One of the highlights of summer has got to be ice cream. In my family, we’re big fans, welcoming a stop by the local ice cream store for a cone after a day at the beach or on a warm afternoon (check out our ice cream bucket list here). Our small town has five spots to get ice cream or frozen yogurt in our downtown area alone, which, surprisingly, was not one of the reasons we moved here (with the way we like ice cream, you would have thought it was). As a result, we’ve been working on increasing the kids’ stamina on their bicycles so we can ride into the center of town for a cone from one of those shops. (Yes, we’re also working on increasing their cycling stamina because it’s good for them; ice cream’s our “carrot” if you will.) Interestingly, for a family of ice cream aficionados, we rarely have it in the house, instead preferring to see it as a treat to have outside the home.
This approach to ice cream eating changed this weekend, however, when, thanks to our friends at Stonyfield and YayLabs!, we made our own ice cream at home with a shake, roll, and twist.
YayLabs! sent us their the SoftShell Ice Cream Ball to try out, which has been designed to help users make ice cream anywhere—on a camping trip, at the beach, or, in our case, on our driveway. Retailing for $34.99, the ball looks a bit like a small turquoise Death Star—only instead of housing Darth Vader, it makes ice cream.* Each end of the ball opens up: one side is for the ingredients, while the other is for the salt and ice.
This weekend, I recruited my kids, R and G, to put our ice cream making skills to the test. We decided to make frozen yogurt. In one end of our Ice Cream Ball, we placed 2 cups of Stonyfield yogurt, selecting the plain whole milk kind, along with 1/3 cup of maple syrup and 2 tablespoons of vanilla. In the other end we put in ice cubes and ¾ cup of kosher salt (the directions call for rock salt, with kosher salt as an acceptable second choice). I carefully carried the ball—now heavy with possibility—outside with R and G skipping ahead. I had heard from other Stonyfield Bloggers about the importance of not throwing the ball (a temptation for all kids, big and small), for as cool looking as the ball is, it is not indestructible (just like the Death Star!). “Don’t throw the ball at your sister” is a reasonable piece of advice—Ice Cream Ball or no Ice Cream Ball.
R and G sat on our driveway, a few feet apart from one another, pushing the ball back and forth for about 10 minutes before I joined the fun. My husband sat down on our driveway, too, and soon the four of us had our feet touching, legs spread out, and the ball was rolling from one family member to another. The kids made a game of the ice cream making, challenging each other to roll the ball back and forth between their two hands, counting the number of times the ball went from the left to the right. G’s turn got her to 110 rolls, the family record. After a few more minutes, we checked on our creation, carefully unscrewing the lid to find frozen yogurt lining the sides of the cylinder with liquid still in the center. Back to rolling we went. After another 10 to 15 minutes of back and forth, up and down the driveway, rolling and counting, counting and rolling, we declared our ice cream/fro yo ready to eat. The end result was delicious, so delicious in fact that the kids wouldn’t pose for a photo. They were too busy eating.
I enjoyed the unexpected parts of this project: R and G working together (with minimal yelling), and R and G discussing how was that the salt and ice turned the yogurt into dessert (it must be science, they concluded). I also appreciated that, while ice cream can be high in sugar, our frozen yogurt was on the healthier side, using only yogurt, maple syrup, and vanilla (though richer recipes can be made with the SoftShell Ice Cream Ball). The ball is also easy to use: no parts to freeze in advance (the reason I never get around to using the ice cream machine I got for my birthday years ago). And, it’s a great activity to keep the kids occupied—though this is definitely an outdoor activity, as the ice can be messy as it melts.
So our official opinion? With our Ice Cream Ball at the ready, we may give the ice cream shops in our town some competition.
Disclosure: As a Stonyfield Blogger, I created this post in partnership with Stonyfield. All opinions here are mine.
*Anytime I can make a Star Wars reference in a blog post that has nothing to do with Star Wars, it’s a good day.