Two things override my indifference to Valentine's Day: 1)the license to wear pink and red in the same outfit and 2) the chalky candy/singing toys that go 50 % off on the 15th. Otherwise, I tend to feel that it's a holiday that promotes unnecessary consumerism, equating human interaction with material objects, and one that fosters unmeetable expectations. (Despite my criticisms, I certainly have amassed a bunch of heart-shaped bakeware...I guess love for kitsch conquers all.) A fabulous thing about tossing out expectations is that everything is a pleasant surprise. I was looking forward to something different this year, like a date with Jack Daniels or maybe a quiet evening at home with Charles Shaw (we're going steady) but I got neither. I did get two dozen red roses, though, for the first time in my life (not counting the rose left on my desk by a high-tech-low-talk [or perhaps non-English speaking] secret admirer on Valentine's 2006). The bouquet was tucked into my grocery bag by the checker at Trader Joe's as I was grabbing a last-minute red and a chevre log. Perhaps it was as a reward for bringing my own bags? Or because of the dearth of XX-chromosomed-ones in the Silicon Valley? Or simply as an effective marketing ploy (how do I love thee, T. Joe? Let me count the ways....)? I'm totally baffled and totally smug. Roses are not my favorite flower-- and actually smell a little funereal to me-- but this bouquet certainly adds dramatic effect to the table... and I'm finding humor in the impersonality of such a cliched $grandiose$ gesture. (*I have to add that I also did actually get a real gift of flowers&chocolate and spent two evenings in great company.)
So after all this rambling and parentheses-ing, here is my "traditional" slightly punny and very smooth Valentine's Day ice cream flavor: Red Hot Chocolate-- spicy, chocolatey, bad romance-y. It's reminiscent of Mexican hot chocolate and the heat and crunch of the candy contrasts nicely with the cool, dark ice cream. I've tried many kinds of chocolate bases-- bittersweet, hedonistic custardy- rich, sweet and milky-- and I've found this scoopable and creamy Philidelphia-style type to be the best suited to being studded with anti-classy candy.
My Red Hot Chocolate Ice Cream
- 1/3 C cocoa powder
- 1 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
- 1/2 C sugar
- 1/2 C sweetened condensed milk
- 1 1/2 C whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 C heavy whipping cream
- pinch salt
- shake cinnamon
- generous 1/2 C Red Hots or cinnamon hearts
In a heavy saucepan, bring cocoa powder, chocolate, sugar, sweetened condensed milk, and regular milk to a boil. Simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring CONSTANTLY. Remove from heat and place pot in cold water to cool it fast. Stir in salt, cinnamon, and vanilla. Chill completely then stir in chilled cream. Strain into an ice-cream machine or still freeze. During the last couple minutes, add in the Red Hots. Transfer to a container and freeze completely in the freezer.