February 02, 2012


Today is Groundhog Day, when Punxsutawney Phil could possibly see his shadow! It is going to be about 33 degrees F today, in London, so I have a feeling that we’re in for six more weeks of winter. Brrr! Also, on this day in Black History, Pittsburgh resident, Alfred Cralle, patented an ice cream mold, in 1897.

What could those two possibly have in common? The State of Pennsylvania, which was also home to Philadelphia resident and confectioner, Augustus Jackson. 

In the late 1820s, Augustus left his job as a White House chef, and moved to Philadelphia to set up a catering business, which proved to be quite successful. By 1832, he had developed a much more efficient and modern method for making ice cream, whose origins can be traced back to 400 BC, in Persia.

Augustus discovered that ice, mixed with salt, could lower and control the temperature of his special mix of ingredients, to make a delicious ice cream. Those ingredients were, indeed, quite creatively mixed; and he invented several new flavors, which were very popular – especially amongst African-Americans, who liked sweet treats.

The ice cream was sold to individuals and to ice cream parlors, in Philadelphia, at $1.00 per quart, which was quite a high price, in those days; but they quickly sold out each day. He soon became known as ‘The Father of Ice Cream’. While others tried to emulate his success, Augustus was able to enjoy a monopoly on his ice cream for several years because it was so delicious. He was able to enlarge his shop, which was on Goodwater Street (now known as St. James Street); and by the time he died, he had amassed a fortune, which he left to his daughter. She continued to run the business for several years and moved the shop to Walnut Street. However, she and other members of the Jackson family, were not able to scale the business to meet the demand for the ice cream, and other confectioners and caterers, principally Negroes, began making it – eclipsing their popularity.

Waiting to buy ice cream circa 1940

Churning ice cream for a church fundraiser

Augustus was a very illusive man. There do not appear to be any photos of him, his ice cream, his ice cream shop or his daughter. He also unfortunately never applied for any patents for his ice cream making method, nor the lovely flavors, which he invented. However, there are definite records of his existence and his accomplishments. Because of Augustus, millions have experienced the delight of that first spoonful or lick dancing on their tongues, which almost always brings an involuntary smile.

It may be almost freezing here, but my friends have been posting that Spring has already sprung in many places in the US, so it could be a day for an ice cream treat!

My favourite flavor is Rum Raisin; but here is an easy, no churn recipe for Caramel Latte ice cream. Enjoy! 

Caramel Latte No-Churn Ice Cream
By Carla Wells, Let’s Get Cooking
Makes 2-4 servings

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup milk
Ice Cream:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup instant coffee
  • Caramel (from above)

Prepare the caramel by cooking sugar in a saucepan until golden brown.  Add butter and stir.  Stir in the cream, and then the milk.  Let cool completely.
Whip heavy cream in a bowl.  In separate bowl, combine milk, sweetened condensed milk, and instant coffee until smooth.  Fold in whipped cream.  Pour into a freezer safe container with a lid, and freeze overnight.

Sources: About.com, Google, Bing, Wikipedia, The Philadelphia Courier, Yahoo!

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