I know you’re saying to yourself “oh I know what to do with vanilla ice cream, what kind of moron does she think I am?” For the record, unless you’ve shown yourself to be a moron, I don’t think you are one. But like Alton Brown says ‘anything in your kitchen should be a multi-tasker.’ I was thinking that you may not be aware of the fact that vanilla ice cream is also quite the multi-tasker. No it doesn’t slice tomatoes while simultaneously serving as an induction cook top, but it does work as a delicious dessert and as an ingredient in some pretty tasty dishes.
Use number one is the most obvious…it’s vanilla ice cream…you eat it as is. Or just to mix things up a little bit, you might add some candies or crumbled cookies to the ice cream and stir those in to change the flavor. Of course it’s also the perfect base for making a sundae or smearing onto a cake for a frozen ice cream cake. But those are pretty obvious uses.
The second use for vanilla ice cream is one of my favorite shortcuts – crème anglaise. Vanilla crème anglaise is a rich and creamy topping poured over souffle’s, cakes, pies, fruit and even eaten all on its own. Most people only get to eat crème anglaise when they eat out at a nicer restaurant because the thought of making that rich custardy sauce at home makes them shudder with fear. Trying to keep the eggs from turning into scrambled eggs when adding the warm milk is just a challenge that many people aren’t willing to take. Guess what? You don’t have to.
For the purists out there…no, this is not ‘real’ crème anglaise, but it’s definitely close enough and tastes just as delicious. How does vanilla ice cream play into all of this? Just scoop out the ice cream and let it melt (preferably in the refrigerator so that it stays cold). Crème anglaise is just a mixture of sugar, egg yolks, milk (and sometimes vanilla bean). Guess what vanilla ice cream is: sugar, egg yolks, milk, cream and salt (that’s what’s in homemade ice cream…store bought vanilla ice cream has a few more slightly strange ingredients in it). See any similarities there? So impress your guests the next time you serve chocolate cake by topping it off with some vanilla crème anglaise. No one needs to know your little secret.
How about using vanilla ice cream as an ingredient in a cake…not as a cake side dish? This one’s been around for a while. The Cake Mix Doctor suggests using a pint (2 full cups of melted ice cream) as a replacement for the liquid in a boxed cake mix. It’s boxed cake mix, a pint of ice cream and 3 eggs. Some have said they also add a tablespoon of oil just to keep things from getting a touch too dry. You can Google around for the recipe(s) they’re everywhere.
Another great use for vanilla ice cream is to melt it and use it as the liquid (instead of the milk or water) in your favorite pancake recipe. Adding the ice cream makes the pancakes have a richer flavor and helps to make them fluffy too. You can use this little trick in your homemade pancake recipe or with your favorite mix.
The other way I like to use vanilla ice cream (I used a chocolate for this particular recipe) is in a cookie recipe. I made these ice cream cookies and they were a huge hit. Again, the ice cream adds a richness to the cookie that you just don’t get from using water or milk. The dough is a bit stickier than what you may be used to, but the flavor is so worth it.
So play around with your ice cream (you know you want to) and try some of these suggestions. I’m always looking for things that can make my life easier or make the things that I cook taste even better. And as for those people who may give you crap for not making all of these things from scratch and using ice cream as a short cut or an ingredient when using a boxed mix…screw ’em. Are you cooking? Are you having fun? Do you like how it tastes? Great! They can take their sanctimonious selves to their all organic, pick your own, pickling party and stuff it.
Just remember, things aren’t always as they appear to be.