The Problem with Ice-Planets

I, like many geeks who spend a majority of their time on the computer or watching sci-fis, enjoyed the Fox series Firefly when it aired 6 years ago. I recently re-watched the whole series as well as the DVD continuation, Serenity. What does all this have to do with food? Well let me share that.

During one particular episode (The Message), River Tam (a mind reading genius) is attempting to consume a frozen dessert aptly called an Ice-Planet. It basically looked like a ball of ice cream dangling from a string on a stick. Here is a screenshot from the episode:

After several unsuccessful attempts to eat the swinging ball, she declares in a child-like way, “My food is problematic.” This quote quickly became an internet meme, showing up on tee-shirts, in online comics, and plastered all over blogs. So, if you are a fan of Firefly, or a fan of crazy desserts, I have something for you. Behold! An actual, edible, Ice-Planet!

I am going to now show you, step by step, how it is you can make these at home. They are a little messy, and you may need special bowls, and eating them takes time, but it can be done. If you have never seen the show, you will still find this project fun and just ignore all the Firefly references (or go rent the show to find out what I’m talking about!). Here is my basic blueprint for the project:

Step 1: Securing the Ingredients and Tools


To make 4 Ice-Planets you will need:

• 8 (2.5 in) craft sticks (popsicle sticks)
• 4 (20 in) pieces of string
• 4 dowel rods (notched towards end)
• 4 smallish (3 inch diameter) bowls with rounded bottoms
• ice cream
• ice cream scoop
• 2 people (1 person = problematic)

Step 2: Set-up (Freeze the bowls, tie the sticks, notch the rods)

First of all, take 2 of the small bowls and place them in the freezer. Since you are dealing with ice cream, any non-freezing surface will cause it to melt rapidly and cause the liquid ice cream to make it rather difficult to pack the Ice-Planets solid.

Also, because we are attempting to hang a pint of ice cream from a skinny string, there has to be some sort of internal support structure that can hold onto the surrounding ice cream. This structure is a simple plus sign made of short Popsicle/craft sticks tied at the middle with string. When tying, be sure to lay the sticks on a flat surface and have the long end of the string coming straight out of the center upwards.

Another issue will be the rods that the ice cream hangs from. Tying the string directly to the dowel could result in the tie sliding down the rod or falling off the end. To remedy that, simply cut a notch towards the top of the rod. Tie the end of the string to the rod and you have the skeletal structure of your planet. Good Job!

Step 3: Getting down and dirty (Ice-Planet Style)

After you have all the prep work done, have the stick structure handy (and a wet paper towel) and pull out the frozen bowls. With a second person, quickly fill the bowls (packing them down) with ice cream until they are slightly domed over the top of the bowl.

Now here is the tricky part. The support structure needs to be placed perpendicular to the Ice-Planet “seam” to add as much support as possible. Placing the “plus” parallel to the seam may cause structural instability and the Ice-Planet will be destroyed, and it won’t be the Alliance’s fault, it will be yours. So, have one person hold the structure perpendicular to the Ice-Planet seam and have the second person slowly bring the 2 Ice-Planet halves together around the sticks.

Press the bowls together until you have a nice tight seal. Liquid ice cream will ooze from the seam like molten lava, but thats ok. Quickly hand-off the Ice-Planet (still in the mold) to the non-ice cream covered individual so that they can wipe off the mold and stick it in the freezer while the other runs to the sink to hose off.

Step 4: The Waiting Game

Now you simply have to wait for the planet to re-freeze (which, luckily, won’t take billions of years). This is imperative to the whole process because if you don’t wait for it to refreeze you may have a collapsing planet on your hands and face, so be patient. You can make a second Ice-Planet while you wait or perhaps finish your model of Serenity, organize a shindig, knit or buy yourself Jayne’s Hat, play a game of Tall Card, or send Fox some nasty emails – your choice. After about 20 min, you can return to the freezer and prepare to be delighted.

Step 5: Releasing the Outer Planet


Take the planet to the sink and slowly pour warm water over the bowls. As you are doing so, gently rotate the bowls in opposite direction, like turning 2 knobs. Do that back and forth until one of the halves comes off. You may have to run more water over the second half because there may be a slight suction. Be prepared to just plop the planet into your hand because if you don’t the heaviness may surprise you and you will plop it in the sink. Not good. Once the molds have been removed, you can hand the stick to your partner while you clean up. Low and behold, you have an Ice-Planet!

“So, what’s so great about a gorram Ice-Planet?” you ask. Well I doubt you would put it that way, but let me tell you.

Not only do you get to see first hand what River was referring to when she called eating it “problematic” but you get to have a lot of fun in the process. You may think this dessert would be a drippy nightmare but it’s not. Jim and I made and ate 2 and we had only one lonely drip. Because the ice cream is not touching any surface, you get very little heat conduction. The Ice-Planet is only warmed by your face and mouth, not by a bowl, cone, or even spoon. Also, as the planet is eaten (slowly) because of the internal structure, it doesn’t fall apart. The re-freezing binds the melty seam together with a strong unbreakable bond. This is helpful when you are swinging the plant all over the place figuring out how to eat it.

What’s so great about this dessert, is that is it super fun to eat. There are several methods to consumption. You can try to bite the planet from the side (never getting much); lick the planet (which yields little, but is less messy); or attack from the southern pole (which is most effective because the gravity of Earth-that-is is helping the process). Here Jim shows us these 3 methods.

Because the episode didn’t show the booth that River received the Ice-Planet from, how do we know that she didn’t order a St. Albans Ice-Planet? Maybe there is a whole line of Planet themed desserts. Well I have come up with a mini menu that you can use to create the Ice-Planet of your choice:

St. Albans- St. Albans’ icy conditions leave this Ice-Planet out in the cold! Plain white vanilla ice cream create this wintery climate. I’m sure Tracey would have loved it.

Persephone- This strawberry planet would surely capture the eye of Kaylee! Especially when the captain takes her to special shindigs where she can feast on strawberries all night!

Hera- This Rocky Road flavored planet is fitting for the surviving Browncoats of the Battle of Serenity. The war may be over for some, but it still rages in the hearts of the remaining Independents who face the long rocky road ahead. Hopefully this tasty planet can cheer up Mal and Zoe, if only for a moment.

Higgins’ Moon- This icy treat is made with real chocolate Canton “Mud”. This dessert is so good it has been endorsed by the Hero of Canton himself, Jayne Cobb!

Sihnon- This deep red seductive black cherry planet is home to Inara Serra. Take a bite into the world of this beautiful deep-space companion and you will come back for more. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Miranda- This exciting planet is sure to please! First we begin with a placid vanilla planet. Nice and soothing…Then we douse it in brandy, set it on fire, and put it out with bright red Strawberry Sauce! It’s not a favorite among the alliance, but I’m sure you will love it!

Enjoy your Ice-Planets! Happy Cooking and long live the Browncoats!


Comments

Anthem July 16th, 2008

How embarrassing. I never should have let you point a camera at me! No, seriously, this was a really fun project and not at all as hard or complicated as it looks. This could easily be done in just an hour or two, even including going to a craft store to find supplies.

Kevin Burg July 16th, 2008

This is hilarious!!

Josh Owens July 16th, 2008

This is awesome!

Blue Pebble July 16th, 2008

Anthem – thanks so much for posting a comment on the Big Damn Crafters blog, letting me know about this amazing post! I hope you don’t mind, but I posted about this on Big Damn Crafters – it was too good to be just a passing comment!!!

Cheers!

Valerie July 17th, 2008

A BDC’er here. LOVE the post! On day I may have to make this one.

Danielle V July 17th, 2008

This is ridiculously awesome!

Scott October 2nd, 2008

Watched Serenity in 2006 and loved it. Heard it came from a cancelled series called Firefly but didn’t really pursue it.

Anyway I watched Firefly for the first time this week and I’m appaulled that it was dropped :(

Sylver December 26th, 2008

Awesome! I just came back from a Shindig where my friends and I had a Firefly Marathon. We’ll definitely be making these for our next Shindig in January!

djalicat January 7th, 2009

SHINY! :-)

Zoup January 17th, 2009

I’m in a group at MIT’s 2009 Mystery Hunt (a giant puzzle thingy) and one of the challenges was to bring food to the GMs from a list that included Ice Planets (from the list of items with the max number of points). We followed your instructions making these changes due to our constrictions: String=floss. Popsicle sticks=tooth picks. Sticks=chopsticks. Rounded bowls=plastic cups cut in half. Freezer=A pile of snow. Even with all of this, it really only took maybe an hour or two (including getting supplies, setting it up and making them, getting them to the GMs and enjoying them).

Suffice to say, it was SHINY!

Yumikid January 18th, 2009

Hello! A few girlfriends and I had a Serenity afternoon, and we made your ice planet recipe. Thought you might want to see photos. :)

SELENA DELGADIO March 26th, 2009

how do the plates salds and some other nice stuff like jerwiy and clothing wish i do not know how to tdo those things and i want to know how to do them and that all thank you for all the work………………………..

Karen May 23rd, 2009

Undoubtedly the best fan-project I have ever seen. BRILLIANT! Thank you so much for these instructions – They’ll do well at the Firefly/Serenity Marathon I’m planning =P

Anthem – Thank you very much for your photographic sacrifice. Eating Ice Planets is never graceful, but your helpful examples will not be in vain. =)

Selph May 28th, 2009

Oh. My. God. DOING THIS. <3 Thank you!

Alisha July 10th, 2009

Mmmm… the joke here is that there IS a way to eat an “ice planet”. It’s a food and a puzzle.

If you wind the string around the stick all the way to the ice cream section, you can bite at it more like a popsicle.

Donnie July 11th, 2009

OOOH!!!!!! THIS IS GREAT!! My boyfriend thanks you, and so do I!This is the best thing to happen to food in a long time. you are amazing

Cayce P August 14th, 2009

Thank you! I am making a bunch for my shindig tomorrow and so far it is going very well! :)

Mish November 3rd, 2009

Shiny! Thanks, I’ll store this for later. I particularly like the while you wait bit.

Vivian November 17th, 2009

LOVE!!!!

Blue January 10th, 2010

Thanks for the guide! I made a bunch of these for my nerd group when we played the table-top rpg set in the ’verse. Much fun was had by all!

A quick tip: When making a lot, line the inside of the bowl with foil. This allows them to be stored easily, clean-up is made faster, and any problems with the shape can be fixed without getting ice crema all over the place.

Shelly February 4th, 2010

You. Are. My. New. HERO!!!!! I love Firefly and I stumbled on this (even though my preferences are currently only set to food). Made my day, week, month and possibly year. Will try very soon, have strawberry ice cream in the freezer and it needs to be eaten….

cocuscosy February 28th, 2010 Although Irin had a powerful gift, she had not honed it to sorcerer level. Another, smaller, band of rogues was being watched in a different part of the city. Eyrhaens inability to control her gifts has brought about changes that should benefit us all. They had fought about it too often for Eyrhaen not to know what he meant. Hands closed over her shoulders, distantly felt. You told me to mind my elders. Sitting up, she rubbed her hands. She curled her fingers and found that core of sensation. Or even project emotion on him. Were bound, I cant help that, but the two of you should be together. Tykir had a warmer heart than that. Radin dissolved the spell before it could take form. She froze, lost in the icy heat of his gaze. Brevin cupped her chin with one strong hand. Then, when she started babbling, begging for more, he picked up speed. She turned her head to find Tykirs soft lips. She wondered at the shiver of delight that tickled her skin. But the look on your face tells me theres more. I fell in love with you when I was only a shadow in the darkness. She twisted her grip as she slid her fist from root to tip.
L Potts March 21st, 2010

You guys are awesome! Thanks for sharing.

KitsunegariBlu March 21st, 2010

Yet you somehow forget the twin planets of Vera & Jayne.

Which are actually 2 Twin Stars-that can only be seen with your naked eye from your bunk window.

It’s Neopolatin (any 2 flavors you want on the inside-with the 3rd slathered completely round the outside-concealing both flavors within.)

Inara: Something Capt. Fancypants have an invitation to enjoy a in an Ice Cream Sundae (made with Blue Moon Ice Cream)

I’ll stop here, because I’m having rather too much fun with this board, & I’d rather not be hauled away by 2 by 2, Hands Of Blue.

N. MacDonald March 21st, 2010

Hahaha, this was just awesome! I saw this on www.whedonesque.com, and I cannot WAIT to try this! Gorram it! Good job!

Inyx April 14th, 2010

This is gorram amazing, and I will definitely give it a go this summer.

Scruffy May 3rd, 2010

Is it bad to say I love you? Cause I love you. Thanks for posting :3

toe jam May 15th, 2010

i am tpinfg withh my feettr

Nathan May 30th, 2010

that looks so cool
i’m a sucker for firefly so all the references made me smile
in a kinda geeky way
- i probably won’t try it because it will give me brainfreeze, but it looks really awesome anyways
- btw good luck try set aflame and ice cream ball, now that looks like hard work

christine September 8th, 2010

LOVE IT!!!

Rafael Cordeiro November 18th, 2010

Awesome! I really need to make one of those “problematic foods” now!

Long live the Browncoats!

government mortgage programs December 23rd, 2010

This is a fantastic recipe. I tried it over the weekend and it turned out perfectly – with any recipe like this though, I am always careful to make sure not to overcook. My oven is a bit on the older side and that can lead me to problems if I don’t keep an eye on things!

i need a website January 19th, 2011

Huge thanks! I made this ice cream on Saturday and the kids LOVED it! Def a crowd pleaser!

ALex_O February 23rd, 2011

If you are not in huge chunks of ice cream, it also works using coffee cups… but it isn’t big enought to be "problematic. I should find the right sized bowl.

dan mccullough March 10th, 2011

there is a think you can buy at the dollar general store called a “Sno Ball Mold” it creates 6 perfectly round snow ball it seems to be the perfect size and should making Ice Planets easily too.

tlh-in-tlh June 3rd, 2011

I’m definitely giving this a try! (With one change; something edible like pretzels as the cross-sticks. This is based on the comment in the script at www.fireflywiki.org/111.html, which mentions a “bowl shaped cookie” at the center.) Thanks!
(Yes, I know this is three years after you posted it. I read slow. Like Jayne. ::grin::)

Kate June 23rd, 2011

Is it weird to say that you’re probably the most awesome person on the face of Earth-that-is? Cause you sure are! I love people who (like myself) take the show so literally that they make things like ice planets :) I shall don my Jayne hat and run to the craft store!

Beth June 24th, 2011

Quite Shiny!

RiverTam1 August 22nd, 2011

WHOA! This is GENIUS! Sver since I saw “The Message”, I’ve wanted to try one… and now I canT I DON"T have to be put in cryo to get to eat one! Yay! Thank you Thank you Thank you!

RiverTam1 August 23rd, 2011

Whoops… I mean can… scratch the T

asdf September 20th, 2011

Shiny!!

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