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.

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.

National Dessert Day

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • Chopped pecans and fresh raspberries or strawberries, for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Garnish with chopped pecans and a fresh raspberry or strawberry.

Cook's Note: Frost the cupcakes with a butter knife or pipe it on with a big star tip.

Inside Out Caramel Apples

A fun twist (literally) on traditional caramel apples! So delicious, and so much easier to bite into!

 

Ingredients 3 large Granny Smith or Pink Lady apples* 1 large lemon 2 cups brown sugar 1/2 cup heavy cream 2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons light corn syrup (alternatively, maple syrup) 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Chocolate sauce (optional)

Directions Cut your apples in half and use a melon baller to scoop out the insides, leaving the walls intact at about 1/2 to 1/4 inch thickness. Squeeze the juice from the lemon onto the apples and allow to set. This will keep them from turning brown right away.

In a sauce pan over high heat, combine the brown sugar, butter, heavy cream and corn syrup. Stir until the brown sugar has dissolved. Allow to boil, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 230F, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the vanilla, stir continually until it stops bubbling. Allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes.

Using a paper towel, wipe your apples down, removing the lemon juice as much as possible. If the inside of your apple is too wet, the caramel wont stick. Pour the caramel into the hollowed out apples until just below the top.

Chill in the refrigerator until the caramel has set, about 20 minutes. Cut into slices** and drizzle with chocolate sauce if desired.

Storage: These don’t do well out of the refrigerator for very long. If you must keep them at room temperature, you might consider lying them on their sides, on a piece of parchment or wax paper. They will likely separate somewhat, but still taste good!

*Note: any firm, fairly dry baking apple will do. ** Note: I sprayed my knife with cooking spray (Pam) which helped with the slicing (if you don’t have cooking spray, wipe your knife with a bit of vegetable oil). Do NOT use a hot knife.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I know for many Cinco de Mayo is the perfect excuse to enjoy a tall margarita but I thought today I would switch it up. Don't get me wrong, I'll definitely be breaking out the tequila for an ice cold margarita but I wanted to share a more unique recipe with Mexican roots to honor the holiday. 

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Lulu’s Salty Caramel Banana Coconut Flan

Serves: 4-5

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes active, 1 ½ hours baking

 

Ingredients:

 

2 cups milk

3 eggs

1 egg yolk

¾ cup sugar

1 cinnamon stick, or ¼ tsp of ground cinnamon

1 large piece of lemon zest

1 tablespoon rum

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

 

Preparation:

 

Start by infusing some flavor into the milk. Put the milk in a medium saucepan with the lemon zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and rum.

Slowly bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. Once done, set aside to cool (this is important).

You will need some custard cups suitable for the oven. You don’t necessarily need flan cups, but you need something about 3” wide by about 2” tall.

In a small non-stick skillet, spread out ¼ cup of the sugar. We are going to create the caramel to go in the custard cup.

Heat the sugar carefully and it will start to melt. Stir until you get a nice golden brown color.

Pour about ½ tablespoon into each cup and tilt the cup to spread the caramel to cover the bottom of each cup.

You need to work fast as the caramel will harden quickly!

Go ahead and preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Now in a small mixing bowl, combine eggs, ½ cup of sugar, and vanilla. Beat until foamy.

Pour in the milk (it has cooled, right?) through the strainer to remove the extra bits.

Mix the milk and eggs well.

Pour the mixture into each cup as near to the top as you can. Place the cups (not touching each other) in a deep baking pan or dish.

Pour boiling water into pan around the cups so that you have about an inch of water in the pan. This creates a water bath for the custard.

Bake now for 1 ½ hours. Check the custard with a thin knife in the center of one of the flans.

Remove from the oven when done and remove the cups from the bath to cool.

Can be served at room temperature or cooled.

Remove from the cup by sliding a think knife around the edge of the cup. Enjoy!

Butterfinger Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce

This recipe is so simple—stir crushed candy bars into softened ice cream—but it’s a real crowd pleaser. Dress it up with homemade chocolate sauce and wafer-thin chocolate cookies.

• 1 pint vanilla bean ice cream • 3 original-size Butterfinger candy bars, crushed (reserve one bar for garnish) • 1 Cadbury caramel-milk chocolate candy bar • 1/2 cup whipping cream • 1/2 teaspoon salt • Chocolate cookie wafers • Fresh mint leaves

Let vanilla bean ice cream soften in refrigerator. Transfer ice cream to bowl. Mix in two crushed Butterfinger bars. Transfer ice cream mixture to freezer-safe container; freeze.

For sauce, heat caramel-milk chocolate bar and whipping cream together in double boiler, stirring until candy bar melts. Remove from heat. Stir in salt. Let cool; store in refrigerator. To warm sauce, microwave for 30 seconds.

To serve, spoon sauce into bottom of bowls. Top with ice cream mixture. Garnish each serving with remaining crushed Butterfinger bar, chocolate cookie wafer, and mint leaf. Makes 6 servings.

Read full story here in Traditional Home

National Oatmeal Cookie Day

Happy National Oatmeal Cookie Day! 

I love to keep this dough in the freezer and treat myself to a bite of cookie dough every once in a while.

Makes 6 dozen

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup toasted wheat germ

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups packed light brown sugar

2 sticks butter, softened

1 stick margarine, softened

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat. 2. Stir together the oats, flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and in a large mixing bowl and set aside. 3. Place sugar, butter, and margarine in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on medium speed until fluffy. 4. Reduce speed to low and slowly add oat-flour mixture until just combined. Add chocolate chips and cranberries and mix gently with a spatula. 5. Scoop the dough into rounds and place them 1-inch apart on the baking sheet.  6. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until golden and just set. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes.

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.