I know. This could not get any more vanilla. Plain Jane. Milquetoast. Waspy.
There is a reason you don’t see many ice cream posts on this blog (I think there may be one).
I do not have the ice cream juju.
Every summer, I set out to conquer the beast, and every summer I fail. Regardless of recipe, my attempts turn out chalky, overly rich and just plain sad. Oh, and expensive. Last summer’s attempt involved Sicilian pistachios and dozens of hand-pitted cherries. The result was inedible.
So this summer I decided to dial it back and start with crawling instead of toe picking. And it worked. The result was creamy, just sweet enough and perfect for topping a piece of peach pie.
So, I thought I’d share. In case I’m not the only remedial ice cream maker out there.
I know what you are thinking. You think I’ve been slacking off all summer, what with the post here, another there and multiple weeks in between.
Actually, the opposite is true.
The last couple of summers I found myself teaching a pretty intense graduate course. As much fun as it was (really, it was), come September I found myself exhausted and not really ready to start the academic year.
So this year I said no to teaching and instead became the student.
Of baked goods. I just finished up a phenomenal 10 week baking course through the New School of Cooking in Culver City, CA. Every Monday night the class convened for lecture and hands-on practice. The instructor, Chef May Hennemann was fantastic: incredibly accomplished, knowledgable and patient. I’m not exaggerating when I say I think I smiled the entire 40 hours. We covered everything from quick breads to laminates and I feel like my technical skills have greatly improved.
As an adult so many things I do are driven by need or purpose–means to an ends. It was an incredible luxury to do something with the sole aim of enjoyment.
In fact, I enjoyed myself so much that I working on negotiating additional coursework.
But here is the rub. Each weekend following the Monday night class I would practice the previous week’s lessons. This hasn’t left me with much time or motivation for blog posts.
But, I do have lots of stuff to share. Some is directly from the class but most of it derivative from the concepts I’ve learned and played with on my practice days.
I many even have to double up some weeks.
We didn’t actually make ice cream in class. But, the base of ice cream is very similar to creme anglaise, custard and pastry cream. Like I said, derivative. My very favorite chocolate cake includes a healthy dose of stout beer in the ingredient list. So, when a friend brought us a Tabasco sauce meant for serving over ice cream I immediately thought of this combination. It’s a good one!
Stout and Bittersweet Chocolate Ice Cream
adapted ever so slightly from David Lebovitz
makes about one quart
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 C whole milk
1/2 C sugar
pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1 C heavy cream
3/4 C stout beer (Guinness or another favorite)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Put the chocolate pieces in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.
Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks (you don’t want to scramble your eggs), whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.
Pour the custard through the strainer over the milk chocolate, then stir until the chocolate is melted.
Once the mixture is smooth, whisk in the cream, then the Guinness and vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
While in Hong Kong a couple of years ago, I fell in love with the warm black sesame mochi often served as dessert. I loved the combination of just barely sweet but incredibly rich nuttiness and chewy glutenous rice. Kind of like a heated Abba Zabba. Sort of. The thing is, these little treats always look slightly evil to me. Like maybe something a giant hairy black spider might lay. Creepy. And yes, completely unappetizing.
So, when thinking of a final scary treat for the month of October, these came to mind. Alas, mochi are a step or 27 above my technical skill level. But I tell you what isn’t: ice cream. I found this recipe on the blog Just One Cookbook. It all starts with black sesame seeds.
I found these at Whole Foods. What I couldn’t find without ordering online was black sesame paste. No worries though, the Blogess at Just One Cookbook gives an easy recipe for sesame paste from scratch.
Once you are armed with both your black sesame seeds and your black sesame paste, you do a little grinding. I find using a pestle and mortar very satisfying.
Both the paste and ground sesame seeds are added to a mixture of honey, sugar and eggs.
Once combined, heated milk is slowly incorporated (don’t want to scramble those eggs).
Next, the whole lovely mess is heated and stirred until thickened.
Into an ice bath. Behind the scenes, I was whipping some cream with a sprinkle of salt.
I’ve made ice cream a dozen or so times using varying methods and this one was new. The now softly peaked whipped cream is folded into the sesame mixture.
Then everything is cooled in the fridge for a few hours. Only when the mixture is completely chilled is it time to fire-up the ice cream maker. Yes, ours is orange. This shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows TD. At this point, the custard was a beautiful dark grey color–really lovely, but not evil enough for my purposes. So, I added three drops of black gel food coloring.
After about 20 minutes of churning, you’ve got soft-serve, so into the freezer to harden.
No self-respecting ghoulish sundae would be complete without a a sauce. Here I just added a little bit of sugar and lemon juice to a pint of fresh raspberries. Blackberries would be good too. Or fudge.
And that my friends, is how you make a black widow sundae. Rubber spider definitely required. Unfortunately, good photography appears to be optional. My apologies!
The fruit sauce with the nutty ice cream turned out to be a delicious combination. Black sesame ice cream tastes very close to peanut butter so the bright fruit note was a nice contrast.
My Halloween playlist. Dude, you already knew I was a nerd.
3 Tbsp. black sesame paste (or Homemade Black Sesame Paste) [TMH note–I used a mini-prep instead of a regular-size processor with good results]
1 tsp. vanilla
200 ml (Take away 2 Tbsp. of 1 cup) heavy cream
Pinch of salt
If the black sesame seeds are not roasted yet, put the sesame in a (non-stick) fry pan over medium heat and stir until they start popping. They will start releasing a nutty aroma. Remove from the heat and cool.
Grind black sesame seeds very finely.
In a small pot, bring the milk to a simmer and remove from heat.
Whisk sugar and egg yolk together until pale yellow.
Add in honey, black sesame seeds, and black sesame paste and whisk until well combined.
Add the milk into the sesame mixture in a slow stream.
Pour the mixture into the small pot over medium-low heat. Stir until the custard thickens and reach around 80C (176F) degree. Don’t exceed 83C (181F) degree since egg yolk will get cooked.
Remove from heat and cool down the pot in a large bowl filled with iced water. Add vanilla.
Clean the stand mixer bowl and now whisk together the heavy cream and a pinch of salt until peaks form.
Add the whipped cream into the cooled sesame mixture. Fold in but do not over mix it. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for several hours (or overnight) until completely cold.
Process the mixture in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions (usually about 25 minutes). Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and freeze it for several hours before serving.
If you are not going to use ice cream maker, then transfer the mixture to a container and put it in a freezer. Stir every few hours (3-4 times) to break up the ice crystals until it’s completely frozen.
Need a great dinner party dessert? Something elegant and impressive but criminally easy to put together? Something that might make you feel like you are dialing-it-in while outward appearances argue ooh-la-la?
I’ve got what you need. It’s a little something I call the ice cream torte. Oh sure, it exists under a variety of names and circumstances. In fact, the possibilities are nearly endless. Just mix and match your favorite ice cream flavors and toppings.
And topped it with this (well, really, the brownie formed the base once the whole treat was dished-out).
Even the necessary tools are simple: a vessel (I like to use a loaf pan), plastic wrap and something to spread it all with.
Line your container with cling wrap so that you can easily “un-mold” your creation.
Allow your first layer of ice cream to melt to the point of malleability and evenly spread to desired thickness. Then, into the freezer until solid (30 minutes or so). Follow-up with desired layers until you reach the top of the pan.
Then, cover with cling-wrap and let it chill-out until dessert time. This could be hours or days. Nice huh? About 10 minutes before serving, pop the whole thing out of the mold, slice and sit back and listen to the ooohs and ahhhs.
For those of you playing along at home, here are the layers (bottom to top) from an ice cream torte I made for a little dinner last weekend: brownie, ganache, coffee ice cream, ganache, chocolate ice cream (you can’t really see the ganache layers because they’ve blended with the brownie and chocolate ice cream. But…they are there).
I know the presentation here is pretty sloppy, but I like to reserve some of the ganache, heat it gently in a water bath and serve against the cold dessert.
There really isn’t a recipe for this one, folks. The sky is the limit when it comes to what goes into your torte. I’ve made my own chocolate sauce and brownies here but who says you can’t go store-bought? My only word of advice is to use ingredients that have about the same consistency when frozen. If you want some crunch, my suggestion is to break-up whatever it is (candy, nuts) into smaller bits so that the overall texture similar.
I was excited to get to brush off my college french for this month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge. Then I realized that being able to ask for the location of the library or discotheque isn’t of much use when making pastry. Oh well.
The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a biscuit joconde imprime to wrap around an entremets dessert.
Is biscuit jaconde imprime simply Greek to you? Well, it was to me until I read the challenge several times. And watched the suggested video. And scoured the links included in the challenge.
It turns out this challenge is actually two methods put together to create a single entity of deliciousness. A biscuit jaconde imprime is really just a fancy dessert wrapper made out of a very flexible sponge cake with a pattern in it. The entremets refers to the filling the biscuit jaconde imprime houses.
This recipe starts with paste. A pastry paste which will give the cake its fanciness. For this recipe, I piped the paste on to a silicon baking mat. More traditionally, a very thin layer of the paste is spread onto the mat and then a pattern is done in relief. As a note, I halved the paste recipe and still had plenty left over.
I did this pattern free-hand but if you wanted something specific, you could easily trace your pattern on to parchment, slip it under the mat and then trace with your paste.
The pattern then gets some time in the freezer to firm-up.
While the pastry is resting, it’s time to make the cake. In my case, I added a couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder but you can make it any color you would like.
Returning to the paste, once firm to the touch, the mat is fitted into a half-sheet pan.
And then the sponge batter is poured over it.
After a very quick turn in the oven, the silicon mat is inverted on to a flat surface.
And when peeled-away, the pattern is revealed. Cool or what?
Once the cake is completely cool, it is ready to mold. I used two four-inch spring molds. However, because you are done with the baking process at this point, you aren’t limited to baking pans. Foam board and duct tape could be equally as effective if you wanted to get really groovy with your shapes.
I first lined the bottom of the pans with plastic wrap and then lined the inside of the mold with parchment that was cut to stick out vertically by a couple of inches. I cut the strips of sponge to reach just under the height of the mold.
A quick calculation and homemade compass helped me with the diameter of the bottom and middle layers.
And then it was time to fill. The instructions of the challenge said the entremets could be anything. ANYTHING. So, my mind went to ice cream. And ganache. I’m a little worried that this bastardization could get my spatula confescated, but the instruction did say “anything.”
Each little mold was filled with alternating layers of the extra sponge, mint chocolate chip ice cream and ganache. Once the mold was filled to the top, into the freezer my little friends went for a couple of hours.
Once completely solid, I un-molded the spring-form ring and added a final layer of ganache to top the whole thing off. My understanding is that the jaconde imprime often only goes half-way up the dessert with other delectable layers topping it off as sort of a penthouse floor. For this attempt, I played it conservative and took advantage of the support of the cake.
And then, back into the freezer. The top should have been completely smooth. That it isn’t is a complete rookie error on my part.
Once more frozen, I unwrapped each of the cakes
Here is the pattern on the bottom. I know, nice outlets.
A little detail work with the extra ganache and a cherry on top. Et voila! My take on an ice cream cake.
It isn’t perfect, but was really fun to make . Unlike a souffle or the French macaron, this is one of those recipes that is passably successful if you simply follow the steps carefully.
As a note. If you are thinking of doing this with ice cream, once completely frozen, the layers are much more defined than the picture below. This cut was made only a couple of hours after I completed the cake. A day or two later, I cut it again and the layers were very clean.
I’ve included the recipe here verbatim as posted by accro
YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan
¾ cup/ 180 ml/ 3oz/ 85g almond flour/meal – *You can also use hazelnut flour, just omit the butter
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/ 150 ml/ 2? oz/ 75g confectioners’ (icing) sugar
*Note: How to make cake flour: http://www.joythebaker.com/blog/2009/09/how-to-make-cake-flour/
1. In a clean mixing bowl whip the egg whites and white granulated sugar to firm, glossy peeks. Reserve in a separate clean bowl to use later.
2. Sift almond flour, confectioner’s sugar, cake flour. (This can be done into your dirty egg white bowl)
3. On medium speed, add the eggs a little at a time. Mix well after each addition. Mix until smooth and light. (If using a stand mixer use blade attachment. If hand held a whisk attachment is fine, or by hand. )
4. Fold in one third reserved whipped egg whites to almond mixture to lighten the batter. Fold in remaining whipped egg whites. Do not over mix.
5. Fold in melted butter.
6. Reserve batter to be used later.
Patterned Joconde-Décor Paste
YIELD: Two ½ size sheet pans or a 13” x 18” (33 x 46 cm) jelly roll pan
COCOA Décor Paste Variation: Reduce cake flour to 6 oz / 170g. Add 2 oz/ 60 g cocoa powder. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together before adding to creamed mixture.
1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (use stand mixer with blade, hand held mixer, or by hand)
2. Gradually add egg whites. Beat continuously.
3. Fold in sifted flour.
4. Tint batter with coloring to desired color, if not making cocoa variation.
Preparing the Joconde- How to make the pattern:
1. Spread a thin even layer of décor paste approximately 1/4 inch (5 millimeter) thick onto silicone baking mat with a spatula, or flat knife. Place mat on an upside down baking sheet. The upside down sheet makes spreading easier with no lip from the pan.
2. Pattern the décor paste – Here is where you can be creative. Make horizontal /vertical lines (you can use a knife, spatula, cake/pastry comb). Squiggles with your fingers, zig zags, wood grains. Be creative whatever you have at home to make a design can be used. OR use a piping bag. Pipe letters, or polka dots, or a piped design. If you do not have a piping bag. Fill a ziplock bag and snip off corner for a homemade version of one.
3. Slide the baking sheet with paste into the freezer. Freeze hard. Approx 15 minutes.
4. Remove from freezer. Quickly pour the Joconde batter over the design. Spread evenly to completely cover the pattern of the Décor paste.
5. Bake at 475ºF /250ºC until the joconde bounces back when slightly pressed, approx. 15 minutes. You can bake it as is on the upside down pan. Yes, it is a very quick bake, so watch carefully.
6. Cool. Do not leave too long, or you will have difficulty removing it from mat.
7. Flip cooled cake on to a powdered sugared parchment paper. Remove silpat. Cake should be right side up, and pattern showing! (The powdered sugar helps the cake from sticking when cutting.)
Preparing the MOLD for entremets
Start with a large piece of parchment paper laid on a very flat baking sheet. Then a large piece of cling wrap over the parchment paper. Place a spring form pan ring, with the base removed, over the cling wrap and pull the cling wrap tightly up on the outside of the mold. Line the inside of the ring with a curled piece of parchment paper overlapping top edge by ½ inch. CUT the parchment paper to the TOP OF THE MOLD. It will be easier to smooth the top of the cake.
Preparing the Jaconde for Molding:
Video: MUST WATCH THIS. This is a very good demo of the joconde and filling the entremets:
1. Trim the cake of any dark crispy edges. You should have a nice rectangle shape.
2. Decide how thick you want your “Joconde wrapper”. Traditionally, it is ½ the height of your mold. This is done so more layers of the plated dessert can be shown. However, you can make it the full height.
3. Once your height is measured, then you can cut the cake into equal strips, of height and length. (Use a very sharp paring knife and ruler.)
4. Make sure your strips are cut cleanly and ends are cut perfectly straight. Press the cake strips inside of the mold, decorative side facing out. Once wrapped inside the mold, overlap your ends slightly. You want your Joconde to fit very tightly pressed up to the sides of the mold. Then gently push and press the ends to meet together to make a seamless cake. The cake is very flexible so you can push it into place. You can use more than one piece to “wrap “your mold, if one cut piece is not long enough.
5. The mold is done, and ready to fill.
*Note: The Daring Kitchen and its members in no way suggest we are medical professionals and therefore are NOT responsible for any error in reporting of gluten-free ingredients. If you have issues with digesting gluten, then it is YOUR responsibility to research the ingredient before using it. If you have allergies, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are lactose intolerant, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. If you are vegetarian or vegan, it is YOUR responsibility to make sure any ingredient in a recipe will not adversely affect you. Please consult your physician with any questions before using a product you are not familiar with. Thank you! 🙂
Yes, we’re back to dulce de leche. But really, why would anyone ever leave?
Let us review. I’ve already talked about two dulce de leche making methods. The first involves boiling the sweetened condensed milk in the original can in a water bath. I tried this method before reading about the apparent danger of explosion with this method. A little to my disappointment, mine did not explode…in fact it worked well though took about 3 hours. In the second method, the milk was baked in a water bath inside a roasting pan. So really, was it roasted? This method was also successful and took much less time than the dangerous method. Thanks David Lebovitz.
I tried one more method this summer: the double boiler. While a fine dulce de leche resulted, like the boil-in-a-can method, it too took forever. FOREVER. AND there wasn’t even the excitement that it might explode at any moment.
The winner in my book: bake your dulce de leche. Easiest hands-down.
What did I do with the third batch of dulce de leche you ask? Dulce de leche sundaes made with homemade vanilla bean ice cream, prailined pepitas and cinnamon-laced whipped cream.