Cool Jules: A Food Memory I Can’t Shake

About 23 years ago I went on a day trip with my team from the non-profit organization where I worked. We went whitewater rafting on the Nantahala River in North Carolina. I’m not a thrill-seeker by nature, but rafting with a group of friends/coworkers is something I’m in for. In fact, I would join most any adventure with people whose company I enjoy!

We had an exhilarating and exhausting ride down the rapids, managing to stay in the raft! Then we all piled into our cars to drive to a riverside cafe to share a meal. I have no idea what I ordered for my main dish- a salad, a sandwich or wrap… I don’t recall. But what I do remember and can’t seem to shake was the dessert. I don’t know if it was because we had exerted so much, or because the agency was paying the bill, or because it was named “Cool Jule” which was so fun- as my nick name is Jules, that compelled me to order dessert. But I did and it was so amazing. I haven’t forgotten it after all these years.

A Large ball of good vanilla ice cream + coated in granola + drizzled with salted caramel sauce = Cool Jule

Lately I have been thinking about it and wanting to make them and to share the recipe with you.

Some of the reasons this dessert is a winner:

  1. It’s so easy to put together.
  2. It’s amazingly delicious.
  3. All of the parts can be made ahead.
  4. The granola or caramel sauce can be purchased if you don’t want to make them.

The Sauce: You could use a bought jar of caramel sauce, but the sauce really makes it. The only bought sauce I think measures up is Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce. But this sauce, is the best.

Salted Caramel Sauce

from Joy of Cooking 6th edition

Makes about 1 1/2 cups- enough for 5-6 Cool Jules

1/4 cup water

1 cup granulated sugar

1 stick (1/4 cup) butter, cut into pieces

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

Combine water and sugar in a deep saucepan. Set over medium-heat and stir gently until the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is clear. Do not let the syrup boil until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cover the saucepan and boil the syrup for 1 minute. Uncover and boil the syrup until it begins to darken around the edges. Continue to cook, swirling the saucepan, until the syrup turns deep amber. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Stir until melted and incorporated. Stir in heavy cream. If the sauce seizes, set the saucepan over low heat and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and fine sea salt. Serve warm or at room temperature. If it seems too thick, stir in a little cream while hot. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 month.

The Granola:

I love granola and have been making it for years, giving it as gifts, doubling the recipe and putting half in the freezer for the next few months. I have actually posted 3 different granola recipes. There are endless varieties: the Original Granola, Natural Granola (a la Gwyneth Paltrow), and Chewy Peanut Butter Granola. I added this granola recipe to my repertoire recently when I was looking for one that uses honey as the sweetener. It’s an adaptation of a recipe from my mom’s church cookbook. For the sake of keeping them straight in my mind, I’m calling it Honey Almond Granola.

Honey Almond Granola

5 cups uncooked old fashioned oats

1 1/2 cup nuts (a mixture of almonds & pecans is my favorite)

1/2 cup ground flax seed meal

2 tsp. cinnamon

2/3 cup canola oil

2/3 cup honey

2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup coconut

1/2 cup seeds (sunflower or other), optional

Mix together oats, nuts, flax seed and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add oil, honey and vanilla. Mix well and put on greased cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes at 325 degrees. Stir and bake 10-15 minutes. Let cool on pan out of the oven. Add coconut and seeds if desired.

Keeps well in a sealed jar or bag. Freezes well in ziplock bag for a month or so.

Assembling the Cool Jules

Scoop big balls of Vanilla Ice Cream, 3 to 4 inches in diameter.

Roll into a bowl of granola, turning around and pressing granola into the sides.

Immediately place in freezer to keep until time to serve (this can be done a couple of days in advance). You might just need to sprinkle some more granola on top to freshen it up.

Place in a wide bowl and drizzle with caramel.

I tried to get my family to compare this to something. Lucy said, “Nothing compares”. I said, “Well that’s sweet, but help me describe it!” We decided it’s like a caramel apple crisp a la mode minus the apples.

May you have food moments that you can’t shake, like these Cool Jules are for me from that day on the Nantahala riverside.

2 thoughts on “Cool Jules: A Food Memory I Can’t Shake

  1. suzettecs says:

    I think of that rafting trip so often. I treat of a life time. I at pizza. I must have eaten a lot because I think of pizza when I remember that trip. This recipe sounds delightful. I think my family would love it.


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