Years ago, I saw a cartoon in a women’s magazine. In the frame were two girls aged about 5 or 6, facing each other.
Girl One (self-satisfied smile on her face): My mommy lets me eat candy every day.
Girl Two: (scowling): That’s not candy, stupid. That’s broccoli.
Girl One (crushed): You mean. . . broccoli isn’t candy?
I remember thinking, Ah, if only parents could convince their kids to eat broccoli that easily!
Even though I don’t have kids of my own (“What do you mean, Mum? Aren’t we your kids?”), I’ve come to realize from being with my cousins’ and friends’ children that kids can have some pretty idiosyncratic eating habits indeed.
Way back in high school biology class, we learned that children’s taste buds are much more attuned to sweet tastes than are adult’s taste buds. So flavors that appeal to a child (I’m thinking Froot Loops, Jawbreakers, chocolate-covered marshmallows) can be cringe-inducing and lip-puckeringly sweet to a grown-up. In addition, we tend to develop tastes for things as adults that we wouldn’t get close to as kids (artichokes, anyone? Or how about avocados? And I’m still amazed that I could have ever hated coconut!).
I’ll never forget visiting with my friend T’s family when I was around six. Every weekend in the summer, T’s parents would lug me along with their brood to their country house up in the Laurentians. It was basically a big box made out of wood with a stove on one end and a sofa on the other; T and I slept up in the attic, which we loved, as if afforded us our own private bunkhouse where we’d occasionally retreat during the day as well, to escape T’s bratty younger brother, M.
One morning as we made our way down the ladder for breakfast, I spied T’s mother carrying out what looked like contorted performance art, flapping her elbow as she swirled a butter knife inside the peanut butter jar. When I asked what she was doing, she replied, “Well, M will only eat peanut butter from a new jar, with a smooth, fresh surface on top. So before he wakes up every morning,” (and with this, she smiled at me conspiratorially), I smooth it out for him so he’ll think it’s new.” Even at age six, I remember thinking, “Wow, that is an awful lot of work just to convince a snotty-nosed four year-old to eat peanut butter.”
My friend Babe’s daughter, on the other hand, refuses to consume any kind of pasta dish but one: a specialty they call “Aunty K’s Pasta,” a basic butter-and-cheese macaroni that her aunt prepares at home and delivers to Babe’s house once a week. Babe then rewarms the pasta and serves it alongside whatever she’s made for dinner that night.
My own peculiar childhood culinary proclivities ran the gamut from cutting my mom’s homemade hamburgers into tiny, bite-sized pieces, then burying them in the accompanying mound of mashed potatoes before I’d scoop up the whole mess, forkful by forkful (even back then, it seems, I didn’t want to see meat on my plate!); to casting out coconut (see above), to eschewing cheese cake (crazy, I know), to filling my chicken soup with so many crushed soda crackers that it resembled gruel more than soup; to spurning strawberry ice cream.
In fact, I hated any kind of fruit at all in ice cream in those days, but strawberry was by far the worst offender. Chocolate was my one and only flavor of choice, and it was all I ever ordered when we were lucky enough to be taken to the local ice cream parlor. As the years went by, I broadened my scope a wee bit and would occasionally ask for Double Chocolate Chip (chocolate with a side of chocolate chips); Chocolate Swirl (chocolate with a side of chocolate sauce); or Heavenly Hash (chocolate with a side of chocolate chips, chocolate sauce and chocolate brownie bits). Basically, it was all chocolate, all the time.
As it turned out, my dad’s favorite ice cream was Neapolitan, with its equal stripes of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry; I had to make do. My tactic was to remove the entire box from the freezer, allow it to soften somewhat, then scrape along the outside edges of the chocolate and vanilla stripes, leaving the pink pariah virtually untouched. Eventually, I’d eat almost all of the other two flavors, leaving a slightly melty mound of strawberry in the center surrounded by a kind of moat all around it, like those abandoned sand castles you see on the beach that were washed over by the tide a few times.
I’m glad to say that these days, my tastes in ice cream range far and wide (though a quick glance at this blog’s Recipe Index does suggest a heavy emphasis on chocolate-based ice creams). Today’s recipe is one I developed for the Sweet Victory cleanse, and it’s been a huge hit here in the DDD household. Of its dense, creamy texture, The HH remarked, “It’s like a really good quality ice cream.” And one of the Sweet Victory participants wrote, “I loved the caramel ice cream (sort of like magic…I can’t figure how that combination turns into caramel, but it does). ”
In other words, don’t let the odd mix of ingredients here deter you. This really does taste like caramel! And topped with the warm cinnamon-apple mix, it’s like pure comfort in a bowl. Of course, if you prefer not to combine your caramel with apples (or if you happen to have some fussy kids at home), just leave it off and have the ice cream on its own. Or add a handful of chocolate chips, or some chocolate sauce, or brownie bits. . . you know you just can’t go wrong with chocolate.
“Mum, that ice cream sounds great and all, but what do you mean, broccoli isn’t candy? Next thing you’ll be telling us is that sweet potatoes aren’t meat!”
Caramel Ice Cream with Apple-Cinnamon Topping (No Ice Cream Maker Required!)
Suitable for ACD Stage 3 and beyond
Adorned with a swirl of cinnamony-apple filling, this ice cream is a perfect melding of caramel and fruit. If you prefer to leave out the apple, this is delicious on its own, too, or stir in some coarsely chopped chocolate or carob chips just before serving.
For the Caramel Ice Cream:
1 cup (155 g or 5.5 oz) raw cashews
1 cup (240 ml) sweet potato purée (I use homemade, from baked sweet potatoes, but I’m sure canned would be fine)
1 cup (240 ml) full-fat coconut milk (I use organic Thai Kitchen )
2/3 cup (160 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla soy, almond or rice milk
1/3 cup (80 mk) coconut sugar
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp (15 ml) mesquite or carob powder
1 Tbsp (15 ml) coconut nectar or agave nectar
15-25 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) rum flavoring, optional
1/8 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
For the Apple-Cinnamon Topping:
1 large sweet apple, cored, peeled and finely diced (very small cubes)
1-2 tsp (5-10 ml), to your taste
1 Tbsp (15 ml) coconut sugar
10-20 drops stevia liquid, to your taste
splash of fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp (30 ml) water
Prepare the ice cream: Set 9 silicone liners in a muffin pan and set aside, or line an 8 inch (20 cm) square pan with waxed paper and set aside.
Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. You may need to scrape down the sides a few times. Divide evenly among the muffin liners or pour into the pan. [Note: if you'd rather use an ice cream maker, simply pour the mixture into it at this point and follow manufacturer's directions.]
If using the muffin liners, freeze until firm, 5-6 hours, then peel off the silicone cups and place the disks in a sealed plastic bag or container in the freezer. Pour into silicone cupcake liners and freeze; peel away liners and store the disks in a ziploc bag in the freezer. If using the pan, freeze just until firm, 2-3 hours. Invert on a cutting board, peel off the waxed paper, and cut the square into 9 equal pieces. Place the pieces in a sealed plastic bag or container in the freezer.
Make the apple topping: Place all ingredients in a small pot over medium-low heat. Once the water is bubbling, lower heat to simmer, cover, and cook until apples are completely soft and all the liquid is absorbed, 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently. Once the desired texture is achieved, remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use. Makes enough for 4-6 servings of ice cream.
When ready to make the ice cream, remove one disk or square per person. Cut each disk or square into 3-4 smaller pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth (the pieces will break up and resemble crumbs before they start to come together in a ball), then press down with a rubber spatula and process briefly once more until smooth. Scoop out into serving dishe and top with desired amount of apple topping. Makes a total of 9 small or 6 large servings (for large servings, use 1-1/2 disks or squares per serving). Will keep, frozen, for up to 3 months.
Two Years Ago: ACD Update: A Return to Sweetness
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