Every magazine editor was thinking about the same thing as they planned their summer covers this year – ice cream! Some were willing to feature it with full-colour photographs and others worked on catchy taglines combining the words ‘cool’ and ‘summer’ – but it does seem like they weren’t able to look beyond their freezers for ways to entertain themselves in the summer of 2021. And I couldn’t be happier. It’s almost like we’ve all been given a chilly blank canvas for our fun – the range of options available to us in ice cream happiness go from buying a favourite flavour and adding custom sauces, cookies, or mashing in fruits (look at the most recent issue of the Food Network magazine for great options) to creating something multilayered from scratch. You can make ice cream into a weekend-long project or spend ten minutes in the kitchen and still feel like you had a hand in making summer eating a little better. Here are some top picks to help you find your sweet spot with ice cream.
A favourite of the holiday magazines here at WPL is Bake From Scratch. Each year it is filled with some of the most beautiful seasonal recipes, and it never stays on the shelves for long but through downloadLibrary you can enjoy the digital version 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Peruse their meticulous descriptions of ingredients, interviews with international bakers, and feel confident that the recipes included will provide excellent results. In their July/August issue they have a feature article on Bird’s Custard powder that will enlighten you and give you one of the easiest recipes for no-churn ice creams you will ever eat. They have also included a sweet little trick for turning waffle cones into a crust for a sheet pan desert based on the banana split that should not be missed – make the whole recipe for a family party or a smaller version of this treat for yourself. downloadLibrary allows users to check out back issues of magazines so you just might find yourself spending a whole afternoon with this gorgeous publication.
Another periodical that provides solid content is all year long is Fine Cooking. Although they swap interviews with star bakers to waxing on about vegetables like the cucumber or the radish (some months I really have to just skip these) I have always found success with their clear directions and never miss their cookbook reviews. The June/July issue is the one to borrow because they include a recipe for an orange, mango and passionfruit sorbet (oh, my goodness) that doesn’t require an ice cream machine. Their avocado-key lime ice cream bars recipe is vegan and actually works. They replace the dairy with creamy coconut milk and the mashed avocado is a natural colour match for the lime filling. An aquafaba meringue completes the treat and will brighten any summer day. If you have the time, their blackberry buttermilk ice cream sandwiches with lychee-glazed brown butter cookies are a sight to behold. If you try these, let us know – send pictures!
Better Homes and Gardens has gone the extra step this summer and made iced treats their cover star plus created a helpful video to give some visual cues for making your desserts a success. Layered desserts always look simple to create when the steps are printed out on the page of a magazine, but when faced with the ingredients on your counter it can be a challenge, so the video might do the trick. BH&G have five beautiful recipes in their July issue including a rainbow fruit pop made from mangoes, kiwi, raspberries and blackberries. That’s summer in a popsicle, right there.
WPL’s cookbook shelves will yield many options for ice cream recipes and treats, of course. Our family favourite is from Ohio’s Jeni Britton Bauer, a great pick because her recipes range from simple to complex and they encourage experimentation once you get the hang of the basic techniques (even when you fail, it still tastes pretty good – just crumble some cookies into it). Don’t miss the Jeni’s website – they once made an Outlander-inspired ice cream for Starz. Even if you don’t see yourself making ice cream soon, this is a cookbook jam-packed with beautiful food writing and terrific photographs. An afternoon spent reading about this group of passionate artisanal ice cream makers is a bit of a vacation, whether you eat ice cream or not.
If you don’t feel like breaking out the ice cream maker but would like to enjoy some frozen desserts, I have recently fallen for a great cozy mystery series (also set in Ohio, interesting) by Abby Collette which is just perfect for a summer evening. It’s a contemporary cozy with a younger protagonist, a recent MBA graduate, who returns to her hometown to rebuild the family business. She ruffles some feathers by streamlining the ice cream shop’s menu, focusing on quality ingredients and playing up the hometown feel but just as things start to come together in the shop, her grandfather is implicated in the murder of a local man. Who would want to implicate an elderly man who sells ice cream? Exactly the right circumstances for a cozy and readers were so pleased to know that it was the beginning of a series. Deadly Inside Scoop was followed by A Game of Cones and, according to her publisher, the third book will be a spring release in 2022 featuring the death of a former beauty queen in A Killer Sundae.
With all of these options for frozen treats we could be relaxing with something delicious every week of this summer – thanks to the minds of those clever magazine editors.
— Penny M.