Coffee + Ice Cream = One Tasty Treat

It’s getting hotter outside and sometimes, you just don’t want to settle for a fruity Popsicle. Perhaps you’d like to combine your love of coffee with a frozen dessert. If this is the case, you may want to consider making coffee-flavored ice cream sandwiches. Below you will find a recipe for this unique ice cream treat.

Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches

(this recipe makes 8 servings)

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces butter or margarine (room temperature)
  • 2 ounces caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee
  • 4 ounces flour
  • 16 ounces coffee ice cream
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • Icing Sugar

Directions

1) Lightly grease 2 to 3 baking sheets.

2) Use an electric mixer or wooden spoon to beat the butter until soft.

3) Add in the caster sugar and beat together.

4) Add in the flour and coffee – mixing by hand in order to form an evenly blended dough.

5) Wrap the dough in a plastic bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

6) Lightly sprinkle your work surface with icing sugar.

7) Knead the dough on the sugared surface for a couple of minutes. The dough should slightly soften.

8) Use a rolling pin dusted with icing sugar to roll out the dough. It should have a thickness of 1/8 inch. Use a 2 ½ inch fluted pastry cutter to create 16 rounds from the dough.

9) Place the rounds on the prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

10) Preheat your oven to 300 degrees and bake the biscuits until they have turned a lovely light golden color. This should take about 30 minutes.

11) Allow the biscuits to cool and firm up before taking off of the baking sheets and placing on a wire rack to completely cool.

12) Remove the ice cream from the freezer and let soften for 10 minutes at room temperature.

13) Using a metal spatula, evenly spread the ice cream on the flat side of eight biscuits. Leave room around the edges of the biscuits. Place one of the remaining biscuits on top of the ice cream – flat-side down.

14) Arrange the ice cream sandwiches on a baking sheet, and cover. Place in the freezer for at least 1 hour or longer if you want a firmer sweet treat. Sift the cocoa powder over the tops before eating or serving.

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What are Sipping Chocolates?

Sipping chocolates are not the same thing as drinking your typical mug of hot chocolate. The cacao tree produces beans that are used to make a variety of drinks – one of which was a sipping chocolate originally flavored with spices, wine, and chili peppers. A cup of hot cocoa is made with cocoa powder (which has the fat of cocoa butter pressed out of it), while sipping chocolates are made from real chocolate using the cocoa solids, which are then melted to create a creamy chocolate drink.

History of Sipping Chocolates

Sipping chocolates have a long history that traces back 3,000 years to the Mayan and Olmec civilizations of Central America when cacao was an important part of the culture. In 1528, the Spanish explorer Cortes introduced chocolate to the rest of the world after his Central American conquests. When he returned to Europe, he brought back cacao beans and samples of the Aztec chocolate drink.

In 1585, the first shipment of chocolate arrived in Spain. The Spaniards took the original recipes and started heating the mixtures while adding sugar to offset the natural bitterness of the drink. Instead of using chili peppers like the Mayans and Aztecs, the Europeans added cinnamon, vanilla and other spices.

In 1657, the first chocolate house in London was established – serving the drinking chocolate that became an instant hit with the upper class in Europe. The sweet treat became a luxury by the late 1600s. Around the same time that London delighted in the drinking chocolate, Dutch colonists brought the drink to North America.

Buy Sipping Chocolates

If you are interested in sampling the sipping chocolates of today, consider some of the following:

Healthy Calendula in Tea and Desserts

Throughout northern Mediterranean countries, there is an orange or yellow-colored flower that grows. Also referred to as ‘marigold’ or ‘pot marigold,’ calendula has become a popular choice for tea drinkers, who consume the herbal blend for its taste and health benefits. In addition to providing a hot beverage, calendula is also used to add yellow coloring and flavor to foods, such as rice, soup, cereals, and even dessert.

Calendula flowers are ideally picked as soon as they open during the summer. The young and tender leaves are good for salads because they possess a slightly peppery taste. To make calendula tea, steep dried flowers in boiling water for about five minutes. Many will sweeten with honey if there is a bitter taste. The flowers contain beta-carotene, sterols, vitamin A, vitamin C, and complex polysaccharides with immunostimulant properties that are awakened in the water.

Calendula and Desserts

Calendula flower petals have also found a place in making desserts. They add a subtle flavor to cookies, custards, and milk desserts. An example of a sweet treat that uses the flower is Calendula Drop Cookies, which are made with fresh calendula blossoms, sugar, butter, orange juice concentrate, vanilla, eggs, flour, baking powder, salt, and almond halves. Other sweet treats you can make with calendula includes the Mardi Gras favorite King Cake and Banana Cake, which both use dried or fresh petals.

Health Benefits of Calendula Tea

Calendula tea possesses anti-inflammatory, detoxing, and antibacterial properties. When you settle down to sip on a cup of calendula tea, you can take advantage of many other health benefits, such as relieving a sore throat, calming an irritated mouth, and limiting the damage of gastrointestinal conditions. Drink the tea when you are sick to rejuvenate your immune system. The tea is also used as a topical treatment for conjunctivitis (pink eye), ear infections, skin irritations and inflammations (such as acne) and for the stimulation of collagen production.

Panna Cotta Recipe

When you’re craving the taste of Italy, you may want to consider making panna cotta (which translates into ‘cooked cream’) – a sweet treat generally associated with the Northern Italian region of Piermonte. This custard-like pudding dessert is made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar that is then mixed with gelatin. To get ideas of how to make and flavor your own, consider the following recipe:

Panna Cotta Recipe

This recipe makes six servings and should be served chilled.

Ingredients

  • 1 package unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold milk
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar (icing or powdered)
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. Grease six small custard cups, ramekins, or individual molds. Use melted butter or almond oil.

2. Place the gelatin and cold milk in a small bowl. Let the mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

3. Combine cream and sugar in a saucepan. Bring ingredients to a boil while stirring to dissolve the powdered sugar.

4. Once the cream becomes very hot, remove the saucepan, and then stir in gelatin mixture and vanilla until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Sometimes it is necessary to return the pan to the stove over low heat to make sure all gelatin particles have dissolved.

5. Pour the cream into prepared molds. Transfer the dessert cups to the refrigerator. Chill for 2 to 4 hours, or until the dessert has set. When you are ready to reveal your tasty treat, dip the mold into hot water for a few seconds, and then invert onto a plate.

Ways to Flavor Your Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is typically served with caramel, wild berries, chocolate sauce, and other fruity accompaniments, such as poached fruit. Strawberries and raspberries are a popular fruit paired with the sweet treat. Sometimes, panna cotta is flavored with spices.

Ideas for International Christmas/Holiday Sweet Treats

When you’d like to step away from some of your own holiday dessert traditions, perhaps you’d like to explore some of the sweet treats enjoyed around the world. Below you will find a few suggestions to keep your holiday meals creative, including a traditional Puerto Rican dessert and a couple of ways to incorporate alcohol into your international sweet treats.

Tembleque – Puerto Rico

A traditional dessert in Puerto Rico for Christmas is tembleque – a custard-like treat made with coconut, cornstarch, vanilla, and cinnamon. A typical recipe may include 4 cups coconut milk, ½ cup sugar, ½ cup cornstarch, ¼ teaspoon salt, and your choice of garnish, such as cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon, or toasted coconut flakes. Another Puerto Rican sweet treat served during the holidays is coquito, which is coconut nog that takes the place of eggnog.

Photo credit michaelaw
Pushka – Russia

If you’re in the mood for a combination of many different ingredients, then the Russian pushka may add a bit of spice to your Christmas desserts. Three cups of marinated fruit is a must. A recipe for this colorful cake may include cream cheese, sour cream, superfine sugar (castor), marinated sultana (soaked in alcohol for at least 10 days), marinated currents, dried apricots, crystallized ginger pieces, sliced almonds, chocolate chips and orange zest. The cake is then decorated with festive touches, such as chocolate chips, slivered almonds, and cherries. After making the cake, it is either refrigerated or frozen.

Til Ke Laddoo – India

This ball-shaped treat is made out of a variety of ingredients that may include fruits, vegetables, and even grains and legumes. The dessert is often prepared with sesame and is popular during the winter months because of the seeds connection to heat.  An example of a recipe may include 1 cup sesame seeds, 1 cup jaggery, 3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter), ½ cup water, and 6 to 8 pods of cardamom seeds, which have been removed and ground into a powder. After the recipe has cooled, it is molded into the shape of balls, which eventually harden to a candy-like texture.

Zuppa Inglese – Italy

In Italy, holiday spreads may include zuppa inglese – a cake layered with pastry cream that is soaked in rum. In addition to milk, sugar, egg yolks, flour and vanilla, the pastry filling also include coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate. The dessert is comprised of two layers of yellow cake or a large pound cake. Dark rum and apricot jam are mixed together and brushed over the tops of the cake layers. Heavy cream is also used to whip up a fresh topping, which is often garnished with berries.

Festive Ice Cream Pudding – Australia

Frozen ice cream desserts are quite popular in Australia during the holiday season. To make this sweet treat, marinate 1 ½ cups mixed dried fruits in 2 tablespoons of brandy (or Grand Marnier) for at least 4 hours. Remove one 3 to 4 liter carton of vanilla or chocolate ice cream from the freezer and allow it to soften without it becoming “liquidy”. Gently stir in ½ cup toasted slivered almonds, 2 teaspoons mixed spices, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Make sure the dessert is well mixed. Place dessert back into the carton or refreeze in dessert bowls. Before serving, allow the dessert to slightly soften.

What is Baklava?

Baklava is a sweet treat comprised of layers of butter-soaked phyllo dough, nuts, and cinnamon. The dessert is then baked and soaked in a tantalizing honey glaze. Around the world, baklava is a favorite. When making the dessert at home, prepare yourself for a challenge because dealing with the thin layers of phyllo dough is truly a hurdle you must master before enjoying this syrupy treat.

Background on Baklava

The history of baklava is incomplete, as a handful of ethnic groups have laid claim to the creation of this popular sweet treat. Many have traced the beginnings of the dessert to Central Asian Turkic roots. However, a widely held belief is that the 8th century Assyrians were the first people to combine a few layers of bread dough with chopped nuts and honey. The treat was then baked in a wood-burning oven.  From the ancient Greeks to the Ottomans, similar sweets have centered on the main ingredients of baklava – ranging from ground sesame mixes to nut and honey fillings.

International Variations

Baklava possesses a worldwide appeal and with that comes an array of variations. A few examples include:

  • Iranian baklava tends to be drier than other versions – cooked and cut into smaller diamond-shapes that have been flavored with rose water.
  • Persian baklava blends chopped almonds and pistachios. Cardamom is the spice of choice accompanied by a rose water-scented syrup. The dessert is lighter than other Middle Eastern versions.
  • A light coating of crushed pistachio nuts decorates the baklava made in Cyprus and Afghanistan.
  • Baklava is the most popular dessert served during the New Year festivities in Albania. The sweet treat is often prepared from scratch with dough comprised of flour and egg yolks. The filling is made out of butter and walnuts. Sugar and vanilla powder added to boiling water is used to create the syrup.

Pavlova – Dessert Tribute to a Ballerina

Offering a meringue crust topped with whipped cream and fresh fruits, Pavlova is a pie with quite an intriguing background. While a bit of controversy surrounds the official credit for creating the dessert, the name and recipes first hit the public as a tribute to a popular ballerina named Anna Pavlova. When Pavlova was touring Australia and New Zealand around the same time, the sweet treat surfaced in both countries soon after. Interestingly, the dessert serves as a national dish in both places. To this very day, the countries continue to fight over the claim of invention.

The meringue of the dessert is made with a crispy crust that offers a soft, light inside filling –  characteristics meant to honor the airy performances of Anna Pavlova. A favorite during holiday celebrations (like Christmas dinner), Pavlova is made with fresh fruit combinations. Fruit selections may include blackberries, grapes and pineapple. However, the true nature of Pavlova shines through with popular combinations that deliver a delicious union of sweet and tart flavors, such as:

  • Peach slices and berries
  • Banana and passion fruit
  • Kiwi and strawberries

In the United Kingdom, raspberries are often chosen as a topping because the tartness of the berries contrasts well with the sweetness of sugar.

Ingredients and Preparation of Pavlova

Beating egg whites to a stiff consistency is one of the first steps taken to prepare Pavlova. The eggs are then folded in caster sugar (or superfine sugar), white vinegar, cornstarch, and at times, vanilla. A pinch of salt added to the egg whites and vanilla essence act as optional ingredients that enhance the overall appeal of the dessert. The mixture is slow baked to form the crispy, crunchy shell of meringue. The inside of the dessert is spongy and moist – often resembling the softness of a marshmallow. When choosing a topping, many note passion fruit as a must-have ingredient.