Tuesday, February 28, 2012

When It’s 85 Degrees in February

This is my fifteenth winter in Los Angeles. You’d think that by now I’d be used to July weather in February. I’m not. But, I am trying to enjoy it. While my New York family members dig themselves out of the snow and deal with hat hair, I am skimming my pool and drawing the daffodils that have once again graced me with their presence in my backyard.

It’s not all great on the Left Coast in winter, though. From January through March or sometimes April (!), without fail, I am plagued by allergic rhinitis and rhinoconjunctivitis of the most intense caliber. I can’t breathe, have a red, raw, sore throat and it hurts to keep my eyes open. I can’t wear eye makeup, which just spreads the misery to those who have to look at me. Sometimes allergy meds alleviate the symptoms, but mostly I tear through boxes of Kleenex and count the days until April. I never had allergies growing up in New York, so there is something that blows through or grows in Los Angeles in the winter that my body summarily rejects.

When it’s 85 degrees in February and warm lemon-ginger tea no longer soothes my aching throat, I must turn to ice cream.

Oddly, last summer I didn’t use my ice cream maker once. A few weeks ago I dusted it off, literally, and put it to good use. Coffee ice cream is a popular dessert item in this house, so I decided to try my hand at it. I had some toasted almonds and dark chocolate in the cabinet, and I threw those in as well.

The result almost had me forgetting about the allergies and my dreams of moving to Portland, Oregon. Almost. I still think Portland would be a really cool place to live, and I didn’t sneeze once either time I was there.

I won’t make the mistake of neglecting my ice cream maker this summer. I plan to frolic with fresh, local blueberries, peaches and strawberries.

Even if you don’t experience summer-like temps in winter or have terrible allergies, make a date with your ice cream maker. It’ll get you in excellent practice for summer.

Espresso Almond Chunk Ice Cream
Makes about a quart

I love Medaglia D’Oro instant espresso, but feel free to use whatever floats your boat. Same goes for the chocolate: Use chocolate you really like to eat. If dark chocolate isn’t your thing, use milk chocolate, semisweet—you get the picture.

1 cup reduced-fat (2%) milk
⅔ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons instant espresso
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Generous pinch sea salt
½ cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
2 ounces good dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the milk, sugar and espresso and mix, using a whisk or hand mixer, until the sugar melts. This takes me about 5 minutes with an electric hand mixer.
2. Pour in heavy cream, vanilla and sea salt and mix until just combined. You don’t want to start whipping a ton of air into the cream.
3. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and churn until thickened, about 20 minutes. Pour in the chocolate and almonds and churn until they are well mixed in, about another 5 minutes.
4. Spoon ice cream into a container and put in the freezer for a few hours until it hardens up a bit. If it gets really hard, take it out of the freezer 15 minutes before serving to facilitate scooping.


  1. Sounds like a great ice cream flavor.

  2. Your winter sounds like mine. It's almost 90 today. And, I allergy problems all winter long. Ice cream sounds like a great antidote, and the espresso and almonds in this one sound delicious.

  3. I'm a week late reading this post, but coincidentally, right on time! I'm not a huge ice cream fan (I like it, it doesn't like me), but last night I just had to run out and buy coffee ice cream. I got home and crushed up almonds to mix in. Great stomachs growl alike!

    I too have an ice cream maker collecting dust, so next time I'll just use your recipe. Sounds terrific!