Chocolate and Peppermint Candy Ice Cream Sandwiches

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This is my first time making ice cream sandwiches and I’m happy to report this is an easy and delicious recipe that is perfect for the winter/holidays. Don’t let “homemade” scare you off, there are only four ingredients:

1 pint premium vanilla ice cream, 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract, 1 cup finely crushed peppermint hard candies, and chocolate wafers.

Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream Sandwiches Ingredients

Mix the first three ingredients together by crushing the peppermint candies and mixing 1/2 cup of them with softened ice cream and extract. Make sure you do not use more than 1/4 teaspoon per pint.

Peppermint Extract

Initially I tried to crush the candies by putting them in a ziplock bag and using the end of a rolling-pin. This will work but it will take a lot of time.

Crushing Peppermint Candies

Then I wised up and just threw them all in the blender and it took less than a 3 seconds.

Peppermints In Blender

See…crushed perfectly. Although it looks better to have bigger chunks of the peppermint candy it does make it hard to eat as the chunks can get chewy.

Crushed Peppermint Candies

Make sure the ice cream is slightly softened to make the mixing easier. I let mine get a bit too soft.

Mixing Ice Cream Peppermint Candies

Then scoop it back into the pint container and let it harden for about an hour or so in the freezer.

Peppermint Pint

The recipe says to work quickly when scooping the ice cream on each wafer, topping with another wafer and then wrapping in plastic wrap and freezing until firm.  I do not work quickly in the kitchen and given my relationship with plastic wrap I thought it would be a good idea to rip off the wrap for each cookie ahead of time.

Plastic Wrap

The recipe calls for using 1/4-cup ice cream scoop. However, I found this way too big for the wafer size and used a large spoon instead. This way you can also get a lot more sandwiches.

Open Face Peppermint Sandwich

Peppermint Sandwich

To help keep it cold I put the pint of ice cream back into the freezer every time I wrapped up each cookie. Then would take out the pint as I was putting in the wrapped sandwich.

Choco Peppermint Ice Cream Freezer

The sandwiches should stay in the freezer for about an hour. Then take them out, unwrap and roll in the crushed candy. Of note, the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of crushed candy for rolling but I did not even come close to using this amount. I definitely used 1/2 cup to mix in the ice cream.

Choco Peppermint Rolling Edges

Wrap them back up and put in the freezer at least an hour or until ready to serve. Voilà, you have just created deliciousness to share with lucky friends and family.

Chocolate Peppermint Candy Ice Cream Sandwiches Final

I will say that if you let the ice cream get too soft it will be a messy experience. When I make these again I will not let the ice cream get as soft and I will wrap the individual sandwiches very tightly so none of the ice cream seeps out of the sides and under the wrap. But even if you make a mess, it really doesn’t matter because these are so good no one will notice.

Original recipe is from Epicurious and can be found, here.

36 Hours in Hong Kong – The Peak, Man Mo Temple, Ozone & More

View of Hong Kong Island From Sheraton

Touching down to Hong Kong after sixteen hours in a plane is a beautiful thing. You’ll also thank yourself for booking a car from the airport ahead of time. In my last blog I told you about my incredible stay at The Peninsula Bangkok. I was not able to stay at the The Peninsula Hong Kong (it’s about 4x as expensive) but stayed next door at The Sheraton. Traffic was fast, check-in was a breeze and we headed to our upgraded room.

It was pretty late so we stayed in the hotel and headed up to the Oyster & Wine Bar. It has pretty typical fare for a hotel restaurant but the draw is the view. Jet lag was starting to set in so it was nice to zone out and stare at the skyline.

View From Oyster & Wine Bar - Sheraton Hong Kong

The next morning we Continue reading

Boxed Wine, It’s All About The Temp: The Salt : NPR

I have some fond memories of celebrations that involved Franzia so I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for boxed wine.  The upside of boxed wine becoming trendy is the bar for quality has been raised.  The integrity of the wine will depend, however,  on the storage temperature. NPR points out:

“Perhaps the more important finding is that at the colder temperature, boxed wine had basically aged the same as bottled wine. That’s because companies have been layering different oxygen-stopping polymers over the initial breathable layer. “They’ve fine-tuned that bag for the wine industry,” she says.”

Moral of the story, keep your Franzia cool. Read more at The Salt:

When It Comes To Boxed Wine, The Cooler, The Better : The Salt : NPR.

36 Hours in Bangkok – Part I

“One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster”

Bangkok Street Food Pomegranates

Traveling is truly a privilege and I have been fortunate enough to be able to use my passport several times. A new foreign city shakes me out of my mode of thinking and forces me to tune-in and feel new sites, sounds and people.

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The idea of Bangkok has intrigued me for years. It seemed so foreign, an unknown culture and language, densely packed city with awful traffic, dirty, hot…the list goes on. These things sound like a turn-off but so many still go.  I guess you have to go to the City of Angels (Krung Thep in Thai) to understand.

Landing in the new sleek Suvarnabhumi International Airport and whisked away in a car with no problem we got our first taste of Bangkok traffic. The congestion didn’t bother me because it gave me a chance to study the landscape of beautiful trees, neon signs, luxury condos and poverty all cramped together.

The Peninsula River Front

Situated on the bank of the Chao Phraya River, The Peninsula offers some of the best views of the river, skyline and is a quiet refuge from the chaos. We were greeted with some lovely flowers, a hotel upgrade and a nice bottle of welcome champagne. Although expensive by Bangkok standards the rates here are significantly lower than in other cities (my room was $271). Here is a tour of the room and the view:

Anxious to explore we headed out to the back of the hotel where a water taxi was waiting to take us across the river to catch a boat to the Grand Palace. I should tell you for winter this place is hot and humid so I can’t imagine what it is like in the summer.

Peninsula Bangkok River Taxi

I had heard about the numerous scams tourists fall into but only got to experience a half-hearted attempt. A man came up to me and told me that the Grand Palace was closed until 1:00pm. I replied with a, “1pm, reeeally?” We looked at each other and he knew I knew and started to say something and just waved his hand in an “oh forget it” swing and walked away. The Grand Palace has a dress code so be prepared to cover your feet, legs and shoulders. No shoes, no shirt, no Emerald Buddha. If you do find yourself there without the proper attire you can rent clothes to go in.

Bangkok Grand Palace 2

The Grand Palace was established 1782 to house King Rama I along with government offices and is over 218,000 square meters. I can’t even begin to convey the incredible detail that covered every square inch of every structure. You could spend days in the Grand Palace walls and not see every detail.

Grand Palace Bangkok Detail

There are numerous guardian statues called Yaks that protect the temple buildings.

Bangkok Grand Palace Yak

By far the busiest site was The Temple of  the Emerald Buddha, one of the most respected sites in all of Thailand. People come from all over the country and world to pray and honor the Lord Buddha. Wikipedia reports, “According to the legend, the Emerald Buddha was created in India in 43 BC by Nagasena in the city of Pataliputra (today’s Patna).” The statue is made of jade and is only 45cm tall. You must remove your shoes to enter the temple and no cameras are allowed. Here is a picture via Wikipedia.

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Worth a stop is the gift shop at the Queen Sirikit Museum of Textiles; it has some of the most beautiful textiles I have ever seen. It’s a great idea for authentic gifts and a nice departure from the more mass-produced souvenirs surrounding the Grand Palace.

We hopped into one of the many hot pink Toyota taxis to Siam Square. The driver took an unexpected sharp left and turned off into an alley. Was this a shortcut, was he getting a commission to take us to a gift shop where we’d receive a “special rate?” A whole industry is thriving in these back alleys, tents set up with dozens of people selling goods, most looked like spare parts for scooters. Given the abundance of scooters and they way people drive them (I think there is a city ordinance that you have to ride at least 3 people at a time…) spare parts seems like a smart trade. Turned out to be a shortcut as we popped back on a main road and were quickly deposited to the street.

Alternating between the skywalks (walkways to bypass the street) and sidewalk we made our way through Siam Square. Stopping into shops to cool off, checking out the wares of street vendors and admiring the beautiful street Spirit Houses all the while trying to keep up with the pace of everyone.

Bangkok Streets

Bangkok.com describes Spirit Houses as, “…doll house-sized homes are set atop a pedestal and placed in an auspicious location, which allows residents, workers and others to offer prayers and small gifts to appease spirits.”

Spirit House in Bangkok

One of the biggest draws of Bangkok is the food. There is something for everyone from street food to upscale dining at five-star restaurants. But the adventure is in finding the street food and little restaurants along the way. We stopped in for lunch at Ban Khun Mae and had one of the best (and hottest) papaya salads of the trip.

Ban Khun Mae Bangkok Menu

It seems like such a simple dish but so many places get it wrong. Fresh limejuice is a must and the right balance of fish sauce, oil and chili flakes.

Ban Khun Mae Bangkok Papaya Salad

Was the hot chicken in coconut milk with galangal soup worth eating in the crazy hot weather? Yes. I’d eat it again in a Bangkok summer. Pretty sure that like New York minute.

Ban Khun Mae Bangkok Chicken Coconut Milk

Chicken soup that was so packed with flavor I was tempted to find the chef and demand the recipe.

Ban Khun Mae Bangkok Chicken Soup

Satiated with lunch that came in under $10 for two we went searching for a food stand I read about on a blog. Never did find the stand but it didn’t matter because we were about to encounter more food than we thought possible.

Bangkok Lunchtime Food Vendors

Bangkok Street Food

Bangkok More Street Food

We continued to wander south and were met with friendly smiles everywhere we went. The overall vibe is surprisingly relaxed given the heat and crowded conditions. Outside of the Grand Palace I didn’t feel like I was treated like a tourist, everyone was busy with his or her own life and left me alone, I liked that. Granted I was not hanging out on Khao San Road or Patong. A great green space to take a break and cool off is Lumphini Park just north of Rama IV Road.

Bangkok Tuk Tuks

Bangkok is no joke, it will wear you out. It’s hot, can be smelly, sometimes dirty and the traffic and crowds can be overwhelming and confusing. But it’s exciting and an opportunity to test yourself to make an adventure out of whatever comes your way. Get out there and explore as much as you can on foot or boat, have a loose itinerary and I guarantee you will feel a satisfaction that surprises you.

Next Blog –  Part II: More food, enjoying the Chao Phraya River and the good life at The Peninsula.

I had to do it; I can’t pretend this song was not in my head the whole time in Bangkok.