“Scoop of the Day”: Fun and Flavorful Ice Creams for Any Occasion

I scream, you scream, we all scream for…“Semi-Homemade” ice-cream? Straight from the test studio of the “Kitchen Princess” (aka my other alias)….This is an inside look at my top secret ingredient for the ultimate, yet easy dessert!

I would never classify myself as a pastry chef, nor say that I could ever win a Betty Crocker award. I do love to cook, but I consider myself more of a “freestyle” chef, as I have a hard time following recipes or even using them at all; which is why desserts have never really been my strong suit, especially since 99% of the time you must following a recipe.

When I host a dinner party, I typically dread planning what to make for dessert. Over the past few years, I have either gotten older and wiser, or just a little more savvy with my time and skills on the dessert front. Which brings me to my signature go-to-sweet-creation…Ice-Cream! And my secret ingredient for this: Häagen Dazs- Five, Vanilla Bean Ice-Cream (pint)

So, you might be scratching your head thinking…is she really going to try to pull off serving a scoop of store bought vanilla ice-cream, and claim it’s her own?

Well, sort of… it’s actually simple! Homemade Ice-Cream is made from 5 straightforward ingredients: Milk, Cream, Sugar, Eggs, Vanilla. So, basically, I make it easier on myself and skip that step (mainly since I don’t have room to store an ice-cream maker at my little, yet adorable NYC apartment). I choose buy the already “made” base, then make it my own by adding signature ingredients. It’s not cheating…it’s getting creative! I like to select interesting flavor components, so that it is unique and has a sense of “artisanal” style.

Some of my favorite combinations include:

  • Earl Grey Black Tea with Lavender and Honey
  • Fresh Cinnamon Stick with a hint of Nutmeg
  • Fresh Basil and Thyme
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly with mini Chocolate Chips
  • Smore’s: Mini Chocolate Chips, Graham Crackers and Marshmallow Fluff
  • Carmel with Salted Pretzels

To jazz it up a bit more….I like to serve the ice cream in a cool eclectic dish or vintage tea-cup and garnish with either a thin almond cookie (also store bought), a chocolate hand-dipped fortune cookie wafer, or a pretzel rod, depending on which flavor combo I am serving.

This is a step-by-step guide to create my - 5 minute, fool proof dessert:

Buy a pint (or two) of the Häagen Dazs- Five, Vanilla Bean Ice-cream (low fat frozen vanilla yogurt can also be used if you are watching your waist line) Which retails for about $5

Measure ¼ cup heavy cream or ¼ cup whole milk. (*best to use whole milk with the herbs such as basil, since these ingredients tend to need more mixing and you don’t want to make whipped cream)

Then in a blender or food processor, add your milk or cream, your ingredients of choice and give it a quick pulse/mix. More time will be needed for herbs to fully chop/puree

Next step add the pint of vanilla ice-cream to the blender or processor, and give it several jolts from the pulse button to mix. The key is to do it fast and not let it get to a soupy state. I usually use a spatula or large spoon to help mix in between pulses from the blender.

Once your mixture is fully incorporated, pour into a container and place in the freezer immediately. Again you do not want it to be soupy, or the end product will tasty icy not smooth and creamy. For containers I like to use small (2 cup) plastic Tupperware style containers with lids, or small glass mason jars. *Tip if using glass jars, place them in the freezer to chill before adding your ice-cream mixture.

Freeze for 2-4 hours before serving…. Voila, you have a fabulous, gourmet-esc dessert you can impress your guests with. And it is really that easy!

And as a bonus....here is a fun party idea/theme I came up with that you might want to try at your next gathering-

The Ice-Cream Social

As the host, create a list of interesting ingredients, from fresh herbs, berries, candy, cookies, coffee/tea, etc., then send the list around with your invitation. Ask each of your guests to select 1-2 ingredients that best describe their personality and why.

Prior to the party review the selected ingredients and create a few different ice-cream

combinations that best reflect your guests’ choices (mixing different guests’ ingredients together). Feel free to get creative! As you make the ice-creams, come up with interesting names for the flavors to showcase your guests, i.e. Mike’s “Mellow” Mint with Rachel’s “Sassy” Raspberry. Place a sticker label or gift tag on the container to remember the flavor combo.

During the party bring your ice-creams out on a serving tray with bowls, spoons and some garnishes. Let guests serve themselves and try the various combinations.

Since I love to connect different groups of friends and match-make as well, I always find this a fun way to break the ice. It is definitely a conversation starter with the notion of “how well do we mix together”?

Thanks for reading…and I look forward to hearing from you about the interesting combinations you come up with!

Cheers and Happy Eating,
Em a la Mode aka Kitchen Princess

Photo and Styling Credit: by my dear friend Victoria del Rico *Luckily she works for food… And loves Cinnamon/Nutmeg Ice-cream J


  1. I am so going to make that S'mores combo! Yummy!

  2. The Basil one sounds so refreshing. Great ideas for the warm days ahead. Robin