Ice cream treats are a summertime favorite

July 25, 2011
We made these chocolate and vanilla versions of a popular commercial cookie-and-ice-cream treat and called them Oreo Storms. BY JACK CLEMONS

When it comes to ice cream, I’m boring: vanilla is my favorite flavor. Don’t try to tempt me with cookie dough or minty chip or any type of chocolate. Fill a bowl with a scoop (or two) of creamy vanilla and nothing else. And, as much as I’m against spoiling the purity of my ice cream with fruit or nuts, I’m easily tempted by vanilla variations like the hints of custard in French vanilla or speckled vanilla bean.

My extended family, however, prefers kaleidoscope concoctions mixed with everything from candy bars to caramel chunks. While a traditional milkshake blends ice cream, milk and flavored syrup into a smooth but not-too-thick consistency, the super-thick drinks need to be eaten with a spoon – partially to keep the cookie and candy pieces from clogging the straw. After a costly stop at a beachside ice cream shop for frozen desserts named after a winter weather phenomenon, we decided to attempt recreating a few complicated combinations at home.

There are some tricks to making these treats. First, start with a good-quality, “light” ice cream that has an airy, soft-serve style texture. Alternatively, you could use regular ice cream and thin it slightly by whipping it in a blender with a bit of cream or half-and-half. The next secret is to freeze your add-ins (cookies, candy bits, etc.) and roughly chop them. Lastly, you don’t want to use a blender for the final mixing step or you’ll grind the ingredients into dust. After you’ve combined the ice cream and flavoring, simply fold in the crunchy pieces.

We call the two drinks in the photo “Oreo storms.” You may be able to see the cookies swirling as if caught in a strong wind. The darker one was made with regular chocolate cookies and the vanilla version (a necessity, of course) with golden Oreos. We kept the ratio of ice cream to milk quite high to ensure a thick, creamy texture; if you prefer to be able to drink the shake, add more milk.

These can be made even more decadent by chopping your favorite candy bar and stirring in the pieces, as in the recipe below. Our granddaughter Nicole suggested another variation; she added organic peanut butter and chocolate syrup to ice cream. The result was a rich, nutty and marginally healthy treat.

Playing with ice cream drinks reminded me of the old-fashioned soda fountain treats like ice cream sodas, root beer floats and (perfect for a vanilla lover) the egg cream. The latter is a variation on how all soda used to be made: flavored syrup was poured into the bottom of a glass and a stream of carbonated water was added to fill the glass. The egg cream uses vanilla (or chocolate) syrup and adds milk to the mix, which froths into a fluffy head of foam when the seltzer is added.

The ice cream soda starts as an egg cream and morphs into a spoon-able treat with the addition of ice cream. The float starts with flavored soda – typically root beer, but anything goes – that’s topped with a scoop of ice cream. Assembling this is a little tricky – the level of soda can’t be too close to the top of the glass when you add the ice cream, or the foaming can become a geyser. The float in the photo is almost low-calorie: Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper and light ice cream – plus I worked off most of the calories cleaning up the spill I created dropping in the ice cream.

If all this talk about ice cream has you hungry for more, look into the collectors club known as The Ice Screamers, a small group dedicated to the history of ice cream – they also serve free tastes (with sprinkles) at their annual convention in Pennsylvania.

Golden Oreo Storm
4 vanilla Oreo cookies
2 C vanilla ice cream
1 t vanilla syrup
1/4 C milk

Chop cookies; set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Stir in cookies and serve immediately. Note: freezing the cookies first helps keep the drink chilled.

Chocolate Oreo Storm
4 Oreo cookies
1 C vanilla ice cream
1 C chocolate ice cream
1/4 C milk
1 T chocolate syrup

Chop cookies; set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Stir in cookies and serve immediately. Note: freezing the cookies first helps keep the drink chilled.

Nicole’s Peanut Butter Shake
1 1/2 C caramel swirl ice cream
1/4 C milk
1/3 C crunchy peanut butter
2 T chocolate syrup

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and puree until combined. Serve immediately.

Vanilla Egg Cream
1 T vanilla syrup*
1/3 C milk
2/3 C seltzer water

Pour the syrup in the bottom of a tall glass. Stir in the milk, just until combined. Squirt in seltzer water to create a foamy head. Serve immediately. *Note: for chocolate egg cream, substitute 2 T chocolate syrup.

Candy Storm
1 frozen candy bar
2 C ice cream
1/4 C milk
1 t hazelnut syrup

Chop the candy bar into very small pieces; set aside. Combine the remaining ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Stir in the candy and serve immediately.