of course.)