Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ice Cream Dreams: Pina Colada Ice Cream

I always hated going to Illinois to visit my father's parents. They didn't have any fun toys, and they lived in an apartment so we couldn't play outside, and they had two bizzare old buzzard-ladies next door named Hazel and Belle who smelled funny and always wanted to kiss me.

However, the one bright side to visiting dad's parents was the obligatory trip to Petersen's Ice Cream in Oak Park. The ice cream was positively swoon-worthy, and I always tried to eat my scoop of Butter Brickle (always Butter Brickle) verrrry slowly, wishing it would last forever. Petersen's Ice Cream (with its legendary 18% butterfat content) almost made up for Hazel and Belle.

We had two mom-and-pop type ice cream places in my Colorado neighborhood, and while their ice cream wasn't quite Petersen's, it was pretty close. For a while we had Mom's Ice Cream, a shop dangerously close to the supermarket we frequented. My poor mama got hassled every time she took us grocery shopping (which wasn't that often, because my mama is smarter than that).

Mom's Ice Cream didn't have Butter Brickle, but it did have Lemon Drop. Lemon Drop was a delightful, puckery confection, dotted with little crisp nuggets of smashed candy. They also carried a neon-blue bucket of hideousness, Bubble Gum, which for some reason I loved. Mom's version of Bubble Gum didn't have those pesky hard pebbles of real gum that I hated. It was smooth blue paradise. However, I once threw up Bubble Gum in mama's car on the way home from the supermarket, and from that day forward, Bubble Gum was forbidden fruit.

Mom's closed when I was in third grade, and we had to endure trips to the lowly Baskin-Robbins for several years. Then, in a stroke of good luck, my sister insisted on attending a Jr. High out of our neighborhood. Near this coveted school was a wonderful ice cream emporium called Apple Orchard, or as the locals called it, "AppleTree."

Apple Orchard had (in my childish opinion) fascinating and exotic flavors of ice cream: cappucinno chip, cantaloupe sorbet, mint oreo. I think I tried almost every flavor they churned out, but my all time favorite was Pina Colada. I'm surprised I didn't start sprouting stiff, green shoots out the top of my head, I ate so much of it.

I ate Pina Colada almost weekly from the 7th grade until 10th, when I progressed to a high school farther away. I'm amazed I wasn't broad as a barn. Thank God for growth spurts.

Apple Orchard was the place I fumbled through first dates, desperately grappling for words. It was the place I sobbed, my mother rubbing my back, when the boy I'd loved for years just didn't love me back. It was the place I marched to, singing and giggling at the top of my lungs, gaggle of girlfriends in tow, at the end of every school dance.

Alas, Apple Orchard eventually closed also. And I can't help but notice that nowadays, there's hardly ANY mom-and-pop ice cream joint that survives a year in our neck of the woods. We've all been lured to the dark side of Cold Stone. Don't get me wrong, Cold Stone is fine, but it lacks the charm of a mom-and-pop joint. Plus, that damn place doesn't carry Pina Colada. Nobody does.

I was near my old stomping grounds this past weekend and noticed that--horrors! The building that once housed Apple Orchard is a weight loss facility now. Mama and I laughed at the irony, and then lamented the loss of Pina Colada ice cream. And then I got a hankering for that ice cream like nobody's business.

I came up with a version that's close, but still not as fantabulous as the Pina Colada of yore. That, like my youth, is water down the drain, accessible only in trickles of memory.

Pina Colada Ice Cream
based on Emeril Lagasse's recipe for coconut ice cream
makes about a quart

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup coconut-flavored rum
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 large egg yolks
1 cup crushed pineapple, slightly drained

In a large heavy saucepan, combine the cream, coconut milk, whole milk, rum and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks until pale yellow and frothy. Add about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture, and whisk to combine, Add the egg mixture to the saucepan with the remaining hot cream and whisk.

Return to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heavy wooden spoon until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4-5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least three hours. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions. 5 minutes before the end of freezing time, add the pineapple bits; freeze 5 minutes more.

Transfer mixture to plastic container and freeze until firm.

***I would urge you to check out Phoo-D's site for a great recipe for Pineapple-Ginger Sorbet. She and I must be channeling our inner Carmen Miranda this week!


  1. I think we both have green sprouts coming out of our heads this week! I can only imagine the goodness of combining rum with coconut milk in ice cream...heavenly combination!

  2. Mmm. Sounds delightful. If I where you, this would mean it was time for some expermenting.

  3. This truly sounds delicious. I don't remember mom and pop icecream parlors. What I do remeber is blue bonnet ice cream. It is made and sold only in Texas. You can find it in any grocery store there. It is a small family business and the fudge ripple ribbon is to die for. Whenever I go home for a visit it is the first thing I ask for.

  4. We have a mom and pop ice cream shop in our neighborhood, and it is heavenly. It is in an old house whose floors creak when you first walk in, but you don't really notice because the smell of the chocolate candy they make in the front window pretty much knocks right into you. They have an old-fashioned counter that houses the homemade candies and the ice cream. There aren't a ton of flavors, but what they do have is deelish. We usually eat our ice cream (mint choc chip for me, vanilla for Poonch, raspberry chip for Chuckles, and bites of all of ours for Hubs) right out front on the white Adirondack chairs while we watch the people go by. Heaven. I gotta go now...

  5. yes, please! send two quarts to....

    we never had little indie ice cream shops but in college we had the dueling frozen treats section of the street.
    across the street from each other were the crappy soft serve frozen yogurt in cups larger than starbucks offers vs. the hand made gelato with tiny spoons in tiny cups. Both holes in the wall with nowhere to sit. Both a huge variety of flavors. Hands down best was the rice pudding gelato, available only random weeks through the year.

    That, friend, is your next assignment. A cinnamon-y rice pudding ice cream recipe. Ready? Go.

  6. Your Apple Orchard was like a cinema called Robins in my town that closed down a long time back - had all my growing up experiences there!

    When I used to live in the US our town had an ice-cream palour called Kimbals - or there was Great Brook Farm but that didn't have as much choice. I can still remember how one night I was staying over a friend's house and we'd gone to bed when suddenly the parents burst in with some friend and said 'We're going for late night ice-cream!'

    AMAZING - past by bed time and I'm getting ice-cream? All the rules were broken and the parents were instigating it! They did wicked ice-cream there too...I'm hoping it will still be there when we return this fall - though I guess it won't be the weather for it then... :( xxx

    PS talking of Pina Coladas - those also bring back memories from that time - my mum and grandma got addicted to them and used to drink themselves under the table having a right giggle! xxx

  7. Naptime: That sounds like a worthy challenge, my friend! Duly noted!

    CC: My parents did that once too--we made a trip to Mom's in pajamas in the pouring rain. I will never forget it--it seemed so illicit to me. I'll have to remember to do this with my kids sometime--bliss!

  8. Believe me, I know exactly what it's like to get hooked on an ice cream flavor...and not be able to have it often. Ever been to Berthillon in Paris. That's my swoon-worthy ice cream, and it doesn't even have to be chocolate there.

  9. I LOVED The Apple Orchard. That place rocked. That's the first place that I ever heard of Oreo ice cream. And, their meatball sandwich kicked ass!

  10. Small world! I grew up in River Forest, and went to Oak Park River Forest high school.

    I moved away from the Oak Park area 9 years ago, but in the summer, every Saturday night, my family would walk the mile to Peterson's icecream - and in all the years I went there, my sister and I only got the mint chocolate chip icecream - never once deviated from that!

    I just need to get an icecream maker now!

  11. I grew up in Denver, and while I lived in the horrible bubble town full of chain stores (Highlands Ranch), we did venture towards Denver for good ice cream whenever we had a chance. Have you had Bonnie Brae ice cream? Their Sinfully Cinnamon was my fav! Our neighborhood in Chicago only has Cold Stone, and I refuse to go there!

  12. Biz319--my DAD went to River Forest high school! That's Awesome! I think it's great that you had a Petersen's Saturday night ritual--AND that you walked there.

    Erin: I taught high school in Highlands Ranch for almost 7 years. Miss the kids, not the place.

    And yes, I've been to Bonnie Brae ice cream (on a disastrous date, but the ice cream was delicious). If I get back there, I will try your go-to flavor.

    Greg: I never ate a meal there, just ate loads of ice cream. We should have gone there together, my high school friend, and now--sob!--it's gone. That sucks.

  13. Yum! That looks so delicious. I used to hate visiting my dad's parents too. They were super mean though haha!

  14. See, yet another reason to come visit -- I'll take you to Petersen's!

  15. Thanks for the ice cream journey. I can't say I have ever experienced any really good ice cream experience. I grew up on Carvel and Dairy Queen.

  16. It was so nice walking with you down memory lane! That sounds like such a quaint little place!

    There is a cool little ice cream shop at the coast that I really like but they aren't quite this exotic! This flavor sounds and looks so scrumptious! I love coconut milk in ice cream! :p

  17. Butter Brickle!!!! Wow, I'd forgotten about that. My grandmother used to serve us ice cream for breakfast sometimes, bless her heart. And my favorite was BB and Bubble Gum. Happy sigh.