Growing up, my family played shopping cart bumper cars at the grocery store on the 4th of July. Other people careened around the produce aisles, pushing innocent bystanders out of the way to snag the best basket of blueberries or juiciest strawberries. But we left them all in the dust, making a beeline for the baking aisle instead.
No, we weren’t crazy enough to turn on the oven for cupcakes or brownies in the 90° heat… We needed salt. Rock salt. For homemade ice cream!
My parents owned an old-fashioned hand-cranked ice cream machine, one where you poured ice and rock salt in between the metal can and the side of the wooden bucket. None of those newfangled electric ice cream makers for them! We all took turns cranking the handle, one right after another, to keep the mixer paddle constantly spinning. My brother and I started, when the cream base was still liquid, and Daddy finished it off when our miniature muscles grew tired.
20 minutes later, we divided up the ice cream straight out of the metal container (and snuck licks off of the paddle too!). Because of its perfect soft-serve consistency, we always stuffed ourselves with seconds. It just wasn’t the same after the ice cream firmed up in the freezer!
This year, the weatherman promised 100°+ temperatures for the 4th of July, which scared me—the ice cream base might never actually freeze and stay as a big melted mess! So with the windows thrown wide open and fans blasting in the kitchen one evening, I baked “ice cream” cones as a Plan B. With a thick layer of whipped cream on top, they still have that similar (and addictive!) soft-serve consistency that we love so much.
Nobody will be able to resist these cute cupcake cones!