Suddenly, Spring

The past few weekends have been busy ones, filled with house guests, window-box planting, and quite a few writing projects. Sam and I both love our house so much, and having people over always heightens that — sharing the breakfast nook in the mornings and seeing the living room fill up with more than just the two of us. I love an excuse for a mid-afternoon stroll through Fremont, and a reason to fill up on chocolate samples at Theo. Of course, house guests must eat, so there’s always Vietnamese food at Green Leaf and later at Tamarind Tree, beautiful salads at Sitka and Spruce, pizzas at Delancey, drinks at Ocho. Then on Monday, after a trip to the airport, there’s a comparative quiet and a noticeable lack of Theo chocolate, tofu spring rolls, and Dark and Stormy’s. Enter this weekend: just the two of us, garden planning and patio-sitting at our neighborhood bar. The sun was out, the breeze was warm, and sometimes beer just sounds good at 3 p.m. It was on these walks that I realized, yes, spring may have arrived in Seattle.

The first week I moved here I made a few trips to the dump to get rid of cardboard boxes. I went in flip-flops. My second visit the nice man working the booth asked what the hell I was thinking. He had a point: March was damp here. It was not flip-flops at-the-dump weather (although the more I think about it, is it ever flip-flops-at-the-dump-weather?). I learned to layer quickly, ran more inside the gym, and drank a lot of tea. But now, coats aren’t draped on the dining room chairs and I’ve actually been cracking my office window to get some fresh air.

People are out on their bikes, daffodils are growing like weeds, and if you pay attention you can smell barbeque in certain neighborhoods just as the light turns in the evening. It’s always this time of year when I start day-dreaming about trips I want to take, books I want to read, warm-weather cocktails, and — of course — ice cream. The ice cream machine is one of those appliances that, when we were unpacking, got pushed to the very back of the cupboards. I’m happy to say this has been remedied, there are two glorious new ice cream cookbooks on the horizon, and I plan on churning away this spring and summer.

First thing’s first: it’s time to order Bi-Rite Creamery’s new cookbook Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones (out April 17, 2012). I’ve seen it, I’ve read it, this recipe is from the book, and I think you’re going to like it.  There is also the soon-to-be-released Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book (April 25, 2012), which I haven’t had the pleasure of getting my hands on yet, but I’m sure it is chock full of owner Jake Godby’s humor and irreverence. If you haven’t eaten ice cream in San Francisco, Bi-Rite is classically wonderful (think glorious strawberry, smooth salted caramel, and honey lavender). Humphry Slocombe is a little wackier (although still wonderful) with more renegade flavors like FlufferNutter, Butter Beer, or Pom Coconut Ale. When it comes to choosing, I’m a Bi-Rite gal through and through. If you’re familiar with good East Coast ice creameries like Herrell’s: Bi-Rite is the Bay Area’s version. It’s the kind of ice cream that skirts trends or fads: it’s just really, really good — one of the reasons the line often wraps its way around the block, even on chilly evenings.

The Bi-Rite Creamery cookbook is everything you’d expect: concisely written, beautifully photographed, and yes: the salted caramel ice cream recipe is in there along with unexpected inclusions like cookies, brownies and cakes. I decided pretty quickly that the Malted Vanilla Ice Cream needed to happen, and I’ve been looking for an opportunity to make homemade Magic Shell (you know that crackly chocolate that they use to dip soft-serve cones in? Yes, that). If you’re a fan of that crunchy chocolate shell, you’re in luck: it’s really no more effort than melting your favorite chocolate into hot coconut oil. Then you pour it slowly into the ice cream machine when it’s done churning and it hardens on the spot into little crags and shards of dark chocolate. Like beer at 3 p.m. on a sunny Saturday, this kind of thing makes me smile.

If you don’t have malted milk powder at home, it’s easy to find at the market; I buy Carnation brand and love having it in the pantry — it’s wonderful to add to milkshakes or baked goods (try 1/4 cup in your next batch of chocolate-chip cookies). As for this recipe, it’s an egg-based, custardy ice cream, so the mixture should be pretty darn thick when you pour it into your machine. It’ll tide you over until you get to San Francisco, for sure. Until then, I hope you have daffodils in your neighborhood, occasional warm breezes, more light in the evening, and a generous bowl of ice cream.

Malted Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Crackle

Malted Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Crackle

  • Yield: 1 Quart
  • Prep time: 40 mins
  • Inactive time: 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Total time: 3 hrs 10 mins

As written, the Bi-Rite gals add peanut brittle and milk chocolate chunks to this ice cream base. That has to be stellar — but there’s something to be said about the simple chocolate crackle strewn throughout; certainly add any mix-ins that you think sound delicious. Crushed cookies or toasted almonds would be wonderful. I tweaked the amount of malted milk powder here, too, feeling ultimately that 1/2 cup was a little heavy-handed.

Slightly adapted from: Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones


5 large egg yolks
1/3 cup malted milk powder (like Carnation)
1 3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup 2 % milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coconut oil (measured when solid)*
1 1/4 cups dark chocolate feves, pieces, or chips (or just chop up your favorite bar)


In a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up, then whisk in the malted milk powder. Set aside.

In a heavy non-reactive pan saucepan, stir together the cream, milk, sugar, and salt and put the pan over medium heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to low. Carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another 1/2 cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl into the pan.

Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat until it’s thickened and coats the back of a spatula. Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a  clean container. Set the container in an ice-water bath and stir occasionally to release the heat. Wait until it’s cool. Remove the container from the ice-water-bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours- overnight.

Once the base is chilled, remove from the refrigerator and add the vanilla. Give it a quick stir to combine. Free in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Meanwhile, make the magic shell, or chocolate crackle: In a small saucepan, heat the coconut oil on  medium-low heat until it’s just melted and in liquid form. Add the chocolate pieces and stir until they’ve melted into the oil. Remove from heat. Pour in a small bowl until you’re ready to add it to your ice cream base. Once ice cream is finished churning, slowly pour in the chocolate crackle; although it’s in viscous liquid form, it will freeze up into little solid bits when it hits the cold ice cream.

 * Recipe note: When I first started making chocolate crackle and when I initially posted this recipe, I used much more coconut oil. Since then, I’ve learned you really only need a few tablespoons and that the chocolate actually firms up on its own really well, too. So since the original post, I’ve decreased the amount of coconut oil called for in the chocolate crackle. 


  1. Dana

    Man! I guess I know what my next few purchases at Book Larder are going to be! Can't wait to share some ice cream with you!

  2. Bowen

    Cannot wait to make this! I have literally bookmarked four different recipes with malt that have come through my blog reader in the past few days. Malt for all!

  3. emmycooks

    I am looking forward to trying this ice cream. But more importantly, I feel that your suggestion to add malt powder may have forever revolutionized chocolate chip cookies for me. Do you recommend reducing the flour or adding more liquid to compensate for it? I'm sure it depends a bit on the recipe, so I will play around with it, but if you have any advice I'd love to use it as a starting point.

    1. megang

      Hi Emmy! No, don't play with the flours. I start with 1/4 cup and I'd start with your favorite basic recipe and take it from there. Malted milk powder is fantastic because it's wonderful in vanilla-based desserts but also adds a warm depth to chocolate. Enjoy and let me know how it goes!

  4. Nicole

    Please,please, please tell me the trees will still look like that when I get to Seattle next weekend. I miss them so much. The Molly Moon's ice cream book is coming out soon too. Can't wait to start churning it up myself.

    1. megang

      Oh I hope so, Nicole! It is raining a bit today, so hopefully the cherry blossoms will be out for you next week! And yes, I'd forgotten about the Molly Moon's ice cream book; it's ice cream central this spring (a good thing). Enjoy your visit. ~m

  5. Molly

    Aw, Herrel's.

    I'm from Western Mass and am now in Boston and it is a shame, dare I say travesty, that there is no longer a Herrel's in this town. Just the mention of Herrel's brought a smile to my face. Kind of like the idea of a beer at 3 in the afternoon.

    I'll definitely need to get my hands on that cookbook.

    1. megang

      Molly: there's no Herrel's?!?! WHAT?! Could this be true? I definitely was not aware of this ... sigh. You will like the cookbook, I think. They have a great fruit/herb section that is perfect for spring/summer.

  6. ileana

    This sounds wonderful! I can't wait for the day I finally get an ice cream machine. Sadly, I just don't have the space right now.

    Anyway, so glad you're loving your new home and neighborhood.

  7. Lisa Waldschmidt

    Have you seen Jeni's ice cream book? I have been to her place in Cleveland and her ice cream is crazy and delicious.

    1. megang

      Oh, Lisa. We have a little Midwest ice cream obsession happening here, too. I have Jeni's book and love it although, truthfully, haven't tried a recipe yet. I am DYING to visit one of her shops -- her pints are available in a select few stores here but are very, very pricey. A friend introduced Sam and I to Graeters -- delicious and more affordable. Have you tried (coconut chip is to die for).

  8. brighteyedbaker

    I LOVE spring... and the daffodils and (sometimes) warmer weather and lighter evenings are definitely coming here too! Ice cream has been on my mind as well, and I want to try this one out for sure :) I was just in San Francisco but never have heard of Bi-Rite. It'll be on my list for next time I go, but in the meantime, thanks for sharing this recipe!

    1. megang

      Yes, and you can add Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous to your SF ice cream list, too. And Smitten Ice cream. That should keep you busy for awhile!

  9. Mary

    I knew these books would not escape your radar, fellow ice cream fiend. The local ice cream shop is one of the first things I seek out when I visit a new town. Megan, I'm glad you rescued your machine from the back of the cupboards. Mine whirls year-round. Looking forward to your post on H-S. In the meantime, you and Molly still have me thinking about Graeter's.

    1. megang

      Graeter's! Yes, you know you can order it right, Mary? It's not inexpensive but if you were going to do so, the coconut chip is really so, so good. It was the source of one of our only arguments in the house when Sam discovered I'd eaten the pint in two days flat. I told him to get used to it :) Hope you're well, my friend!

  10. thelittleloaf

    As soon as I saw that first shot I knew I had to make this ice cream, it looks divine! I'm always on the lookout for new ice cream recipes, thanks so much for sharing :-)

  11. Hannah

    I'm happy we met yesterday, Megan! And delighted to see the sun return today - I'll be in my flip-flops. I'm feeling nostalgic for Herrell's now...time to pull out our ice cream maker and try this scrumptious looking ice cream. Thanks for sharing!

    1. megang

      Hi Hannah! Thanks for stopping by and for saying hello. It was great meeting you yesterday as well (and yay, sun!) I'm sure, now that I've placed a face to a name, I'll see you around town more and more. Have a wonderful spring weekend! ~m

  12. Jessica

    Can't wait to try this! Thanks for the lovely post.

  13. Sandy

    I've been so good with my 12 Step Program for Cookbook Addiction and you have to put this post up...can't resist must buy Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones. Beautiful blog and this recipe is going to the top of my to do list ,thanks for sharing

    1. megang

      Oh I know, Sandy. Doesn't Booklarder kill you when you walk in? There is a Molly Moon's Ice Cream Book coming out that's supposed to be lovely as well -- we're in trouble. Than you for the sweet blog compliments and taking the time to leave a note. Happy Sunday. ~m

  14. The Cozy Herbivore

    I really adore malt powder-- in fact, I work in an ice cream shop in Philly and were you to visit me unexpectedly, you might catch me spooning it over my daily scoop or even scooping a little into some milk, which I then steam and spoon into my espresso for a malted cappuccino! (Try it sometime, it's AWESOME!)

    This recipe looks delicious, I can't wait to try it!

    1. megang

      Oh, my. Thank you for the tip (I will try it!) What ice cream shop do you work for in Philly? I'm always collecting a list should I find myself in a city wanting a cone ... which happens. Happy Sunday. ~m

  15. Aebel

    I tried this recipe last night, using Lindt Excellence 70% for the chocolate crackle. The ice cream itself was tasty but the crackle had a terrible aftertaste. So much so that my husband couldn't finish a bowl, and I could barely finish mine either. Very disappointing. Have looked at other recipes for "magic shell" that had much less coconut oil relative to chocolate. Will have to try again.

    1. megang

      Aebel! Oh, dear. This is odd. I've made the magic shell a few times and it's worked just fine. I'm wondering if the coconut oil might've gotten too hot? You just want to heat it until it becomes liquid, not cook it. I'll go back in and write in the gram measurements and perhaps that will help folks, but I can't think what else would've gone wrong here. So sorry you didn't enjoy the ice cream -- such a bummer; let me know what happens if/when you try it again. Ours was delicious so I'm not what happened with you all, but I'm sorry it wasn't delicious. Have a great week, ~m

  16. Weekend links, April 16 | Bowen Appétit!

    [...] was a good week for blog-reading malted milk lovers (e.g. me). Must make this and this asap. (Also: Bi-Rite Creamery book comes out TOMORROW?! Heck yes.) And if you need other ideas for [...]

  17. Aebell

    Not a worry! I don't think I overcooked the coconut oil (the last bit had barely melted when I added the chocolate). It is possible that I got a bad jar of coconut oil! The expiry date is a long way away but you never know.

    Either way, I came away with some positives: one, I really liked the malted vanilla ice cream base. And two, I loved having learned the magic shell technique. I got such a kick out of pouring some into my cuisinart and watching it harden and turn into a million little shards. I am undaunted and shall keep experimenting. :)

    1. megang

      Great, Aebell. I'm glad there were positives, too. It is pretty awesome to see it all hardening in the machine, isn't it? One of my favorite lines from a blog comment ever: "I am undaunted and will keep experimenting." Love it. Have a great rest of the week, ~m

  18. Jill

    I'm guessing I should purchase an ice cream maker before the book....yours looks and sounds so good. Thanks for the lovely post.

    1. megang

      I'm thinking you need to do that, Jill. Summer's coming!

  19. Tori (@eatori)

    Gosh I love Bi Rite. I've got such good memories of the salted caramel and creme fraiche ice cream from there. Was a revelation in a cone.

  20. kickpleat

    I've never seen malted milk powder up here, only Ovaltine which I think might be similar. Next time I head to the states I'll pick some up because this does sound super amazing!

    1. megang

      Jeannette-Can't even order it online, huh? Yes, I have a feeling it'd be something you'd be pretty into. I heard you and Kasey got to meet each other when she was in your neck of the woods. Love those random encounters. Hope you're having a great week! ~m

  21. Sara

    It's been decided: I need an ice cream maker! I'm a new reader, but I've loved reading your posts from Seattle so far... I've started a list of places to visit when I take a trip there in August. I would certainly welcome any tips for hidden gems that are not to be missed while I'm there!

  22. Taylor

    "In a heavy non-reactive pan saucepan, stir together the cream, milk, sugar, and salt and put the pan over medium heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium."

    I don't quite understand. Should the pan be put on heat that is higher than medium and then be reduced?

    1. megang

      Hi Taylor. So sorry for the little error there. Geesh. It's been fixed now. Let me know how you like the recipe! ~m

  23. Weekend links, April 16 | Bowen Appétit

    [...] was a good week for blog-reading malted milk lovers (e.g. me). Must make this and this asap. (Also: Bi-Rite Creamery book comes out TOMORROW?! Heck yes.) And if you need other ideas for [...]

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