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Strawberry Basil Gelato

29 Jul

“All the things I like to do, I like to do more with ice cream.”  ~Michael Ian Black

Strawberry Basil Gelato

Hold onto your seats ladies and gentlemen…This is a first.

That’s right. This is the first flavor ever created by The Husband.

Now, let’s not get confused. The Husband took no part in actually making this gelato. Well, that’s a small lie. He went out and bought the lemon, but that’s it. Oh, and he ate the gelato too, but that doesn’t count.

Up close and personal...

This is also a first for me because given my past track record with egg-based ice creams, I’m proud to report that this one went off without a hitch. Heck, I may go so far as to say that “technically” this is one of my best creations yet!

And, this is also a last. It’s the last post during National Ice Cream Month, and frankly, I’m shedding a tear just thinking about it…

Anyhow, a little background of how this flavor came to be. The Husband has a real affinity for basil, so much so that he’s been eating the leaves for breakfast. I kid you not. In fact, he even claims to “brush his teeth” with basil. Don’t get me wrong, and don’t get me started on how strange that is…

I love basil, give it to me on fresh pasta and pizza, and I’m sold. But, please don’t give it to me before noon, thankyouverymuch. Apparently The Husband holds by a different standard because he just can’t get enough of it! We recently purchased a little basil plant to feed his habit. Everything was going smoothly until one night I went to make pizza and noticed that the plant was totally depleted. Naturally I confronted The Husband who remarked sheepishly, “what, I wasn’t supposed to eat the whole thing?”. Ug. No.

Fast forward a few weeks and we’ve replenished our basil collection. I was putting the finishing touches on the New York Cheesecake Ice Cream Pie when boom. It hit him. Strawberry Basil Gelato.

I personally love gelato, but find it’s slightly harder to make it at home because gelato, unlike ice cream, has a lower fat content due to the primary use of whole milk. As a result home-made gelato doesn’t always keep as well in a home freezer. Additionally, it’s often made with eggs, and I personally get rather temperamental when tempering eggs. But, I gave it the old college try because strawberry basil gelato seemed like a good idea.

Lemons for the strawberry base

I came home to make this flavor after an excruciating high interval training workout.  Again, don’t get confused and think that I actually work out like this regularly. The Husband gave me a free one week gym membership so I decided to milk it for all it’s worth. Yeah, well I’ve never sweat that much in my life. And I’m uber sore today too. Thanks a lot…

Anyhow, making egg-based gelato requires an enormous amount of whisking, and after a long upper body workout, I wasn’t thrilled to be doing that again. But, for the love of gelato, I did. And I’m glad I did, because it helped me get over my fear of tempering eggs, and contributed to this delicious flavor. So, without further ado…

Strawberry Basil Gelato

Gelato adapted from Ciao Bella; Flavor created by The Husband

Hull and slice, hull and slice...

Ingredients

1 cup half-and-half

2 cups whole milk

4 large egg yolks

1/2 cup of sugar (for gelato base)

1 pound box of strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced

1/4 cup of sugar (for strawberry swirl)

2 tbs fresh lemon juice

7 large basil leaves

candy thermometer*

*You don’t technically need one, but trust me when I say that it will make your life much easier when tempering and heating the egg mixture

Method

Prepping the yolks before tempering... slowly adding the sugar until the yolks are thick and pale yellow

Day 1 – To make the custard base pour the milk and half-and-half into a medium pot. Heat slowly, and stir occasionally so that a skin does not form on the milk. Heat until small bubbles form on the sides, but do not boil.

In the meantime, whisk the four egg yolks together in a large heat-proof bowl until smooth. Gradually add in the 1/2 cup of sugar until the yolk mixture is very thick and a pale yellow color. Here’s where you’ll begin tempering the eggs. Slowly add the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture and whisk continuously. Once you’ve combined the eggs and the milk, pour back into the medium pot and slowly heat the mixture until it reaches 185 degrees F. Trust me here, you’ll want to use a thermometer. If you overcook the egg mixture, it will scramble, your whole kitchen (or apartment if you live in NYC) will smell like eggs, and the mixture will be ruined.

The eggs have been tempered! Success!

With the heat on low, it will take at least 15 minutes to bring your mixture to 185 degrees. Stir occasionally until the mixture reaches the desired temperature and thickness. Once ready, pour over a fine mesh strainer so that you catch all the little mini pieces of “scrambled egg” that may have formed. Let the mixture cool entirely before refrigerating overnight.

To make the strawberry mixture hull and thinly slice 1lb of strawberries. Put them into a small pot on the stove, cover with 1/4 cup of sugar and 2 tbs of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Let them sit (with the heat off) and marinade for 15 minutes. Then turn the heat on low and let the mixture cook until the strawberries are mushy and a syrup begins to form, approximately 10 minutes. Let the mixture cool entirely before refrigerating overnight.

Day 2 – To actually make the gelato pour 3/4 of the strawberry mixture in the blender with the gelato base and 5 basil leaves. Puree until smooth. Taste the mixture and adjust the basil flavor to your liking. I added 7 leaves and found that was the perfect “earthy” flavor, but yet the basil flavor was not overpowering.

Churning...right after adding the strawberry swirl

Pour the mixture into the base of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Approximately 5 minutes before the mixture is ready (for me this was after 13-15 minutes) add in the remaining 1/4 of the strawberry mixture. Scoop the gelato into a freezer safe container, garnish with a basil leaf and store in the freezer for 2 hours before serving.

Most creative flavor...Strawberry Basil Gelato!

The Verdict: I was so surprised and pleased by these flavor notes. First, I succeeded in tempering the eggs, and therefore the texture was so creamy and smooth. Second, the basil to strawberry ratio was spot on. When you take a bite of this gelato, the first flavor you’ll taste is basil. Then the strawberries hit you and together it’s a perfectly earthy combination. It’s hard to describe, so just trust me on this one.

And the award for most creative idea goes to…drum roll please…The Husband!

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The BEST Plain Frozen Yogurt

28 Jun

“I opened-up a yogurt, underneath the lid it said, ‘Please try again’ because they were having a contest that I was unaware of. I thought maybe I opened the yogurt wrong. …Or maybe Yoplait was trying to inspire me… ‘Come on Mitchell, don’t give up!’ An inspirational message from your friends at Yoplait, fruit on the bottom, hope on top.” ~ Mitch Hedberg

I recently got a comment on 365scoops from a lovely woman (who shall remain nameless) that read:

Although my sister, who shall remain anonymous, thinks plain yogurt tastes like “butt-crack”, I hereby request it with berries. Can you make this happen?
-Mama Z.

Well Mama Z – your wish is my command!

The BEST plain yogurt. Ever.

It all began one summer day in 2008. I had just finished a fun half-hour of free kayaking on 72nd street. Much to my chagrin, I got soaked while paddling in the Hudson River and to be frank, I didn’t smell all that hot. Actually, I stank. Hudson River water smells really bad. Being that it was 95 degrees out, my friends and I needed frozen yogurt to cool us off a bit. And we needed it stat.

All the new, hip frozen yogurt places had not really started popping up on the Upper West Side so we decided to try the famous Bloomingdales Frozen Yogurt to see what all the hype was about.

Walking into Bloomingdales I was hoping for something sweet, when one of my friends informed me, “you know this is tart yogurt, right?”. Um, what? I’m here for sweet, I thought to myself, pondering why I had schlepped all the way across town in my Hudson-River-splashed clothing. This was my first entree into plain frozen yogurt, and I have to say, I was petrified. In case it hasn’t been made clear through this blog I want my desserts sweet. Fruit doesn’t count, and neither did plain frozen yogurt.

Or so I thought.

After ordering a small (which was actually quite huge) and eating the whole thing (plus 1/2 of my friend’s) I promptly proclaimed, “this stuff’s addictive!” and the rest is history!

For the past three summers I’ve been feeding my habit by going out to ice cream quite frequently, if not daily. This started becoming an expensive habit and so I took matters into my own hands, and made tart frozen yogurt instead. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as Mama Z did!

The BEST Plain Yogurt. Ever.

Adapted from 101Cookbooks (who adapted it from David Lebovitz)

Ingredients

2 cups 2% Greek Yogurt (I used Chobani)

1 cup 0% Greek Yogurt

3/4 cup sugar

The ingredients...pretty basic stuff!

Method

Vigorously whisk the yogurt and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved in the yogurt. Cool completely in the refrigerator.

Pour the mixture into the ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Most of the time it takes 20 minutes to make an ice cream, but for some reason this only took 15 minutes and it was done. I recommend eating this as soon as it comes out of the ice cream maker (if you even make it that far) because once you freeze it, it gets a bit hard.

Serve drizzled with the Triple Berry Sauce or smothered with fresh berries. Yum.

The Verdict: Mama Z said it was the best damn frozen yogurt she’s ever hard. If that’s not a glowing report, I don’t know what is… Oh, it was so good that I ate the rest for breakfast with raspberries the next day. Is that embarrassing?

Apologies for not having a photo, you’ll just have to try making it yourself…

‘One Sunny Night’ Ice Cream

30 May

“The Project Sunshine volunteers not only bring smiles to the faces of our patients, but they are also a vital part of the healing process, enabling children to heal through play. “~ Nuria Claramunt Miami Children’s Hospital

Last week was Project Sunshine Week, an annual week dedicated to Project Sunshine’s mission and services that raises awareness and funds for the organization.  As many of you know, I have been working for Project Sunshine for the past five and a half years. Project Sunshine’s mission is to empower a dynamic and dedicated corps of over 10,000 volunteers to bring programming – recreational (arts), educational (tutoring and mentoring) and social service (HIV and nutritional counseling) – to over 60,000 children facing medical challenges and their families in 150 major cities across the United States and in five international satellite sites: Canada, China, Israel, Kenya and Puerto Rico.

Project Sunshine volunteer Bar Refaeli reads with hospitalized children

Project Sunshine’s volunteers selflessly donate their time to relieve the anxiety of young patients and in a context of fun and play, foster in them the courage and coping skills necessary to confront procedures that lie ahead. Project Sunshine volunteers spread sunshine, restoring a crucial sense of normalcy to the pediatric healthcare environment.

Ever since starting 365scoops, my coworkers have been wonderful guinea pigs for my many flavor concoctions. In fact, the Project Sunshine team was the first to support this ice cream project. So, it is only fair to them – and to the children and families that we serve – that I dedicate this ice cream to Project Sunshine!

A little about this lovely flavor. My mother makes an outrageously delicious lemon meringue pie. Personally, I turn my nose up at lemon meringue pie because, well, it tastes really fake and airy. Not this one. This one, ah, it’s perfect. First, you start with a beautiful meringue crust, then you fill it with home made lemon curd, whipped cream, lemon zest, and top it off with delectably sweet raspberries. The flavor combination is perfect, and this dessert is gorgeous too.

Project Sunshine volunteer, NY Yankee Brett Gardner, high fives a young boy after a hospital event

Being that this dessert is also yellow, I felt that it was a no-brainer to make it the (official) Project Sunshine ice cream. Oh, and one more thing, this year Project Sunshine’s benefit celebration (which culminated the spectacular Project Sunshine week) was called One Sunny Night – and so this ice cream is it’s namesake.

So, raise your ice cream bowls and cheers this wonderful organization! To the 60,000 children and family members served by Project Sunshine each year, this one’s for you!

The creamy ice cream base...yum

One Sunny Night Ice Cream

Inspired by my mom’s famous lemon meringue pie and created by moi!

Ingredients

Lemon Curd

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup whipping cream (whipped)

Ice Cream Base

1 1/2 cups lemon curd/whipped cream mixture

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup half-and-half

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tbs lemon zest

Egg whites (before they become the meringue)

Meringues

4 egg whites

1 cup sugar

Method

First make the meringues since they take quite a while to cook. Separate the egg yolks and whites (reserve the yolks for the lemon curd) and using either an electric hand mixer or a mixmaster begin mixing the egg whites until they start to get foamy. Little by little, begin adding the cup of sugar into the egg whites. Pour in a little sugar, and continue mixing. Repeat this process until you have used up all the sugar and the egg whites form small white peaks. This, at least, is the technical way to make meringues. But, if you grew up in my household, the true test to see whether the egg whites are ready, is to hold the bowl upside down over your head, and if they don’t move or fall on you (and heaven help you if they do, it’s a big fat mess to clean up!) they’re ready! Whatever you do, don’t underbeat the eggwhites.

A meringue dollop before it's cooked...

Before baking the meringues, cut two pieces of paper from large brown paper shopping bags (you know, the kind you get a wholefoods if you forget to bring your own bag!) Cut off the handles and cut the paper bag into two sheets, one for each cookie sheet. Again, most people use parchment paper, but I swear that brown paper bags is the best technique. My mom has been been doing it forever in her house, and I’m telling you, it makes these meringues perfect.  Spoon dollops of the meringue batter onto the cookie sheets and bake at 200 degrees for approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to two hours. When checking to see whether the meringues are ready, never open the oven door, you’ll lose all the heat. Instead, turn the oven light on. Once the meringues are ready (they’ll brown slightly on top) take them out of the oven and let them cool completely.

Meringues fresh out of the oven (Notice the brown paper bag!)

Now it’s time to make the lemon curd (bear in mind that you’re doing this while the meringues are baking). Combine egg yolks with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk until thickened. Remove from heat and cool for one hour.

While the lemon curd is cooling, beat the whipping cream in a small bowl until stiff peaks form. Using the same beaters, beat the lemon curd filling until smooth. Fold the whipped cream into the lemon filling until blended.  This is the first time in any ice cream recipe that I’ve pre-whipped the whipping cream, and I must say, this made the ice cream extremely airy and soft and the resulting consistency was something very special. More to come on that soon…

The lemons and fresh lemon zest

And finally – the piece de resistance – the ice cream base! Now that you have the lemon curd/whipped cream mixture ready, you’ll use this as one of the main ingredients for the actual ice cream. In a large mixing bowl stir together 1 1/2 cups of the lemon curd/whipped cream mixture, 1 cup of half-and-half, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tbs lemon zest. Once the mixture is completely stirred and the sugar is dissolved, let cool completely in the refrigerator.

Once chilled, pour into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions, which for me was 22 minutes. The resulting ice cream will be very creamy (much creamier than any other ice cream to date, and I think that’s because I used whipping cream that had already been whipped, thereby adding more air into the mixture, making it supremely creamy and delicious.)

Drumroll please...the final product...One Sunny Night!

Sigh. Now it’s time for the assembly. Scoop yourself a few heaps of the lemon ice cream. Crush up one meringue on top and garnish with raspberries.

The Verdict: I may be slightly biased here, because the lemon raspberry meringue pie is one of my favorite desserts, but when turned into an ice cream this recipe is super creamy, airy, delicious and refreshing. You’ll see specks of lemon zest beautifully woven throughout the ice cream, and the combination of sweet meringues with tart lemon ice cream and fresh raspberry is truly perfect. This is an excellent summer dessert, and a perfect way to top off any meal – it truly makes for One Sunny Night!

Screme!

24 Apr

What’s your favorite flavor? ~ Me

Who do you love more, your mom or your dad? How can I answer that? ~ Screme Gelato Bar Owner

5,000 Flavors!

It’s been three days in a row that I’ve eaten at Screme Gelato Bar. (But who’s counting?)

I remember when I was a little kid my mom used to tell me that too much of a good thing was bad. Sure, that may be the case for silly childhood obsessions but it’s certainly not the case for gelato, ice cream, sorbet…you get the point!

As many of you know, I need my daily fix of sweets. Some people say they need something sweet after dinner to round out the meal.

That is not me.

I need something sweet each day to live. Seriously, I cannot remember a day in my life in which I passed up a dessert, refused something sweet, or went without ice cream or cake.  For many of you this may sound like a familiar story, and you’re sitting there reading this blog post shaking your head and thinking “Yes!  I am not alone!”

Look no further. You have found your partner in crime:  Screme Gelato Bar

My delicious passion fruit sorbet!

Today I had a lovely conversation with the owner of Screme Gelato Bar. Our meeting started out with a taste of six (I know because I couldn’t hold all those spoons at once) different sorbets and gelatos until I finally decided on passion fruit. For a chocolate lover that seemed a bit strange, but any of you who taste the passion fruit sorbet you’ll understand why. The flavor is incredible, spot on. Perfect.

I asked the owner how he got into the ice cream business. Naturally I assumed he was a frozen treat aficionado just like me.

False.

I nearly fell off my chair when he told me that he didn’t really even like ice cream (that is, until he tried Aldo gelato in Israel). I couldn’t believe my ears! Here is a man who owns two gelato bars in NYC (with more coming soon!), has created over 5,000 (yes, five thousand!) different gelato and sorbet recipes,  and he is not even that obsessed with ice cream. Something seemed wrong!

Rewind a few years. The owner of Screme told me that while living in Israel, his wife used to take his kids out for ice cream daily (I love her already!) when he finally told her that perhaps this wasn’t the most healthy habit for the kids. The wife said “don’t knock it ’till you try it”, so the owner found himself swinging by an Israeli gelato bar, Aldo, and realized that his wife was on to something. (Lesson learned:  the wife is always right!). After he tried Aldo’s gelato he was addicted and decided to bring this business to NYC in the form of Screme Gealto Bar. I promise, after visiting Screme, you’ll be addicted too!

Fast forward three years. Screme, which can be found in two locations on the UWS (Broadway between 69th and 70th AND 94th and Amsterdam) boast fresh new flavors daily. And don’t even get me started on the customer service. It’s incredible! Each employee allows you to taste as many flavors as you want. Think of it this way, everybody loves something free. Taste as many samples as you want, and Screme promises that you’ll be hooked. So, for two minutes the employees actually become your best friend, by letting you taste whatever you want, and allowing for a “screme break in your life.” It’s really perfect.

Now, if your mouth isn’t watering yet, take a look at this video. You’ll see how Screme makes their incredible creations, and you’ll find yourself running to get your very own.

A signature component of the Screme gelato is fresh ingredients and flavors. If you are eating the pistacio gelato, you’re eating real pistacios imported from Italy, not syrup. If you try the mango sorbet, you get to taste little bits of crushed mangoes, not syrup. If you’re eating the Margarita, you are tasting real tequilla, limes, and a hint of sea salt. Finally, if you’re lucky enough to have tried their Cap’n Crunch Gelato you’ll be able to close your eyes and really feel like you’re eating a creamy and delicious bowl of that favorite childhood cereal. It’s the real deal. And let me tell you, you can really taste the difference. Once you taste the magical frozen treat, you’ll never go back to the synthetic flavors, it’s impossible. You’re dealing with the Rolls Royce of Gelato here, trust me!

A full sensory experience!

And if that’s not enough, you really get a full sensory experience at Screme. First, you see these mountains of fresh gelato and sorbet that actually scream your name (ha, get it, scream!) If that’s not enough, you get unlimited tastes of the gelato and sorbet. Finally, you smell fresh, home-made waffles cooking and you’ll find yourself ordering a waffle a-la-mode. There is nothing better.

The Verdict:  Run, don’t walk to Screme. They’re open now (and kosher for Passover!). And if that’s not enough, it’s the first nice day here in NYC since 2010, so get yourself a treat from Screme and you’ll be on cloud nine!

Succulent Strawberry Sorbet

24 Apr

Strawberry fields forever. ~ The Beatles

The Strawberries

Literally.

I purchased and hulled so many strawberries for this sorbet that I felt like I personally depleted an entire strawberry field.

Here’s the story. I try very much to only buy organic fruits and vegetables, especially if they are on the “dirty dozen” list. Living in NYC we have access to lots of moderately priced (I know, shocking) organic options. Trader Joe’s carries many items as does Whole Foods, and of course the plethora of farmers markets in NYC makes it even easier to find great produce. When making this sorbet I went on a hunt for good priced organic berries and after 3 places I found myself, yet again, at Trader Joe’s. They really are a savior here in NYC.

Then came measuring the ingredients.

Honestly, it was embarrassing.

My recipe called for 2 quarts of strawberries, yet the only box of berries available at Trader Joe’s was 2 pounds. “How do you measure quarts in dry goods and how does that relate to pounds?”, you ask. Well, I was wondering the same damn thing myself. I whipped out the iPhone and kept googling every possible combination of “quart + strawberry+ measurement” and found myself on this totally unreliable message board that, funny enough, seemed to have a relatively legitimate post. Two quarts of strawberries, it said, was the equivalent of 8 cups of berries. In other words, one pound of berries was approximately 4ish cups. I wasn’t entirely sold (and neither was my very nice salesman at Trader Joe’s) so he took the box of berries in the back and systematically measured the box for me. He concluded that one pound of berries was indeed approximately four cups. Lifesaver! So, I bought 2 quarts of strawberries and went on my merry way.

The Simple Syrup

Next came making the simple syrup.

Simple syrup gets its name because, well, it’s extremely simple. Though the classic simple syrup recipe is 1 part water to 1 part sugar, this sorbet recipe was slightly altered. In fact, it had less sugar (which is a good thing because these berries were SO sweet on their own they barely needed sugar!).

I used organic raw sugar (which has a brown hue) to make the simple syrup. Two cups water, 1.5 cups of sugar. When it was done boiling and mixing it looked like a cup of rusty water. Ew. I thought maybe I burnt it, and was rather annoyed because I didn’t want to waste it and make it again. Then it dawned on me that it was brown because of the raw sugar! I tasted it for good measure, and sure enough, it was exactly right! Phew.

If you thought the above seemed complicated, just wait until I regale you with the trials and tribulations of hulling strawberries. You should know that I have never hulled a strawberry before. I know, it’s a cooking faux pas. But honestly, I can’t really taste the difference between hulled strawberries and those with their tops cut off. Uh oh, am I starting to sound like The Husband with my unrefined palette? Eek.

Anyhow, for those of you who don’t know how to hull strawberries here’s a great video. I watched it, practiced a few times, and voilà, I was hulling strawberries ad nauseum. But, “to hull” with this – it’s time for the actual recipe!

The pile of hulled strawberries

Succulent Strawberry Sorbet

Straight from Ciao Bella

Ingredients

2 quarts strawberries, hulled

2 cups water

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tbs lemon juice

Methods

Hull the heck out of those strawberries!

Make the simple syrup by heating the water and sugar, whisking or mixing vigorously so the sugar dissolves but the water does not boil. The mixture is ready when small bubbles appear around the edges of the liquid. Let it cool completely at least 4 hours or if possible, refrigerate overnight.

Mix half the strawberries with half the simple syrup and 1/2 tbs of lemon juice in a blender until smooth.  Pour it into an ice cream maker and repeat with the second batch of strawberries, simple syrup and lemon juice.

Turn on the ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For me, this took 25-30 minutes, slightly longer than usual, and that’s because I think the ice cream maker was over crowded.

Blending...

It’s worth noting here that my ice cream maker has a 1.5 quart bowl and this was way too much liquid for the bowl. Actually, this makes 2 batches of the sorbet, in other words nearly 3 quarts. So, either cut the recipe in half to make only one batch OR refrigerate one batch overnight and repeat the process the next day.

I actually did something rather outlandish (and delish!), and I used the other half of the mixture to make drinks for friends. We mixed the fresh strawberry puree with some vodka and a splash of orange juice, served them in martini glasses and they were a HUGE hit. I highly recommend this option because everybody wins with sorbet and cocktails! What’s not to love?

The sorbet is churning...

The sorbet is really creamy and “melty” when it comes out of the machine so like usual you should freeze it for a few hours before serving.

When I served this sorbet I created a trifle-like presentation by layering last week’s lemon sorbet with the strawberry sorbet. It was a perfect marriage of tart and sweet. If you recall, I felt that this lemon sorbet was way too tart, but the strawberry sorbet really cut that tartness and it was a really refreshing end to our, drum-roll please… pizza dinner!

Remember, this is an excellent summer recipe. It’s sure to quench your thirst (especially when mixed with vodka!) and is a real crowd pleaser (thus said our crowd of friends!)

Oh, and one more thing: this sorbet was so good, I didn’t manage to get a photo of the finished product. You’ll just have to imagine. Or better yet, make your own and try it!

Chocolate Ganache

18 Apr

The 12-step chocoholics program: Never be more than 12 steps away from chocolate! ~Terry Moore

Well, lucky for me we live in a 628 square foot apartment in NYC and there probably are not even 12 steps in my kitchen. Ergo, I am NEVER more than 12 steps away from chocolate. Phew!

This week I am on a mission to make ice cream sauces because it’s Passover and I am limited in my ability to make ice creams with mix-ins. In the absence of these mix-ins my ice creams feel naked. Now, you should all know that I am a girl who almost never eats ice cream plain. To me, part of the experience of eating ice cream is to see how many outrageous toppings I can cram on top, without completely losing the essence of the actual ice cream flavor. The only exception to this rule is when I eat an ice cream that is chock full of mix-ins, in which case adding a topping would be like bringing jewels to the queen!

Simply put, I think toppings are to ice cream as accessories are to women. No woman deserves to be void of accessories, and so by the same logic, no ice cream deserves to be void of toppings.

Enter chocolate ganache.

This recipe is extremely easy (are you sensing a trend?). My goal here is to provide simple, inexpensive recipes for ice cream toppings so that if you wanted to create your own ice cream sundae bar you’d have pretty much every topping at your finger tips. So far we have dulce de leche, and now chocolate ganache!

Here’s my recipe for today:

Chocolate Ganache

Copied exactly from Ciao Bella

Ingredients

8oz semisweet, bittersweet or white chocolate (I used semi-sweet from Trader Joe’s – in my humblest of opinions they are the best bang for your buck)

2tbs butter

3/4 cup heavy cream

Method

Melting the butter into the cream

Melt the cream and the butter in a saucepan on low. Whisk or stir continuously so that the butter melts into the cream. Do not boil the liquid; keep it on the stove top only until small bubbles form around the edges and the butter is fully mixed in.

Pour the chocolate into a heat proof bowl.

Pour the cream mixture on top of the chocolate mixture and stir gently until it all mixes together.

Let the mixture cool slightly. If it cools and hardens, rewarm it by soaking the bowl of ganache in warm water. Stir for about 5-7 minutes and the ganache will warm up.

Cream mixture poured over the chocolate

The ganache can be stored in the refrigerator for approximately 5 days.

The Verdict: Excellent. Rich. Yummy!

The Ganache!

This is a wonderful topping to drizzle over ice cream or sorbet, as well as a perfect coating to use for gelato or ice cream truffles.

Chocolate Ice Cream with Marshmallow Fluff and Fudge Chunks (for Passover!)

12 Apr

I never met a chocolate I didn’t like. ~ Deanna Troi, Star Trek: The Next Generation

I think that pretty much sums up my feelings about chocolate.

I. Cannot. Live. Without. It.

Ask anyone who knows me.

Since Passover chocolates are often gross, and the desserts are never up to par, I am attempting to make a Passover chocolate ice cream that hits the spot. The funny thing about ice cream is that it is the only dessert (except for fruit, but remember, that doesn’t count as a dessert in my book!) that does not need to be altered much, if at all, to make it kosher for Passover. So, all I had to do was go out and buy dairy products that are kosher for Passover and special marshmallow fluff and blend away. No big deal.

Chocolate ice cream is, simply put, delicious. There’s a reason that it’s the second most popular ice cream flavor. Just see this site . So if chocolate ice cream is that good, imagine how yummy it could be with fluff and fudge chunks? Pretty damn amazing.

The Piece de Resistance: Marshmallow Fluff

I set out on a quest to find kosher for passover fluff and managed to pay a whopping $5.29 at an over priced store (regular fluff is $2.39, ugg). I figured that the ice cream wouldn’t be the same without it, and despite the price, took the plunge. It was very easy to find all the kosher for passover milks, sugars, and chocolate. Armed with the goodies I headed home to whip up this treat.

When I first got the ice cream maker (insert romantic music here), I knew it was love at first sight! I could hardly wait to open the box and see the shiny new, beautifully blue machine, but since I had to schlep it home on the cross town bus first, I decided to read the instruction manual and recipe booklet while on the bus. The very first recipe I saw was S’mores Ice Cream. I knew this would have to be one of my first concoctions. I dog-eared the page in hopes of coming back to it very soon.

Well, today was that very day. I made a few adaptations to make this recipe kosher for passover (i.e. no graham cracker crumbs) and slightly less fat (used half-and-half instead of heavy cream) but everything else remained the same. Here is the recipe, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Chocolate Ice Cream with Marshmallow Fluff and Fudge (Passover!)

Adapted from the Cuisinart Recipe Booklet

Ingredients

1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted (Hershey’s is kosher for passover, I used this one)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

pinch salt

2/3 cup whole milk

1/2 cup cream

1 cup half-and-half

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup marshmallow fluff (note: the passover one MUST be stirred vigorously first, it’s super creamy and “looser” than normal fluff)

1/3 cup semisweet chocolate melted and reserved at room temperature

Method

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugars and salt (it’s slightly hard to mix at first since the chocolate doesn’t dissolve so quickly).

Dry Ingredients

Add the milk and, using a hand mixer on low speed (caution: the chocolate powder flew everywhere!), beat to combine until the cocoa and sugars are dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours.

Turn on the ice cream maker, pour the mixture into the frozen freezer bowl and let mix until thicketed, about 20-22 minutes. Approximately 2 minutes before mixing is completed, gradually add the marshmallow cream, one spoonful at a time. Once mixed (mine mixed in almost entirely, so next time I will drizzle fluff into the chocolate ice cream once its done churning so it does not get completely absorbed into the ice cream) add the melted chocolate one spoonful at a time. The chocolate will freeze as soon as it hits the machine and turn into various sized fudge chips.

Once finished the ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. This one was particularly soft and creamy due to the passover marshmallow fluff so I would certainly recommend freezing it in an air tight container for a few hours or overnight.

Drum roll please...the ice cream (and the fancy pants containers!)

Here’s the verdict:

Me: Deliciously creamy, perfectly chocolate-y, all around good!

The Husband: “Yum! I thought you were making Passover ice cream.”

Ka-ching! Mission Accomplished.

**Note: I tried this ice cream again for breakfast (can you blame me?) after it had frozen entirely over night. It was very creamy and delicious, tasted even better the next day. But, worth noting that the marshmallow was almost mixed entirely into the dessert, and even though you could taste the fluff, it was hard to see.  The Passover fluff made the ice cream so uber-creamy that it can’t stay out of the freezer for very long before consumption.

The finished product!!

Bottom line: eat it ASAP!

Oh, did I mention that my much anticipated containers came in? Ah, to feel slightly professional…

Happy Eating.