Well, you guys, we made it. The 2016 Holiday season is officially upon us in all of its food-and-family-filled glory.
And even though it’s still a few weeks away, I’m already keeping busy, getting the house ready and making all sorts of festive plans. My hope is that this will be one of our best holidays seasons yet.
I look forward to the festivities every year, but you know what my absolute favorite part of the holidays is?
Reminiscing the best times.
We all have wonderful memories surrounding the holidays, and in a lot of ways, those memories impact the experiences we try to create every year. I’m certainly feeling a little bit of that this year, because I decided to make it a goal to recreate a holiday treat I haven’t had in nearly 25 years:
Peppermint Crunch Ice Cream.
A little backstory: When I was younger, my parents ran a small business where they did the yard work for the elderly in our community. In most cases, my parents had a typical relationship with their clients – they’d show up, do their job, and go home – but there was one woman in particular who had made an effort to befriend my parents, primarily because I was the same age as her granddaughter. As time went on, whenever her granddaughter was in town, I was invited over to her house to play or have a sleepover.
I usually only saw her granddaughter during the summer, but one year, her granddaughter came down for her school’s winter break. And while I was happy to come over and visit, we quickly discovered that visiting during the winter was going to be a bit different than during the summer.
Usually my friend and I would be running around outside, but with the cold weather, we were bundled up indoors. And though her grandmother had a beautiful home, it wasn’t exactly “kid proof,” so we were limited to specific rooms and without much to do.
When her grandmother noticed how quiet and solemn we were, she gave us a knowing look… and then invited us to join her in the kitchen.
She proceeded to make peppermint ice cream from scratch – something I had never seen done before – and in the process, helped create a memory I think about every holiday season. Peppermint has always been a classic holiday flavor, and now every time I’m around it, I remember crowding around the island in her kitchen, watching the ice cream maker churn.
Thanks to this little food blog, I had all the motivation I needed to try to recapture that classic recipe this year. Because really, the idea of savoring a big bowl of peppermint ice cream in front of our fireplace was just too good to resist.
To start this recipe journey, I made sure to pick up McCormick Vanilla and Peppermint Extract. I’ve always loved McCormick’s quality, and when I’m experimenting with a recipe, I like to work with the best ingredients I can get my hands on.
I used a basic ice cream recipe (equal parts whole milk and heavy whipping cream, plus some sugar) and the McCormick Vanilla and Peppermint Extract. I also remembered my friend’s grandmother pouring in a hefty portion of crushed candy canes, and I guess I was feeling pretty overzealous because I went ahead and used a whole cup of crushed candy canes.
And, well… my first attempt at peppermint ice cream simply would not churn. I did everything I could to save it, but at the end, all I had was a peppermint milkshake. I mean, it was a delicious milkshake, but not quite the treat I was looking for.
I wasn’t ready to give up, though! I bought more ingredients, cleaned up my ice cream maker, set it back in the freezer, and tried again the following morning. I made a few small tweaks to the recipe (a little less sugar, a more “reasonable” amount of crushed candy canes, a pinch of salt), and it ended up being totally worth the effort. The second batch of ice cream turned out perfectly.
And the best part? I think it tastes even better than I remember.
The holidays are all about creating and recreating traditions, and I think I’ve found a new one to celebrate with this recipe. It’s one of the things I love most about food: it can help us bridge time to some of our fondest memories. It’s been some time since I’ve spoken to either of the women in this story, but I think I’ll have to change that this holiday season – and share this recipe with them, too! My childhood friend has children of her own now who I know would love a treat like this.
So what about you?
Do you have any long lost recipes that could be recreated with McCormick extracts and spices? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Peppermint Crunch Ice Cream
Enjoy a classic holiday flavor in an ultra-creamy homemade peppermint ice cream, made possible by McCormick extracts. Perfect for savoring by a roaring fire!
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- In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, heavy whipping cream, granulated sugar, salt, and McCormick Vanilla and Peppermint Extracts until sugar has dissolved.
- Pour in crushed candy cane, mixing until mostly dissolved. It's okay if the candy clumps – the ice cream maker will slowly separate them.
- Remove ice cream bowl/attachment from freezer and attach/place it per your ice cream maker's instructions. Pour prepared ice cream mixture into the chilled bowl/attachment.
- Churn ice cream for 30-35 minutes or until desired consistency is reached.
- If you'd like soft ice cream, serve peppermint crunch ice cream immediately with additional crushed peppermint candy on top. If you'd like firmer ice cream, transfer the ice cream to a storage container, sprinkle the top with additional crushed peppermint candy, and let it freeze for 2-4 hours.