The signature cone/Photo: Scott Smith
By Scott Smith
If there was any justice in the world, the family name most closely associated with the greatness of Chicago would not be The Daleys.
It would be The Sapps.
Sure, the Daleys built O’Hare, Millennium Park and several other monuments to Chicago’s spirit of ingenuity triumphing over reason. But in 1926, when Old Man Daley was still finding his way around Bridgeport, Joseph Sapp and his wife Katherine built Original Rainbow Cone, a small store at 92nd Street and South Western Avenue that sold a unique, five-flavor ice cream treat of the same name. Some ninety years later, the store is in roughly the same location as when it opened and a Rainbow Cone remains one of the finest desserts known to man, woman or child.
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Chicago is brutal. There’s that saying that the two nicest days of the year here are spring and fall. It’s true that the weather is varied and vicious but even after the ice has melted and the trees have bloomed there is still time to wait until true summer arrives. This year that fact has been very apparent. It was eighty degrees in April, but since then it hasn’t risen above fifty-two. To some people that may be acceptable, but I need summer and I want it now.
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If there was ever a summer for DIY ice cream, this is it. With a new generation of cheap, efficient ice-cream makers readily available during a time of serious scrutiny in personal finance, it turns out that a $40 ice-cream machine pays for itself shockingly quickly. It’s also incredibly easy; most machines on the market simply consist of a bowl you freeze before adding ingredients and mixing, no ice or salt required.
Then it’s just a matter of getting the proportions right. Your simplest ice-cream recipe has, by volume, a ratio of about one-part milk to two-parts cream, with a little less than one-part granulated sugar. The basic ice cream recipe I use for my one-quart ice-cream maker is one cup whole milk, two cups cream (you can substitute light cream/half and half), and three-fourths cup granulated sugar, with a splash of good vanilla extract. In all cases you want to heat the dairy and the sugar until the sugar dissolves before pouring the cooled mixture into your ice cream maker.
My most successful variations to date have been, somewhat surprisingly, the simplest: cinnamon ice cream (add about 2 tablespoons of cinnamon, which is far more than you’ll think you need, to the basic recipe); and avocado ice cream (add one diced-and-then-crushed avocado to the mix when the ice cream is almost totally frozen). In fact, my friend Colleen and I have been talking about making an ice-cream burrito from red bean, avocado, tomato and sweet corn ice-cream wrapped in a sugared tortilla. I think we’re both afraid of trying it out for fear that life afterwards would be all downhill. Read the rest of this entry »