Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Mint chocolate chip ice cream is one of my favorite flavors, and it’s not very difficult to make. You just need a good vanilla ice cream recipe, chocolate, and some mint flavoring. I have the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment for my stand mixer. I was using the vanilla ice cream recipe that came with it, but it never came out exactly how I hoped. I stumbled upon this recipe from the New York Times. It’s called “the only ice cream recipe you’ll ever need” for a reason! I used 2% milk instead of whole milk (it was all I had in the fridge) and it turned out great.

I added 1 tsp vanilla to the cream/milk/sugar mixture at the beginning of the recipe. After it finished cooking and had several hours to chill in the fridge, I added 1 tsp of mint extract and a few drops of green food coloring before churning for 20 minutes. I added half a bag of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips to the ice cream at the end (with about 2 minutes of churning time remaining). I transferred the ice cream to storage containers and let it hang out in the fridge overnight to get a little firmer – but of course I ate a little bit right away, too. So good!

Mini Chocolate Cakes

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I had a party yesterday afternoon and needed a quick and easy dessert to make. I was already running behind schedule. I had some chocolate pound cake mix, which would be super easy to do something with. (I’m totally serious – you just add butter and water to this magical mix!)

Ingredients

1 package Tastefully Simple Classy Chocolate Pound Cake Mix
¾ cup melted butter
1 cup water
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 ¾ cups heavy cream
¼ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup powdered sugar

If you want to use store bought whipped cream, you don’t need the powdered sugar or vanilla, and you only need 1 ¾ cups heavy cream.

Instructions

Cake

Mix the pound cake mix, melted butter, and water. Grease two 9-inch round pans. I probably would’ve used a jelly roll pan if I had one. Make sure you set your cakes up to bake flat. I have these Wilton bake even strips that go around the pan to promote even baking. A Cozy Kitchen also had a DIY method here. I totally forgot to use the strips, which is why you see some uneven layers in the photo.

Bake at 325 for about 15-18 minutes. I think I did 12 minutes, tested, and put it back for another 5. Like a regular cake, a toothpick will come out clean when it’s done. Don’t be scared if the toothpick comes out clean and the cake still looks a little jiggly in the center.

Cool cakes fully before assembling.

Filling

Beat 1 ¾ heavy cream until it thickens slightly. Add ¼ cup milk and the packet of pudding mix. Beat for 2 minutes. Cover and keep in the fridge until ready to use.

Whipped Cream

Beat 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla, and ¼ cup powdered sugar until it’s a whipped cream consistency with stiff peaks. I could’ve beaten mine for a few more minutes. It wasn’t runny, but it wasn’t quite as stiff as I wanted. Keep it in the fridge until ready to use.

Assembly

Remove the cakes from the pans. (Caution – don’t remove until your cake is fully cooled!) Use a biscuit cutter to cut the cakes into small circular pieces. You can use whatever size cutter you want. The one I used was about 2″ and I was able to get 16 pieces (for 8 cakes). Go smaller if you don’t want people to need a fork.

Use a piping bag to pipe the filling onto each bottom piece. Stack with the top cake piece and top with whipped cream. You could also add some chocolate shavings.

Strawberries & Cream Filled Cupcakes

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Pretty sure these are the best cupcakes I’ve ever made. The filling and buttercream were amazing. I can’t take any credit for a recipe for the actual cake part, so this post focuses on the filling, frosting, and putting it all together at the end. If you need a good vanilla cupcake recipe, try this one from Natasha’s Kitchen.

Ingredients – Filling

2 cups quartered strawberries
⅔ cup sugar
3 tbsp water
1 cup heavy cream
1 package instant vanilla pudding mix (have a second package on hand just in case)

You will likely have some left over. This is definitely enough for 3 dozen, maybe even 4 (I’ll report back on this when I make the next batch.) I did 2 dozen and froze the rest of the filing for next time.

Ingredients – Vanilla Buttercream

3 cups powdered sugar
3 tsp heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup butter at room temperature
Colored sugar sprinkles or food coloring (optional)

Double the buttercream recipe if you like your icing super high (higher than the photo). This was just enough for 24 cupcakes frosted as shown in the photo.

Instructions

Star baking the cupcakes before you start making the filling. This will allow the cupcakes enough time to cool before you fill and frost them.

Filling

fullsizeoutput_c1bPuree the strawberries. I used the Vitamix, but you could use any blender or food processor.

Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat to low and continue to cook while stirring until the sugar is fully dissolved. Add the strawberry puree, combine, cook over low for a few minutes, and put it in the fridge to cool.

Whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Fold in the strawberry mixture. It’s OK if the strawberry mixture is not super cold at this point, but you don’t want it to be hot. Put the mixture in the fridge to chill. Once mixed, it will need to be cold for the next step. You can move on to the buttercream while it’s chilling.

Once the strawberry-cream mixture is cold (it’s very important for it to be cold!), add the package of vanilla pudding mix and beat for 2 minutes. Give it a few minutes to set. It shouldn’t be runny. It’s OK if it’s looser than a normal pudding or custard, but if it’s flowing right out of your piping bag before you even squeeze, it’s too runny. It’s OK if a small amount drips out.

  • Troubleshooting – Too runny? Make sure you’ve left it in the fridge for several minutes to set. Still too runny? Whisk in another package of pudding mix. Start with half of a package, whisk in for at least a minute, let it sit for a few minutes to see how it sets. Add the rest if needed. Too firm? Whisk in some milk, a little at a time, until it loosens up enough.

Buttercream

photo-feb-11-4-33-01-pmUse the paddle attachment to your stand mixer – bonus if you have one with the flex edge.

Beat butter until it’s fluffy, then beat in the vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar and heavy cream by alternating ½ cup of powdered sugar and ½ tsp of heavy cream. Wait until the powdered sugar is fully incorporated before adding the next ½ cup. (This is a good time to use the pouring shield for your stand mixer. The powdered sugar tends to fly.)

Add sugar sprinkles or food coloring at the end. I just shook the sprinkles in until the buttercream turned pink and the sprinkles were incorporated throughout.

Finish the Cupcakes! 

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Put the piping bag in a mason jar and fold the sides over to make filling it easier

When the cupcakes and filling are fully cooled, use an apple corer to make a hole for the filling in the center of each cupcake.

Add filling to a piping bag. You can also use a plastic zip-top bag with a corner cut off if you don’t have a piping bag. I highly recommend using a piping bag with a tip for this, though, because it really gets the filling distributed throughout the center.

Pipe buttercream on top of each cupcake. I used Wilton tip #32.

Homemade Pasta (Spaghetti)

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My wife bought me the pasta roller and cutter attachments for my KitchenAid mixer for my birthday earlier this month. I have been begging for these for so long! I’ve always liked fresh pasta better than boxed (who doesn’t?!), and this gives me an easy way to make it at home. The KitchenAid attachments are really handy because you don’t have to turn a handle. Because I’m no Iron Chef, I need to use two hands to actually hold the dough when I’m rolling or curling pasta. Well, that’s not really possible with a pasta roller with the handle you have to turn. Anyway, so yes, if you’ve ever considered buying these, I definitely recommend them.

Please don’t ask for my recipe. It’s a combination of trial and error until the dough feels right. I start with some flour, eggs, and olive oil and work from there. But, have no fear. Anne Burrell will save the day. I’ve made her all purpose pasta dough recipe, and of course it’s amazing. If you need a recipe, use that one. You won’t be disappointed. There is a reason the pasta dough and gnocchi pages of my Cook Like a Rock Star book have a crusty floury texture! Yeah, things get messy when I’m cooking.

I’ve always made the well of flour for the eggs, etc. and kneaded by hand. You can also mix the ingredients in your stand mixer and switch to the dough hook for kneading. I’ve never done it that way, but one of these days I will try.

A few pointers about fresh pasta

  • You will her people tell you to let your dough rest, not rest, whatever. Sometimes I let it rest, sometimes I don’t. I’ve never had it turn out horrible either way. People can have some strong opinions on this. Google if you want to hear both sides of the story.
  • SALT YOUR COOKING WATER. If watching a ton of Food Network has taught me anything, it’s this.
  • Fresh pasta doesn’t take long to cook at all. 90 seconds to 2 minutes is all I usually do.
  • Do not rinse your noodles! Please, just don’t. Drain it, add it to your sauce, and let them cook together for a few minutes. Toss toss toss, and you’re good to go.

Troubleshooting 

img_4368Dough is too crumbly/dry or keeps falling apart – add some olive oil or water, but exercise some caution here. At first it will be dry. If it’s to the point where it seems like it’s just going to stay dry, this is when you should add some water or olive oil.

Dough is too wet (more like a dumpling dough) – add more flour. Just add a little at a time until it gets to the right texture. There’s nothing worse than being stuck in a vicious cycle of too wet – too dry – too wet – too dry… etc.

Keeps getting stuck in the pasta roller – make sure you start it on the widest/most open setting, which should be 1. If you’re already there and it keeps getting stuck, roll it out flatter with the side of your hand or rolling pin and try again.

Pasta falls apart when it goes through the roller – This one depends on how badly it’s falling apart. Sometimes I have ends that get a little weird. Just fold the dough in half and run it through again. If it’s seriously crumbly, see bullet point on crumbly dough.