Bite by Bite
Conquering My Culinary Bucket List One Dish at a Time
By Emily Banks Wooten
Yesterday was National Ice Cream Day. Only recently did I learn that July is National Ice Cream Month and that National Ice Cream Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of July. Commemorations for the popular, delicious treat began during the Reagan administration in 1984 when the former president described ice cream as “a nutritious and wholesome food enjoyed by over 90% of the people in the United States.”
The timing of this discovery could not have been better. I’ve recently been tasked with making homemade ice cream for a competition in conjunction with a larger group project. Believe it or not, I have never made homemade ice cream. Therefore, I’ve conducted a deep dive of late, as I prepare for the upcoming competition and my research has led to some interesting facts that I’ll share with you.
According to the Favorite Ice Cream Flavors Index – a study on consumer preferences and trends in America conducted by the financial firm Scholaroo – there has been a significant increase in the demand for ice cream in the country. The consumption of the delicacy in June of this year surpassed the total purchases in the same period of 2022 by 9.8%. The study also revealed that the most popular ice cream flavors in Texas – ranked in order of popularity in 2023 – are rocky road, chocolate and cookies and cream.
The origins of ice cream and frozen desserts are obscure, although several accounts exist about their history. According to Wikipedia, some sources describe ice cream-like foods as originating in Persia as far back as 550 BC. Using ice houses and ice pools, Persians were able to serve and produce faloodeh and sorbets all year round.
According to National Today, it’s been said that ice cream-like food was first consumed in China sometime between 618-97 AD. The first dish was made from flour, buffalo milk and camphor, an organic compound commonly used in lotion. It’s also been noted that Alexander the Great adored ice and snow flavored with nectar and honey. A Roman cookbook dating back to the 1st century includes recipes for sweet desserts that are sprinkled with snow, according to Wikipedia, and there are Persian records from the 2nd century for sweetened drinks chilled with ice.
There’s no known inventor that can be credited with creating ice cream. According to National Today, the first mention of ice cream in the U.S. derives from a letter written in Maryland in 1744 by Governor William Bladen’s guest. Then, the New York Gazette on May 12, 1777, printed the first advertisement for ice cream in the U.S. Following the American Revolution, ice cream became super popular in the U.S.
According to the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), records kept by a New York merchant show that President George Washington spent approximately $200 for ice cream during the summer of 1790. Inventory records of Mount Vernon taken after Washington's death revealed “two pewter ice cream pots.” The IDFA reports that President Thomas Jefferson was said to have a favorite 18-step recipe for an ice cream delicacy that resembled a modern-day Baked Alaska, and that in 1813, First Lady Dolley Madison served a magnificent strawberry ice cream creation at President Madison’s second inaugural banquet at the White House.
My favorite ice cream during my childhood and adolescence was always chocolate, although I did go through a brief cookies and cream phase in high school, around the same time I was working as a checker at Big Star Grocery Store. For most of my adulthood, however, coffee has been my favorite flavor of ice cream. Of course, if you find one that is some combination of coffee and chocolate, then that’s even better.
I’ve been waffling back and forth over what flavor to make for the upcoming competition. My first thought was to make something different and exotic, something that would knock their socks off. I considered honey lavender, honey jalapeno, ginger pineapple, salted caramel, peanut butter and chocolate or maybe cheesecake. But then I realized that the judges’ palates may not be as adventurous as mine, in which case I would be smooth out of the running. So I’ve decided that I will probably stick with the basics and select an ice cream flavor that’s a little more mainstream. We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.
You already know that my family and I like all things hot and spicy and that we’re big Buffalo hot wings-lovers, so when I ran across a recipe for “Sweet & Spicy RedHot Ice Cream” made with Frank’s RedHot® Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce – one of the primary components of Buffalo hot wings – you know I would have to try it. It was easy enough and didn’t even require an ice cream maker. It starts with a sweet, creamy vanilla base that gets turned sideways with the signature heat of the Frank’s RedHot®. It was like nothing I have ever had before and it was absolutely delicious – sweet, hot, spicy and cold, all at the same time. I know it’s certainly not for everyone, but if you’re up to the challenge – or are just curious about it – I’m sharing the recipe with you today. I wish you all a happy National Ice Cream Month and hope you will indulge in the flavor of your choice.
Sweet & Spicy RedHot Ice Cream
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup corn syrup
¼ cup honey
¼ cup plus tablespoon Frank’s RedHot®
Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce
¼ cup whole milk
3 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon apple pie spice
⅛ teaspoon salt
20 drops red food coloring
•Place cream in a blender container and cover. Blend on high until stiff peaks form, about 35 to 45 seconds.
•Mix remaining ingredients, except the food coloring, in a medium bowl. Add to the blender container with the cream and cover. Blend on high speed until well blended and slightly thickened, scraping down sides as needed.
•Transfer ¼ cup of the mixture to a small bowl and add the food coloring, stirring to mix well.
•Pour half of the remaining un-tinted ice cream mixture into a freezer-safe container. Drop small spoonfuls of the red mixture over top, using only about half. Run a knife through the ice cream mixture to swirl colors. Repeat with remaining ice cream mixtures, swirling red on top layer. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down to cover the surface of the ice cream mixture. Freeze at least 6 hours or until firm.