I was counting the number of times I’ve visited Swensen’s Ice Cream shop in my lifetime. I don’t know for sure, but I’m pretty confident that I visited 3 or 4 times a year since I was 5 years old. I’m currently in my 30s, so that would add up to around 100 visits. Yes, one hundred. Goodness, that does seem like a lot, doesn’t it?
I grew up in the Nob Hill / Russian Hill area of SF and the Swensen’s was our local ice cream shop. Occasionally, my father would take us there for an after school treat. My cousins and I would run up the hill for a summery indulgence. I would stop there on the way home from playing tennis at Alice Marble. And there was time my high school best friend NL and I gave our other best friend NT a successful makeover and we had celebratory cones. My then-boyfriend-now-husband and I would share a scoop back when we were first dating. Now that we're married, we each get our own scoop.
The original shop on the corner of Hyde and Union is the only Swensen’s that makes all their scooped ice cream on the premises. They sell pre-packed half gallon tubs which have been shipped from the main ice cream production facility, but the more expensive hand-packed is definitely the way to go. A noticeable difference in quality makes the splurge worthwhile.
My favorite Swensen’s flavor is Swiss orange chip. A dark chocolate ice cream infused with essence of orange and mini chocolate chips. And for the record, I have absolutely no idea why it’s "Swiss". Perhaps it’s a nod to the chocolate they first used back in the day? Another curiosity is the Swiss orange chip ice cream never freezes completely hard. Always softer than the other ice cream flavors, it melts much more quickly. I’ve always speculated that it had something to do with the orange oil but my suspicions have never been confirmed (nor have they been denied). Conspiracy theory aside, I’ve always wanted to recreate those delicious flavors in a cake. So here is my Swiss orange chip cupcake. Enjoy!
Swiss Orange Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
(makes 15 cupcakes)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp grated orange zest
2 extra-large eggs, at room temp.
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3 oz buttermilk, at room temp.
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside dry ingredients. Combine orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla extract in a small Pyrex measuring cup. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the orange zest. Then add the eggs, 1 at a time. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Mix in half of the buttermilk mixture. Repeat with flour, buttermilk, and flour. Mix in the chocolate chips.
Fill 15 lined muffin cups ¾ full. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool cupcakes in the muffin pans for 10 minutes. Then carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool completely.
1 cup semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp light corn syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
Combine chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until well combined about 2-3 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract. Glaze your cooled cupcakes.