Beyond the Cone: 10 Fun Ways to Eat Ice Cream

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On average, Americans consume more than 23 pounds of ice cream every year. Who says you have to eat it in a cone, or even in a bowl? In honor of National Ice Cream Month, which kicks off July 1, here are a few unconventional ways to hit your ice cream quota.

1. ICE CREAM TACOS

These dessert tacos are as tasty as they are easy to make. First, sauté tortillas in butter; next, dredge them in a cinnamon-sugar mixture. Fold the tortillas in half and dip the top edges in melted chocolate; allow the chocolate to harden, then pack the taco with your favorite ice cream flavor, top with caramel, and pop in the freezer for 30 minutes. Finally, eat them!

2. ICE CREAM PIE

This pie has a graham cracker crust and combines vanilla ice cream with peanut butter cups, pecans, Butterfingers, and homemade caramel sauce for a truly delicious dessert. If you just can’t wait for three hours, or want a quick ice cream pie you can make with kids, click here for a simpler, 10-minute recipe.

3. ICE CREAM BOMB

There are a lot of steps in this take on Baked Alaska—which, as legend has it, was invented at Delmonico’s in New York City in 1867 in celebration of the U.S.’s purchase of Alaska—but it’s still relatively easy to make. First, prepare a cocoa-coconut base; then, smush a bunch of ice cream into a bowl, evening out the top (which will become the bottom of your dessert) by placing cling wrap over the ice cream and smoothing it with your hand; then it goes into the freezer for a bit. Once it’s frozen hard enough, take it out of the freezer, dunk the bowl into another bowl of warm water, and gently pry the ice cream loose. Place the flat bottom on the coconut base, cover the whole thing in plastic wrap, and freeze again. Next, make a cocoa meringue and smooth it over the ice cream with a spatula. Bake at 356°F for four to five minutes and serve immediately.

4. ICE CREAM CUPCAKES

Ice cream + cupcakes = yum! Creating these tasty treats is simple. The first step: The day before you’re planning to serve, bake some cupcakes—whichever flavor you prefer. Next, scoop out the center; cut off the top of what you’ve scooped and set it aside. (Feel free to eat what’s left over!) Then, fill the hole in with ice cream and pop that piece of cupcake on top. Stick the cupcakes in the freezer overnight. When you’re just about ready to serve, pull them and out and top them with frosting or a dollop of whipped cream.

5. FRIED ICE CREAM

Fried ice cream: It’s not just for county fairs anymore! Start by placing nine scoops of ice cream on a baking sheet and popping them in the freezer for an hour. Next, roll them in a mixture of cornflake crumbs and cinnamon, then put them in a plastic bag and freeze overnight. When you’re ready to fry, heat the oil to 375°F; fry the balls one at a time for eight to 10 seconds. Serve in chilled bowls immediately.

6. ICE CREAM “HOT DOG”

If you have leftover hot dog buns, don’t toss ‘em—drench them in butter, cinnamon, and sugar, throw them on the grill, and then fill them with ice cream! This recipe from Food & Wine will show you how.

7. COOKIE DOUGH ICE CREAM SANDWICHES

Everyone’s had a chipwich. This recipe flips the script on the chipwich by sandwiching cookie dough ice cream between uncooked cookie dough. You can either make the ice cream yourself or go pre-made; either way, the results will be delicious.

8. ICE CREAM TRUFFLES

To create these delicious treats, you’ll first need to line a baking sheet with wax paper and scoop out eight round balls of ice cream in three flavors (this recipe recommends vanilla, chocolate, and coffee, but you can choose whatever your palette wants). Freeze the ice cream overnight. The next day, put your desired toppings—chopped almonds and coconut, for example—in separate bowls and line plates with wax paper. Next, melt some bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate in vegetable oil, stirring constantly. Once it’s totally melted, remove it from heat and let cool until it’s lukewarm. Quickly dip the ice cream balls in the chocolate and then into the bowls with toppings. Once all of the ice cream balls are fully coated, freeze them again until they’re firm, which should take a few hours (you can also freeze them for up to three days). Enjoy!

9. ICE CREAM POPS

Fun for kids and adults alike, this recipe calls for combining crushed cookies, peanut butter cups, and candy-coated chocolates in a bowl, then popping a spoonful into 5-ounce paper cups. Next, put vanilla ice cream and the remaining cookie/PB cup/candy mixture in a mixer bowl and combine with a paddle attachment. Spoon the mixture into the cups and insert a popsicle stick. Freeze until the pops are firm, then rip the cups off and serve!

10. MOCHI ICE CREAM

Finally, if making ice cream isn’t your thing, pick up My/Mo Mochi Ice Cream at the store. This delicious, creamy ice cream is wrapped in sweet rice dough and comes in seven flavors: Double Chocolate, Green Tea, Cookies and Cream, Ripe Strawberry, Sweet Mango, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Vanilla Bean. Find a store here.

Eliza Leslie: The Most Influential Cookbook Writer of the 19th Century

American cookbook author Eliza Leslie
American cookbook author Eliza Leslie
Wikimedia // Public Domain

If it wasn't for Eliza Leslie, American recipes might look very different. Leslie wrote the most popular cookbook of the 19th century, published a recipe widely credited as being the first for chocolate cake in the United States, and authored fiction for both adults and children. Her nine cookbooks—as well as her domestic management and etiquette guides—made a significant mark in American history and society, despite the fact that she never ran a kitchen of her own.

Early Dreams

Born in Philadelphia on November 15, 1787, to Robert and Lydia Leslie, Eliza was an intelligent child and a voracious reader. Her dream of becoming a writer was nurtured by her father, a prosperous watchmaker, inventor, and intellectual who was friends with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. She once wrote that "the dream of my childhood [was] one day seeing my name in print."

Sadly, her father’s business failed around the turn of the 19th century and he died in 1803. The family took in boarders to make ends meet, and as the oldest of five, Leslie helped her mother in the kitchen. To gain culinary experience, she attended Mrs. Goodfellow’s Cooking School in Philadelphia, the first school of its kind in the United States. Urged by her brother Thomas—and after fielding numerous requests for recipes from friends and family—she compiled her first book, Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes, and Sweetmeats, in 1828. Notably, the book included the term cup cake, referring to Leslie's employment of a teacup as a measuring tool ("two large tea-cups full of molasses")—possibly the first-ever mention of a cup cake in print.

Seventy-Five Receipts was a hit, and was reprinted numerous times. Encouraged by this success—and by her publisher, Munroe & Francis—Leslie moved on to her true desire: writing fiction. She penned short stories and storybooks for young readers as well as adult fiction and won several awards for her efforts. One of her prize-winning short stories, the humorous "Mrs. Washington Potts," appeared in Godey’s Lady’s Book, the popular 19th century magazine for which she also served as assistant editor. Leslie also contributed to Graham’s Magazine, the Saturday Gazette, and The Saturday Evening Post. At least one critic called her tales "perfect daguerreotypes of real life."

As much as Leslie loved writing fiction, however, it didn't always pay the bills. She wrote a second cookbook, Domestic French Cookery, in 1832, and achieved the pinnacle of her success in 1837 with Directions for Cookery. That work became the most beloved cookbook of the 1800s; it sold at least 150,000 copies and was republished 60 times by 1870. She offered pointers on procuring the best ingredients ("catfish that have been caught near the middle of the river are much nicer than those that are taken near the shore where they have access to impure food") and infused the book with wit. In a section discouraging the use of cold meat in soups, she wrote, "It is not true that French cooks have the art of producing excellent soups from cold scraps. There is much bad soup to be found in France, at inferior houses; but good French cooks are not, as is generally supposed, really in the practice of concocting any dishes out of the refuse of the table."

In The Taste of America, noted modern food historians John and Karen Hess called Directions for Cookery “one of the two best American cookbooks ever written," citing the book's precise directions, engaging tips, straightforward commentary, and diverse recipes—such as catfish soup and election cake—as the keys to its excellence.

Leslie is also credited with publishing America’s first printed recipe for chocolate cake, in her 1846 Lady’s Receipt Book. While chocolate had been used in baking in Europe as far back as the 1600s, Leslie’s recipe was probably obtained from a professional chef or pastry cook in Philadelphia. The recipe, which featured grated chocolate and a whole grated nutmeg, is quite different from most of today's chocolate cakes, with its strong overtones of spice and earthy, rather than sweet, flavors. (You can find the full recipe below.)

Later in life, while continuing to write cookbooks, Leslie edited The Gift: A Christmas and New Year’s Present, which included early publications by Edgar Allan Poe. She also edited her own magazine of literature and fashion, Miss Leslie’s Magazine. She wrote only one novel, 1848's Amelia; Or a Young Lady’s Vicissitudes, but once said that if she was to start her literary career over, she would have only written novels.

A Uniquely American Voice

Historians have argued that Leslie was successful because she crafted recipes to appeal to the young country’s desire for upward mobility as well as a uniquely American identity. At the time she began writing, women primarily used British cookbooks; Leslie appealed to them with a distinctly American work. (She noted in the preface to Seventy-Five Receipts, "There is frequently much difficulty in following directions in English and French Cookery Books, not only from their want of explicitness, but from the difference in the fuel, fire-places, and cooking utensils. ... The receipts in this little book are, in every sense of the word, American.")

Leslie included regional American dishes in her books, promoted the use of quality ingredients, and was the first to (sometimes) organize recipes by including ingredients at the beginning of each recipe instead of using a narrative form, setting the tone for modern recipe writing. Her books were considered a treasure trove of knowledge for young pioneer women who, frequently separated from their families for the first time, often relied on Leslie's works for guidance.

Unmarried herself, Leslie never managed her own kitchen, and often had others testing recipes for her. She maintained strong ties with her erudite, sophisticated family, and lived for a time with her brother Thomas while he was attending West Point. Another brother, Charles Leslie, was a well-regarded painter in England; her sister Anna was also an artist, and sister Patty was married to a publisher who produced some of Leslie’s work. As she got older, Leslie lived for years in the United States Hotel in Philadelphia, where she was something of a celebrity for her wit and strong opinions.

Leslie died on January 1, 1858. Many of her recipes are still used today, but it's likely she’d be most pleased to know that many of her short stories are available online. Modern readers can appreciate the totality of her work: the fiction writing that was her passion, though for which she was lesser known, and her culinary writing, which guided generations.

Eliza Leslie's Recipe for Chocolate Cake

From The Lady's Receipt Book:

CHOCOLATE CAKE.—Scrape down three ounces of the best and purest chocolate, or prepared cocoa. Cut up, into a deep pan, three-quarters of a pound of fresh butter; add to it a pound of powdered loaf-sugar; and stir the butter and sugar together till very light and white. Have ready 14 ounces (two ounces less than a pound) of sifted flour; a powdered nutmeg; and a tea-spoonful of powdered cinnamon—mixed together. Beat the whites of ten eggs till they stand alone; then the yolks till they are very thick and smooth. Then mix the yolks and whites gradually together, beating very hard when they are all mixed. Add the eggs, by degrees, to the beaten butter and sugar, in turn with the flour and the scraped chocolate,—a little at a time of each; also the spice. Stir the whole very hard. Put the mixture into a buttered tin pan with straight sides, and bake it at least four hours. If nothing is to be baked afterwards, let it remain in till the oven becomes cool. When cold, ice it.

Necco Wafers and Sweethearts Are Making a Comeback—Whether You Like It or Not

Via Tsuji via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Via Tsuji via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This past Valentine’s Day was a little less sweet without Sweethearts conversation hearts gracing store shelves, but there’s some good news on the horizon. According to CandyStore.com, Necco-brand candies are coming back—well, some of them, at least.

The future of classic candies like Sweethearts conversation hearts, Necco Wafers, Clark Bars, Mary Janes, and Sky Bars has been uncertain ever since the New England Confectionery Company went out of business last year. People sent online retailer CandyStore.com thousands of emails asking what would become of their favorite confections, so the website’s staff painstakingly “tracked down the fate of all the Necco candy brands,” according to a blog post.

Spangler Candy Company, which acquired a couple of the Necco brands, appears to be keeping its promise of bringing back Necco Wafers, Sweethearts, and Canada Mints. However, the new owner is still testing recipes, and the time frame for their return remains undetermined.

“We are committed to making sure these brands meet consumer expectations when they reenter the market," Spangler CEO Kirk Vashaw told the candy website. "Doing it right takes time."

Only one of the original Necco brands, Candy Buttons, is currently available for purchase under new ownership. There is also a good chance that several other candies—including Clark Bars, Sky Bars, Mighty Malts, Haviland Thin Mints, Slap Stix, and various flavored chews—will be returning in the future. The rights to many of these brands were bought by different companies, some of which are now experimenting with production methods. For instance, the CEO of the Boyer Candy Company, which now owns Clark Bars, said recent attempts to produce the candy have resulted in Clark Bars “coming out in the shape of hot dogs,” which is not ideal. (Though they reportedly “taste fantastic.”)

As for Mary Janes and Squirrel Nut Zippers: those candies remain in greater peril. The Mary Jane brand is still for sale, and there’s some confusion about who owns the Zippers trademark. The latter can still be bought from CandyStore.com, but sadly, Mary Janes have become nearly impossible to find. “Panic buyers of Mary Janes are really glad they did,” the website states. “Their secret stash is the best place to find them.”

For more details about the future of your favorite Necco candies, check out CandyStore.com’s blog post. In the meantime, you can still find some of the discontinued candies on Amazon and other online retailers, albeit for very high prices.

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