I want to start by saying thank you for all the good wishes regarding my last post! We are getting our act together over here and slowly sorting out the move details. Luckily, the move itself probably won’t be too painful, as we really don’t have much big stuff to send back. I’ll keep posting till we go, and I hope you’ll follow me back to New York!
OK, time to get back on topic–did I ever tell you about that one kilo bag of white chocolate I bought a few months back? I probably did, as it was dumb purchase that I am continually kicking myself for. I am determined to not waste it, but I can’t seem to use it up either. It taunts me from the cupboard…in fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that it may be multiplying in the bag.
The days have suddenly gotten quite warm (and a little muggy, too) here in Sydney, so I thought maybe a white chocolate ice cream would kill two birds with one stone: use up some some of that stash, and beat the heat at the same time. I found a recipe to almost exhaust the bag– the white chocolate ice cream from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop. It uses a whopping 8 ounces of chocolate…that’s about double any other recipe I’ve seen. With all that white chocolate, you can probably guess that it’s a pretty rich ice cream. It’s quite dense, but silky smooth. Although I’ve photographed it plain and simple here, it’s great with sliced strawberries, or if you are feeling naughty, a big splash of Kahlua poured over the top works, too.
If you have The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, you can find the recipe there. If you don’t, you can find a version with fresh ginger here on his site (omit the ginger and you’ll get the same recipe I’ve used).
One last thing…I cringe at the thought of using my blog as a pawn shop, but if anyone in Sydney is interested in purchasing a very gently used (gorgeous!) pistachio KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer or a Braun Multiquick stick blender with lots of attachments, shoot me an e-mail for the details. I apologize. I know it’s tacky, but these electronics won’t work back home (without a transformer, which I don’t trust and would rather not bother with). Also, to buy them new, they are much more expensive here than in States, so if anyone wants a deal, I thought I’d throw it out there.
You know the ice cream from my last post? Well, I did say I’d type up the recipe for you, and I do not fib (at least not often, and when I do, I usually get caught).
Making up your own ice cream flavors isn’t hard. Here, I pretty much just futzed around with a standard formula for vanilla ice cream that I often use, but the idea to add skim milk powder to the base and the technique of cooking it over a double boiler (no tempering that way) came from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy. (By the way, if you haven’t tried the Brown Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream from her book, it is most excellent.)
After the cookies were polished off, R and I enjoyed the ice cream in sundae form! With chocolate sauce, it was truly spectacular (the sauce was leftover from the DB’s eclair challenge, but I’ll list that recipe below as well, just in case you want it). I’m imagining it would have made a damn good malted milkshake, too, but the ice cream is just a sweet memory now…
Vanilla Malted Ice Cream- makes about 1 quart
1½ c cream
1½ c milk
½ c vanilla sugar (or ½ c granulated sugar + ½ vanilla bean, split and scraped)
1/8 t salt
1/4 c skim milk powder
2 T barley malt syrup
4 egg yolks
½ t vanilla extract
about 1/8 t xanthan gum (optional; helps keep ice cream scoopable)
-Set yourself up with a double boiler: Put a few inches of water into a large, heavy saucepot and bring to a simmer. Find a heatproof bowl both big enough to hold the above ingredients and big enough to sit over the pot without touching the simmering water.
-In the bowl, thoroughly combine the cream, milk, vanilla sugar, salt, skim milk powder, malt syrup and egg yolks with a whisk.
-Set the bowl over the simmering water and stir the mixture constantly until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon and reaches 180°-185°F (this takes 5-10 minutes). You may need to adjust the heat to keep the water at a simmer.
-Take the bowl off the heat and whisk in vanilla extract and xanthan gum (if using). Now is also a good time to taste the base…if it’s not malty enough for you, add in another tablespoon of syrup.
-Strain the base into a clean storage container or large glass measuring cup. Cool over an ice bath. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.
-Pour the chilled base into your ice cream maker and freeze.
-Transfer to a resealable container and place in the freezer until firm enough to scoop.
Chocolate Sauce- makes 1½ cups or 525 g
from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 c (250 g) water
½ c (125 g) heavy cream (or crème fraîche)
1/3 c (70 g) sugar
-Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to whisk constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue whisking until the sauce thickens.
-It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of a spoon.
I’m just going to admit that I almost pooped out on TWD this week. I’ve been feeling a little weighed down lately, ya know, and I wasn’t so sure that something called a “Chocolate-Banded Ice Cream Torte” was really going to help. But then I felt guilty…I haven’t missed a week for no good reason yet, and thought it best not to go down that road. Besides, I didn’t want to let down Amy of Food, Family and Fun, who chose this week’s recipe. The deal I struck with myself was to make just two individual servings– one for R and one for me.
I knew that my solo portions wouldn’t need to be as tall as Dorie’s large torte, so I could get away with less of everything. I made just 1/8 of the ganache recipe (or enough for one Dorie-sized serving), and divvied it up between my two little molds, which were actually sturdy, straight sided muffin wrappers. (FYI: The truffle cream does use raw eggs, so if you are sensitive to that, then you may want to skip this recipe or seek out pasteurized eggs, or do whatever you would normally do in this case.) Dorie uses raspberry-flavored ice cream in her torte, but I can’t say that I’ve ever been a fan of fruit and chocolate combos. Instead, I bought two scoops of condensed milk ice cream from a Sydney shop called Passion Flower, which has lots of cool Asian-inspired flavors (I wasn’t sure how black sesame or taro would pair with chocolate, so I played it safe). Back at home, I ground up some hazelnut praline, leftover from this cake, and stirred that in to the ice cream.
The key to serving a frozen dessert like this is to it pull it out of the freezer and let it temper on the counter a few minutes beforehand. Obviously you don’t want it to start melting, but if the ice cream begins to soften just a tad, it’s much more pleasant to eat and will actually taste better, too.
I’m so glad I pulled my head out from you-know-where and got this one done! It was fantastic, and a bit more classy than the normal mid-week dessert around these parts. The chocolate ganache doesn’t freeze solid, but becomes almost chewy when cold. And I really loved it in combination with the hazelnut praline, which retained its sweet crunch in the ice cream.
I’m back from Hawaii…a couple days in Oahu, a couple Kauai, but most of our time was spent on the Big Island, where my dad’s side of the family descended upon Kona for my uncle’s wedding. I’m sure the area is still recovering from the W family whirlwind. It was a lot of fun, and I have a face full of freckles and a mind full of good memories to show for it. One night, I even had a mai tai for each of you! Trust me when I say that I paid a stiff price for it the next day!
I’ve returned just in time to make blueberry sour-cream ice cream, this week’s TWD recipe, which comes to us courtesy of Dolores from Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity. I was pretty jazzed about this recipe, not only because I jump at any excuse to use my KA ice cream attachment, but also because one of my favorite homemade fruit ice cream recipes is a strawberry-sour cream ice cream I found in Sunset magazine many moons ago. I just love the tang that a whomp of sour cream gives!
This ice cream recipe was pretty simple…no eggs, no making custard, no straining. I used frozen blueberries to make the base. I thought the end product had pretty good flavor, but decided to amp it up a bit before serving with a simple sauce made from, you guessed it, frozen mixed berries.
Dorie notes that this this ice cream is firm in texture. On the day I made it, we ate some within a few hours, when it had that gorgeously soft, smooth feel to it. But on the second day, it was more rock hard than just firm, even after sitting out for awhile. I find that to be a bit unpleasant, and usually put a teeny pinch of xanthan gum, which I get at the health food store, into my homemade ice creams to keep it scoopable for a few days (just a pinch, so it’s never gummy like some store-bought stuff). I was a little PO’d with myself for forgetting it here. If I make this again, I’ll wait till fresh berries are in season and I’ll add a pinch of xanthan gum at the point where the berries are just cooked and still hot.
Look in Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity to find the recipe. Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll to see what over 200 other people had to say!
I don’t often make this kind of thing at home. I’ll leave the plated dessert nonsense for work, thanks very much (although this is not even close to restaurant-worthy). But R was in Korea for four days this week, and I had too much time on my hands. Also, I thought he’d like having a special dessert when he came home.
I’ve called this a “bombe,” but if you’d like to think of it as “baked Alaska,” that’s fine, too. I originally thought to do some version of this as a means to use up some extra sponge cake in the freezer and some yolks in the fridge. I could have gone in any number of directions flavor-wise, but I wanted to send Tartelette one more entry for her Sugar High Friday (an event started by Jennifer The Domestic Goddess) citrus extravaganza, so I settled on a meyer lemon ice cream bombe with orange caramel sauce hiding in the center.
If you’re into making ice cream, then this isn’t too complicated if you start the whole process a couple days ahead. Make your ice cream custard and caramel sauce one day, run the ice cream and mold it the next. Then the day of, assemble, make your meringue and plate up! And if you’re not into making ice cream, then I think store-bought would do just fine, and would save a lot of prep. Having cake in the freezer and a silicone semi-spherical mold (like this) in the cupboard helps, too.
The ice cream is snappy, and combined with the meringue, is a bit reminiscent of LMP. The orange juice and zest in the caramel help temper some of its sweetness. This is like a self-contained ice cream sundae, and it’s good!
Meyer Lemon Ice Cream Bombe– makes 6 individual bombes (of this size)
Note: If you don’t have a silicone mold, you can put a large scoop of ice cream onto cut cake circles and just serve the sauce on the side. I don’t give a recipe for the cake here, but I used scraps from the jaconde used in my opéra cake (any relatively thin sponge cake will do).
Day 1: Make the custard base for the meyer lemon ice cream (recipe below; save your egg whites for the meringue) and chill in the refrigerator. Put your ice cream machine canister in the freezer, if necessary. Make the orange caramel sauce (recipe below) and chill. If you don’t already have cake available, make or buy the cake and freeze.
Day 2: Freeze the meyer lemon ice cream base according to your machine’s instructions. Using a spoon, fill the cavities of your dome molds with the ice cream, making sure to nudge it against the side of the molds, and level off each one with an offset spatula or the back of a knife. Lay your silicone molds on a sheet pan and freeze for about 4 hours. Once semi-hardened, using a spoon or a small ice cream scoop, hollow out a cavity in the middle of each mold. This cavity will hold the caramel sauce, so be sure to leave enough ice cream “cushion” around it. Press plastic wrap against the exposed surface of the ice cream and return the molds to the freezer overnight to harden.
Day 3: No more than a couple of hours before serving, cut out cake circles using a round cutter that matches the diameter of the bottom of the mold. Take the tray holding the silicone molds out of the freezer. Using a spoon or a squeeze bottle, fill the cavities in of each bombe with orange caramel sauce. Lightly press a cake circle onto each bombe, and pop out of the silicone mold. Place back on the sheet tray, cake side down (the caramel shouldn’t leak out). Return the tray to the freezer. Prepare the Swiss meringue (recipe below) and use a small offset spatula to cover the bombe. Either brown the meringue with a kitchen blowtorch, or bake in a preheated 500°F oven until meringue is deep brown in spots, turning the sheet pan as needed for even cooking, about 3 minutes. Transfer to plates and serve (or you can return the bombes to the freezer for up to a couple of hours, if necessary).
Meyer Lemon Ice Cream Base
modified from a recipe on Epicurious
Note: The xanthan gum in the recipe is optional, and helps keep ice crystals from forming as the ice cream sits in the freezer. It is a powder and can be found in most health food stores.
1 1/2 c heavy cream
1 c milk
3/4 c sugar
2 T finely grated fresh meyer lemon zest
1/8 t salt
6 large egg yolks
2/3 c fresh meyer lemon juice
pinch of xanthan gum (under 1/8 t)
-Take about half of the sugar and put into the bottom of a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Add the lemon zest and rub into the sugar using your fingers. Add the cream, milk and salt to the pan and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Take off the heat and set aside for about ten minutes to infuse the flavor of the zest.
-Beat yolks and the remaining sugar well in a large bowl, then add hot sweetened cream in a slow stream, whisking. Pour custard into saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until a candy or instant-read thermometer registers 170°F and custard coats back of spoon, about 10 minutes.
-Pour through a sieve into a clean bowl, then stir in meyer lemon juice. Cool custard, stirring occasionally, then chill until cold, preferably overnight, before freeing in an ice cream machine.
Orange Caramel Sauce
1 c sugar
1 T light corn syrup or golden syrup
pinch of salt
1/4 c water
1/2 c heavy cream, heated
2 T unsalted butter
zest and juice of half an orange
–In a medium saucepan, stir together the sugar, syrup, salt and water until the sugar is completely moistened. Wash down any sugar that is stuck to the side of the pot with a wet pastry brush or wet fingers. (Sugar granules on the side could cause your caramel to crystallize.) Allow it to boil undisturbed until it turns deep amber in color (380°F.). Immediately remove it from the heat and slowly and carefully pour the hot cream into the caramel. It will bubble up, so stand back.
-Use a whisk or wooden spoon to stir the mixture until smooth, scraping up the thicker part that settles on the bottom. If any lumps develop, return the pan to the heat and stir until they dissolve. Stir in the butter and the orange zest and juice. Cool. Store in a jar in the refrigerator.
Note: If you are afraid you will not be able to work quickly enough rather than pull out the full tray, you can remove the unmolded bombes from the freezer and meringue them one by one, returning each one to the freezer before removing the next.
4 egg whites (about 1/2 cup)
1 cup sugar
-Combine sugar and egg whites in large metal bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Set bowl over saucepan of gently simmering water and whisk until mixture is hot to the touch and all the sugar has dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Remove bowl from over water. Using the stand mixer fitted with the whip or a handheld electric mixer, beat meringue at high speed until very thick and billowy and room temperature, about 2-3 minutes.
-Place sheet tray with unmolded, assembled bombes on work surface. Mound 2 heaping tablespoons meringue atop ice cream on 1 cake round. Spread meringue evenly over to cover, sealing meringue to plain cake border and swirling decoratively. Repeat with remaining desserts.
I haven’t always given as much thought as I do now about where my food comes from, but over the last few years I have tried to become a better educated and more responsible shopper and eater. This is not just in terms of nutrition and what is in my food, but also in terms who is growing, making and selling it, and what is involved in its production. When I saw that R khooks was hosting a Stop the Traffik Chocolate Competition to promote awareness of child labor on cocoa plantations, I definitely wanted to contribute a submission.
How do you know the cocoa beans in the chocolate you are buying haven’t been harvested by the hands of children or forced laborers? One way is to look for the fairtrade label, showing that the product complies with international standards regarding fair prices, labor conditions and environmental sustainability, among other things. There are several brands of fairtrade chocolate that are pretty easy to find, so I went to my local healthfood store to have a look. I saw an organic brand called Cocolo that I hadn’t tried before, and picked up a couple bars of their dark chocolate and a bar of white chocolate with almond crunch. Then I spent some time wondering what I’d do with them. I broke off a teeny sample of each. Truthfully, all white chocolate makes my teeth hurt a little, and eaten straight-up this one was no exception, but the crunchy almond bits were what attracted me to it. At 58%, the dark chocolate was a bit sweeter than I would normally use, but it was smooth and I knew I could put it to good use. My plan for the chocolates would take a couple days from start to finish, but I decided to make tartufi– delicious little balls of chocolate-coated ice cream with a cherry hidden in the center.
First I made a regular custard-style ice cream base, adding in chopped white chocolate and almond extract after it was off the heat. I like to make my base the night before I plan to spin my ice cream, so it can have time to chill really well before I use it. And since I don’t have a self-freezing ice cream machine I put my canister in the freezer at the same time. This way, every thing is good to go the next morning, and I can even churn the ice cream while I’m getting ready for work.
Once I had my white chocolate and almond ice cream made, I put it away to firm up before scooping. It’s a good idea to put a plastic lined sheet tray in the freezer as well, so you have a cold suface ready to go when you form your tartufi. It will take several hours of chilling before the ice cream will hold a round shape (although if you find you’ve jumped the gun and they get a bit melty, just put your ice cream scoops back in the freezer for a couple hours and gently reshape). About ten minutes before scooping, I macerated some drained canned dark cherries with a couple drops of almond extract. I used a spring-loaded 1 3/4-inch scoop to make nice round balls of ice cream, tucking a cherry into each one as I scooped. Then they went back into the freezer overnight.
While there is a lot of wait-time involved in making tartufi, the only challenging part is coating them in chocolate. I saw one recipe that advised skewering each tartufo with a toothpick and dunking them one-by-one in the melted dark chocolate. I managed this for my first one, but after that, the ice cream was sliding around on the toothpick and the chocolate was getting too cold. Potential disaster! On to plan B, which was using a couple spoons to gently coax the glaze onto each ball. There is also plan C, which is just to put a nice spoonful of glaze on top of each tartufo, and let it drip down around it. I did for that about half of my tartufi. While they were not completely encased in chocolate, they still looked pretty.
Made with lousy ice cream, tartufi can be pretty lackluster. But with great-flavored homemade ice cream, I can’t even tell you how *seriously fabulous* these are. And they taste even better knowing you have made them with fairtrade chocolate!
White Chocolate and Almond Tartufi– makes 15 pieces
-Make the ice cream and chill it until it is quite firm (recipe below). Place a plastic-lined sheet tray in the freezer for later.
-About 10 minutes before scooping, drain 15 canned dark cherries. Put into a small bowl and toss with a couple drops of almond extract. Set aside to macerate.
-To form each tartufo, scoop a round ball of firm ice cream (I used a spring-loaded 1 3/4-inch scoop), inserting one cherry in the center as you scoop. Place onto the chilled plastic-lined sheet tray. Repeat for each one, and then return to the freezer for several hours or overnight. You may have extra ice cream (which is delicious as is)…you can can save it in case your scoops melt a little on you. If that is the case, re-form with the ice cream scoop, using extra ice cream if needed, and re-chill before dipping.
-Once your scoops have chilled firm, make the chocolate glaze (recipe below). Pour into a cup or a deep bowl. Use the technique that works best for you to coat the scoops in the chocolate. You can either dip them with a skewer, use two spoons to turn them in the glaze or simply spoon the glaze over them. Gently re-heat glaze if you need to.
-As you go, sprinkle each tartufo with toasted chopped almonds before the chocolate sets.
-Return to freezer for at least an hour before eating.
White Chocolate and Almond Ice Cream– makes about a quart
300g heavy cream
300g whole milk
pinch of salt
3 large egg yolks
1/2 t cornstarch
100g white chocolate, chopped (I used white chocolate with bits of almond)
1 t almond extract
pinch xanthan gum (optional, can be found in healthfood stores)
-In a small, heavy bottomed saucepot, combine the milk, cream, salt and half the sugar. Bring to a simmer.
-Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch and remaining sugar together in a medium bowl until pale and thickened. Also, place your chopped white chocolate into a separate medium bowl and set aside.
-Once the liquid reaches a simmer, temper the yolk mixture and return the whole thing to the pot, whisking. Place over low heat and use a spatula or wooden spoon to stir constantly. Do not boil it, but get it thick enough to coat the back of the spoon/spatula and hold a line if you wipe your finger through it. This will take several minutes.
-Pass through a fine sieve into the bowl containing the white chocolate. Let it sit for a minute or two to melt the chocolate. Whisk to combine and add in almond extract. Also add in the xanthan gum if using (I didn’t measure, just threw in a good pinch. The tiniest amount will help keep your ice cream from getting icy while in freezer, but this is optional.)
-Chill over an ice bath until room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate overnight. (The next day, give it a taste before you churn it and add more almond extract if the flavor is not strong enough for you.)
-Spin chilled base according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for several hours until firm.
Dark Chocolate Glaze
200g dark chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 T unsalted butter
1/2 t vegetable oil
-Melt chocolate with butter and oil over a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring well to combine. This glaze will set crunchy when chilled.
OMG…there are so many events I want to do this month, and of course I’ve saved them all until the last second! I’ve always been a procrastinator, so this is really just par for the course. But anyway, there will be lots of desserts for R and me (and a barrage of posts for you) this last week of September! So to kick things off, I’m starting with what’s due in just a couple of hours– Sugar High Friday! This month’s hostess is Ivonne, author of the addictively delicious Cream Puffs in Venice, and she’s chosen ‘The Beautiful Fig‘ as her theme.
For a long time I thought figs were really not so beautiful. Fig Newtons (to me anyway) are gross, and so fresh figs suffered from guilt by association. I never even had one until my mid-twenties. I was surprised to find that a fresh fig is sweet and soft, smells great, is pretty and pleasantly seedy–nothing like the icky pasty stuff inside a Newton! I am still not crazy about dried figs, unless they have been heavily booze-soaked. But alas, the fruit (it’s actually a flower, as I read on Cream Puff’s blog) was to suffer another setback when the most annoyingly twitty boy in my culinary school class described a fresh fig as being like a certain part of a woman! Ack–why, WHY did I have to hear that, especially from him?!? Some mental scarring still remains, but I no longer take things out on the innocent fig.
My inspiration for this recipe comes from Regan Daley’s recipe for oven-roasted figs with honey and orange in In the Sweet Kitchen, one of my bookshelf favorites. I tweaked the technique and ingredients a bit because the figs right now in Sydney are maybe not quite as beautiful as their fall counterparts up in the Northern Hemisphere. Chef Daley roasts the figs in the oven in a bath of orange juice, honey and spices. I gave this method a test drive last week, and it truly tasted fabulous, but it kind of drained the color out of my figs. I like to get a pretty picture you know, so I tried again, reducing my liquid to a loose syrup on the stove top before adding the figs to just briefly soften. Once off the heat, I then stirred in a handful of raspberries for some extra visual pop (not to mention they taste great with figs). I let the compote cool just slightly and then put it over vanilla ice cream. I think it would be great with yogurt, too. Scrummy and beautiful!
Fig and Raspberry Compote– makes three or four servings, depending on how much fruit you use
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods, smashed
1/4 c honey
2 T sugar
pinch of salt
2 T unsalted butter
several figs, quartered (I used 5 figs, but you could throw in a couple more)
handful of raspberries (fresh or frozen)
-Combine the orange juice and zest, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, honey, sugar and salt in a small sauce pan. Simmer until cooked down and slightly syrupy. Whisk in the butter.
-Add the cut figs, tossing in the syrup. If your figs are ripe and soft, you can remove the pan from the stove top, and the residual heat from the syrup should warm them through. If your figs are on the firm side, continue to gently simmer in the syrup until they soften slightly, about five minutes.
-Once off the heat, discard the cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Toss in the raspberries, coating with syrup.
-Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before spooning over ice cream.