Saturday, May 27, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend is Upon Us: Bust Out the Blender!

My post yesterday about the beloved hot fudge sauce reminded me of another chocolatey treat that I should share with you. I first heard about it at least a year ago on...gulp...Oprah. If the old girl dieted for days just to be able to have one of these, I knew I had to try it! It is the signature drink from an eastside cafe in New York City called Serendipity. Apparently, it was a favorite spot of Jackie O's back in her day, and she used to take Caroline and John-John there after an afternoon of shopping for this special frozen treat. I have since been to Serendipity in person, and I believe that my version is better! Plus, it took us three trips and a two-hour wait just to get into the tiny place, and then the drink itself set us each back ten bucks. So as always, making this yourself is less of a hassle and much more affordable. What follows is based on the actual recipe from Serendipity, but I have tinkered with it a little, as is my way. The key ingredient, I believe, is the Ghiradelli cocoa mix with the chocolate bits in it--yum! It's about five bucks, but it will last you a long time--unless, of course, you get hooked on frozen hot chocolates! And I think you might. :-)

Frozen Hot Chocolate

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon Ghiradelli ground sweet chocolate and cocoa
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups milk (preferably, whole)
3 cups of ice cubes
whipped cream
chocolate shavings (optional)

Place chocolate chips in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted. Add the cocoa mix and sugar. Stir until completely melted. Remove from heat and slowly add ½ cup of milk until smooth. Cool to room temperature. In a blender, place the remaining cup of milk, the room-temperature chocolate mixture and the ice. Blend on high speed until smooth and the consistency of a frozen daiquiri. Pour into a giant goblet and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Drink with a straw, or a spoon, or both!

The next recipe for another one of my all-time favorite frozen drinks has been on a faded and stained card, magnetted to my fridge for at least a decade. It came from a student of mine named Camille Thornock (her name is still on the card, too!) who took my basic communication course back in the day. At the end of that class, we do a little bit of public speaking, and one of the assignments is to do a persuasive sales speech where they try to sell the class a product that can't cost more than a nickel. Well, Camille sold her own copycat recipe for Orange Julius. If I remember correctly, I think she used to work in a mall near an Orange Julius and was going broke buying the frozen orange confections every day, so she developed her own homemade version. Indeed, many of my favorite recipes have come out of the COM 100 course. Often, the student will bring a sample of a delicious treat and then sell the recipe for five cents. Of course, if they know what's good for them (and their final grades!), they'll give the teacher a freebie! ;-) I save their recipes from year to year, and I still make many of them. In fact, in the post of March 5th when I shared my best recipes featuring lemons, the dessert called Lemon Freeze came from one of my communication students and remains a summer potluck staple. My other favorites from that class include an excellent salsa with pinto beans, a traditional Scottish shortbread (one of my student's mom was a Scot and made reknowned shortbread for Scottish festivals), a yummy chocolate chip cookie made with vanilla pudding in the dough, the BEST teriyaki jerky in the world, and delicious pesto made with spinach and walnuts, Buckeyes (chocolate-covered peanut butter balls), fudge, a cake filled with a marvelous pastry cream, and even some tasty cookies made with, of all things, Cool Whip called Lemon Whipper Snappers. Oh, and one of my more recent students worked at an Italian restaurant in town, and he shared the recipe for a great pasta dish with chicken, tomatoes, olives, artichoke hearts, lemon and white wine, among other things. (By the way, if any of these recipes are of interest to anyone, just make the request in the comments section, and I'll post them.) But every summer, when the weather starts to warm up, I bust out the blender and start making my old stand-by, the Orange Julius. And you can vary it according to your tastes, of course. I like the orange unadulterated myself, but I will admit that throwing a handful of fresh blueberries into the mix makes for a very pleasing result as well. HAPPY BLENDING, EVERYONE!

Orange Julius à la Camille Thornock

1 cup milk

1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
6 oz. orange juice concentrate
4-6 drops almond extract (Camille swore that this was the secret ingredient that made the drink taste authentic! I also like to add up to a teaspoon of vanilla myself.)
1 tray ice cubes (14 in your standard Rubbermaid-type tray)
strawberries, banana, or blueberries (optional)

Blend until thick and smooth. (This makes more than enough to share, if you're willing to!)

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