THE RECIPE BOX - Homemade cookies with ice cream a 'keep'-er

THE RECIPE BOX - Homemade cookies with ice cream a 'keep'-er

CUMBERLAND – Some “accidents” prove to be a good thing. Such was the way I learned about a local ice cream parlor called The Keep, at 2360 Mendon Road. Literally, I stumbled into it, thinking I was walking into Cumberland House of Pizza.

My friend Sue and I had finally made plans to get together on a Wednesday evening, and we decided to go for a nice salad at CHOPS. When we entered, we both instantly looked around and figured they had remodeled since our last visit.

A nice gal – Tina Lambrou – told us we could sit anywhere. The seating was amazing. Leather sofa, chairs in a bright chartreuse green, ambient lighting and a feeling of warmth, although the 6-foot-tall knight’s armor had me a bit confused in a pizza place.

Turns out we had gone into The Keep, which is two doors down from CHOPS and owned by Tina Lambrou. Her family owns the whole plaza on Mendon Road, and she opened her business about a year ago.

The waffle cone, caramel, sweetness was alluring to me, as ice cream is my favorite food group. But we decided to proceed with the salad, and I made plans to meet up with Tina at a later time.

She’s the youngest of six children and frankly she’ll tell you she was spoiled by her older siblings. She’s lived in town since she was 10 and has earned her stripes and learned the ropes working in the family food business.

“After high school, I kind of wanted to start my own business, but I guess I needed about 10 years to grow up first,” Tina said. She took her time working in the family business and then one day she decided it was time, asking herself, “What am I going to get into?”

An ice cream business suited her desire to be both a business owner and attract the customer base she wanted. “People are always happy when they come in,” she said. “They’re pretty excited.

“I have fond memories of going out for ice cream as a family when I was a kid,” she said. “We did not have a lot of money and that was real treat.”

All of the ice cream is made on site using Johnston-based Winsor Dairy’s best premium cream mix for the base. Tina bakes from scratch the extras, such as brownies, chocolate chip cookies, homemade cinnamon buns and salted caramel pretzels and she uses real butter. “It all makes a difference in the outcome,” she shared.

The store motto is, “Keep it Real, Keep It Fresh, Keep it Cool.” You can attribute that to the ice cream, or to life, Tina said smiling. “It applies to both food and life.”

The dark chocolate cookie recipe is used in the store’s homemade ice cream sandwiches. They are chewy and have a bit of a brownie flavor.

Tina likes to try new things, so look for a summer peach ice cream to come soon, and she does carry a line of sorbets made without dairy.

"The Keep" Dark Chocolate Cookies
2 & 2/3 cups (12-oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups (8-oz.) Dutch processed cocoa powder
4 & 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 & 3/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
In a bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a stand mixer bowl combine both sugars and the butter and mix on medium high speed using paddle attachment, for about two minutes. It will get light and fluffy.
Scrape down the sides of bowl and with the motor running adds eggs, one at a time, until completely mixed in.
Scrape down the sides again and add the flour mixture, on low for about 30 seconds, just until the dough comes together.
Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for at least two hours to chill, or overnight is fine.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line sheet pans with parchment paper. Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the dough and form into balls. Then place them 2 & 1/2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Flatten using your palm, to about 1/2-inch thick.
Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the pan(s) front to back and bake for another 5 to 6 minutes until cookies are slightly cracked and feel a little dry to the touch and firm. (If they are “fluffy” they are not ready.)
Let them cool for one minute on baking sheet then cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container.
Note: This can make a lot of cookies, so what they do at The Keep is make the balls, freeze them and then store in a reclosable plastic bag. They can last for weeks and you can bake as needed. Use for the sandwich base to make a delicious ice cream sandwich, or eat as is.

Tina Lambrou, owner of The Keep, makes her own ice cream from scratch, as well as most of the extras, such as cookies and brownies.