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If I could recreate the solar system, each planet would become humongous balls of ice cream that continually orbit my wide-open mouth.  Ben and Jerry could bring along their entire crew of misfits to inhabit the new celestial orbs.  Though, first, Chubby Hubby must stop eating Magic Brownies or extreme Chocolate Therapy will be in order.  Chunky Monkey can no longer play with Cake Batter and Brownie Batter, while trying to find Berried Treasure.  Neapolitan Dynamite may not complete his Mission to Marzipan.  And, last but not least, cheeky Cherry Garcia will have to master – the Karamel Sutra – another time.

Oh, what a wonderful new solar system it would be.

Until that day transpires, I will wait patiently.  I will not be tempted by this small army of misfits, lined up ever so neatly and orderly, each with their own colorful personality, vying for attention to be rescued from behind the oppressive cold doors of the supermarket freezer, as I tiptoe along the isle whistling nervously, pretending to need another bag of frozen peas, and doing everything in my power to ignore them.  Just when I thought I was in the clear, I see Cherry Garcia nudging forward, thus suddenly appearing in my peripheral vision.

That’s it.  Game over.  I’ve cracked.  On this day, however….I surprise myself.  I reach in deep and rev up my willpower to its final gear, and escape back home.

Hours later, still vehemently on my mind, I wave the white flag of delicious defeat and give in to my favorite misfit of them all.  Without missing a beat, I commence the making of Homemade Cherry Garcia Ice Cream.  Funny how the rationalization kicks in and metastasizes so quickly:  Cherries are good for you.  Dark chocolate is good for you.  Milk is good for you.  I hear this over and over again in my head as I shave more chocolate and coddle the custard.  Before I know it, a small army of cones filled with out-of-this-world ice cream, orbits my salivating mouth.

homemade cherry garcia ice cream

Homemade Cherry Garcia Ice Cream
Tweaked from Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream and Dessert Book, by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, with Nancy J. Stevens, yields one heavenly quart

Feel free to use a little less sugar if you like things not too sweet, like I do.  I also used 1% milk to counter the badness of the heavy cream (plus, I had a full quart I needed to use up), but if you wanna be wild and crazy, go with whole milk.

Oh – almost forgot, Ben and Jerry wrote this book in the 80’s, so beware that the egg recipes use raw eggs.  Simply cook them by making a custard as shown below.

Music Pairing: Sugar Magnolia, Grateful Dead

Ingredients

  • 1/4 overflowing cup shaved dark chocolate
  • 1/4 overflowing cup fresh Bing cherries, pitted and quartered
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy or whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • pinch of salt

Method

Place the shaved chocolate flakes and the cherries in separate bowls. Cover and refrigerate.

Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan.  Whisk the eggs in a bowl and gradually add some of the warmed milk, stirring constantly as you pour. Pour the warmed mixture back into the saucepan.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir.

Chill thoroughly, and transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions (about 20-25 minutes).  After the ice cream stiffens (about 2 minutes before it is done), add the chocolate and the cherries, then continue freezing until the ice cream is ready.  Freeze at least 2 hours (I like to leave it overnight) before serving.

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Every once in a while, you come across something that is just so special, so magical, soooo perfect – that you can do nothing except think about it, talk about it, dream about it … best of all, EAT it. True, the viral phenomenon has resulted in hundreds and thousands of postings for the ubiquitous chocolate chip cookie after the article first appeared in the NY Times. Since such a mad, obsessive frenzy developed, is it really worth yet another posting about the sheer genius behind it??

The simple answer: hell ‘yeh.

Who didn’t grow up with warm milk and cookies to soothe your soul after a hard day of finger painting in kindergarten class? Umm.. my beloved T., that’s who. Milk and cookies was apparently not a part of the Irish childhood after school experience. So you can only imagine his delight when he ate devoured his first warm chocolate chip cookie, paired with an ice cold glass of milk. Can we just say life changing? Ever since that momentous day, he asks for warm chocolate chip cookies at least once a week.

Upon reading the article and recipe at first, I was rather skeptical, to say the least. How much better could another chocolate chip cookie recipe possibly be, much less claiming it to be the best chocolate chip cookie? Well, I’ve never been so happy to be oh, so wrong! Who knew a little snooze for the dough in the fridge could make such a remarkable difference? Pure magic. I’ve added a few tweaks to the recipe which, in my humble but accurate opinion (as my cousin would say), elevates this amazing creature even further. It will be mind blowing, I guarantee it. These are the best chocolate chip cookies ever. Oh, and I’ve cut the recipe in half because it is simply too dangerous to have so many floating around the house at once.

best-chocolate-chip-cookies

Best Chocolate Chips Cookies Ever (so good they will break your heart)
Tweaked from Jacques Torres, yields 12 gargantuon cookies

The 60% cocoa content, the larger size of the chip and, of course, the minimum 24 hour waiting time are the key components to the magic of this cookie. Also, be careful not to leave the cookies in the fridge over 72 hours. They will tend to brown much faster when cooked.

Music Pairing: Beck, Beautiful Way

Ingredients

  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup, plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 + 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 + 1/8 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup + 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cups chopped almonds
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1/2 bag of 11.5 oz Ghiradelli 60% cocoa chips
  • sea salt

Method

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add egg, mixing well.  Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Add rolled oats, almonds and orange zest. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.  Remove cookie dough from refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.
Scoop 6 mounds of dough (about 1/3 cup each) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 16 to 20 minutes (depending on oven).

Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.  Serve warm with a tall glass of icy cold milk.

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