Easy and sweet, how life should be

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Cannoli always make me happy

A small selection of things I love:

  • cannoli
  • ice cream
  • when things are easy

Any one of these alone would make me happy, but when I found a recipe that combined all three to make no-churn cannoli ice cream? I was over the freakin’ moon!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of Plated, the weekly subscription service that sends me detailed, easy-to-follow, illustrated instructions and the ingredients that go with them in the exact quantities needed to turn out delicious and impressive meals. They’ve recently started offering dessert options, which I usually skip because I’m lazy and making dinner is enough effort for me, but when I saw cannoli ice cream I could actually make myself, without a crazy ice cream maker, I had to try it.

I’ve never felt confident enough in any recipe to say I could duplicate it without reading the original directions.  I still consult the box when making mac and cheese and have to Google how long to boil eggs every single time I make them.

But no-churn cannoli ice cream? I now have it down pat!

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I made this! And it was so good and so easy that I’ll do it a million times more!

Crush a bunch of pistachios and break up a couple of cannoli shells. Then whisk a cup of heavy cream for about 5 minutes until it forms little peaks and you feel you’ve gotten the most intense arm workout of your life (or you can use a hand mixer), then add in a mini container worth of sweetened condensed milk and a creamy blob of ricotta cheese and blend together. Next, toss in the pistachio bits and crunchy shell chunks and pour into a mold (like the 8×8 disposable aluminum one Plated so kindly sent me). Cover with a sheet of parchment paper (which Plated also sent me, almost like they know I don’t own any of this stuff and would be lost without them) and pop in the freezer for about an hour until it sets.

Right before you decide to eat your creamy concoction of frozen deliciousness, melt some chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave, or if you’re like me and don’t own one, in a small pot on the stove, and pour the delicious smelling chocolatey syrup all over your ice cream.

So. Incredibly. Eeeeeasy. Why can’t everything in life be so simple and delicious? I want to make this again and again, and have it with every meal and for every person who ever steps foot into my apartment.

Things are hard enough these days if you ask me. We all deserve this.

Shaved ice will get me through it

Summer is almost here and I’m about as excited for its arrival as I am for my next dentist appointment. Still about two weeks off, I can already feel summer’s grip tightening around my sweaty neck, its stuffy hot breath on my face.

So this year, like the last, and every one before it, I’ll comfort myself in one of the best ways I know how: by eating copious amounts of ice cream and other cold treats.

I think I’ll live through the heat waves if I can have this little mountain of refreshing sweetness.

Last summer I discovered snoballs, a New Orleans spin on shaved ice, and now this year I found the Korean version, patbingsu, at koreatown’s Korydang. But while other forms of this frosty treat are usually just shaved ice and a flavor syrup, patbingsu way more than just flavored slush.

When I ordered the green tea version at Korydang, out came a cherry topped-mountain of green tea flavored ice cream, surrounded by mochi balls,  sweet red beans, and chunks of mango, kiwi and strawberry, all which were hiding the bottom layer of slushy, cool shaved ice, made a creamy green color by green tea syrup and one of my all time favorite ingredients, condensed milk. Refreshing, creamy and light, and mixing the different smooth, gummy, and chunky textures of the fruit and mochi toppings, this korean take on shaved ice was not only delicious, it was fun to eat. And when the summer months get really nasty around here, which they inevitably will sooner than I’d like, this is the kind of fun I’ll be looking for on those sticky hot days in the city.

A little sno in July

I think I found the one. The official food of summer 2011.

Forget ice cream. Forget gelato. I’ve discovered sno-balls and there’s no looking back. I’m hooked.

While walking down a shadeless 6th avenue in the West Village, feeling my skin literally sizzling under the relentless mid-afternoon sun, I saw it: Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls.

My new favorite summer treat. It's been decided.

What the heck? Woodpecker balls? Wait, no, sno-balls? Wait, huh?

Intrigued, shiny faced, and sweaty, I stepped into the tiny, crowded shop. A sign on the wall listed dozens of flavors: birthday cake, watermelon, buttercream, root beer, banana, dreamsicle and even mojito among others.  Underneath it, two shelves were lined with bottles of syrup in a rainbow variety.

Sno-balls! I get it! Like snow cones, but in better flavors!

Because I found out these were a New Orleans style treat, I stuck with the theme and tried the Mardi Gras King’s Cake flavor… with condensed milk topping. (I’m a pretty firm believer that if condensed milk is ever an option, the answer should definitely be YES.) What I got was a Chinese take-out style container packed high with shaved ice and generously doused in a violet-colored syrup flavored like the traditional cake served in New Orleans around Mardi Gras (sometimes topped with green, gold or purple icing, hence the color here). Drizzled over the purple mound of snow were thick drizzles of sticky, sweet condensed milk.

In a word: awesome! In more words: delicious, creamy, soft like clean, freshly fallen snow, sweet but not in an overtly chemical or artificial way, refreshing and frosty cold. It was quirky and different, new and fun, and well, I loved it.

I want to try all the flavors, and with another two months of summer, I think I might just set out to do that. I’m making it the summer of sno-balls.