This summer I had an unexpected 3-week holiday. I hadn’t had a holiday since I started university. I mean, I’ve taken some time off here or there to go places, but no summer-vacation-from-school-and-have-nothing-going-on kind of vacations. I started those 3 weeks by reading some books. I hadn’t had time to sit down in read for a while, so I thought that would be a good way to start. I picked up the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and felt compelled to think about what makes me happy. I decided about halfway through the book that I should start a happiness project of my own. To be honest, I haven’t made it any further in her book yet – and that was almost 8 weeks ago. And it’s not because I lost interest in the book – I just gained interest in my new project.
I decided that what I needed to do during my 3 weeks was do anything that I had ever wanted to do that I never felt I had time for. I wanted to water my garden and watch my plants grow, I wanted to keep my house clean and my laundry under control. I always feel so much better when my home is clean and tidy. I needed to focus on that to feel a bit more happiness.
After 2 days of cleaning and gardening and laundering, my house was clean. I decided that I should walk to the grocery store for groceries now, as I had the time and it was so much better for me and the environment. I even got cart to wheel to the store and back with my purchases. The first time that I did this, I was nervous – not going to lie. I worried that people would give me the clearly-not-old-enough-to-have-my-own-grocery-cart eyes. As I wheeled around the store though, I realized people were far too concerned with their own shopping. That day I loaded up on tons of fresh veggies and fruit…so full was my cart, I couldn’t keep all of my things inside the cart. I paid for my things, got my couple of Airmiles, and wheeled home all of my yummy treasures.
Now I had a full fridge and a clean house. I decided that I should make some cookies. I did, and then had an idea. I wanted to make whatever recipe my heart desired during me weeks off. I promptly went back to the store and bought more flour and sugar and puff pastry. In that week, I seriously make about 4 recipes a day (for 5 days straight). I had to go back to the store to buy more flour and sugar.
This project made me really, really happy. I got to eat anything I wanted because I knew what was in it. Around about day 5 of my personal happiness project, I really wanted ice cream. It’s another “thing I miss most” about dairy. I get so jealous of people who can just go to Dairy Queen and order a blizzard, or go to an ice cream parlour and order any assortment of flavours. Then they get to savour every lick of their cone. Usually at these stores, if they have any options for me at all, there are only like 2 choices: not-so-awesome flavour, and less-not-so-awesome flavour. And forget cones – many have dairy or straight-up lactose in them.
I had always wanted to make myself ice cream, but imagined I couldn’t because I don’t own an ice cream machine. About this time I’d also discovered food blogs, and had become highly interested in a blog called Brown Eyed Baker. She had delicious looking recipes, and her food photography was drool-worthy. She’s also very into ice cream. I daydreamed about ice cream as I read through her recipes – and came across and awesome secret. You can make ice cream without an ice cream maker. I ran to my fridge and to my delight, I had the ingredients I needed – already treated with Lactaid drops and ready to be used. How convenient. I made the best ice cream that day – and ate the entire bucket of it in 2 days.
The technique is super easy. You make the mixture according to the recipe. Cool that mixture in the fridge in an air-tight container. Then put it all in the freezer. Every 2 hours (that’s what Brown Eyed Baker suggested – I’ve done it every hour to try to get a smoother consistency) take it out of the freezer and mix with a hand mixer. Then put it back in the freezer. Repeat. Once it’s at a consistency where it’s thick enough to scoop with a spoon, mix in your choice of extras then freeze for a few more hours to set the ice cream. After that – eat to your lactose-free hearts content.
I’ve made 4 batches of ice cream since. None has compared quite as much to that first one though. Chocolate Fudge Swirl Peanut Butter Ice Cream. Quite a mouthful of a name – but the most delicious ice cream I’ve ever had. It has made my happy meter soar. I’ve made many things during my happiness project, but many just to say I’d made them. This ice cream recipe is one that I will keep coming back to, over and over, because it was SO worth the time and effort. Make it too, and I think you’ll agree.
Lactose-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Prep Time: 30 minutes | Cool Time: 1 hour | Freeze Time: 8 hours
1 cup heavy whipping cream (treated with Lactaid drops 24 hours prior)
1 cup lactose-free milk
¼ cup cocoa powder
½ cup white sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)
Fudge Ripple (recipe follows)
Peanut Butter Patties (recipe follows)
1. Whisk together the cream, milk, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat.
2. Heat the mixture, whisking often, until it comes to a full, rolling boil.
3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter, stirring until thoroughly blended.
4. Chill mixture thoroughly (at least an hour).
5. When cool, put container in freezer for 2 hours.
6. After 2 hours, take ice cream out and mix with electric hand mixer. Place back in the freezer.
7. After another 2 hours, mix the ice cream again with the hand mixer. Place back in the freezer.
8. At this point, keep checking the ice cream until it reaches a consistency thick enough to scoop with a spoon, but not thick enough to hold its shape.
10. Place back int he freezer. Freeze further for at least 2 hours or over night.
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
½ cup water
6 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan.
2. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble. Continue to whisk until it just comes to a low boil. Cook for 1 minute, whisking often.
3. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and let cool.
4. Chill in the refrigerator before using.
Peanut Butter Patties
6 tablespoons peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1. Mix together the peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl.
2. Line a dinner plate with plastic wrap.
3. Spoon small pieces of the peanut butter mixture, about ½ teaspoon each, and drop them on the dinner plate.
4. Once you’ve used all the mixture, freeze the patties.
(Adapted from Chocolate Fudge Swirl Peanut Butter Ice Cream by Brown Eyed Baker at http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2010/08/06/chocolate-fudge-swirl-peanut-butter-ice-cream/ )