Baked Sunday Mornings: Pink Peppermint Stick Ice Cream with Homemade Hot Fudge

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I didn’t mean to make it Pepto Bismol pink. Apparently I have a heavy hand when it comes to food coloring– I wonder if someday I will learn to start with just a couple of drops, or am I doomed to a lifetime of electric/circus/princess-colored treats? Now I know that “Deep Pink” is, in fact, deep… Anyway, I love ice cream. I really don’t know why I don’t make it at home more often. It is both easy and presents infinite creative possibilities. Any yet, it doesn’t happen often. Fortunately, this festive holiday recipe for Pink Peppermint Stick Ice Cream with Homemade Hot Fudge from Baked Occasions came along this week on our Baked Sunday Mornings schedule to remind me how much I enjoy making ice cream. Obnoxious pink color notwithstanding, I was very surprised at how much I loved this! I feel like I constantly say, “I’ve never been a big fan of…” and you can fill in the blank with all sorts of things. Peppermint has never been on the top of my list, but as usual with BAKED recipes, I’m forced to reevaluate my life priorities. We made the gorgeous and devastatingly delicious Wintermint Cake a couple of years ago (coincidentally another food coloring overreach), which was my first foray into rethinking my stance on the chocolate-peppermint combination. I fondly remember that cake, and although I haven’t made it since then (need to rethink that too), I’m happy to return to this classic holiday duo with this recipe. I did admittedly ratchet up the chocolate factor considerably, but the peppermint is still quite prominent.

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The ice cream contains crushed candy canes in addition to peppermint extract, but I elected to omit those because I don’t like the stick-to-your-teeth feeling of the candy. Instead, I made a peppermint simple syrup to swirl into the ice cream; I was hoping that it would look like a “peppermint ripple” sort of situation, but because of the intense hue of pink, the red streaks got a bit lost. I probably should have mixed in more syrup as well, but at least there were hints of red. I also added ¼ cup micro chocolate chips because why wouldn’t I do that. And then I thought, “This whole thing calls for a brownie pairing,” but I didn’t have time to make a batch, and THEN I remembered that somewhere in the frigid depths of my freezer was a BAKED brownie from my last New York visit…

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This all worked out really well, as you might imagine. The brownie, while probably not at its best after 8 months in the freezer, provided the perfect chewy, chocolaty raft for the zingy, cool ice cream and the velvety fudge sauce, all sprinkled with a handful of crushed candy cane bits. You guys, the texture of this ice cream is just luscious. Creamy, dense enough (but not hard), and perfectly scoopable right out of the freezer. I liked the contrast of the crunchy chocolate chips and would highly recommend them; in fact, if you are also mixing in candy cane bits, that would be a very visually pretty combination. I want to try some flavor variations with this ice cream base– it is everything I look for in a homemade ice cream.

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If you want to make the peppermint simple syrup, you’ll want to have it cooled and ready when your ice base is churned. Combine 1½ cups granulated sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Stir them together until the sugar melts and stop stirring once the liquid starts to boil. Let the sugar mixture bubble away for about 5 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and add 1 teaspoon of pure peppermint extract and a few drops of red gel food coloring. Swirl the pan for several seconds until the color has evenly blended in. Pour the syrup into a glass container to cool completely.

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For the ice cream, you’ll combine the heavy cream, milk, half of the sugar in the recipe, and salt in a medium pot and stir them together. Bring this mixture to a simmer, just before boiling. I overheated it a touch in trying to capture the perfect “simmer” photo, but fortunately there was no harm to the finished ice cream; I simply let it cool for a couple of extra minutes before proceeding. (I guess that means it’s fairly forgiving?)

In a separate bowl, you whisk together the egg yolks (5 yolks make for a rich ice cream– yessss) and the other half of the sugar until the mixture is completely smooth, creamy, and light yellow in color. Slowly stream half of the hot cream mixture into the eggs while whisking constantly (so as not to cook the egg yolks), then return all of this mixture back to the pot. Cook the ice cream base until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. I was expecting something thicker, but I stopped cooking it after about 10 minutes because it was trying really hard to start boiling, and we are instructed not to let the custard boil.

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You’ll then strain the ice cream base into a bowl, add the peppermint and vanilla extracts and the pink food coloring (oy), and stir for a bit to help it cool. Instead of putting it in the fridge for several hours, I nestled the bowl into an ice bath, which helped it cool more quickly. I then covered it and placed it in the fridge for about 2 hours to chill completely.

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Once chilled, you’ll churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker– mine took about 20 minutes to thicken nicely. I decided to add those tiny chocolate chips for a little textural contrast, which went in about 2 minutes before I turned off the machine. (This is when you’d add the crushed candy canes if you’re doing that.) Lastly, I folded about ¼ cup of the bright red peppermint syrup into the ice cream while layering it into my ice cream container. Next time I would probably double the amount and leave some more prominent red swaths visible. I froze my ice cream overnight and crossed my fingers for a smooth, creamy texture…

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Boo-yah! I was so very thrilled with this gorgeousness.

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Meanwhile, I made the hot fudge. I was a bit nervous about this because there was a BAKED recipe a while back that included fudge, and several bakers struggled with it. I couldn’t remember which recipe it was, only that I had used store-bought fudge on that occasion due to time constraints. But I was determined to make it this time, and it could not have been easier… or more delicious.

You first melt together the unsweetened chocolate and butter, being very careful not to overheat it. In a small saucepan, combine the sifted confectioners’ sugar, brown sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. I can’t believe this happened, but… I ran out of cocoa powder. This does not happen in my house; I couldn’t believe I hadn’t realized that my supply was down to the nubs. So I had to supplement with a bit of black cocoa, and I actually really liked the result. I’m not sure how much of a difference it made, but I’m now thinking of making an “Oreo” hot fudge next time using all black cocoa; that’s for another day though.

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Anyway, you’ll whisk these dry ingredients together, then whisk in corn syrup, which is a bit challenging because it becomes very clumpy. I couldn’t get it to smooth out entirely, so I went ahead and added the cream, hoping the clumps would smooth out with the additional liquid. This did in fact happen– I imagine that it’s important for the fudge sauce emulsion before putting the pot over a hot burner. You’ll then heat it and let the mixture boil for 1 minute, then remove it from the heat and whisk in the chocolate/butter mixture. Finally, transfer the hot fudge to a glass container and whisk in the vanilla. It will thicken as it cools.

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My fudge was completely smooth, glossy, and velvety– I was thrilled that there were zero complications. Unfortunately when I used it for my ice cream brownie sundae, I overheated it slightly while reheating from the fridge, so it separated just a bit. Still delicious, but the texture was a little compromised. A word to the wise: reheat at 50% power in the microwave in very small increments.

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Despite this tiny mishap, I could not have been happier with this glorious, electric-pink mess of chocolate and peppermint! I’m definitely rethinking my stance on peppermint altogether, and I will make this ice cream enthusiastically in the future.

You can find the recipe for Pink Peppermint Stick Ice Cream with Homemade Hot Fudge at Baked Sunday Mornings, and take a look at my baking buddies’ pretty pink frozen treats while you’re there. I highly recommend this ice cream for a steady diet of wintery treats throughout the month of December! 🙂

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© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2016.

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