Outside, frigid temperatures send mercury on outdoor thermometers way below the zero mark. In northern Minnesota, only the bravest humans venture out. The rest stay cozy indoors with goose down comforters and wool socks, comforted by the heat of flames rising in the fireplace and a cup of hot cocoa or a hot toddy in hand.
Not me. In my house last night, the electric ice cream maker was churning up a batch of rich, dark, creamy chocolate custard. Yes, the fireplace was ablaze. I did have my wool socks on. But hot cocoa? No, no. I prefer my dark chocolate and whipping cream frozen, thank you.
You see, I am an ice cream maniac. I love it anytime. And, although I haven’t had much of the decadent, creamy stuff (my palate prefers only premium ice cream) since last March when I started working on lowering my cholesterol, my trip to Key West put a little snag in my coat of willpower.
One night, as friends and I were strolling down Duval Street, I spied an ice cream shop with the word homemade on the sign. I made mental note of the location.
Days went by, and finally, with just two days left in Key West, I got back to Flamingo Crossing at the corner of Duval and Virginia Streets.
The guy working behind the counter told me he had come to Key West 12 years ago for Fantasy Fest and never went back to the Quad Cities area where he had come from.Â It was similar to the story I heard from many people I visited with in Key West. They felt that Key West magic and just couldn’t leave.
As I perused the many flavors of frozen, creamy custards, the friendly ice cream man continued to hand over tiny spoons with large tastes ofÂ wonderful tropical flavors. He went on to tell me a couple from the Chicago area opened Flamingo Crossing in 1987. They apparently felt that Key West magic, too.
I finally decided on a scoop of coconut ice cream and a scoop of one of the tropical fruit flavors, Mamey.
Mamey is a tropical fruit that grows on tall, open trees with thick trunks in Florida, Mexico, Central America and the West Indies. I found the taste to be a combination of almond and apricot, absolutely wonderful with coconut. Don’t tell anyone, but I did make it back to Flamingo Crossing one more time, just a few hours before my plane departed. After all, how can one leave Key West without having some Key Lime ice cream?
My ice cream story does not end in Key West, though. When I got home, my son with a brand new Cuisinart ice cream maker told me he’d been making ice cream with soy milk replacing whole milk. Didn’t sound great to me. But, I did have almond milk in the refrigerator. And, a jar of organic cocoa powder given to me by a friend. When she came for dinner one evening, she brought a container of her homemade chocolate gelato, a jar of of the cocoa powder she had used in the gelato and a copy of the recipe.
You know where this is going. Last night, the coldest night of the year, I dug out my friend’s recipe and made chocolate gelato. I used almond milk rather than whole milk, and plenty of whipping cream. The recipe requires some planning ahead, since the liquid mixture that includes eggs, is cooked before going into the ice cream maker. That means the custard needs time to chill in the refrigerator before freezing.
I made the custard in the afternoon, allowed it to cool at room temperature, then put it into the refrigerator. Last night, my husband and I sat in front of the fire with our wool socks on (no mittens) and moaned with each creamy, dreamy, smooth and silky bite of the frozen custard/gelato made with almond milk.
Since gelato purists would sneer and snicker at the idea of using almond milk in the frozen Italian treat, I won’t call it gelato. But, it’s a little bit gelato. And, it is frozen custard. I’m calling this recipe Chocolate Cuslato. I think that sounds so sexy. Cuslato.
When you get to Key West, you must go to Flamingo Crossing for ice cream, gelato or frozen custard. You’ll find it at 1107 Duval Street.
When you are at home, you must make Chocolate Cuslato. Even if it is the coldest day of the year.
P.S. I just read over at Heavy Table that a great Twin Cities frozen treat shop is closing. Liberty Frozen Custard is calling it quits at the end of this month. I just discovered their creamy frozen custard last summer on a trip to Minneapolis. This makes me so sad. Another reason to make my own Chocolate Cuslato.
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1 cup original almond milk
- 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
In a saucepan, use a whisk to combine cocoa powder and sugar. Gradually add almond milk, whisking after each addition to blend well. Whisk in eggs. Place saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 170 to 175 degrees on an instant-read digital food thermometer. Remove from heat. Stir in whipping cream. Allow to cool at room temperature. Cover and chill thoroughly. Freeze according to instructions for ice cream maker. Makes about 1 quart.