Sweet Musings with a Bitterly Sharp Wit
Black Friday is upon us yet again. While it will never be quite the same since the pandemic pushed many frenzied bargain shoppers online and out of stores, such celebrated holiday traditions are unshakable. To some, the thrill of the hunt can be even more joyous than giving or opening this plunder. I salute these people for their tenacity and thrift, while staying cozy in fuzzy slippers and do everything in my power to avoid the crowds.
If you’re on team Stay Home today, welcome to the party! I have an even better prize to share that does proper justice to this dark day.
Straight from the pages of Super Vegan Scoops!, my Brooklyn Blackout Blizzard Cake will give all new meaning to Black Friday that everyone can get behind. It’s been one of the biggest hits from the book for obvious reasons. As an early gift, I’d like to give this one to you and start the festivities on a sweet note. Sure, the weather outside might be frightful, but that’s all the more reason to bundle up inside, blast the heat, and take off the edge with a frozen treat.
Sink your fork into a thick slice and close your eyes. This sensation, this euphoric, intoxicated, suddenly blissful feeling you’re experiencing? This isn’t death by chocolate, it’s LIFE by chocolate! The original Brooklyn Blackout Cake, iconic for its jet-black crumb coating and pudding-smothered layers, really does mean well, but doesn’t quite reach the frosty peaks that my ice queen here does. Firm yet supple layers stacked up with a no-churn chocolate custard beckon, reviving jaded chocolate lover with one bite. Kids and adults alike will clamor to help “clean up” the fallen crumbs left behind.
Snow is the stuff of both dreams and nightmares. Growing up on the east coast, I could anticipate at least two or three days off from school every year due to impassable, slush-covered, perilously icy roads. In those early days before driving or work deadlines were a concern, snow days were gifts better than any mandated calendar holiday. Something about their randomness made them more special; the element of surprise was part of the fun.
With age came a creeping dread of the unknown, intolerance for the cold, and overall distaste for winter. I spent all of my adult life running from it, moving to the warmest places possible to avoid snow days at all costs. Snow is much more acceptable from afar, enjoyed on a TV screen or within a controlled environment. Case in point: Snow cones will always be welcomed with open arms as the best type of blizzard possible.
Nothing takes the edge off of a scorching summer day like a heaping spoonful of freshly shaven ice, ground as finely as a powdery snowfall. It’s brilliantly easy to make this refreshing treat at home! Special equipment is helpful for the best results, but you can absolutely get by with what you have, IE, a food processor or blender. A shave-ice machine will give you a fluffier texture while this alternative method will create a denser texture, more like a packed snow ball.
The only thing more important than the ice is the flavoring! There’s no limit to the possibilities here, whether you want to work with only fresh, whole fruits or go avant-garde with extracts. Add more flair with natural food coloring, which could come out of a bottle or straight from nature. Just as a brief refresher course…
Bear in mind that any liquid colors should replace an equal measure of water to keep the sweetener ratio accurate. These will also be more likely to contribute stronger flavors, so make sure you’re ready to embrace those vegetal tastes or use stronger extracts to cover them up.
When you want a treat with no added sugar, snow cones are just the thing! Prepared sugar-free syrups are an easy, instant fix. For something homemade, just start with ripe, super sweet fruit, and accentuate the flavor with a touch of stevia or monkfruit as needed.
Don’t let syrups limit your imagination. You can start with a full-flavored base by freezing juice, smoothies, and beyond to use as the finely shaved ice going into your cone. An added benefit to this approach is that the ice crystals stay lighter and fluffier since they’re not weighted down with extra toppings, while melting a little less slowly as well.
Snow cones are truly the best way to enjoy a snow day. They’re naturally vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free, with easy options for making them sugar-free, keto, and paleo-friendly. Best of all, you can enjoy your flurries while chilling poolside under the warm summer sun.
Summer should be a care-free time of late mornings followed by slow, unhurried afternoons. When the heat becomes unbearable, a brief cat nap in the shelter of leafy, shaded canopy is more than just socially acceptable, but practically mandatory. When fireflies appear along with the onset of nightfall, the warm evenings seem to stretch on forever, infinite as the number of stars brightening the dark sky.
Summers are precious. Don’t force yourself to work when every fiber of your being wants to play. While some commitments are unavoidable, there’s so much more extraneous noise that we could tune out. That’s why I’m happy to spend less time in the kitchen to make those moments count.
This is a quick snack I originally devised to feature a favorite vegan ice cream brand, taking their chocolate-covered raspberry-acai ice cream off the stick and into a fresh parfait. The shatteringly crisp dark chocolate shell gives way to a silken frozen custard filling. Chopping it into cubes makes each layer instantly accessible, without the fear of drips or mess to spoil the snack. Nestled on top of a super fast, fruity chia pudding, the combination is much more substantial than the average novelty to stave off hunger through the most vigorous match of yard darts or pickle ball.
Unfortunately, that brand is no longer the magnificent purveyor of plant-based indulgences I originally fell in love with, so those bars are off the table. Many more have stepped up to the plate, however, making such a simple concept that much more accessible overall.
There’s no hard and fast rule that you must use a chocolate-covered pop, but it’s that textural contrast that makes it so compelling. Mix and match flavors at will, swapping in seasonal fruits based on availability, add nuts, sprinkles, or chocolate chips, and most importantly, don’t overthink it. It’s a stretch to call this a full recipe, but for the sake of convenience, here’s the basic blueprint so you can bookmark it for later.
Now get back out there and enjoy the sun. Summer only comes once a year.
To anyone who decries ice cream solely as a summertime food, buckle up and put on a sweater. I’ve got numerous wintry treats in Super Vegan Scoops! tailor-made for the season that will change your mind.
First gradually, and then suddenly, the seasons shift once more. Progressively cooler breezes blow in every night until thick, knit blankets reemerge from storage, unfurling upon beds like the triumphant victory flags of fall. Golden leaves tumble from their branches, crunching and snapping underfoot, dusting every pathway like freshly fallen snow. Tastes adjust as well, directing cravings towards the comfort of warmer, richer foods. When it comes to dessert, no dish better represents this transitory period than the classic apple crisp. A fool-proof formula for success, the combination of tender apples, bubbling away in their own cinnamon- and nutmeg-spiked juices holds universal appeal.
Bearing all the best characteristics of the classic pastry but in with a considerably cooler core, a rich scoop of apple butter-rippled ice cream perches atop warm, fork-tender apples, gently poached and delicately cradled by a single-serve flaky crust. Incorporating the faintly woodsy flavor of burnt sugar, these treats don’t just welcome autumn’s return, but celebrate it with gusto.
The cult of pumpkin spice is unstoppable, growing in tenor and ferocity with every passing season. Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice candles, pumpkin spice cough drops, pumpkin spice lip gloss, and pumpkin spice scratch-and-sniff bandages; they’re all real! If it can be infused with the flavor (or scent) that dominates all of fall, it absolutely will be. Pumpkin pie is at the very top of the Thanksgiving dessert hierarchy of course, as the purest, original manifestation of the flavor sensation.
In light of the newfound fervor for pumpkin spice, I feel a revolution is upon us. Coming from another venerable line of traditional baked goods, ready to unseat the longstanding overlord, is the spectacular pumpkin roulade. Typically filled with airy mounds of vanilla-spiked whipped cream, each spiral of aromatic pumpkin crumb gains even greater appeal with buttery pecan ice cream instead. Wrapping up two desserts into one, pumpkin spice fanatics will have a fresh focus for their seasonal obsession, and fair-weather fans will be mightily pleased, too.
Drawn to the kitchen by the heady aroma of citrus and spice, the soothing scent of mulled wine evokes memories of the holidays, as warm and cozy as a thick knit sweater. Though typically enjoyed steaming hot, to fortify against a cold winter’s night, it’s also quite delightful served over ice, which is where this much cooler rendition got its inspiration. Pull on your mittens and scarves to embrace this spirited yuletide treat!
Regardless of holiday party plans, as host or attendee, no matter how long or short wish lists may be, I have two words for you: Peppermint Bark. All it takes is chocolate and crushed candy canes, yet it can elicit the same level of enthusiasm as a laborious multi-tier Christmas cake. You’d think the stuff was sprinkled with pure gold judging by the way some people clamor to snap up piece after piece.
Something about the combination of creamy chocolate slabs, festooned with crunchy red and white striped mint confections seems to strike a chord with everyone, young, old, jolly, and curmudgeonly alike. It’s all about the ratio and quality of ingredients that hits the sweet spot.
Plain peppermint stick ice cream is a wondrous limited edition treat, but without a chocolate crunch, something seems to be missing. Enter, the glorious peppermint bark roulade, complete with creamy candy cane ice cream, topped with crisp chunks of chopped chocolate, all wrapped up in a fudgy, tender chocolate cake. As if that wasn’t enough, the whole thing is smothered in another layer of snappy dark chocolate magic shell, and finished with a flurry of crushed peppermint candy. It’s a bite of holiday joy that’s far better than anything you could wrap up with a bow.
When he’s on his epic Christmas Eve odyssey, Stanta is powered by the laughter of children, reindeer magic, and the holiday spirit itself, but we all know he needs to stop and refuel on something more substantial every so often. If I were going to treat Mr. Klaus, it would be with this magnificent collection of seasonal specialties. It all starts with a thick, chewy sugar cookie, because tradition does mandate the classic offering. Instead of a wane glass of milk, though, I’m topping it with a generous scoop of eggnog ice cream, melting into the warm skillet while rivulets of tart cranberry sauce burst through each nook and cranny. Lightly spiced nuts crunch through each layer, adding a refreshing textural contrast. Old Saint Nick never tasted a midnight snack quite like this.
Don’t forget about all the evergreen, all-purpose scoops that always hit the spot, any day of the year. There’s never a bad time to slice into a Brooklyn Blackout Ice Cream Cake, or lick a Cannoli Cone, for example. So get cozy, blast the heat, and break out the frozen treats! It’s still ice cream season, as far as I’m concerned.
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