We do birthdays big in the Haley family. As kids, this was expected; we had “birthday week,” a tradition I was happy to carry with me far beyond childhood. Birthday week included our favorite breakfasts before school, a cookie cake, a meal wherever we wanted, our dinner of choice from my grandmother, and other various celebrations. As a seven-year-old, this was fantastic. As a twenty-seven-year-old* this is even more fantastic. I completely reject the notion that as one gets older, one’s birthday means less.
*I’m 26, but the law of rounding means I’m much closer to 27 than 26, but I’m holding on for dear life. Not going down without a fight. Hence the asterisk.
The good news for you, or anyone else that I am moderately familiar with, is that I do not limit my birthday excitement to my own day. I enjoy celebrating other’s big days just as much, maybe even more so. I just love the merriment of it all–I love taking a whole day (week) to tell one person how much you appreciate them and are happy that they were born. Embarrass them with your excitement–make them feel like they’re seven again–sing, a lot. This is a great thing we do as humans, celebrate each other.
Today is my Mom’s birthday, and in true Haley fashion, all of the stops have been pulled. This is the first birthday I’ve been able to actually celebrate with her really since high school and I am so thankful that I get to join in the fun. There will be dinner, there will be gifts, there already was a cookie cake, and so much more (that I can’t mention because she reads this and it’s a surprise).
Above all of the sugar and wrapping paper and sprinkles, what really matters to me is that she knows how truly wonderful she is and how lucky everyone is to have her around. She’s the strong, funny, independent, smart, and wise woman that taught me most everything I know and who I strive to become. She’s the voice in my head, she’s the reader for whom I write, and today is her day. It’s a good one, too.
Speaking of sprinkles, I have some. In the height of Summer, I bought an ice cream maker, invited my parents over for dinner, and made homemade vanilla ice cream. I put in chocolate chips and toffee pieces and a pinch of salt because I had just made those loaded cornflake cookies and couldn’t stop thinking about them. And today, because it’s a birthday, this ice cream is topped with sprinkles. Nothing says party like sprinkles.
This ice cream was sweet, had a little salt kick from the toffee pieces, and a welcome crunch from the frozen chopped chocolate chips. Add a healthy amount of rainbow sprinkles and some more chocolate chips and dessert (or afternoon snack) is served.
Make this if you want to hold on to Summer for a little while longer. Make this if you’re celebrating a birthday. Make this if you have a new kitchen gadget and want to try it out. It’s not quick, it requires some planning and organization, but the outcome is so incredibly delicious, you’ll impress even yourself.
And most importantly, Happy Birthday Mom!
Here’s the recipe.
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate and Toffee (Adapted from Love and Olive Oil)
- 2 cups heavy cream, divided
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2/3 cup sugar
- Heavy pinch of salt
- 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips, chopped
- 1/2 cup toffee pieces
- In a large bowl, make an ice bath with water and about 10-12 ice cubes. Nest a smaller bowl on top of the ice bath, then pour 1 cup of heavy cream into the bowl. Place a fine mesh strainer over the cream and set aside.
- In a medium sauce pan, add remaining cream and milk. Add sugar and salt and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved and milk mixture is beginning to steam. Do not boil. When mixture is steaming, remove from the heat and, gradually, add warm mixture to egg yolks 1/3 cup at a time, whisking constantly. Continue adding warm milk mixture to the egg yolks until about half of the milk mixture has been added and the egg yolks are warm to the touch. Add the yolk mixture back to the sauce pan and return to medium heat.
- Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat, until the mixture reaches 165-170 degrees and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and a clean trail is left when your finger is run across the back of the spoon. Do not boil! Remove mixture from the heat and pour through the mesh strainer into the cold heavy cream. Discard any solids. Add the vanilla extract, then stir the mixture until cool, about 5-7 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
- Churn ice cream according to your manufacturer’s directions. Once the ice cream has come together but is still soft, add in your chocolate chips and toffee pieces. When finished, transfer to an air-tight container and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours or overnight until firm. (Or serve right away for soft serve!)