Ice Cream Dreams: Pina Colada Ice Cream

August 26, 2009

I always hated going to Illinois to visit my father’s parents. They didn’t have any fun toys, and they lived in an apartment so we couldn’t play outside, and they had two bizzare old buzzard-ladies next door named Hazel and Belle who smelled funny and always wanted to kiss me.

However, the one bright side to visiting dad’s parents was the obligatory trip to Petersen’s Ice Cream in Oak Park. The ice cream was positively swoon-worthy, and I always tried to eat my scoop of Butter Brickle (always Butter Brickle) verrrry slowly, wishing it would last forever. Petersen’s Ice Cream (with its legendary 18% butterfat content) almost made up for Hazel and Belle.

We had two mom-and-pop type ice cream places in my Colorado neighborhood, and while their ice cream wasn’t quite Petersen’s, it was pretty close. For a while we had Mom’s Ice Cream, a shop dangerously close to the supermarket we frequented. My poor mama got hassled every time she took us grocery shopping (which wasn’t that often, because my mama is smarter than that).

Mom’s Ice Cream didn’t have Butter Brickle, but it did have Lemon Drop. Lemon Drop was a delightful, puckery confection, dotted with little crisp nuggets of smashed candy. They also carried a neon-blue bucket of hideousness, Bubble Gum, which for some reason I loved. Mom’s version of Bubble Gum didn’t have those pesky hard pebbles of real gum that I hated. It was smooth blue paradise. However, I once threw up Bubble Gum in mama’s car on the way home from the supermarket, and from that day forward, Bubble Gum was forbidden fruit.

Mom’s closed when I was in third grade, and we had to endure trips to the lowly Baskin-Robbins for several years. Then, in a stroke of good luck, my sister insisted on attending a Jr. High out of our neighborhood. Near this coveted school was a wonderful ice cream emporium called Apple Orchard, or as the locals called it, “AppleTree.”

Apple Orchard had (in my childish opinion) fascinating and exotic flavors of ice cream: cappucinno chip, cantaloupe sorbet, mint oreo. I think I tried almost every flavor they churned out, but my all time favorite was Pina Colada. I’m surprised I didn’t start sprouting stiff, green shoots out the top of my head, I ate so much of it.

I ate Pina Colada almost weekly from the 7th grade until 10th, when I progressed to a high school farther away. I’m amazed I wasn’t broad as a barn. Thank God for growth spurts.

Apple Orchard was the place I fumbled through first dates, desperately grappling for words. It was the place I sobbed, my mother rubbing my back, when the boy I’d loved for years just didn’t love me back. It was the place I marched to, singing and giggling at the top of my lungs, gaggle of girlfriends in tow, at the end of every school dance.

Alas, Apple Orchard eventually closed also. And I can’t help but notice that nowadays, there’s hardly ANY mom-and-pop ice cream joint that survives a year in our neck of the woods. We’ve all been lured to the dark side of Cold Stone. Don’t get me wrong, Cold Stone is fine, but it lacks the charm of a mom-and-pop joint. Plus, that damn place doesn’t carry Pina Colada. Nobody does.

I was near my old stomping grounds this past weekend and noticed that–horrors! The building that once housed Apple Orchard is a weight loss facility now. Mama and I laughed at the irony, and then lamented the loss of Pina Colada ice cream. And then I got a hankering for that ice cream like nobody’s business.

I came up with a version that’s close, but still not as fantabulous as the Pina Colada of yore. That, like my youth, is water down the drain, accessible only in trickles of memory.

Pina Colada Ice Cream
based on Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for coconut ice cream
makes about a quart

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup coconut-flavored rum
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 large egg yolks
1 cup crushed pineapple, slightly drained

In a large heavy saucepan, combine the cream, coconut milk, whole milk, rum and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks until pale yellow and frothy. Add about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture, and whisk to combine, Add the egg mixture to the saucepan with the remaining hot cream and whisk.

Return to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heavy wooden spoon until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4-5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least three hours. Freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. 5 minutes before the end of freezing time, add the pineapple bits; freeze 5 minutes more.

Transfer mixture to plastic container and freeze until firm.

***I would urge you to check out Phoo-D’s site for a great recipe for Pineapple-Ginger Sorbet. She and I must be channeling our inner Carmen Miranda this week!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

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