You guys, I just had the best week EVER.
Jason took Asher on a trip to visit the grandparents for a week, leaving me home alone. I repeat: HOME. ALONE. Picture me doing the patented Macaulay Culkin hands-to-cheeks pose, but instead of screaming in fear, I’m shrieking with delight.
It was an entire week of sleeping like a rock, staying up past my bedtime with lights on and music blaring, watching zero children’s programming, not being bound by nap or sleep schedules, and putting sharp/dangerous/delicious items anywhere I wanted without a care in the world. I worked like a dog the entire time and it was still the most amazing staycation ever. (Some of you might be thinking this makes me sound heartless, but I’ll bet some other parents of young toddlers can understand the absolute glee and sheer freedom of a week home alone.)
Obviously, I owe Jason big time. Two long road trips plus a week of singlehanded parenting? Yikes. I’m not sure what I’ll do to make it up to him, but I suspect it might involve donating an organ at some point. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. In the meantime, I stocked our freezer with some of his favorite ice cream as a fun, non-surgical thank you.
Dreyer’s gave me the opportunity to try some of their Slow-Churned Ice Cream—if a giant bowl of ice cream isn’t a great way to say “Thanks for whisking our baby away for a week,” I don’t know what is! I went with Caramel Swirl, because Jason’s a caramel fanatic and it’s also versatile enough to go with lots of different toppings without clashing. I think I’m going to have to make another ice cream run in a week, because their Limited Edition Peppermint and Pumpkin flavors are coming out by September 15, and I need both of those flavors in my freezer immediately.
The other great thing about this ice cream is that it has tons of flavor, but half the fat, and 1/3 fewer calories than regular ice cream. This is especially useful when one is married to a certified ice cream guzzler (guilty) or when one wants to pair the ice cream with edible chocolate cookie bowls (guilty again)!
I’ve seen lots of chocolate chip cookie cups floating around Pinterest (and lots of failed attempts floating around Pinterest-mocking websites) and I think they’re such a cute idea. Ice cream is delicious on its own, but when you can actually eat the container it’s served in? I’m sold. I was intrigued, and eager to try it for myself, and only a little bit scurred. I decided to make double chocolate cookie ice cream cups—it’s a nice twist on the usual chocolate chip flavor, and the brownie-like chocolate cookies pair nicely with caramel-swirled Dreyer’s ice cream.
I’m happy to say that I got the recipe right on the second try! (Let us never speak of the first try again.) These chocolate cookie cups are crisp around the edges, a touch soft in the center, and they hold their shape perfectly once they’re unmolded. They hold a big, generous scoop of ice cream, with a little room around the edges for drizzled toppings. The deep, rich flavor is great with anything from plain vanilla bean to mint chip to peanut butter, and everything in between.
It’s not a perfect “thank you” gift, but it’s a start. I’m hoping if I thank Jason enough, he’ll forget how long this past week was, and be motivated to do these father-son trips on a quarterly basis. A girl can dream, right?
Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Cups
yield: 12-14 chocolate cookie cups
4 oz butter, slightly softened but still cool
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips
Combine the butter and both sugars in the bowl of a large stand mixer. Mix with a paddle attachment on medium-low speed until well-blended, but not light and fluffy. You don’t to beat too much air in to the dough, because that will cause it to spread.
Add the egg and vanilla extract, and mix well. In a small bowl whisk together the bread flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer running on low, add the flour mixture and mix until all the flour streaks disappear. Stop the mixer, add the miniature chocolate chips, and stir them in by hand. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl very well with a spatula. Wrap the cookie dough in cling wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, until solid. (The chilling time and the later time in the freezer are both important, so don’t skip them!)
Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 375 F. Turn two muffin tins upside down. Cut foil into 5×5-inch squares. Press a square of foil on top of the bottom of a muffin cup, shiny side up. Press foil around every other muffin cup (you’ll only be using half of the cups, so that they don’t bake into each other). Each upside-down muffin tin should have 6 muffin bottoms foiled. Spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray.
Divide the dough in half, and keep half in the refrigerator while you work with the other half. Lightly dust two sheets of waxed paper with flour, and roll the dough out between the waxed paper until it is 1/8-inch thick. This recipe works best with a very thin layer of cookie dough, so don’t let your dough get too thick. Use a 3.5” or 4” circular cutter, and cut 6 circles out of the dough. Lift the dough from the waxed paper with a spatula, and drape it over the foil-covered muffin cup. Press it gently on top and on the sides of the cup. If there are any cracks, smooth them out with your fingers. The dough will move down a little while baking, so no need to press it all the way down to the bottom of the cups.
Put the tray in the freezer to chill for 10 minutes while you repeat with the remaining dough. Bake the cookie cups for 12 minutes at 375. Let them cool completely before sliding them off the muffin bottoms. Gently peel the foil from the inside of the cups. Fill with ice cream, mousse, whipped cream, pudding or whatever else you’d like!
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