Mary included Bear Bug Ice Cream in Shadow Voice, and my Alpha, Jackson, asked me to write about it and tell everyone how they can make it. So to begin with, what exactly is it? What’s the story behind it? And what makes it so special that Slate, my mate, prefers it more than any other dessert?
Well, Bear Bug Ice Cream is a creamy, vanilla-honey ice cream liberally laced with pieces of dark chocolate that provide a nice counterbalance to the sweetness of the honey. It’s delicious and my mate loves to slather me with it and then lick it off—which, as you can imagine gives both of us a great deal of pleasure.
As legend has it, Bear Bug Ice Cream was created by Artio, known also as the Bear Goddess because she was able to take the form of a bear. She’s well known as the protector of all bear shifters, including Theodore and Norman who are now members of the Blackwood Pack.
Anyway, to get back to why she came up with it. Every year shifter cubs who had been orphaned were brought to Artio for protection. There were lots of reasons
why a cub might be orphaned but it usually resulted from human bear hunts. But regardless of the reason, she adopted all the parentless shifter cubs and provided them with love, guidance, discipline and education.
As the story goes, it was a warm day in summer and her cubs were acting up, unhappy at being in the classroom when they really wanted to be outside having fun chasing each other and climbing trees. To get the class to settle down and pay attention to their assignments, Artio announced that any cub that completed the day’s lessons satisfactorily would get a special dessert.
The cubs’ ears perked up at the mention of a treat and they diligently applied themselves to the tasks at hand. In the meantime, Artio whipped up the first-ever batch of a special ice cream and when the cubs were finished with their lessons, they each received a big dish of it. One of them asked her what it was called. Having a great sense of humor, Artio told them she was naming it Bear Bug—since she’d made it in response to being bugged by them that day. As you can imagine, Bear Bug Ice Cream was a big hit and it is still the dessert served at all bear shifter gatherings.
In Shadow Voice, I was introduced to it by my mate, Slate—and I promised him there would always be some in the freezer for him. It’s an heirloom shifter dessert served at the Wolf Pack Pub in Edinburgh, Scotland, and after a little pleading and begging, the chef finally gave me the recipe. So without further delay, I give you Bear Bug Ice Cream.
BEAR BUG ICE CREAM
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
½ cup of honey
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and scraped
4 large eggs
1 cup bittersweet chocolate pieces (dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Heat the cream, milk, honey and vanilla beans and seeds in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until hot, being careful not to let the mixture boil and curdle.
Lightly whisk the egg yolks in a medium heatproof bowl, then slowly drizzle 1 cup of the hot cream mixture into the yolks while whisking. Pour the yolk mixture into the saucepan of cream; heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a wooden spoon, again being careful not to let it boil and curdle.
Pour through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the vanilla beans and any bits of cooked egg yolk. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover the custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 6 hours. You can speed this process dramatically by partially submerging the bowl of custard in a larger bowl of ice water to form an ice bath and stirring the custard occasionally until cold. The colder the custard is, the faster the machine will be able to freeze it for ice cream.
Pulse the chocolate pieces in a food processor until you have a mixture of fine pieces as well as larger chunks remaining.
Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker, and follow the directions on your ice cream maker to freeze. After about 10 minutes into the freezing, add the chocolate chips. After the ice cream has thickened, about 30 minutes later, spoon into a container, and freeze for 2 hours.
Before taking the first spoonful, give thanks to Artio and the bear cubs that bugged her.