Free Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream…and other Chicago Ice Cream Options

Ice cream-good ice cream- is usually on my mind when the weather starts to warm up a bit more than it is now. Today in Chicago it rained, and hailed! Yesterday it was also rainy and cold, but we still decided to try out a homemade ice cream shop that hides inside a small shopping plaza of mostly Oriental stores. It really can’t be seen unless you’re stopped at only one of the four corners of a busy intersection.  I pass it all the time and wonder if it really is homemade ice cream. It’s true, I’m a skeptic. It’s not so often that food advertised as homemade or handmade is purely so.

Village Creamery Homemade Ice Cream

So, low expectations in tow–and nowhere else to really go on a rainy Sunday afternoon, we headed out for our dessert at Village Creamery Homemade Ice Cream in Niles, IL.

Walking in, I couldn’t understand where the unique smell was coming from- it wasn’t bad, just a fusion of sweet and savory that was difficult to discern. I thought it was just an ice cream store we were visiting, but soon realized they also sold savories like vegetarian egg rolls or meat-filled empanadas, each for under $5. What an interesting combination to pair up with ice cream, although I’m guessing most people won’t order both at the same meal.

The ice cream showcase was a wall to wall selection of interesting, unique, rare and never-before-heard-of flavors (at least to me). Just imagine the taste of these flavors of ice cream: Avocado, Banana, Bordeaux Cherry, Coconut Flake, Green Tea, Maize, Pistachio Almond, Tiramisu. The sorbet flavor that most interested me was the Blood Orange. And yes, we asked- it’s all really homemade. I ordered the Pistachio Almond but I tried Avocado, Bordeaux Cherry and hubby’s order of Coconut Flake before that. They were all just terrific.

is located at 8000 Waukegan Rd. in Niles, IL  (847) 9… as well as at 4558 Oakton Street, Skokie, IL  (847) 982-1720 .

For those of you who can’t get to the Village Creamery, look for other terrific ice cream at a Ben & Jerry’s near you. On Tuesday, April 21, participating stores will be giving out a free scoop from 12pm-8pm.

If you can’t do either, then perhaps you can stay home and make your very own homemade ice cream. What could be better?

Below is the recipe for Homemade Butter Pecan Ice Cream that I got while attending the Lunch & Learn at Viking Cooking School in Glenview, IL. Please note: you will need an ice cream machine to make this recipe.

To find a Viking Cooking School near you, go to the Viking website and click on “The Viking Life”.

My tidbit of advice: for best results, read the recipe thoroughly before beginning, then check out some of the tips about ice cream making that I learned at the Viking class: Lunch & Learn at Viking Cooking Schools.



  • 8 oz. pecan halves
  • 3 TB. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (Trader Joe’s now sells a non-imitation, alcohol-free vanilla extract!!)



1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roughly chop the pecans; they should not be uniform in size- there should be some larger pieces and some smaller ones.

2. Spread the pecans in an even layer on a baking sheet, and roast in the oven until fragrant and beginning to turn a bit darker, about 6-8 minutes.

3. Remove from the oven then toss with the softened butter and salt until the butter has melted and the nuts are evenly coated. Allow to cool to room temperature; the nuts will absorb the butter as they cool.

4. Whisk together the egg yolks and brown sugar in  a medium mixing bowl until the yolks are pale yellow in color.

5. Place the half and half in a medium sauce pan over medium heat; bring to a simmer.

6. Gradually whisk a 2-oz. ladleful of the hot half and half into the egg yolk mixture, whisking until incorporated (tempering). Add the remaining half and half, and stir to combine.

7. Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and creamy, about 5 minutes. (Note: the custard is ready when it reaches 170 degrees F and lightly coats the back of a spoon.)

8. Pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer into a large mixing bowl; set in an ice water bath to cool rapidly.

9. Add the cream and vanilla, and stir to combine. Place in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.

10. Pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of an ice cream machine. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream reaches soft-serve consistency, add the buttered pecans, and mix until evenly distributed throughout the ice cream.

11. Spoon the ice cream into a storage container with a tight fitting lid. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the ice cream, then cover the container with its lid. Place in the freezer until firm.

12. To serve, remove from freezer and allow to temper (soften) for 5-10 minutes.

6 thoughts on “Free Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream…and other Chicago Ice Cream Options

  1. Ah, damn it, I missed out on the free ice-cream giveaway by two days! I’m in the wrong country anyway but that’s just a minor point!

    Thanks for the recipe, looks good


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