Who says summer’s only for kids? We asked six chefs to rejigger the iconic ice-cream truck’s goodies for grown-up tastes. The results, from a chocolate-stout Fudgsicle to a liquor-spiked Bomb Pop, are great additions to a picnic—or a dinner party.
If you’ve recently scanned a high-end restaurant menu, you might have picked up on something curious: Many local chefs are junk-food-obsessed. Lobster corn dog? Lollipops of lamb? A twirl of foie gras cotton candy to go with that Champagne?
Now that it’s really hot, we’ve got one kind of guilty pleasure on our minds—the coolers proffered every afternoon by the Good Humor man. We asked six chefs to choose their favorite kiddie classic and reinvent it for adults.
Remember the red-white-and-blue Bomb Pop? The version by Restaurant Eve sommelier Todd Thrasher retains the appearance of sweet innocence, but his is spiked with rum, vodka, and tequila.
Hook pastry chef Heather Chittum’s Italy-inspired snow cone, with stripes of strawberry and mint syrup, can be made for two-year-olds (with lemon syrup) or 22-year-olds (with limoncello).
Inn at Little Washington chef/owner Patrick O’Connell’s caramel-drenched ice-cream sandwich is probably more work than you’d want to put into a children’s birthday party, but chances are it will have grown-up dinner guests giggling with nostalgia. And trust us—O’Connell’s sweet-corn ice cream is a much better idea than any lobster corn dog.
Amanda Cook may be able to produce a fancified Nutty Buddy on a moment’s notice, but the CityZen pastry chef confesses to a less-than-satisfying past with frozen kiddie treats. “When the ice-cream truck came around, I never had any money,” Cook says with a laugh. So she approaches the Nutty Buddy with the eye of an outsider longing to be an insider, taking apart every element of the treat and refining it. Vanilla ice cream won’t do—Cook insists on a vanilla-soufflé glace for extra lightness. She melts chocolate with coconut oil to give the crowning drizzle added glossiness. The peanuts are reworked—Cook candies them, intensifying the crunch. Why invest so much time on an ice-cream treat? Says Cook: “When you’re a little kid, these treats taste so good, but when you get older, your tastes get more sophisticated.” Still, if time is tight, Cook suggests using softened vanilla ice cream in place of the glace, and storebought honey-roasted peanuts instead of her candied nuts.
3⁄4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄4 cup milk at room temperature
1⁄2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1⁄2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
2 1⁄2 cups peanuts, roasted briefly and kept warm
1 tablespoon butter
Salt to taste
2 cups heavy cream
1⁄4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
5 egg yolks
1 tablespoon Karo syrup
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
1⁄2 envelope powdered gelatin
1 vanilla bean
Pinch of salt
14 1⁄2 ounces 70-percent chocolate (Cook recommends Valrhona Guanaja)
2 1⁄2 tablespoons coconut oil (available at Whole Foods)
Silicone mini-cake mold pan (rectangles should be 3 1⁄8 inches long, 1 1⁄8 inches wide and deep), available at La Cuisine in Alexandria and JBPrince.com.
Make the sugar-cone tuiles: Create a stencil for the tuiles by taking a clear plastic lid of a food container and cutting off the lip so it lies flat. Flip over the mold pan so that the rectangles are raised. Set the lid over the raised rectangle of the mold pan and trace the shape with a marker. Using a sharp knife, cut out the stencil.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, egg, melted butter, and vanilla. Add milk and mix well. Add flour and stir until smooth. Place a silicone baking mat on a cookie sheet and, with a small offset spatula, spread the batter into the stencil. (It’s fine if it’s on the thick side.) You’ll need 3 to 4 pieces per bar. Bake until completely golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Candy the peanuts: Combine the sugar and water in a 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until it reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Add the peanuts and stir until the mixture crystallizes. Continue cooking until the mixture caramelizes, stirring very frequently. Take off the heat, add butter, and mix well. On a silicone baking mat or parchment paper, pour and spread out the candied peanuts. If the peanuts are unsalted, add a sprinkling of salt. Cool and chop finely. Sift in a strainer to remove candy dust.
Make the vanilla-soufflé glace: In a bowl, whip the heavy cream to soft-peak stage and set aside in the refrigerator. In a stand mixer set on medium-high speed with the whisk attachment, whip 2 tablespoons of the sugar with the egg yolks. While that’s mixing, place the Karo syrup, tablespoon of water, and 1⁄4 cup sugar in a saucepan and cook until it reaches 244 degrees. While the mixer is still running, carefully pour the Karo syrup mixture slowly down the side of the bowl, taking care to avoid pouring it directly onto the whisk.
In a small saucepan, whisk the 1⁄2 envelope of gelatin in 1⁄4 cup of cold water. Over low heat, melt the gelatin mixture until it is clear. Slowly add the gelatin to the egg mixture. Whip until the mixture is thick and cool. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them to the mixture with a pinch of salt. Stop the mixer and fold in the whipped cream until smooth.
Make the “magic shell”: In a bowl set over simmering water, melt the chocolate and coconut oil. Keep warm, making sure it doesn’t get hot.
Assemble the bars: Place the soufflé glace in a pastry bag fitted with a small, flat or tip (or, cut a hole in the tip of a pastry bag). Cover the bottom of the molds with the soufflé glace. Layer some candied peanuts on top, then a tuile, and repeat the process until the mold is full. (Note: If some of the tuiles are cracked or broken, use them in the middle of the bar). Make sure to end with a tuile on top so that the bar will have something to sit on when removed. Freeze until firm.
Place a cooling rack over a sheet pan lined with plastic or a silicone mat. Remove the bars from the freezer and invert onto the rack. Working quickly, ladle the warm magic shell over the bars, making sure to cover the bars completely. Tapping the whole pan on the counter will help settle some of the chocolate. If the chocolate looks too thick on the bars, warm it slightly. Garnish with additional candied nuts.
Drink maker Todd Thrasher is quick to point out that alcohol-spiked frozen treats aren’t sold at Restaurant Eve in Old Town Alexandria, but he was more than game to try bringing a grown-up twist to the Bomb Pop. “I didn’t like creamy things or chocolate much,” says the sommelier, recalling summers past, “so I would always go for the fruity things or whatever looked the coolest—and the colorful Popsicles always look cool when you’re a kid.” The molds can be found at Sur la Table, and the recipe can be made G-rated by forgoing the rum, tequila, and vodka; it can be made even simpler by skipping the herbal infusions or using vodka for all three layers.
1⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup water
1⁄2 cup mint
1 cup raspberries
1 1⁄4 ounces vodka
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄2 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves removed from the stem
1⁄2 cup lemon juice
1 1⁄2 to 2 cups cold water
1 1⁄4 ounces nonsmoky silver tequila such as Patron or Don Julio
1 cup blueberries
1⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon dried lavender or 2 tablespoons fresh
1 1⁄4 ounces rum
Make the raspberry syrup: In a medium saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil until the sugar is dissolved, then turn off the heat. Add the mint and steep for 4 minutes. Strain. Purée raspberries, syrup, and vodka in a blender. Pass through a sieve.
Make the lemonade: In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil until the sugar is dissolved, then turn off the heat. Add the rosemary and steep for 4 minutes. Pass through a fine sieve. Add the lemon juice and sugar water to a pitcher. Add the cold water to taste, then refrigerate for 30 to 40 minutes. If it’s too sweet, add more lemon juice. Add tequila to 1 1/2 cups of lemonade.
Make the blueberry syrup: In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil until the sugar is dissolved, then turn off the heat. Add the lavender and steep for 4 minutes, then pass it through a sieve. When you're ready to fill the popsicles (don't do it ahead of time), purée the blueberries and syrup in a blender and pass through a sieve. Return the mixture to the blender, add the rum, and purée again. Pass through a fine sieve.
Assemble the popsicles: Pour the blueberry mixture about 1⁄3 of the way into the mold. Add the stick and make sure it’s straight. Put the cover on the mold and freeze for 3 hours. Repeat with the lemonade, then with the raspberry.
Beer in a Popsicle? It’s not so strange, considering that the dark earthiness of stout is almost a dead ringer for chocolate. With this mash-up of chocolate sorbet and stout ice cream, Joy Ludwig, who oversees desserts at the Oval Room in downtown DC, has concocted a version of the Fudgsicle that’s far richer than the original. Toasted hazelnuts and dried bananas add just the right crunch. Ludwig found plastic molds at Sur la Table, but they’re available at most kitchen stores. She also likes Cuisinart’s Flavor Duo Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker ($79.95), which lets her process two batches of ice cream or sorbet at the same time.
3 1⁄4 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Lindt or Valrhona
5 1⁄2 ounces dark chocolate (64 or 70 percent cocoa), chopped
Stout ice cream:
2 cups heavy cream
1 1⁄4 cups whole milk
1 1⁄4 cups sugar
7 ounces egg yolks (about 10 yolks)
9 ounces stout beer, such as Sierra Nevada (open the bottle ahead of time so it’s a little flat)
1 1⁄2 cups raw, blanched hazelnuts, lightly toasted
1 cup dried banana chips, chopped small
3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
3⁄4 cup sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter, cubed small
Plastic popsicle molds (available at Sur la Table or Williams-Sonoma)
Plastic pastry bags
Make the chocolate sorbet: Set up a large bowl of ice and set aside. In a 3-quart pot over medium-high heat, bring the water, sugar, and salt to a boil. Whisk in the cocoa powder and dark chocolate. Continue whisking for 3 to 4 minutes until the chocolate is melted and all ingredients are thoroughly combined. The mixture will thicken slightly. Strain the liquid into a bowl and cool it by setting the bowl into the other bowl of ice. Process in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacture’s instructions.
Make the stout ice cream: In a large pot over medium-high heat, bring the heavy cream and milk to a simmer. Meanwhile, place the yolks in a stainless-steel bowl and whisk in the sugar. While whisking constantly, slowly ladle half the milk mixture into the bowl. When combined, pour the yolk mixture back into the pot of milk, reduce the heat to medium, and heat gently. Cook, stirring, about 1 to 2 minutes until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon or rubber spatula and is 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer; do not let it boil. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Cover with parchment paper and chill at least 4 hours in the refrigerator; or you can strain the liquid into a bowl and cool it by setting the bowl into the other bowl of ice. Whisk in the beer until combines. Process in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Make the banana-nut crunch: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse the hazelnuts, banana chips, flour, sugar, salt, and butter until combined (it should look like crumbly dough). Cover a sheet tray with parchment paper and spread the mixture out evenly on top. Bake until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. In the middle of the baking, use a dough cutter to break the dough into pieces to ensure even browning. Cool and break into crumbly pieces. If necessary, grind in a food processor to make the pieces smaller.
Assemble the popsicles: Place the ice cream and sorbet in separate pastry bags. Pipe a layer of ice cream into the popsicle mold, then a layer of sorbet. Keep alternating until the molds are full (two layers of each flavor should be enough). Place the molds back in the freezer. When the popsicles are completely frozen, unmold each one—run the molds under warm water if the ice cream is sticking—and roll it in the banana-nut crunch. Serve immediately.
Pastry chef Cindy Bennington of Cynthia’s in Severna Park dreamed up this “New Age creamsicle” using a layering of brightly flavored orange sorbet and rich vanilla sabayon. It might sound complicated, but she shapes the ice cream in dome-shaped silicone molds—available at Sur la Table—that make them easy to make and pop out. If you’re looking for the same flavors with half the fuss, skip the candied orange zest and orange confit. Just scoop the sorbet into a glass and top it with sabayon for a sophisticated taste of summer.
1 cup sugar
1 quart fresh orange juice, strained
(Using a zester that creates long strands, zest two of the oranges and reserve)
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
9 large egg yolks
3⁄4 cup Prosecco or Champagne
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
Pinch of kosher salt
Seeds from 1⁄2 vanilla bean
2⁄3 cup sugar
1 1⁄4 cup heavy cream
Candied orange zest and orange confit:
2 oranges, sliced 1⁄8 inch thick
Reserved zest of 2 oranges (from orange-sorbet recipe)
4 1⁄2 cups sugar
3 cups plus 6 tablespoons water
1 vanilla bean
Dome-shaped silicone molds
Make the orange sorbet: In a saucepan set over high heat, combine the sugar with 1 1⁄2 cups orange juice. Bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat, add the remaining juice, and cool completely. Stir in the Grand Marnier and freeze in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze for about 5 hours.
Make the vanilla sabayon: Fill a large bowl with ice and set aside. Fill a pot 1⁄4 full of water and bring to a simmer over low to medium heat. In a bowl that will fit snugly over the pot, whisk together the egg yolks, Prosecco or Champagne, Grand Marnier, salt, and vanilla seeds. Whisking continuously, mix in the sugar. Set the bowl over the simmering water (making sure the bottom isn’t touching the water), and whisk the mixture until it’s thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Set the bowl into the ice bath and whisk until cool. Set aside. In another bowl, whip the cream until medium peaks form. Gently fold into the cooled egg mixture. Assemble the molds right away.
Fill the creamsicle molds: Place the silicone molds on a flat baking sheet. Using a ladle or spoon, fill the molds with sabayon to just over 3⁄4 full. Using a miniature ice-cream scoop, form a dome-shaped scoop of sorbet, flattening the top, and place it rounded side down into the sabayon, gently pressing the sorbet until the flattened end is flush with the sabayon. (It should look like a sunny-side-up egg.) Lightly scrape away any excess sabayon displaced from the mold. Freeze for 6 hours.
Candy the orange zest and make the orange confit: In a small saucepan set over high heat, bring 1 cup sugar and 3⁄4 cup water to a boil. When sugar is dissolved, pour into a bowl over the orange zest. Cool completely and refrigerate until ready to use.
In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the remaining sugar and water. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the pot, then add the pod. Bring to a boil over high heat. When the sugar is dissolved, remove the pot from the heat and layer the orange slices into the syrup. Lay a sheet of parchment paper directly onto the oranges. Simmer gently over low heat until the oranges are translucent and the syrup is thickened, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Assemble the creamsicles: When ready to serve the creamsicles, pop a dome out of its mold and place it in the center of a shallow bowl. Slice 3 or 4 orange-confit slices in half. Slightly overlap them in a circle around the dome. Set a pinch of candied zest on top of the dome. Drizzle the bowl with a little of the orange syrup from the confit. Serve immediately.
Patrick O'Connell's dessert menu at his pastorally elegant Inn at Little Washington elevates one sweet above all others: ice cream. His refashioned ice-cream sandwich showcases another of his great loves—sweet summer corn, which he spins into a dense ice cream, then presses between thin caramel wafers. Instead of chocolate chips, the edges of his ice-cream sandwich get rolled in crushed caramel popcorn. You’ll be licking your sticky fingers like a ten-year-old.
Sweet-corn ice cream:
2 cups milk
4 cups heavy cream
11⁄2 cups sugar
4 ears sweet corn, shucked, kernels removed, cobs reserved, and broken in half
2 egg yolks
4 tablespoons maple syrup
11⁄2 sticks (6 ounces) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
11⁄4 cup flour
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
11 ounces corn syrup
21⁄2 cups caramel popcorn
Make the sweet-corn ice cream: Line a cookie sheet with plastic wrap and set it in the freezer. In a 4-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the milk, cream, sugar, corn kernels, and corncobs over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and allow to steep for about 1 hour, or until it tastes like sweet corn. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Bring back to a simmer. Discard the kernels and cobs. Place the eggs and yolks in a large stainless-steel bowl and slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture. Set the mixture over a pot of simmering water and whisk until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in the maple syrup. Chill in the refrigerator, then freeze in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Spread the ice cream onto the lined cookie sheet and freeze.
Make the caramel wafers: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with a nonstick Silpat. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until combined. Add the flour and salt and mix again until combined. With the mixer on medium speed, add the corn syrup in a slow, steady stream. Mix until fully incorporated.
Place the batter in a pastry bag. Pipe out 12 circles about the size of golf balls on the cookie sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the cookie sheet halfway around and bake for another 5 minutes. (The batter will spread out during the baking.)
Remove from the oven. Using a 21⁄2-to-3-inch round cookie cutter, stamp out 12 circles on the cookie sheet before the cookies have a chance to cool. Do not remove the circles, and set the sheet aside to cool on a rack.
Once the cookies are completely cool, use an offset spatula to remove the wafers and put them on a plate. If making ahead, wrap the plate tightly with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature until ready to use.
Assemble the sandwiches: Place the caramel popcorn in a large Ziploc bag. Crush the popcorn with the palm of your hand and pour onto a plate. Using the same cookie cutter used on the wafers, cut out 6 circles of ice cream. Place an ice-cream circle on top of a wafer, and top with another wafer. Roll the ice-cream edges in the caramel corn. The finished sandwiches can be kept in the freezer, wrapped in plastic, for up to a week.