Cool treats a great way to celebrate the Fourth

Adrienne Freeman Originally Published July 4, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated July 3, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.
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Adrienne Freeman

Children and the young-at-heart will enjoy making their own ice cream in a zip-close bag in less than 10 minutes. Adorning the ice cream with selections of simple toppings makes a fun, festive activity for Independence Day.

It is a pretty safe bet that many Americans will turn to ice cream to celebrate the holiday and to cool down after a sizzling summer day in July — National Ice Cream Month. According to icecream.com, a website maintained by Nestle, Americans lick and scoop their way through more ice cream than in any other country, an average of 48 pints of ice cream per person annually!

Researching the invention of ice cream on the Internet, one can find that frozen treats, including fruit flavored ices, too, go back as far as the Persian Empire in 400 B.C. But until the appearance of affordable and reliable refrigeration in the latter half of the 20th century, all frozen desserts were a treat for primarily the upper class. The transport and preservation of the ice itself was quite an expense. Dolly Madison pulled off a hostess home run when she served ice cream at the 1913 inauguration of her husband, President James Madison. Records show that it wasn’t until 1834 that the first patent was approved for a small, home-based, hand-cranked ice cream freezer.

Making the sweet treat at home is now easier than ever. The basic recipe for ice cream is cream, milk, sugar and vanilla (or another flavoring, as desired.) Home freezers are available in a variety of styles, including hand-crank and electric-crank freezers, as well as containers that are filled with cooling gel that is pre-frozen and need no ice. With most freezers, rock salt added to the ice reduces the cooling point of the water to below zero, and the cranking, or manipulation, of the cream mixture maintains the product’s smooth and creamy texture, keeping it from forming uneven ice crystals.

Modern technology has enhanced the making of ice cream by introducing extra enhancements to the process. Some examples are the inclusion of premium add-ins — think Ben and Jerry’s, Coldstone Creamery; gluten, which extends stabilization; and the substitution of soy or almond milk for those with dietary sensitivity to milk products. Innovative chefs have even found a way to skip the ice altogether and change the molecular structure of the mixture with liquid nitrogen to produce a different texture — the popular Dippin’ Dots, for instance.

The recipes below aren’t that complicated — just a cool way to enjoy America’s celebrated love story with ice cream this Independence Day. Everyone enjoys watching the simple cream base being shaken in two zip-close bags for less than 10 minutes for a rewarding make-it-yourself, eat-in-the-bag treat. All-American peanut butter and jelly are layered with pre-made favorites — ice cream sandwiches — for an innovative, crowd-pleasing “cake.” And local Arkansas berries, nearing the last of their succulent spring season, serve as the prime ingredient in a frozen pie to finish off a bang-up holiday.

INSTANT ICE CREAM IN A BAG

This is a super recipe for the young and the young at heart. It’s educational, fun and delicious! Set up a selection of toppings, add spoons, and eat right out of the bag!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup sugar (Splenda or another sweetener is fine)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 quart size zip-close bag

1 gallon size zip-close bag

3–4 cups ice

1/2 cup rock salt

Directions:

Combine milk, cream, sugar and vanilla in a container with a spout (this will help when filling the bag.) Stir until sugar or sweetener is fully dissolved, and pour into a quart-size zip-close bag. Remove as much air as possible, and seal.

Insert cream-filled bag into a larger gallon-size bag. Fill with ice, making sure ice surrounds the smaller bag. Sprinkle rock salt over the ice and seal the large bag. Using dish towels to handle condensation, shake the bag for five to eight minutes until the cream freezes. Discard ice and salt, and wipe traces of salt from the ice cream bag. Serve the ice cream with desired toppings, and eat!

STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM PIE

With Arkansas strawberries still in season, this refreshing pie takes advantage of the fresh fruit while using the convenience of store-bought ice cream and pie crust.

Ingredients:

2 - 3 cups strawberries, halved and capped

1/2 cup sugar (add more to taste if desired)

1 prepared graham cracker pie crust

1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened

1 citrus zest (orange, lemon or lime)

Directions:

Place prepared strawberries in bowl, reserving about 1/2 cup for garnish. Sprinkle with sugar, and set aside to macerate. Stir occasionally.

In a large bowl, mix together the softened ice cream, the citrus zest and strawberries (along with their juice). Stir until berries are evenly distributed. Pour into pie crust. Freeze about 3 hours until firm. Serve each slice of pie with some of the reserved berries for garnish.

PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY ICE CREAM CAKE

Ingredients:

12 ice cream sandwiches

1 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

8 ounces frozen whipped topping, thawed

Directions:

Arrange 4 ice cream sandwiches on a serving dish or a piece of waxed paper or foil covering a cardboard base.

Spread 1/2 cup peanut butter over the ice cream sandwiches. Spread 1/4 cup jam over the peanut butter layer.

Layer 4 more ice cream sandwiches on top, and repeat the peanut butter and jelly layers.

End with a final layer of 4 ice cream sandwiches.

Spread thawed whipped topping over the “cake.” Place in the freezer until the cake firms up, about 30 minutes. Store any

leftovers in the freezer.

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