Neapolitan Shortbread

Neapolitan ShortbreadI have never had many feelings about Neapolitan ice cream—that classic all-in-one combination of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry—except that I’d probably prefer a scoop of vanilla with sprinkles instead.Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan Shortbread, though, are a different story. I saw a few recipes for them while scrolling through Pinterest a few weeks ago and thought they were super cute with their different colored stripes. I just had to make them, if only to make the world’s most adorable ice cream sandwiches. Neapolitan ShortbreadI clicked on a link and saw, to my utter (and definitely over-the-top) horror, that the layers were all made with one dough, the chocolate portion being mixed with melted chocolate and the pink part being just vanilla with food coloring! I clicked through more links and found a lot more of the same. Some had mixed their pink portion with strawberry jam, but that was even more problematic—it meant that all three portions would have different textures and bake differently. Neapolitan ShortbreadAnd so, I set out to fix this problem. Yes, I know that this “problem” is one I created with my own pickiness, but I don’t care because I believe in cookies that bake evenly and deliver flavors as advertised, damn it! I will not apologize for being a cookie snob. #justiceforstrawberry

Okay, rant over. (Sorry.) Neapolitan ShortbreadI set to work, and it took me five test-batches, but y’all, these Neapolitan Shortbread are fantastic. They’ve got bold colors and big flavors and they bake evenly and they are shockingly easy to make.Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadEach layer is made from its own quick, simple dough, all three of which can be made in the same bowl in under twenty minutes. Here’s the rundown:

  • the chocolate dough is made with cocoa powder and a hint of espresso.
  • the vanilla dough is made with vanilla (duh) and a touch of almond extract.
  • the strawberry is made with pulverized freeze-dried strawberries (a la these) and a few drops of food coloring to keep the pink portion vibrant while baking.

Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadAll the doughs are all pressed together in a wax paper-lined loaf pan and chilled until hard. Then the edges are trimmed off, the dough is cut into two long pieces, and each one is sliced into cookies. I ❤ ❤ ❤ a slice & bake recipe! Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan Shortbread bake at a low temperature for 17-18 minutes. The cookies will be a little soft coming out of the oven, but should set up quickly. They’ll be crisp at the edges, slightly chewy in the centers, and oh, so buttery. Neapolitan ShortbreadThese cookies are as delicious as they are beautiful, with plenty of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry flavors in every bite! And that’s to say nothing of the bright, bold colors—I just love that berry pink!Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadOh, and I was right. They do make adorable ice cream sandwiches 🙂 Neapolitan Shortbread

Neapolitan Shortbread
makes about 6.5 dozen cookies

Chocolate Dough:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon espresso granules (optional)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Vanilla Dough:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Strawberry Dough:
1 cup freeze dried strawberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3-5 drops liquid red food coloring (or 1 drop red gel food coloring), optional
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with wax paper, leaving a couple of inches of overhang on the sides. Set aside.

Make the chocolate dough. In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in vanilla. Add cocoa powder, flour, espresso granules and salt, and mix until a dough forms. Dough will look crumbly, but should pinch together very easily. Press chocolate dough into a mostly-even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate while you make the vanilla dough. Wipe down beaters and bowl.

In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and optional almond extract, followed by flour and salt. Press vanilla dough into a mostly-even layer over the top of the chocolate dough. Refrigerate while you make the strawberry dough. Wipe down beaters and bowl.

Combine freeze dried strawberries and sugar in a food processor* and blitz until they are a powder. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add butter and use an electric mixer to beat it together until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and red food coloring, followed by flour and salt. Dough may be crumbly, but should hold together very well when pinched. Press strawberry dough into a mostly-even layer on top of the vanilla dough. Fold wax paper overhang over the top of the dough. Refrigerate for 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Place oven racks in top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 300F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Remove dough from refrigerator. Unfold wax paper overhang and use it to lift dough brick onto a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to trim the edges (which can be cut into rectangles and baked into cookies). Slice rectangle down the middle lengthwise so that you have two long, skinny rectangles of dough. Refrigerate one rectangle.

Slice rectangle into 1/4-inch slices, placing them at least 1 1/2-inches apart on prepared pans. If dough gets too warm, refrigerate full pans for 5 minutes before baking.

Bake cookies for 9 minutes. Rotate pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back. Bake an additional 8-9 minutes, until no longer wet looking. Shortbread should not turn golden. Let cool on the pans for 7 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat slicing and baking processes with remaining dough, letting pans return to room temperature between batches.

Neapolitan Shortbread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week. They will soften slightly over time.Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan Shortbread

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Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce

Peanut Butter Caramel SauceHere’s some fair warning that I might have a lot of ice cream-related recipes coming your way over the next month or two. I’ve been dreaming them up since the third snowstorm we had this past March, and I’m psyched that it’s finally time to share them! Believe me when I tell you that the Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake I posted a couple of weeks ago is just the tip of the ice (cream) berg 🙂 Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce
Today is all about my new favorite ice cream topping: Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce. Yes, you read that right.Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce
Peanut. Butter. Caramel. Sauce. ❤ ❤ ❤ Peanut Butter Caramel SaucePeanut Butter Caramel Sauce
This stuff takes all of ten minutes to make and is out-of-this-world delicious! It’s literally as easy as melting some sugar, stirring in butter, heavy cream & creamy peanut butter, and then doctoring it up with some vanilla and salt. That’s literally it.Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce
Pour your hot Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce in a jar and then over some vanilla ice cream. Or chocolate ice cream. Or use it as a dip for apple slices. Or drizzle some over a Chocolate Puff Pancake.Peanut Butter Caramel SaucePeanut Butter Caramel SaucePeanut Butter Caramel Sauce
Or maybe whip some cream in a jar, chop some salted peanuts, and make yourself a quick peanut butter sundae on the hottest day of the year (so far). Don’t forget the maraschino cherry.Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce
It might get a little melty before you have a chance to snap a pic for your Instagram, but who cares? There’s Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce to be had.Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce

Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce
makes about 2 cups (1 pint)

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup creamy-style peanut butter (not natural-style)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (depends on your preference)

Place sugar in a 2-3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk sugar until the sugar melts and turns a deep copper color. Whisk in butter until completely incorporated. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in heavy cream. Caramel will bubble violently, but will quickly relax into a smooth sauce. Whisk in peanut butter, vanilla, and salt. Transfer sauce to a jar.

Sauce is best served warm or room temperature. Leftovers should be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks. Reheat by microwaving in 15 second increments, stirring between intervals.Peanut Butter Caramel Sauce

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream CakeYesterday was my birthday. I’m 33 now.Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake
I may be a full-fledged adult in her *gulp* mid-30s, but I will never, ever, EVER (!) be too old for ice cream cake. That’s impossible.Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake
Ice cream cake is too delicious, especially this mint chocolate chip version.Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake
It’s as simple as slicing a layer of chocolate cake in half, stuffing it will 1 1/2 quarts of mint chocolate chip ice cream, and topping it with whipped cream.Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream CakeMint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream CakeMint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake
You could just spread it on, but it’s my birthday and I’ll pipe if I want to…Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake
…even if I’m just going to cover it with mint baking chips, mini chocolate chips, chocolate sprinkles, and homemade chocolate shell.Homemade Chocolate ShellHomemade Chocolate ShellHomemade Chocolate ShellHomemade Chocolate Shell
Yes, homemade chocolate shell! It takes just two ingredients and about 45 seconds in the microwave to achieve a drizzlable, quick-hardening chocolate sauce without the price tag or the weird ingredients you’ll find in the store-bought stuff. Trust me—once you make this version, you’ll never buy the bottled stuff again.Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake
One last thing before I get to the recipe: take this ice cream cake and make it your own! Switch up the ice cream flavors! Use a different flavor of cake! Jazz up the toppings!Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake
Except the chocolate shell. Don’t skip that.Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cake
makes one 9-inch round cake

Cake:
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup strong, hot coffee
1 1/2 quarts mint chocolate chip ice cream, slightly softened

Whipped Cream:
2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream
4 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

Garnish (optional):
Homemade Chocolate Shell (recipe below)
green mint baking chips
mini chocolate chips
chocolate sprinkles

Make the cake. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the pan with oil. Line the pan with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a large mixing bowl to sift together flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, dark brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and egg, followed by buttermilk and coffee. Whisk in dry ingredients in three installments, just until combined. Pour batter into the pan. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake 23-27 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edges. Invert cake onto a cooling rack and allow to cool to room temperature.

Line a deep 9-inch round cake pan (I use a springform) with 2-3 large sheets of plastic wrap, leaving a foot of overhang on each end.

Use a serrated knife to cut cake in half equatorially so that you have 2 thin layers. Place one thin layer cut-side-up in the prepared pan. Top with scoops of softened mint chocolate chip ice cream and use an offset knife to smooth it into an even layer. Top with remaining thin layer, placing it cut-side-down. Wrap plastic wrap overhang over the top of the cake. Freeze 8 hours or overnight.

Remove cake from the freezer and lift/invert it out of the pan. Unwrap the cake and invert it onto a serving plate. Place back in the freezer while you make the whipped cream.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Spread or pipe whipped cream on top of the cake. Freeze cake for at least an hour or overnight.

Remove cake from freezer. Drizzle homemade chocolate shell (as much or as little as you like) over cake and top with optional green mint baking chips, mini chocolate chips, and/or chocolate sprinkles. Freeze for 30 minutes.

To serve, let cake thaw for 15-20 minutes. Dip a large, sharp chef’s knife in warm water and wipe dry. Slice cake, wetting and wiping the knife again between cuts. If you have difficulty slicing through the chocolate shell, use a slight sawing motion.

Leftover ice cream cake will keep covered in the freezer.

Homemade Chocolate Shell
makes about 3/4 cup

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons coconut oil (preferably refined/high heat)

Combine chopped chocolate and coconut oil into a small bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until melted. Pour or drizzle over ice cream or ice cream cake, or use as a dip for other frozen treats.

Leftover chocolate shell will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a month. Reheat by microwaving in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until pourable.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream CakeHomemade Magic Shell

Key Lime Pie Popsicles

Key Lime Pie PopsiclesAre y’all as worn out as I am? I spent Memorial Day weekend in Texas with my family, my best friend from college is in town, and I am turning 32 on Monday!

Key Lime Pie PopsiclesThirty two. Thirty. Two. How am I possibly that old? I graduated from college ten years ago. I have been in New York for almost that long. I have a real job and responsibilities and a very busy life, but I sure don’t feel like a 32 year old. I still remember thinking that 23 was old. Oh, how times have changed.

Key Lime Pie PopsiclesKey Lime Pie PopsiclesI don’t know about you, but as a bonafide adult, I don’t always have time to make the desserts that I want. Lately, I have been dreaming about Key Lime Pie. It’s remarkably easy to make, but as we all know, pie takes time. This week, I have no time. In fact, it feels like I have negative time. But after breakfast yesterday, I did find a quick half hour to make a batch of Key Lime Pie Popsicles. When got home from work last night, I coated one in graham cracker crumbs and ate it in bed (because I’m an adult and I can). That’s what living the dream looks like this week–eating dessert in bed.

Please don’t judge me too harshly.

Key Lime Pie PopsiclesKey Lime Pie PopsiclesThese Key Lime Pie Popsicles are just as good as their namesake dessert and half the work! They have just six ingredients: key lime juice and zest, sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, heavy cream, and graham cracker crumbs. The process is similar to making no-churn ice cream–mix together the juice, zest, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla, whip the cream, and fold everything together. Pour it all into popsicle moulds and freeze. A few hours later, release them from their moulds and coat them in graham cracker crumbs before serving. They really couldn’t be easier…

Key Lime Pie Popsicles…except that you can also layer the mixture into a freezer-safe container, swirl in some graham cracker crumbs, and have No-Churn Key Lime Pie Ice Cream. I love a two-fer.

Key Lime Pie PopsiclesKey Lime Pie Popsicles are a citrus-lover’s dream dessert! They have all the tart, tangy, creamy flavor of the classic pie, but with a frozen twist. Who needs a birthday cake when they have these popsicles? Not me!Key Lime Pie Popsicles

Key Lime Pie Popsicles
makes 10-12 popsicles

3/4-1 cup key lime juice (or regular lime juice), depending how much tartness you prefer
2 teaspoons key lime zest (or regular lime zest)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (not fat free)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs, for coating (about 8 whole graham crackers)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together key lime juice, key lime zest, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to whip heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over-whip.

Use a silicone spatula to fold half the whipped cream into the key lime mixture. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream. Divide mixture among popsicle moulds. Freeze for at least 4 hours.

When ready to eat, pour graham cracker crumbs into a shallow dish. Run popsicles (in their moulds) under warm water for a few seconds before releasing. Coat popsicles in graham crumbs, and enjoy!

Key Lime Pie Popsicles

Chocolate Malts

Chocolate MaltsI have a bit of a chocolate malt problem. I get serious cravings for them once or twice a month, and totally lose my mind until I wind up getting one at a diner or the Shake Shack by my apartment.

The trick to ordering chocolate malts is to always, always ask for extra malt. There’s nothing more dissatisfying than ordering a malt and ending up with something indistinguishable from a regular chocolate milkshake…not that there’s anything wrong with regular chocolate milkshakes. Except that they’re not chocolate malts!

Chocolate MaltsAnyway…I bought myself a blender last week and decided it was high time I start making malts at home. Even though I knew the gist of the recipe (ice cream, malted milk powder, and milk), I looked online to check out proportions. I saw many recipes that used chocolate ice cream as the base, and that was my plan too, until I ran across a method from Sweet Moses, an old-fashioned soda fountain in Cleveland, Ohio.

Sweet Moses uses vanilla ice cream as its base, flavoring the malt with chocolate syrup. The measurements and proportions in the article are a little on the vague side, so I picked up all the necessary ingredients and spent a night testing chocolate malts until I got the recipe just right. <–Yes, it was as awesome as it sounds.

Below is the recipe for the absolute best chocolate malt I have ever had. And I’ve had a lot of chocolate malts–two per month for eight years, so I’m sort of an expert (or something). My recipe is rich and chocolaty with a pronounced malt flavor, and perfect for eating with a spoon or a straw (or both!). 

The secret here is all in the ingredients. There are only four of them, so make sure they’re good quality.

Chocolate MaltsChocolate Malts

  • Use whole milk. Don’t go for skim or even 2%. It just won’t taste right without the fat content in whole milk. Remember that this is an indulgence, not an everyday thing. Live a little.
  • There are two major brands of malted milk powder: Carnation and Horlicks. I prefer Carnation, but buy whichever you like.
  • As with the malted milk powder, buy whichever chocolate syrup you enjoy most. I am partial to the richer dutch process cocoa flavor of Hershey’s Special Dark.
  • Buy high-quality vanilla ice cream. As with the milk, resist trying to lower the fat content here. Again, this is a treat, not an everyday food. Using really good ingredients and treating them well will ensure a good chocolate malt. Trying to lower the calorie count will just disappoint you in the flavor department, and quite possibly send you to Shake Shack to order a $6 chocolate malt with extra malt. Make it the right way at home, and save your $6 for something else 😊

Chocolate MaltsAs for the mixing, blend together the milk, chocolate syrup, and malted milk powder. Then add the vanilla ice cream and alternate pulsing it together in your blender and stirring with a long spoon. This will keep the malt thick enough that you could eat it with a spoon, but thin enough that it can be sipped through a straw. If you want a thicker malt, add more ice cream. For a thinner malt, add more milk. Top it with whipped cream and extra chocolate syrup, or enjoy it as-is.

This is your chocolate malt. Make it exactly the way you like it.

Chocolate Malts
Chocolate Malts
adapted from Sweet Moses
makes about 2.5 cups, or 2-3 small milkshakes

1/3 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons malted milk powder
6 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 pint (2 cups) vanilla ice cream

For Serving:
lightly-sweetened whipped cream
chocolate syrup

Combine milk, malted milk powder, and chocolate syrup in a high-powered blender. Pulse to combine. Add vanilla ice cream, and alternately pulse and mix by hand with a long spoon until combined and thick. Add more ice cream for a thicker shake, or more milk for a thinner one.

Divide into two or three small glasses. Serve with whipped cream and additional chocolate syrup, if desired.