When I was younger, a good friend of mine once told me that she had heard it said that the best part of adulthood was the ability to buy one’s own groceries. I tended to agree.
Of course, I was much younger.
I still remembered going to the grocery store with my mother and begging her for sugared cereals. Her response was always the same. It’ll be a hot day in December before I buy you that. It should be noted here that I am a child of the eighties, and, as such, grew up well before the phrase global warming entered the national lexicon (I’m fairly certain that synergy hadn’t caught on either, but that’s another matter altogether). It should also be noted that my parents always sent me and my sister off to camp with pallets of pop tarts, so I suspect that sugar wasn’t the problem; our resulting hyperactivity was.
At some point, as I got older, buying my own groceries was no longer so exciting. In fact, it could be downright stressful—a game of Supermarket Sweep in reverse where I’d be doing mental math down the aisles, trying to determine if I really needed that soda (if it was Diet Coke, the answer was yes) or those cleaning supplies (I’ll let you guess here).
Being underpaid and in your twenties in New York has its own rites of passage. There are the big ones that hopefully you learn from—your first promotion or professional reprimand, first huge break-up, first time hunting for an apartment on your own—they’re universal.
Then there are the small ones—in my first office, most of the assistants brought in a loaf of bread during the second week of our pay cycle, using the peanut butter that the company supplied to subsidize our lunches. If you asked any of us, we could have rattled off all of the happy hour specials within a ten block radius in minutes, taking care to mention all of the bars that provided snacks or whole full meals (I’m looking at you Crocodile Lounge). We were, quite literally, living paycheck to paycheck in the hopes that one day things would improve and we’d make it.
And, we did.
Getting our very own offices with doors any everything. Putting some money aside for a fancy vacation. Or, a home we owned ourselves. Or, in some cases, to start a college fund for our children. I realized around Halloween last year that my Facebook feed was clogged with photos of the children of my friends dressed up for the holiday rather than of my friends engaged in stupid activities. It had finally happened—I was a grown-up. I was buying orange juice not for screwdrivers but to ward off a head cold.
Something needed to be done. And, so, because I’m an adult and can buy my own groceries and make my own dinner, the answer was clear—a dinner date with my friend James, consisting of hot fudge spiked with red wine and salted caramel ice cream. Thankfully no one was there to tell us to eat our vegetables first.
Salted Caramel Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
6 TBS unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp fleur de sel (Diamond Crystal would work in a pinch, too)
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed dutch oven. Stir in the sugar and cook until the mixture turns golden brown and starts to smoke slightly.
Remove from the heat and mix in 1/2 cup heavy cream, whisking completely to help the caramel soften. Be careful as the mixture is hot and will splatter. Once the first 1/2 cup of heavy cream has been fully incorporated, add in the rest, whisking continuously. Then add in the salt and vanilla extract and mix well.
Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes, then add the rest of the milk, whisking well. This is your ice cream base. Once it is cool, process it with your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve with hot fudge sauce (recipe follows).
Hot Fudge Sauce
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Combine the chocolate, sugar, heavy cream, corn syrup, and cinnamon in the top bowl of a double boiler and place on medium heat. Heat until the chocolate has nearly melted, then whisk in the red wine, until it has been completely incorporated. Serve immediately.
Lasts one week, refrigerated. Heat over a double boiler prior to serving.