It Could Be Worse


Is summer over yet?

I don’t think I ever asked this question until I moved to LA. Summer in LA has always felt tedious to me. It’s more of the same, just hotter. And summer here always insists on creeping well into September and October, all but eliminating autumn.

During summer in LA I feel restless instead of relaxed. I feel penned in. Or maybe it’s not LA; is this just what summer is like as adult?

But we do have some lovely foggy mornings in the summer that are perfect for Sunday morning walks in Elysian Park.


And we have strawberries in the yard.


And we eat strawberries in our froggy pool.


And put them in homemade ice cream.


This homemade ice cream is made without an ice cream maker and has no eggs in it. It takes about 10 minutes, plus freezing time, to make. It is delicious. Really delicious. All weekend long Sorin and I kept catching each other standing in front of the open freezer, spooning it into our mouths.

Have I ever mentioned that standing alone in the kitchen, eating something right out of a container while reading a magazine is one of my favorite guilty pleasures?

This ice cream isn’t exactly healthy, but it could be worse. You could be spooning thickeners and stabilizers and other unknown ingredients into your mouth, too. There are only two main ingredients in this ice cream: whole cream and sweetened condensed milk. Plus vanilla and a pinch of salt. I added dark chocolate and coffee to one batch and fresh organic strawberries to the other.

So, see, it could be worse.

I got this attitude from my grandma who was known to say, “things are never so bad that they can’t get worse.” You could argue that just hearing someone say this to you will make you feel worse, but I’ve always thought of it as the German-Catholic way of saying the glass is half full. Granted, as the mother of five kids on a farm in North Dakota she probably didn’t envision this pearl of wisdom being applied to something as ridiculous as ice cream.

I think this ice cream would make the perfect ice cream cake. Double the recipe and pour it into a gingersnap or Oreo crust. Freeze and slice. This will be happening in my house as soon as enough time has passed that it won’t seem scandalous to make another batch of this crazy stuff.

Cook’s Country’s Magic Chocolate Ice Cream

This recipe comes from a Cook’s Country magazine I’ve held on to for years, just so I could try this recipe. Cook’s Country is known for testing recipes an insane amount of times until they work, so there is really no need to tinker with this recipe. In fact, tinker at your own risk.

The coffee is added mostly to offset the sweetness of the condensed milk and to really bring out the bittersweet chocolate flavor. You could make the ice cream without it, but it might taste too sweet and less chocolately.



1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder  (I used some from one of those Starbucks instant coffee packets)
1 tablespoon hot water
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used a 3.5 ounce bar of 85% Valrhona)
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt (don’t forget this, it’s an oddly essential part of the flavor)
1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream


Combine the coffee powder and hot water in a medium-sized bowl. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the chocolate and sweetened condensed milk to the coffee and microwave the mixture until the chocolate is melted, stopping the microwave and stirring every 10 seconds.

Stir in the vanilla and salt. Let cool.

Use an electric mixer to whip the cream into soft peaks. By hand, gently fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. I like to leave some white streaks, which breaks up the chocolate flavor in a really delicious way once the chocolate is frozen.

Pour into a container, cover,  and freeze until it has the texture of ice cream, about 4 to 6 hours. If you’re like me, you’ll open the freezer and test it every hour.

Egg-Free Strawberry Vanilla Ice Cream

I came up with this recipe with the leftover cream and sweetened condensed milk. I think you could tinker with it quite a bit. Keep in mind that the sweetened condensed milk makes the ice cream plenty sweet, so any extra flavors you add should balance that out. Fresh fruit with a little bit of tart flavor is perfect.


1 cup cold heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
Sliced or possibly pureed fresh fruit to taste
Pinch of salt


Use an electric mixer to whip the cream and vanilla into small peaks. By hand, gently stir in the sweetened condensed milk, fruit (or other flavoring) and salt.

Freeze for 3 to 6 hours, until it reaches the consistency of ice cream.

Both of these recipes will keep for at least a week in the freezer, maybe more.



Filed under Bread & Dessert

3 responses to “It Could Be Worse


    I can’t wait to try this. Something I can make without a kitchen. Yay!

  2. MOM

    Grandma would like your ice cream, she had to spend hours cranking her ice cream maker. Actually, we kids did it , it was an event:)

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