It’s February 24th and officially 116 days ’til summer.
For us in San Diego, that doesn’t mean much of anything since every day here is a bit like Groundhog Day.
IE. One version or another of summer, no matter what San Diegans will tell you to the contrary.
Some days, when the daytime high dips to a blustery (*cough*) 63 Degrees F, it feels for us like fall. But winter? We don’t know winter.
But the Northeast? Those guys know winter. Especially this year. Case in point, this picture.
To that I say, what the WHAT.
Now, being a Northeastern-er — Rhode Island born and bred — I take great pride in the fact and make it known every chance I get.
But after the last year and a half of living in San Diego — and after seeing images of Siberian proportions coming from the East Coast — unless I’ve been shoveling the mounds of snow those folks have since last month (which I have not) — with more possibly on its way — let’s face it, I cannot.
(Call myself one in good conscience, that is.)
Not with flip flops on and debating whether it’s safe for me to take 3000 I.U. of Vitamin D because it’s so sunny out.
Those guys in the Northeast who have been slammed with cement truck after cement truck worth of snow — followed by wind chills in the below zero double digits — have earned the right to call themselves North-easterners. And one thing’s for sure, summer for you guys is taking the scenic route. On a pogo stick.
Now before you tell me to take a long walk off a frozen pier, hear me out.
This recipe has two things that can make living in your winter (ahem) wonderland actually wonderful. For starters, chocolate pudding and roasted hazelnuts. Now imagine that in ice cream form. Throw in some citrus-y floral cardamom and you’ve got the makings of one of the best comfort foods there is.
But instead of reminding you that your fingers need to be de-iced just like your windshield, it beams you straight to summer.
Who says you have to wait another 116 days ’til summer? You don’t.
Summer can happen anytime you wish.
Even if you do still have to wear mittens, a scarf and a five layers of clothing.
You may not be able to control what Mother Nature is whipping up out there but inside, you’re the boss.
Think about it. Instead of Mama Nature freezing you, you freeze something delicious AND get to eat it. Even Mother Nature can’t do that.
So dust off the ice cream maker, turn up the thermostat and pull on those bikinis: we’re bringing summer back.
This frozen pudding is all that and a bag of chips. Like the very best of ice creams only better, it’s all creamy-rich chocolate-y hazel-nutty frozen pudding with just a hint of floral citrus (that’s the cardamom talking).
Together they are the Three Tenors of Flavor and, mama, are they singing up a storm.
Summer will come in due time, but this kind of summer?
This kind of summer can only happen where you are.
Frozen Chocolate Cardamom Pudding with Roasted Hazelnuts
No icy homemade ice cream here, only silky, frozen pudding perfection. As tempting as it may be to cut corners with this recipe, don’t. The end result makes the extra effort totally worth it. The “how” is all in the details.
Inspired by America’s Test Kitchen
Makes 1 quart
2 cups organic half and half
2 cups organic whole milk
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup clover honey
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s brand)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons vodka
1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts (unsalted), roughly chopped
Place an 8 or 9-inch square metal baking pan in the freezer. Place your ice cream maker’s freezer bowl in freezer as well.
Note: I have a Cuisinart ICE-21 ice cream maker with two freezer bowls. It’s fabulous and I highly recommend.
In a medium saucepan — over medium heat — combine half and half, whole milk, raw sugar, clover honey and sea salt together and stir frequently until sugar is completely dissolved.
Add cocoa powder to liquid mixture and continue stirring until cocoa powder has been completely incorporated and cocoa powder is no longer visible.
In a small cup, combine cornstarch with cold water until dissolved and slowly pour into your liquid mixture while stirring constantly.
Note: We do not want the liquid mixture to come to a boil, just under it. So feel free to adjust heat to prevent this from happening.
Continue stirring until mixture thickens and — if you have an instant read thermometer — it registers 190 Degrees F. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and ground cardamom until incorporated.
Note: If you do not have an instant read thermometer, not to worry. Another way to test if the pudding is ready is by using a spoon. Dip it into the mixture and if it coats the back of the spoon — and doesn’t just pour — it’s ready!
Pour about a cup of pudding into a small freezer-safe container or bowl and the remainder into a large metal mixing bowl. Let pudding cool for 15 – 20 minutes at room temperature or until no longer steaming.
Cover both bowls with plastic wrap. Place small container/bowl in freezer and large metal bowl in the refrigerator.
Allow puddings to cool completely for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
Note: Pudding in small container/bowl will freeze solid, which is exactly what we’re going for.
Remove puddings from freezer and refrigerator and remove plastic wrap from both.
Microwave frozen pudding in bowl for 30 seconds or until it begins to melt around the edges. Using a rubber spatula — and a little elbow grease — scrape frozen pudding from it’s container into the large metal bowl of pudding.
Add vodka and stir well until frozen pudding has completely dissolved.
Note: By doing this we are lowering the temperature of the pudding so that when we add it to the ice cream maker, it will freeze quicker. By freezing it quicker — and by also adding the honey, vodka and creating a pudding — we prevent large ice crystals from forming which results in a significantly smoother and creamier end result.
Remove your ice cream maker’s freezer bowl from freezer, set it into your ice cream maker and start machine.
Pour pudding into your ice cream maker and churn until mixture starts to freeze. Slowly pour in roasted hazelnuts and churn 20 – 25 minutes or until pudding looks like thick soft-serve ice cream.
Note: Another great way to check this is — using your instant read thermometer again — if pudding registers close to 21 Degrees F. If it does, it’s done!
Working quickly, remove metal baking pan from freezer and — using a rubber spatula — transfer pudding to the metal baking pan. Press plastic wrap onto pudding’s surface area and place in freezer. Freeze for 1 hour.
Note: These two steps aid in 1.) freezing the frozen pudding quicker and 2.) preventing ice crystals from forming on the surface. They do much in insuring that our frozen pudding end result ends up silky and creamy.
Working quickly again — using a rubber spatula — transfer frozen pudding to plastic, airtight container and press down to remove any air bubbles.
Place frozen pudding back into the freezer and freeze until firm for at least 3 hours to overnight.
When you are ready to serve, remove frozen pudding from freezer and let sit out at room temperature for 10 – 15 minutes to make it easier to scoop.
Scoop, share and enjoy!