Ice cream is one of America’s greatest decadent achievements. There’s not a birthday party, Fourth of July event, or long summer day that I can’t remember eating ice cream. The roots of ice cream began Before the Common Era, and even Alexander the Great took part in eating snow cones with honey. In the late 1600s, the world’s first version of ice cream was sold at a French café, and it consisted of milk, cream, butter, and eggs. The Americas began creating ice cream in 1744. Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison spent hundreds of dollars on ice cream. By 1851, ice cream manufacturing became a commercial industry (1).
Rocky Road is a classic American flavor that was invented by EDY’s ice cream company. In 1928, an ice cream aficionado named William Dreyer paired with Joseph Edy, an expert in confections, to create the famous brand that’s currently owned by Nestlé. One day in 1929, Dreyer added walnuts and cut-up marshmallow pieces to the company’s chocolate ice cream. He named the creation “Rocky Road” to symbolize the feelings of the American people during the Great Depression.
Almonds are now used instead of walnuts in EDY’s Rocky Road flavor (2).
Rocky Road was extra special during that era because the incorporation of marshmallows into ice cream was never done before. Common flavors at the time were simply vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Dreyer obtained the little bites of candy by using his wife’s sewing scissors to cut large marshmallows into smaller pieces.
Marshmallows are confections made of sugar, water, and gelatin. Marshmallows have unique properties that classify them as foams, which consist of gas bubbles distributed in a liquid phase. The addition of gelatin prevents the foams from collapsing.
Gelatin comes from collagen, which is a connective tissue protein found in animals. Gelatin is derived by heating collagen in pigskin, cattle bones, cattle hide, and fish byproducts. Upon boiling, the collagen proteins unfold, or denature, and never regain their true form when cooled. Instead, the process creates a gel.
Gelatin has many uses in the food industry because of its distinct properties. Gelatin increases a product’s texture, water binding capacity, and thickness (3) . Gelatin can stabilize foams (like marshmallows) and emulsions (like hot dogs). Gelatin is also thermoreversible, which means that it becomes liquid when heated above its melting point and gels when returning to its cooler state (4).
The flavor release and sensory properties of gelatin are due to its thermoreversibility. This means that gelatin allows food products to “melt in the mouth.”
Due to an increase in the prevalence of vegetarian and vegan diets, the need for more gelling agents in Kosher and Halal practices, and an appearance of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in the 1980s, gelatin replacement has become a significant concern in the food industry. However, gelling and thickening agents from plant sources do not exhibit the unique properties of gelatin. Finding an alternative for gelatin will vary for each product, as it is unlikely that someone will find a universal substitute (3).
I’m only using the real deal in my latest recipe. Time to make some Rocky Road Brownies.
For the brownies: 1 cup coconut oil (melted), 1 ½ cups granulated sugar, 1 ½ cups brown sugar, 1 Tbsp vanilla extract, 4 large eggs, 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 cup cocoa powder, 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided into 1½ cups and ½ cup), 1 ½ cup mini marshmallows, 3/4 cup almond slivers
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, cream together the coconut oil, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. If you can’t get the items to cream, then simply mix them together until the sugars are fully incorporated into the oil. Add 1 Tbsp of vanilla extract, and mix well.
Beat in 1 large egg until it is completely mixed into the batter. Repeat the step 3 more times for a total of 4 eggs.
Add the flour, ½ cup at a time. Place 1 tsp of salt into the bowl and mix well. Add the cocoa powder, ½ cup at a time. The cocoa powder may get all over your kitchen if you add it too quickly!
Measure out 1 ½ cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Mix them into the batter. Fold the batter a few times with a spatula to make sure that all of the items are evenly distributed.
Grease a 9 x 13″ baking pan with a dab of coconut oil. Distribute the batter evenly throughout the pan.
Bake the brownies for 25 minutes. Remove them from the oven.
Mix 1 ½ cups of mini marshmallows with 3/4 cup almond slivers. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of brownies. Add the remaining ½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips on top of that.
Place the brownies back in the over for another 25 minutes, which is when the marshmallows will be golden brown and a knife will come out cleanly from the center.
Let the brownies cool for at least 10 minutes. This will help the coconut oil and chocolate chips solidify. When the brownies are cooled, cut and enjoy them!
This blog addition does not my contain my healthiest recipe, but everyone deserves a nice treat after a long day of working in the sun. To continue the American tradition, pair the brownies with a scoop of ice cream.
1. Armstrong, Peggy. “International Dairy Foods Association.” The History of Ice Cream. Accessed 02 Feb. 2014. http://www.idfa.org/news–views/media-kits/ice-cream/the-history-of-ice-cream/
2. Miquelim JN, Da Silva Lannes SC. 2009. Egg albumin and guar gum influence on foam thixotrophy. Journal of Texture Studies 40(5): 623-636.
3. Karim AA, Bhat R. 2008. Gelatin alternatives for the food industry: recent developments, challenges and prospects. Trends in Food Science & Technology 19: 644-656.
4. “Fish Gelatin Powder.” Modernist Pantry. Accessed 8 August 2014. Available at http://www.modernistpantry.com/gelatin-powder-fish.html