Merry Christmas to everyone. If I could, I would do for you what I did for my husband. Make one of this favorite child hood memories…peppermint ice cream. He talks about it all the time and says that there is no ice cream today that comes close to the peppermint ice cream of yesteryear at Howard Johnson’s.
If you don’t know who or what Howard Johnson is, you missed the great icon roadside restaurant in America. Traveling from Maine to Florida, travelers could get the best hand-dipped ice cream in existence, a clam roll, or a hot dog on a buttered toasted roll or perhaps a fish fry.
Howard Johnson started as a drugstore which of course had a soda fountain. Remember those? He was the first to present America with a super premium ice cream. The recipe had a high butterfat content that perhaps came from his mother or from a local German immigrant. No one is sure, but it changed the way people regarded ice cream. We lived close to a Howard Johnson’s and we would go on Sunday nights and pick up a quart of hand-dipped coffee ice cream for my grandmother and then butter pecan or peach for us.
My husband has a love affair with Howard Johnson’s in general. Every time he went to New York City on business, he would have to stop at the old “times square” HoJo and get a clam roll and peppermint ice cream. It became one of those funny stories. Who goes to NYC to go to Howard Johnson’s when you are on an expense account?
In 2005, the times square location closed forever. He was crushed. So this Christmas, I tried to duplicate the famous peppermint ice cream. I had his taste bud memories to rely on, and he thinks Howard Johnson would be proud. I know that I ate it and loved and I don’t typically like anything with peppermint. Now, to duplicate the clam roll. That’s MY Howard Johnson memory.
Do you have a favorite food from child hood that you wish you could have today? Do any of you remember Howard Johnson’s ice cream, and did you have a favorite flavor?
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 candy cane
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 10 egg yolks
- few drops peppermint extract
- 1-2 tablespoons peppermint schnapps (start with one, then add to your preference)
- 3/4 cup candy canes crushes (some are bigger pieces, some like powder)
- Heat milk, cream, salt (with a candy cane) over low heat just to simmering. Milk will turn a little pink. That’s okay. Beat egg yolks with sugar until creamy and light yellow. Temper eggs by adding 1/4 cup milk mixture to egg mixture.
- Transfer egg mixture into pan and cook on low for six minutes. Strain into a bowl and put into an ice bath. Cool in refrigerator overnight or several hours.
- Proceed with ice cream maker. At the end of cycle add, extract, peppermint schnapps and crushed candy. Ice cream is consistency of soft serve and must be frozen.
- Freeze for at least 3 hours prior to serving. The alcohol will prevent the ice cream from freezing rock hard, and even after freezing overnight, you will be able to scoop easily. If you choose to skip the peppermint schnapps and only use peppermint extract, your ice cream will freeze very hard and will require you to let it sit out 30 minutes prior to serving.
Note: Substitute peppermint schnapps with 1-2 t of peppermint extract, tasting as you go.