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PRODUCT: Homemade Soft Serve at Mah Ze Dahr Bakery

Mah Ze Dahr Frozen Custard Cone

Mah Ze Dahr Frozen Custard

Brownie Ice Cream Sandwich

Have it your way (cone, cup, brownie sandwich): soft serve made from scratch, from Mah Ze Dahr bakery in New York’s Greenwich Village (photos courtesy Mah Ze Dahr).

 

We celebrated National Ice Cream Day yesterday (it’s the third Sunday in July), by taking a short trip to Mah Ze Dahr bakery in Greenwich Village.

In addition to the glorious cakes, cookies and bars, hand pies, scones and savories, the bakery provided our first experience with made-from-scratch soft serve.

Every other soft serve we know of starts with a base mix, from which the establishment can add flavors. Not Mah Ze Dahr.

Everything is made from scratch: the ice cream, the glorious waffle cones with a bit of cinnamon (the best cones we’ve ever had), even the “Magic Shell” chocolate syrup that is added to the bottom of the cone, where it hardens to stop drips.

If the chef could make her own sprinkles—and grow her own coffee and tea, for that matter—we have no doubt she’d do it.

The toppings include the shop’s excellent brownies, peanut brittle and tiny meringues, plus “imported” favorites like sprinkles, M&Ms and chopped walnuts.

Mah Ze Dahr is the passion project of Umber Ahmad, a former investment banker whose passion for great flavors inspired her to bake professionally.

In Urdu, the word mazedar describes “the taste essence of food, its flavor and magic that make it delicious.

“This one word captures the life of a taste experience, unique to each person but cohesive in its stories,” says Umber. “It represents something that one cannot describe but wants to experience over and over again.”

Umber was “discovered” by restaurateur Tom Colicchio, who created the Colicchio Discovery Platform to identify and mentor the most promising food enterprises.

RESISTANCE IS FUTILE

The charming shop at 28 Greenwich Avenue, a block west of Sixth Avenue, transports you to a lovely place: You could be in The Hamptons or Martha’s Vineyard. When we visited, the calm, casual beauty of the place—not to mention the contents of the pastry cases—was an oasis.

We agree! In addition to enjoying the soft serve on site, we bought a pastry sampling to take home (where the six pieces lasted, oh, an hour or so, and we looked mournfully at the empty boxes the next day).

The memories of the lemon pound cake, brioche doughnut filled with pastry cream, banana bread and “everything” brioche braid make us wish for more—now!

ORDER ONLINE

While you can’t get the soft serve online, most of the baked goods can be ordered at MahZeDahrBakery.com.

And with that, we’re planning our next visit. We must have the lemon meringue cake, the flourless dark chocolate cake (send one to a gluten-free friend), the carrot cake, the chocolate choux, and…[sounds of racing out the door].

 
FROZEN CUSTARD HISTORY

Fruit ices were invented in China (around 2000 B.C.E.), and gelato/ice cream was created in Florence in the 1500s.

Frozen custard (a.k.a. soft serve) was invented in the New York in the early 19th century.

Here’s the history of frozen custard.

 
  

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TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches & An Ice Cream Sandwich Social

Ice Cream Sandwiches
Adapt the concept of an ice cream social to a DIY ice cream sandwich social (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

Vanilla Milk
This vanilla milk is made with honey. Here’s the recipe from A Well Fed Life. You can use your sweetener of choice (ours is Splenda).

Coffee Milk

An easy way to make coffee milk: Just add coffee syrup, as in this recipe from Cocktail Crafty.

 

July is National Ice Cream Month. In our neck of the woods, gourmet ice cream sandwiches have been the rage for a while.

What makes them “gourmet,” beyond the super-premium ice cream, is the sandwiching—usually homemade cookies in chocolate chip, chocolate chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter and snickerdoodle.

When we make our own cookies for homemade ice cream sandwiches, we make chocolate-dipped graham crackers. When people ask what they can bring, we assign them a batch of cookies.

There’s plenty of time to invite friends and family for a casual ice cream social* this weekend or next. You set out the fixings, and let guests make their own sandwiches.

Then, make up your menu:

  • Cookies: 3″ diameter, plus mini-cookies if desired*
  • Waffles, quartered*
  • Ice cream
  • Sprinkles, mini-chips, chopped nuts
  •  
    Limit the cookie, ice cream and garnish choices the first time out. See what gets consumed most; then you can vary the choices next time.
     
    UTENSILS

  • Ice trays/bins for ice cream
  • Scoops, spoons, spatulas for ice cream
  • Large plates or trays for adding garnishes
  • Paper plates and napkins
  • Tablecloths
  • Trays
  •  
    BEVERAGES

    What beverages go best with ice cream sandwiches?

    Youngsters might clamor for soft drinks, but coffee and tea, hot and iced, go best.

    You know your guests: Are they insistent on beer and wine, or would they be happy with an iced coffee—with a shot of vodka or coffee liqueur?

    Consider these options, each of which can be enjoyed plain or with a shot:

  • Iced coffee
  • Iced tea
  • Vanilla milk and/or coffee milk (recipe follows)
  •  
    RECIPE: VANILLA MILK or COFFEE MILK

    Ingredients Per 8-Ounce Glass

  • 1 cup milk (0%, 1%, 2%) or nondairy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or substitute
  • For coffee milk: black coffee to taste
  • ________________

    *To estimate how many cookies or waffle quarters you’ll need, multiply 2 cookies/sandwich times 2 sandwiches/guest.

     
    ICE CREAM SOCIAL HISTORY
     
    An ice cream social is a party where people come to eat ice cream.

    Ice cream socials date back to 18th-century America, long before the dawn of electric freezers—not to mention electric ice cream makers. The ice cream was hand-cranked.

    While a laborious undertaking, ice cream socials were very popular, traditional gatherings. According to Wikipedia:

  • The first ice cream social in America was in 1744, when Maryland governor Thomas Bladen served ice cream for a dinner party.
  • The first ice cream social in the White House was in 1802 by President Thomas Jefferson.
  • When ice cream became more available to the middle classes in the mid-1800s, schools and churches began to host ice cream socials. Those held outdoors by the well-to-do became known as ice cream gardens.
  • Some churches and communities still hold ice cream socials today, but an ice cream social is an easy party to throw at home—no “community effort” required.
  • If you have neither garden nor other outdoor space, you can still host a delightful ice cream social.
  •  
    ICE CREAM TRIVIA: THE FIRST FLAVOR

    Many people would guess that vanilla was the first ice cream flavor, but that is far from the case.

    You have to think back to the origins of ice cream, around 2000 B.C.E. in China, when the first ice cream was made from snow, flavored with fruit syrups.

    The concept reached the Middle East via traders, and Alexander the Great brought it to Greece after conquering Persia in 331 B.C.E., where it became a treat for the nobility, who had the servants to fetch snow and ice from the mountains and turn it into dessert. The shaved ice and snow were combined with fruit toppings, honey and nuts—the first sundae, perhaps.

    Vanilla, which originated in Mexico and was used to flavor the cacao drink, didn’t become a flavor in Europe until the 1600s. As in Mexico, only the wealthy could afford it.

    Thomas Jefferson is credited with introducing vanilla to the United States in the late 1700s. He became familiar with vanilla at the court of King Louis XVI, while serving as U.S. minister to France (from 1785 to 1789). When he returned to the U.S., he brought 200 vanilla beans with him, and his cook had learned to make ice cream.

    Here’s the history of vanilla.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Grown Up Snow Cones

    Remember your childhood summers, and how happy a snow cone made you? The rainbow snow cone (photo #3) was our personal favorite.

    Alas, when one’s palate evolves, those overly-sweet syrups from street vendors no longer bring pleasure. And the day-glow colors? Sheesh!

    One way we’ve worked around this is to make adult snow cones with a better syrup like Monin or Torani—still pretty sweet—combined with a matching liqueur, in a 1:1 proportion.

    If you have an ice crushing machine or a snow cone machine, it’s a great idea for a casual summer cocktail party.

    And then, there’s the iced coffee snow cone, a riff on one of America‘s favorite warm-weather beverages.

    We adapted this recipe from one by Nuggets Market—12 locations in northern California.

    You can have a family-friendly iced espresso, or add Kahlúa or your favorite coffee liqueur.

    Instead of coffee, you can make a variation with chai concentrate (we use Original Oregon Chai Tea Latte Concentrate), or with strong-brewed tea.

    Serve them in a vessel of choice. Since we never got around to buying paper cones, we use a rocks glass and a spoon.

    RECIPE: ESPRESSO SNOW CONES

    Ingredients For 2 Servings

  • 2 shots espresso or chai coffee mate
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons Coffee Mate (flavor of choice, e.g. cinnamon, hazelnut, vanilla)
  • 4 cups shaved ice
  • Optional: coffee liqueur
  • Garnish: whipped cream, chocolate shavings
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the 2 espresso, vanilla extract, Coffee Mate and optional liqueur, and let chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. Once the mixture is chilled…

    2. SHAVE the ice. Fill a blender halfway with ice cubes and use the “crush” setting. Don’t fill the blender more than halfway or the top ice won’t get crushed.

    3. FILL the serving cups one-third full with whipped cream. Add the ice, pour the espresso mixture over ice, top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF SNOW CONES

    Snow cones are the oldest form of ice cream—if you substitute a bowl or cup for the a cylindrical cone, which came much later (the history of ice cream).

    The original “ice cream,” made in China some 4,000 years ago, consisted of flavoring snow with syrup. Fast forward to the 1850s, and you have ice shaved from large blocks into a paper cone or cup, topped with syrup.

    Shaved Ice In 11th Century Japan

    In 11th-century Japan, kakigori, a shaved ice dessert, is believed to have already existed. It was made from ice harvested in winter and stored in ice houses: a luxury available only to the wealthy nobility.

    Ice was shaved into a metal bowl and eaten with a sweet sap from vines, hydrangeas, and ivy, with some golden syrup on top.

    Around the 19th century, with the ice-making technology of the Industrial Revolution, kakigori was finally affordable to the general public.

    The first kakigori shop was opened in 1872. The ice was flavored with fruit syrup, and optionally topped with adjuki beans and sweetened condensed milk.

    Kakigori became a common treat, leading to modern versions of Japanese shaved ice and Hawaiian shave ice [source].

    Snowballs In 19th Century Baltimore

    On the other side of the world, in the U.S., historians trace the snow cone to Baltimore in the 1850s. When blocks of ice first began to be manufactured commercially, ice wagons would transport the huge blocks from factories to businesses—not just locally, but interstate.

     

    Espresso Granita
    [1] An espresso snow cone, a fun alternative to iced coffee (photo courtesy Nuggets Market).

    Snow Cones
    [2] Classic snow cones: super-sweet, in day-glow colors (photo courtesy La Estrella Bounce).

    Snow Cone

    [3] Favorite childhood treat: a rainbow snow cone (photo Katlin Cockrell | Pinterest).

    Snow Cone

    [4] A Baltimore specialty: egg custard snowball with marshmallow topping (photo Scott Suchman | Baltimore Magazine).

     

    On hot days in Baltimore, on the route from New York to Florida, children would run up to the ice wagons and ask for small scrapings of ice. Mothers began to top them with syrups, and called them snowballs.

    One of the easiest toppings to make at home was egg custard, a simple mix of eggs, vanilla and sugar (hold the cream!). It gave the “snow” a creaminess, closer to ice cream than the bright-colored fruit flavors that subsequently became popular.

    Sources name Baltimore as the home of the “egg custard snowball,” where it remains a prevalent summer snack (photo #4—it’s now often topped with melted marshmallows).

    By the 1870s, Baltimore theaters would sell snowballs in warm months. According to Wikipedia, “Signs in theaters instructing patrons to finish their snowballs before coming in to the second act are the earliest tangible evidence of snowballs.”

    Around the city, snowballs were served on newspaper, but in the classy theaters, butchers’ boats were used. In the 1890s, patents for electric ice shavers were filed as Baltimoreans sought faster alternatives to hand-shaved ice.

    Snow Cones In Texas

    As the recipe spread, the name evolved. Plop the shaved ice into a paper cone or cup and call it a snow cone.

    In 1919, Samuel Bert, who would invent an ice-crushing machine the following year, sold snow cones at the State Fair of Texas. But ice continued to be largely hand-shaved until Ernest Hansen of New Orleans patented the first block-ice shaving machine in 1934.

    According to Wikipedia, during the Great Depression, snowballs became more readily available around the U.S. A cheap treat, they were nicknamed Hard Times Sundae and Penny Sunday.

    Hansen’s ice shaver produced ice that had the consistency of snow, unlike the other ice shavers, which produced rough, crunchy ice (think granita)—a true snow cone [source].

    With milk rationing during World War II, snow cones became a go-to icy treat.

    Today’s snow cone syrups, available in dozens of flavors, have one thing in common: They’re all made in vibrant—not necessarily natural—colors.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Holiday Ice Cream

    Red White & Blue Ice Cream
    [1] Mix in sprinkles for holiday-themed ice cream, like this patriotic flavor from OddFellows Ice Cream.

    Red White & Blue Ice Cream Cones

    [2] Make matching cones. Here’s the recipe from Sweet Estelle.

     

    You can create special ice cream for any special occasion, using store-bought vanilla ice cream and mix-ins in holiday colors.

    The easiest way is to buy sprinkles, confetti and confetti shapes (hearts, pumpkins, stars, etc.—photo #2).

    For example:

  • July 4th, Labor Day & Memorial Day: red and blue sprinkles.
  • Halloween: orange and black sprinkles.
  • Thanksgiving: orange, red and yellow sprinkles.
  • Christmas: red and green sprinkles.
  • Valentine’s Day: red and pink sprinkles.
  • St. Patrick’s Day: dark and light green sprinkles.
  • Easter: pastel sprinkles.
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SET the container on the counter until the ice cream is soft enough to mix in the decorations.

    2. RETURN to the freezer until ready to serve.

    TIPS: It’s easier to mix two separate pints than a quart or larger container. And it’s even easier than that to dip the edges of ice cream sandwiches into the sprinkles.
     
     
    JULY 4TH TRIVIA

  • The first independence Day. The Declaration of Independence was formalized on July 2, 1776, when Congress voted for independence from Great Britain. Two days later, on July 4, 1776, the final wording of the Declaration of Independence was approved, and the document was published. The first public reading of the Declaration of Independence was on July 8, 1776. Delegates began to sign the Declaration of Independence on August 2, 1776. While John Adams wanted it to be July 2nd, Congress agreed on July 4th for the holiday.
  • The term “Independence Day” was not used until 1791.
  • The first description of how the holiday would be celebrated was in a letter from John Adams to his wife Abigail, on July 3, 1776. He described “pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations” throughout the United States.
  •  

  • If July 4th falls on a weekend, the celebration is moved: to Friday, if the date falls on a Saturday; to Monday, if it falls on a Sunday. The date was maneuvered to provide federal employees (and subsequently, most of us) with a three-day weekend.
  • The Liberty Bell, housed in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, hasn’t rung in 171 years. Instead, it is tapped 13 times every July 4 by descendants of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. It was ordered from England by the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly (part of the state’s colonial government) to hang in its new State House (later known as Independence Hall). In arrived in 1751 and cracked at its first ringing—as had two prior bells tested in England. In 1846, when Philadelphia’s mayor requested that it be rung on George Washington’s birthday, attempts were made to repair an existing fracture and the bell reportedly tolled loud and clear at first, but then cracked beyond repair.
  • Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, was born on July 4th, and three presidents died on it. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the 50th anniversary of the holiday, in 1829; James Monroe died on July 4, 1831.
  • The annual July 4th hot dog eating contest, sponsored by Nathan’s Famous, began as a disagreement among four immigrants at Coney Island, Brooklyn, on July 4th, 1916. The fight was over who was more patriotic. They were overheard by Nathan Handwerker, an immigrant with a hot dog cart, who offered them a challenge: Whomever could devour the most hot dogs would win the argument. The winner was an Irish immigrant named Jim Mullen who consumed 13 hot dogs in 12 minutes (it is not noted whether Nathan donated the hot dog or if the challengers paid the going rate, five cents apiece). In 2016, Joey Chestnut devoured 70 hot dogs and rolls in 10 minutes—–watched by some 30,000 fans at Coney Island and millions around the world on ESPN.
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    JULY 4th: Red, White & Blue Greek Yogurt Pops & New Chobani Smooth Yogurt

    Why buy yogurt pops when it’s so easy to make these (photo #1), with a recipe from Chobani?

    You can use any berries you like, plus nonfat/0% fat Greek yogurt (photo #2). Blueberries and strawberries are brighter in color for red, white and blue pops.

    But vary the berries or use stone fruits (cherries, peaches, plums, etc.) and enjoy your favorite fruits, frozen on a stick, all summer long.

    RECIPE: BERRY-GREEK YOGURT POPS

  • 1-1/2 cups blueberries
  • 1/2 cups strawberries, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups plain 0% Chobani Greek Yogurt
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PURÉE the blueberries and 1 tablespoon sugar in a food processor or blender. Transfer into a small bowl.

    2. RINSE the bowl of the food processor/blender and add the yogurt and the other tablespoon sugar. Blend and pour the yogurt mixture into the ice pop molds, filling them halfway. Add the strawberry slices and top off with the blueberry mixture. Repeat.

    3. Place the molds in freezer to harden; consume within 2 days. Running molds under warm water can help release the pops from the molds.
     
     
    NEW FROM CHOBANI: NON-GREEK CHOBANI SMOOTH

    Chobani, the nation’s top Greek yogurt maker, has just launched Chobani Smooth, a blended, 1% milkfat yogurt in five flavors:

  • Black Cherry
  • Blueberry
  • Peach
  • Strawberry
  • Vanilla
  •    

    red-white-blue-yogurt-pops-chobani--230

    Chobani Plain 32 Ounce Container

    [1] and [2] Make red, white and blue yogurt pops with Chobani’s plain, 0% fat Greek yogurt (photos courtesy Chobani).

     

    Chobani Smooth Strawberry Cup

    Chobani Smooth Cartons

    [3] and [4] Meet Chobani Smooth, “American-style” yogurt in five flavors (photos courtesy Chobani).

     

    Each cup (photo #3) has about 11 grams of protein and 120 calories. A two-pack of 5.3-ounce cups (photo #4) retails for a SRP of $1.79.

    Chobani calls their new Smooth Yogurt line, “American-style,” but it’s actually European style. See our Yogurt Glossary for the different types of yogurt, including Australia-style, custard style (a.k.a. French style and Swiss style), Greek-style (a.k.a. strained yogurt) and sundae style.

    The majority of blended yogurts in the U.S. are made with artificial ingredients, says the company. Those that aren’t are the more expensive “premium” brands.

    The mission of Chobani Smooth is to offer the other segment of consumers—those who don’t like the tanginess of Greek yogurt—an option that has:

  • No artificial ingredients (plus no GMOs and no rBST).
  • Twice the protein of tradition yogurts and 25% less sugar.
  •  
    CHOBANI GREEK VS. CHOBANI SMOOTH

    If Chobani became the #2 yogurt seller in the U.S. by selling Greek yogurt, why enter the European-style space?

    To attract the other half of the market!

    Greek yogurt is made like regular yogurt, but the liquid whey is strained out. The result is thicker and tangier, with more protein and fewer carbohydrates.

     
    Chobani Smooth is more fluid than Greek yogurt, and not tangy. It is a blended-style yogurt with the fruit blended into a smooth “custard.” Chobani further adds some small pieces of fruit for texture and eye appeal.

    Finally, Chobani Greek is available in 0%, 2% and 5% (whole milk) milkfat. The Chobani Smooth line is 1%.

    Greek yogurt accounts for about half of all cup and carton sales of yogurt. Given that Chobani is America’s largest Greek-style yogurt maker, will Chobani Smooth propel the company to become the largest yogurt maker, period?

    That’s the plan!

      

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