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the naming of things

Recipe: chocolate grand marnier ice cream

We celebrated a victory of sorts this past week. Neva is now old enough that she can be at home alone for 8 or more hours without having an accident. This is wonderful news. However, Neva has a tendency to throw up if her tummy is empty for more than 4 or 5 hours. It would be an easy enough fix if we could have a dog sitter swing by to take her out to potty and give her treats during our absence, but finding a reliable anything in this town is another matter. A few months ago, I set about researching treat dispenser options. I didn’t find any that met our requirements: dog can’t reach it to break it, dispenser on self-timer. The closest one allowed the owner to dispense treats through an app on their smart phone (for $180). That doesn’t work when we’re in the backcountry with no cell reception. So we fashioned our own for a fraction of the cost and named it Dino.


this is dino

a simple dispenser made of random household items

the lid opens at the set time and drops the treats for neva



Jeremy built and programmed the microcontroller. I designed and built the dispenser, trained Neva, and tweaked the system to eliminate failure modes. We have it on the fireplace mantel so Neva can’t destroy the device. After much testing, we happily have a solid system that works! You can see a video of it operating and Neva getting treats on my Instagram.

We took a last minute trip to Crested Butte this weekend to fix some electronics at the house and figured why not make the most of it? We grabbed skis, the dog, our laptops, and drove west.


isolated storms dotted our route to crested butte

finally enough snow for neva to run on the dog-friendly ski trails



Halfway to Crested Butte, we met up with my good friend and professional pizza slinger in Buena Vista. I had texted her the day before, “Would you mind sharing some of your sourdough starter with me?” She placed the jar in my hand and in return I gave her a bag of cheese, salumi, nuts, fancy salt, Sumo oranges, and dog treats. This is how food people roll. She rattled off feeding instructions which I promptly forgot because it was freezing in the cold wind (but she emailed me detailed instructions). We hugged good-bye and for the next two hours on the road, I worried that I was going to kill my sourdough starter. It just so happened that another good friend had given me a kombucha scoby the week prior. I attempted my first brew the day before I learned we were going to Crested Butte, so there was double anxiety that I might be killing both my scoby AND my sourdough starter. But I’m home now and they are both alive and well. In commemoration of not dying, I named the scoby Scooby, and the sourdough starter Wheatley.

happy scooby and happy wheatley



It’s always good to know how to do things. When it comes to food and cooking, the opportunities are endless and I am constantly learning something new. The last time I tried my hand at a boozy ice cream, I felt the results weren’t as firm as I would like an ice cream to be. I had been itching to test another recipe to improve on the texture. This chocolate Grand Marnier ice cream looked promising because it had chocolate, less alcohol than the last ice cream (alcohol prevents freezing), and I thickened the custard with more egg yolks.

cream, grand marnier, milk, orange, sugar, gelatin, eggs, water, chocolate (not pictured: vanilla extract, salt)

heat the sugar, salt, milk, and cream

steep the orange zest in the hot cream

chop the chocolate



The ice cream is custard based and follows the typical steps of heating the dairy and sugar, tempering the egg yolks with the hot cream mixture, then cooking the custard until it thickens. I increased the yolks by 50% for a richer and thicker custard. The addition of chocolate also enhances the richness and thickness of the custard.

slowly add the hot liquid while whisking the yolks

cook the custard until thickened

strain the custard

stir in the chocolate

make sure the chocolate is completely melted



After chilling the custard completely, you can make the boozy mixture. This involves blooming gelatin in water, heating it ever so gently until the gelatin dissolves, and stirring in cold Grand Marnier. This gets added to the chilled custard, but make sure you strain the boozy gelatin mixture just in case you get some random blobs of gelatin forming. You really don’t want to encounter that in your ice cream.

water, powdered gelatin, cold grand marnier

bloom the gelatin in the water

add chilled grand marnier to the heated gelatin

strain into the custard

mix well

churn in your ice cream machine



I was quite pleased with the results of this recipe. The ice cream froze nice and firm, but still felt silky and luxurious on the tongue. You can definitely taste the Grand Marnier (that’s the whole point of the boozy ice cream) which works perfectly with dark chocolate. If you’re looking for a grown up version of chocolate ice cream, I highly recommend giving this one a try.

chocolate grand marnier ice cream

elegant, fun, boozy

to share or not to share


Chocolate Grand Marnier Ice Cream
[print recipe]
modified from Ice Cream Happy Hour: 50 Boozy Treats That You Spike and Freeze at Home

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
pinch salt
grated zest of 1 orange
6 egg yolks
6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsps (1/2 envelope) powdered gelatin
1/3 cup cold water
1/2 cup cold (refrigerated) Grand Marnier

Heat the milk, cream, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan until the edges begin to bubble. Remove from heat. Add the orange zest and let steep, covered, for 15 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks to break them up. While whisking, gradually pour a half cup of the hot cream mixture into the yolks. Continue whisking while slowly adding half of the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the pan with the remaining hot cream mixture. Turn the heat to medium and whisk or stir constantly until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard through a sieve. Stir the chopped chocolate into the custard until the chocolate has completely melted. Stir in the vanilla extract. Chill the custard.

Sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the cold water and let sit for 3 minutes until the gelatin blooms. Scrape the gelatin into a small saucepan and heat it over low heat until it is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir the chilled Grand Marnier into the gelatin. Strain the Grand Marnier mixture into the chilled chocolate custard and stir until smooth. Churn the ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Freeze the ice cream. Makes 1 quart.


more goodness from the use real butter archives

grand marnier souffle roasted cherry bourbon swirl ice cream white russian ice cream cherry ice cream

8 nibbles at “the naming of things”

  1. Kristin says:

    I’ve enjoyed watching the evolution of the treat dispenser on Instagram. Bonefish Grill has a chocolate creme brulee with Grand Marnier that is probably the real reason that I want to go to that restaurant. I am so excited to try this ice cream!! But I think I will wait until the girl child is home for spring break, as she adores chocolate and orange together as much as I do. The boy child may love broccoli, but he is not an orange fan. Now i need to do an archive dive for boozy creme brulee. I am going to visit my mom and step dad next week, and we all want to make a bourbon creme brulee. Wait, I want to make it, they just want to eat it.

  2. Rose says:

    I am a liberal arts kind of person in a family with a large number of nerds. We all share nerdly things that we find on the web with each other. I will be sharing this post with them.

    Hope the weather cooperates and allows us on the Front Range to enjoy a good view of the blue blood moon eclipse on Wednesday AM. Will you be up shooting pictures?

  3. Cindi says:

    I’m drooling… <3

  4. jenyu says:

    Kristin – I imagine a boozy creme brulee should be easier than boozy ice cream? I haven’t really tried it, but it sure sounds good! :) Maybe I should make booze creme brulee for my dad – two of his favorite things!

    Rose – It looks like we will be getting snow Wednesday night, which means I doubt we will be able to see the eclipse. On the one hand, I’m bummed to miss the eclipse (I’ve seen plenty, but I still like seeing/shooting them). On the other hand, it’s going to snow and I’ll take ANY snow I can get at this point.

    Cindy – :)

  5. Emily says:

    I love this dog treat dispenser you designed! Also, your latest cooking creation looks amazing, as always.

  6. Paige says:

    I’m thinking you need one of those simple voice recorders (like they have in greeting cards) for your treat dispenser, so it can give the “raspberry” release word.

  7. Lisa says:

    Aren’t you two inventive? What a great solution!

  8. jenyu says:

    Emily – Thank you! :)

    Paige – Ha ha! Neva is now fully aware of the treats coming out of the dispenser and that she doesn’t need a release word to eat them :)

    Lisa – xo

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