Yep, We Seriously Want You to Add Bacon to Your Vanilla Ice Cream

Plus 17 more inventive toppings you have to try.

Making ice cream from scratch is hard, so I often opt instead to garnish vanilla Häagen-Dazs with something fun, like candied bacon — easy to make by brushing on maple syrup and brown sugar as it bakes. Delicious! Or, I let the ice cream soften a bit, mix in something like broken-up Butterfingers or cookies — or anything yum — and refreeze. Vanilla doesn't have to be vanilla.

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Caramelized Bacon

  • 2/3 cup grade A or B maple syrup (not the fake stuff) 
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2 pounds beef or turkey bacon

Preheat the oven to 325oF. In a small heavy saucepan mix together the syrup, mustard, and sugar and heat slowly on low heat, stirring often. Cook until syrup thickens, about 10 minutes. Set aside. Fry bacon in a large pan on medium-high heat using a “bacon weight” to keep the bacon really flat as it cooks. When the bacon is cooked to your liking, drain the bacon on a paper towel. Lay the flattened bacon on a jelly roll pan and brush the glaze on both sides. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. 

Not into bacon? Try more of my favorite vanilla ice cream toppings:

  1. Candied bacon (shown)
  2. St-Germain liqueur, plus berries and chopped basil
  3. Dehydrated or fresh fruit
  4. Caramel popcorn
  5. Olive oil and lemon zest
  6. Cotton candy and edible gold flakes (buy on Amazon)
  7. Candied ginger or orange, grapefruit, or lemon peel
  8. Toasted coconut flakes
  9. Brown rice cereal, dipped in melted chocolate and cooled
  10. Whipped cream mixed with malted milk
  11. Hot fudge with crumbled candy canes (any time of year!)
  12. Crushed malt balls and toffee—dangerously good
  13. Chocolate-covered espresso beans
  14. Any flavor of Compartés chocolate bars, broken up
  15. Salty pretzel pieces
  16. Lillet rosé dessert wine
  17. Crumbled shortbread
  18. Crushed Oreos. I love them.

This story originally appeared in the September 2017 issue of House Beautiful.

Perk Up Your Iced Coffee With These 5-Layer Mocha Cubes

Chocolate milk cold brew? Yes, please!

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I love an iced coffee in the afternoon, especially in summer — and I make it even more of a treat with my five-layer ice cubes. With ribbons of coffee, milk and chocolate milk, they're such a pretty pick-me-up!

Iced-Coffee Cubes

Makes about 12

  • 3 cups black coffee, cold
  • 3 cups whole milk or half-and-half
  • ½ cup chocolate milk

1. Fill large, square ice-cube molds, such as Tovolo's King Cube tray ($9, amazon.com), with a thin layer of coffee and freeze. Once this first layer has frozen (about two hours), add a layer of milk or half-and-half and freeze. Then, add a thin layer of chocolate milk and freeze. Repeat the process with milk and a final layer of coffee, filling to the top.

2. To make the drink shown, pour chilled coffee and milk over the ice cubes — you can also add some Kahlúa or Baileys — and the cubes will melt into the most delicious iced coffee ever! Take it to the next level by keeping some sweetened condensed milk in a squeeze bottle and adding as much as you like (it's divine in my morning hot coffee, too!).

This story originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of House Beautiful.

Caramel Chocolate Brownies

CARAMEL CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

  • 1 ½ cup flour
  • 1 ½ cup oatmeal, regular old fashioned oats
  • 1 ½ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ sticks butter (6 oz) – cut into pieces – chilled
  • 12 oz chocolate chips
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 14 oz bag of caramels, unwrapped

 

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Combine flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, baking soda and salt in Food Processor. Add butter and process about 10 seconds. Remove 2 cups from bowl and reserve for topping. Press remaining mixture into 9x13 pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Bring cream to simmer in a heavy saucepan. Add caramels and stir until smooth. Pour over chips. Sprinkle with remaining crumbs.

Bake 15 minutes until golden brown.

Chocolate-Pumpkin Layer Cake

 

  • 20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) soft unsalted butter, more for greasing
  • 2 cups flour, more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup plain pumpkin purée, canned, frozen or fresh
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 10 ounces unsweetened chocolate, preferably 99 or 100 percent, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

 

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use a little butter to grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter and flour the paper. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream 8 tablespoons butter and the granulated sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in pumpkin purée. Mixture may look slightly curdled. Stir in flour mixture about half a cup at a time until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans.
  3. Divide batter into pans and bake in middle of oven until springy to the touch and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes, run a knife around edges, invert onto racks and peel off paper. Let cakes cool completely.
  4. In a large bowl, blend remaining 12 tablespoons butter and confectioners’ sugar together. Blend in chocolate and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.
  5. Place one cake layer, smooth side up, on a platter. Ice top. Place second layer, smooth side down, on top; ice top and sides of cake.

To make ahead: For fully frosted cake, put in freezer unwrapped; when frozen hard, wrap in plastic, then foil. Remove wrapping before defrosting.

Unfrosted cake layers out of their pans can be wrapped first, then frozen up to three weeks.

Frosting can be made up to 24 hours ahead and refrigerated, then brought to room temperature for at least one hour.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! For all the hopeless romantics out there, this day is for you! Whether you're celebrating with friends, family, or a loved one, make sure it's a decadent day. Today is the day to forget about your diet and the gym. Live a little! Today's ingredients consist of chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate. I'm serving up my mom's mouth watering chocolate cake. It's simple, elegant, and delicious! Kisses from the kitchen. -XO

Mom’s Chocolate Cake

Serves 8

    • 4 oz semisweet chocolate
    • 2 tablespoons cocoa
    • ½ cup sugar
    • 7 oz cake flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2/3 cup boiling water
    • 4 eggs
    • 1 ¾  cup sugar
    • 12 oz butter
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 2 tablespoons dark rum

     

    Put chocolate, cocoa and sugar in Food Processor and mix it. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and process. Take it out. Add boiling water to machine and then add eggs- process one at time. Next add sugar, butter, sour cream and dark rum. After you process all those ingredients add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix together.

     

    Spray pan, put in parchment, spray again.

    Bake at 325 F.

    12” Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes

    8-9” Bake for an hour or less (50 min)

     

    Glaze

    • 6 oz semisweet chocolate
    • 4 tablespoons of water
    • 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) powdered sugar, sifted
    • Pinch salt
    • 4 tablespoon (2oz) butter
    • 2 teaspoon dark rum

     

    Mix in double boiler, semisweet chocolate, water, powdered sugar and salt until there are no lumps. Stir constantly. Add butter. Take off heat and stir in rum.

 

Chocolate Pumpkin Layer Cake

Adapted from John Down, Christopher Norman Chocolates Time: 1 1/2 hours plus cooling

 

20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) soft unsalted butter, more for greasing

2 cups flour, more for dusting

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 1/2 cup plain pumpkin purée, canned, frozen or fresh

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup chopped pecans

2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

10 ounces unsweetened chocolate, preferably 99 or 100 percent, melted and cooled to room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

 

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Use a little butter to grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter and flour the paper. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream 8 tablespoons butter and the granulated sugar together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in pumpkin purée. Mixture may look slightly curdled. Stir in flour mixture about half a cup at a time until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans.
  3. Divide batter into pans and bake in middle of oven until springy to the touch and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cakes in pans for 10 minutes, run a knife around edges, invert onto racks and peel off paper. Let cakes cool completely.
  4. In a large bowl, blend remaining 12 tablespoons butter and confectioners’ sugar together. Blend in chocolate and vanilla extract and beat until smooth.
  5. Place one cake layer, smooth side up, on a platter. Ice top. Place second layer, smooth side down, on top; ice top and sides of cake.

 

Yield: 8 to 12 servings.

 

To make ahead: For fully frosted cake, put in freezer unwrapped; when frozen hard, wrap in plastic, then foil. Remove wrapping before defrosting.

 

Unfrosted cake layers out of their pans can be wrapped first, then frozen up to three weeks.

 

Frosting can be made up to 24 hours ahead and refrigerated, then brought to room temperature for at least one hour.