As I said before, “Let your legs do the talking” was we had agreed last weekend when we rode 240-miles (primarily on dirt roads,) through Southern Vermont. No one was forcing us through this; it was a challenge we sought out on our own. We wanted to make a point – primarily to ourselves but also to the naysayers who thought it was too tough, too stupid, too much. Or thought we might just have too much to drink the night before and never show up at the starting line. We honestly didn’t hear a word of what they said. The sound of our excitement all but drowned them out. In this case, all we needed to do was let them talk. Our bodies would listen. And maybe then too would those naysayers.
Our strategy worked. We not only finished up two consecutive century-plus rides, but we did it gracefully and smiling the whole way through. To say we were elated is an understatement. To say I’m eternally bonded to these women for the ease, beauty and companionship that they exhibited on the bike is an even more obtuse one. To say that we were surprised with the outcome would be a flat-out untruth. We were always going to show up. We were never going to let each other down, because we’d already made the promise not to let ourselves down. We had track records to prove it. To prove that we let our legs do the talking.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week. Because in all areas of life there are naysayers, yes, but more so because until we start letting our legs do the talking, nothing happens. You can listen to your heart, but if you never do what it says you’re stuck. You can say anything you choose – about how you feel, what you think – but until you act on those words they mean nothing.
To be honest, tackling back-to-back Rapha Prestige races was one of the smaller, apparently senseless things I’ve signed up for and done with what feels like relative ease. My fellow teammates are the same. We’ve learned a few things about suffering, and doubt. About struggle, and reward, About trying something we thought was impossible and achieving it, but also falling on our faces in failure. We all agree that a promise will only get you so far. You have to put in the work to fulfill that promise. None of us showed up to the starting line in Vermont having not had years of experience crushing ourselves into the ground — for training, to escape life, to escape love, to learn a lesson, to shake a curse, to punish ourselves for saying/doing/acting the wrong way, and for the sake of learning to just trust ourselves and our frantic heartbeats again. You’ve all heard that “actions speak louder than words,” but I’m not talking about drowning out noise or allowing your heart, mind and body to yell at one another. There is a point when arguing isn’t worth it. Just stand up and walk in the right direction and resolve will appear. Just point your wheel and pedal in the direction you need to go. And you’ll get there.
The alliance I have with these incredible women is one of knowing that they’ve walked when they needed to walk. Pedaled when that was all they could do. They’ve taken the actions felt in their hearts — and thus they’ve come out on top. This makes them brave. Maybe invincible. But human all the same. To our inconvenience, irritation and indemnity – when we’re faced with something that appears impossible, we know right where to look for the path over the mountain. In the case of Vermont, we just rode our bikes voraciously because that was what we needed to do. I would dare to say that as a collective these ladies and I do most things voraciously (to include drinking bourbon, buying shoes, blasting boys, making love, dishing out criticism and praise etc etc etc) In my case, I’d put making ice cream also in the “let-legs-talk-voraciously” category.
Which brings me to this Triple Maple Ice Cream. My father loves Maple Pecan ice cream, and I love him but I strongly oppose his sentiments here. There is nothing not to love about maple syrup but I despise pedestrian Maple Pecan ice creams. Because the pecans are like “ho hum,” and the maple is a little muted so it’s a barely tart alternative to not-great-vanilla. The horror. It could be so much BETTER!! And, it’s was something I’d complained about for years, whenever I step before a ice cream case and see the lame little pecans just sitting there limp in their “meh” maple cream. But, its only sad to bitch about it for eternity, right? So, long ago -when I started playing with ice creams- I pulled together my version complete with maple praline pecans and maple caramel mixed in. Because the world deserved a more worthwhile Maple Ice Cream, legs did some talking, spatulas did some stirring and so this decadent recipe came to be. I got to thinking about this quadruple time in Vermont because I understand that *the* thing to eat in the summer there is a maple creemee. Which I never found. But, I certainly interrupted the quiet moments of our rides by asking my teammates if they’d seen a creemee stand? Was there a creemee back there? Doesn’t that sound SO good right now? Do you think we’ll find one today?”
Triple Maple Ice Cream was a no-brainer when I got back to Colorado where I didn’t have a sweet roadside stand to eat it (or maple shavings to sprinkle over the top. WHAT?!) But my version here sweet and even a bit tart, crunchy and seductively swirled so there is nothing lacking, nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a staple of our annual ice cream social and has come to be one of my favorites and yet I rarely get to have any. So, I came home with an ample supply of “The Good Stuff” in my suitcase made a fourth batch in as many weeks of so I could have a scoop, and so I could share it with you here.
Now, as you’ve maybe already gathered this is not one of those recipes where I’m going to tell you how “quick, easy and straightforward” it is. It’s not. There are three components to make here so that you can pack all that maple into your cream. Don’t sweat. They’re all quite easy in and of themselves. Again, don’t think too much, don’t talk too much — just do — and you’ll succeed here.
A few notes: you’re going to make a maple caramel, pralined pecans, and then the ice cream. I’d suggest making the caramel + pecans at least one day before you plan to make the ice cream. This way, if you make the ice cream base in the morning and churn it in the afternoon, you could be eating Triple Maple Ice Cream for dessert. (If not, you can have it for breakfast.) If you’re *really* in a pinch for time you could cheat (though this is the opposite of letting your legs do the talking its actually allowing someone to walk for you but anyway,) WholeFoods Market sells a rather good candied pecan in their bulk section nationwide. And, you could always use the best dulce de leche you can find to swirl into the ice cream. This becomes Not-Triple-Maple-Ice-Cream but still, probably delicious.
While the multiple components make this a “labor of love,” as it were, the steps themselves are pretty easy. Pay attention when you’re making your caramel so as not to over cook it. This is a “Philly style” ice cream, which means there are no eggs (and no nasty overcooked eggs strands) to worry about. You will need to have an ice cream maker on hand so be sure your bowls are frozen and ready for action. Lastly, I like to pack, store and serve my ice creams in glass Weck jars which have a nice rubber seal and really protect them against the elements of the freezer. By packing the ice cream with a layer of wax paper in direct contact with the cream, you add another layer of protection against potential freezer burn (as if the ice cream would last long enough to get burned anyway!)
I suppose that’s it. Enjoy this one. Let your legs do the talking here – you’ll end up with something incredibly delicious and quite impressive….just as you would expect. -xo L
- 1 cup maple sugar
- 2/3 cup Grade B maple syrup
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- a pinch of fine grain sea salt
- 1 cup pecans (or other favorite nuts)
- 2 Tablespoons maple sugar
- 2 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 1/2 cup Grade B maple syrup, preferably from a small-batch producer
- Combine the maple sugar and maple syrup in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and head over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is melted. Then, cook without stirring, swirling the pan occasionally. The mixture will become foamy at first, then the bubbles will get bigger before at last subsiding into tiny little bubbles. Once the bubbles are shiny and small, the sugar will start to brown quite quickly - first from the edges and then into the center. Use a heatproof rubber spatula to stir until the caramel is a deep scotchy brown, then remove it from the heat. Carefully drizzle the cream into the caramel, minding that the sugar mixture may pop and sputter a bit. Stir until the mixture is completely dissolved. Add the butter pieces and stir until melted and smooth. Lastly, add the salt and stir well. Let the caramel cool, then cover in an airtight container for up to two weeks. You'll need the caramel to be cool so you can stir it into the churned ice cream!
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Combine the nuts with the remaining ingredients in a bowl, tossing to coat completely. Spread them out on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Then remove, stir, and bake for another 5 to 6 minutes, stirring twice. The nuts should look bubbly and somewhat dry. Remove from the oven and let cool completely, stirring the nuts every couple of minutes to break them up. Once cool, store in an airtight container and set aside to mix into your finished ice cream.
- To prepare, mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and water and set aside a small bowl with a gallon sized ziploc bag for storing the ice cream base.
- Now, bring the maple syrup to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and continue boiling for 8 minutes, or until the maple has reduced by one-half and has begun to darken around the edges. Remove the pan from the heat and, stirring constantly, slowly add the cream and corn syrup mixture. Then add the remaining milk. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and cook for 4 minutes (the mixture might look a little bit curdled from the acid in the maple, but it will come back together -- no worries.) Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Then, return the mixture to the heat again and bring it back to boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened -- about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
- Gradually whisk the hot milk/maple mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. (If you have some lumps you could later use an immersion blender to smooth them out.) Pour the mixture into the 1-gallon ziploc freezer bag and submerge the bag in the prepared bowl of ice water. I like to keep the ice water in the fridge to speed up this process. Let it stay in the ice bath until cold, at least 30 minutes but sometimes more.
- Lastly, pour the ice cream base into the frozen canisters of your ice cream maker and spin until thick and creamy. Organize your maple caramel and maple pralines because it's time to put it all together! Pack the ice cream into a storage container (I like glass Weck jars) - alternating with a little handful of pralines, then a big dollop of ice cream and a swirl of the caramel until the container is completely full. This isn't a science. Just mix it together -- it will taste great. Store the ice cream with waxed paper directly against the surface of the cream and sealed with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours. Then scoop, eat and enjoy.