Freeze! No cooking for us, just sweet, icy treats

Leo is: learning to catch the drips


During a heat wave, the ordinary rewards of feeding one's family reverse: no more lovingly cooking and serving a hot, homemade meal. Instead, I take pride in doing as little as possible, serving food as un-warm as possible, and tempting heat-addled appetites with sustenance that more closely resembles not a meal but an ice cube. So while I feel slightly sheepish taking credit for the 1-ingredient ice recipes that follow, I'm extraordinarily pleased to have created these ultra-refreshing treats reminiscent of the cremalatta and chocolate ices at my favorite Italian bakery in Brooklyn, Court Street Pastry.

An ice cream sandwich from the Coolhaus truck a few weekends ago started the whole thing. I don't frequently order and consume ice cream sandwiches from trucks, and if I do, I'm not usually going to opt for the dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan ice cream sandwich, but somehow, on a scorching day, the cardamom rice milk "ice cream" sandwich on pistachio cookies (agave sweetened, wheat free) appealed. And delivered, big time. The rice milk was so superbly refreshing—more so than ice cream—that I immediately began craving it.

And so, for the first time in decades of food coop membership, I found myself dwelling on the huge variety of non-dairy milks, from almond to hemp, from indulgent (horchata) to stringent (unsweetened lowfat soy). I opted for Vanilla Rice Milk, which happened to be lowfat, and Chocolate Hazelnut Milk, which happened to taste so delicious I would highly recommend it to all chocolate milk lovers!

Poured directly into my ice cream machine with no additions, these beverages churned into Italian ice—textured, not-too-sweet desserts that are unlike anything you can buy, healthier than most frozen treats, and so refreshingly thirst quenching that the heat wave truly seemed to recede while we spooned them up. Oh—and if you don't have an ice cream maker, all you really need is an ice pop mold (or Dixie cups and popsicle sticks!). The chocolate-hazelnut was icier than a fudgesicle, but Leo seems to like them. And my creamsicle pops, made with vanilla rice milk are another unexpectedly frosty and delicious discovery made during a week when we barely entered our kitchen.

Recipe: Vanilla Rice Milk Italian Ice

Recipe: Chocolate-Hazelnut Italian Ice ("The Baci")

Recipe: Vanilla-Orange Creamsicle Pops (Dairy-Free)

Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer and cookbook editor and co-author of The Flexitarian Table. Food Editor and blogger for The Faster Times, she tries not to eat for two now that her son is a toddler.