Okay, whatever. If you’re gonna be like that, fine. By ‘busy’, what I really mean is ‘lazy’. Whatever. It was nice. I don’t care. Besides, I was busy, too. Busy relaxing. It takes a lot of work.
If you follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, then you probably know that I just had a fantastic vacation with the Hubster at Walt Disney World and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. So between two fourteen-hour plane/travel days, and ten days of doing super important stuff, like eating cake for breakfast and meeting Donald Duck, I have been distracted. And don’t forget about jet lag.
See? I have reasons.
I’m here now, though, and I have some crazy good ice cream for you. Crazy. Good. And it’s totally magical. Because it’s inspired by one of the new ice cream flavors that you can get from every witch and wizard’s favorite ice cream parlor: Florean Fortescue’s.
I wanted to do one of the less “normal” ice cream flavors offered by Florean’s, so I went with Chocolate Chili. Now, I know chocolate and chili have been done. Heck, I’ve even been there, done that. I love it, though. We all know how I feel about chocolate anyway, but I also love spicy things, and to me, the combo of rich chocolate and a bit of spice is still exotic and irresistible. Plus, I gave my version of the ice cream a little twist.
…with my BFF, Tina. You know, from over Sugar Bean Bakers way.
If you’ve been reading the blog for awhile (as in basically from the beginning), then you know that I was blessed to get to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWoHP) back when it opened in June of 2010. If you haven’t been reading the blog that long, why not? Ha! I’m joking! You can read all about my first trip to WWoHP here.
Back then, there was just Hogsmeade to visit. And it was fabulous. I’ve since visited Hogsmeade at WWoHP in 2012, and we went back to Hogsmeade on this trip, as well, but the real excitement this time was all for the new expansion: Diagon Alley.
Before you even enter Diagon Alley, they have a whole miniature representation of London waterfront. There’s the entrance to King’s Cross Station, various muggle shopfronts, a nondescript entrance for The Leaky Cauldron, and a building front of number 13 Grimmauld Place, where the Order of the Phoenix had their headquarters until book number 6. There’s even a full-sized, brilliant purple triple-decker Knight Bus. For the stranded witch or wizard. There’s a fun photo opportunity here with a Stan Shunpike type, and a chance to interact with the shrunken head hanging in the window. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Inside Diagon Alley, we were super excited to ride Harry potter and the Escape from Gringotts. We only had to wait about 40 minutes to ride, which may sound like a long time, but in reality, we were thrilled, because the wait times had been ridiculously long in the previous weeks.
Fortunately, the queue runs through the bank, and there are plenty of interesting and exciting things to see. Like goblins. That move.
The bank lobby that you go through is really stunning, and you’re eventually taken through elevators and deep into the recesses of the banks tunnels, where you finally board a cart, armed with a pair of 3D glasses.
The ride itself was actually scarier than I anticipated, with a surprising, but not big, drop at the beginning. There’s plenty of 3D excitement, which was probably my favorite part. It’s very well done, convincing enough to make you believe you’re going to be crushed by falling stones or pelted with madly flying vault items.
All in all, it was a fun, mildly scary, and really exciting ride, but ultimately, I still prefer Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey (the Hogwarts ride in Hogsmeade).
Diagon Alley itself is visually stunning. It’s so perfectly and meticulously done, you truly feel as though you’ve entered into the wizarding world, and expect Harry, Ron, and Hermione to walk buy on their way to buy school supplies.
There are several locations to grab an ice cold, or frozen, butterbeer, of course. We snagged ours at The Fountain of Fair Fortune (named for one of the tales in The Tales of Beedle the Bard), and we were excited to see that they had a new style of souvenir butterbeer mug. There are no seats or tables, or even ledges, to sit or stand while you enjoy your butterbeer, but that’s not unusual…if there’s one thing we definitely agreed on, it was that Diagon Alley needed more places to sit and have a rest. Outside of The Leaky Cauldron, which is full of tables and chairs for you to sit and enjoy a meal, there was only one place to grab a real bench and/or table. It’s tucked in a back corner, past Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. There’s only about four to six picnic-style tables there, though, so don’t be afraid to ask to share with someone.
Back in the same area as the tables is the stage where you can catch various performances throughout the day. There wasn’t any kind of schedule that we could find anywhere, but we happened along just as they were given an incredibly lovely puppet show-style performance of The Tale of the Three Brothers (which you may recall Hermione telling in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1). I was utterly entranced throughout the entire show, and didn’t think to grab any photos until the end, when they were taking the puppets away. Sorry. 😉
We found the entire area of Diagon Alley to be at least ten full degrees cooler than the Hogsmeade section of WWoHP, due to the tall buildings, offering plenty of shade, as well as the constant air conditioning being pumped out of open doors. One place to really cool down was Knockturn Alley, which is a covered area that is quite dark and very, very cool. Technically, when you enter Knockturn Alley, you’re going indoors, so it’s gloriously cool. It was the perfect spot to enjoy treats and people watch.
To get to Hogsmeade from Diagon Alley, there are some important things to know:
First and foremost, you need a two-park ticket. Universal isn’t stupid, and they’re making their money fast by making the two parts of WWoHP exist in to different parks that each require a separate ticket for the day. Personally, I found this infuriating, but obviously, I’m a sucker, because i still went for it.
As Hagrid would say, “Stick to, Harry, that’s very important. Stick to your ticket.” You will not be able to ride the Hogwarts Express or enter Between parks without it readily available. Bit annoying really.
Once you do offer up proof that you paid your galleons, you get to walk through King’s Cross Station to the Hogwarts Express itself. Along the way, you’ll pass a lot of fun stuff that is recognizable from the films, including Harry’s luggage, with a “living”, moving Hedwig perched on top.
The ride is fantastic!! Just a straight shot, no dips, turns, hills, or drops – after all, it’s the train, not a coaster, but the windows display fantastic views and the experience is exactly what I hoped it would be!
Before getting into the fantastic ice cream offerings, let me tell you about my lunch at The Leaky Cauldron. I had the banger sandwich with chips. It’s basically a sausage sandwich, served with fries. I really thought it was delicious, and I would definitely get it again.
My favorite food of the day, though, came from Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor. The parlor itslef is adorable – bright and cheery, with cute, magically moving window displays, and the witches and wizards working there are wearing fun uniforms that really add to the atmosphere.
They offer plenty of frozen goodies to choose from, including both soft serve and hard pack ice cream. I knew I wanted to try the hard pack flavors, but I’ve heard great things about the soft serve flavors, too.
Once again, there is no seating here for enjoying your ice cream in comfort. I have to say it’s one of the areas biggest drawbacks. We had to pass our ice creams off to each other back and forth to get our money and other things put away before we could really enjoy the food.
I had the Salted Caramel Blondie ice cream. With Shortbread Crumbles on top. Obviously. Tina had the sticky toffee pudding ice cream, which she let me try, and it was just as wonderful. They certainly got the ice creams right!
I can promise you now, THIS salted caramel blondie ice cream is the next ice cream I’m making. It was absolutely delicious. The end.
The Chocolate Chili ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s was wonderful – rich and chocolatey, and leaving you wondering if maybe you just got plain chocolate, until….ohhhhh, there’s the spice! It’s a nice little kick to your tastebuds, right there at the end of each bite. Not too much, either. It’s just right.
As good as the ice cream from Florean’s was, though, I wanted something a little more, so I added a couple of extra ingredients to mine.
I started by adding cinnamon. Because cinnamon makes everything better. I have a love for cinnamon that sort of snuck up on me over the years, and it’s one of my favorite ingredients to add to sweets. I also added brownie chunks to my version of the ice cream. I really love a nice smooth ice cream, but I’m a sucker for mix-ins. I love an ice cream with a swirl of fudge, a sprinkling of cookie bits, or lots of fudgy brownies. Especially lots of fudgy brownies.
In the end, my ice cream had the same rich chocolate flavor and lingering spiciness that I experienced at Florean’s, but with an added depth from the cinnamon, and what can all be called Extra Happy from the brownie bits.
We had an incredible time exploring “London” and Diagon Alley, and the day was made that much better with the delicious ice cream goodies from Florean’s. If you can’t make it to Florida, but want a little bit of wizarding goodness to try at home, I hope you’ll give my take on spicy wizard ice cream a try.
You can also try your very own Butterbeer Ice Cream (just like they serve at the park) from Tina, over on her blog Sugar Bean Bakers (while you’re there, be sure to check out her Diagon Alley Trip Report – it’s more comprehensive in terms of planning, prices, etc.).
Chocolate Chili Ice Cream
Makes about 1 quart
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
2 tablespoons (16 g) cocoa powder
5 ounces (142 grams) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup (250 ml) milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon (or more, to taste) ground cayenne OR chipotle (cayenne will be spicier)
3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
5 egg yolks
1 recipe brownies (chopped into 1/2-inch cubes), optional
If adding brownie chunks, place the cut brownies into the freezer and allow them to freeze solid before starting your ice cream.
Combine 1 cup of the heavy cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan set over medium heat, whisking to blend the cocoa thoroughly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until it’s completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Mix in another 1/2 cup of the cream, pour into a bowl and set aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of cream, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and . Bring the mixture to a bowl over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, cover, and set this milk mixture aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks together and set aside. In a very slow, steady stream and whisking constantly, add about half of the milk mixture to the eggs. Make sure to whisk constantly in order to temper the eggs. Pour the egg mixture into the remaining milk mixture in the sauce pan, whisking to combine, and return to medium heat. Stirring constantly with a spatula, cook the mixture until it thickens and coats the spatula.
Pour the egg mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the waiting chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Either stir over an ice bath to cool the mixture, or cover with plastic wrap and let sit until it reaches room temperature, then transfer the mixture to the refrigerator to chill for 2 hours or overnight.
Pour the chilled ice cream mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
If adding brownie chunks, stir the brownie pieces in by hand just before placing the ice cream in the freezer to harden.
Recipe by Darla