Sunday, July 31, 2011


sour cream ice cream with blueberry swirl
I love this ice cream. The amount of fat in it is positively evil, but boy does that fat make it taste rich and exquisitely creamy. Best of all, this is hands down the easiest yolk-based ice cream I've ever made. There is no cream in this recipe because all the fat you need comes from the sour cream. Choose a good brand because it will drastically affect the taste of your final product. I used Organic Valley for its tangy deliciousness.

The blueberry swirl is nothing more than a quick and dirty version of a jam. Feel free to use any summer fruit you have a surplus of. This recipe would be equally delicious with peaches or cherries. If you use cherries, throw in a BAY LEAF while it cooks. Trust me. You'll love it.

zucchini bundt cake
I have an obsession with zucchini bread. Whenever I see a recipe for it that I've never tried, I have to bake it. It's a compulsion. I have tried at least thirty different recipes since I started baking. When I saw this recipe for a zucchini bundt cake in the latest issue of Martha Stewart Living, I cackled with delight. A new recipe! In a bundt pan! From Martha Stewart! A baking trifecta if I do say so myself.

The finished cake looked beautiful, but in all honesty, tasted bad. It was heavy and and the zucchini flavor didn't come out at all.

There's always next time, I guess. And, given my obsession, there definitely will be a next time. Bwahahahahaha.

sour cream ice cream with blueberry swirl
2 lbs. sour cream (full fat)
14 egg yolks
380 mL whole milk
8 oz. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt

Place the sour cream in a bowl with a strainer on top.

Bring the sugar and the milk to a boil.

Whisk the yolks together, then temper in the hot liquid a little at a time. Pour the mixture through the strainer into the bowl with the sour cream. Add the salt. Whisk all together until all the lumps are gone and the base is smooth.

Chill for at least four hours in your fridge.

Churn in your ice cream maker. Layer finished ice cream with dollops of blueberry swirl. Freeze at least four hours or overnight.

blueberry swirl
2 C. blueberries
1 C. sugar
pinch of cinnamon or cardamom

Combine all ingredients in a deep pot. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula.

Continue to boil for 6-8 minutes on medium heat, until berries are completely broken down and mixture has reduced.

Strain mixture and cool in fridge.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

taste of fall

sweet potato ice cream with toasted marshmallows
The heat wave this week had me planning to make several quarts of ice cream this weekend. I went with another recipe from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home. It's a fall recipe, but I had a rather large, leftover sweet potato in my fridge and an unexplained hankering for marshmallows, so I went with it.

I started by boiling cubed sweet potatoes in milk, then pureeing the mixture with my handy-dandy immersion blender. LOVE that thing. I then added the heavy cream, granulated sugar, dark brown sugar and molasses and brought everything to a boil. Next I whisked in the tiny bit of cream cheese that Jeni calls for in all her recipes, along with some cinnamon and sea salt. I then placed my base in an ice bath to cool and moved on to making marshamallows.

I used Alton Brown's marshmallow recipe, which my partner Anthony swears by. I bloomed the gelatin in my mixing bowl with some of the water. I then combined the rest of the water, the corn syrup, granulated sugar, vanilla bean and salt, and boiled the mixture in a pot until it reached 240 degrees. Once it reached the proper temperature, I turned on my mixer (fitted with a whisk attachment) and poured the hot sugar slowly down the side of the bowl. I let the mixer go until my marshmallow mix was lukewarm, then poured it into a well-greased half sheet pan.

Once the marshmallows set, I cubed them and indulged my inner pyromaniac by torching them until golden brown. It was hard to wait for them to cool before folding them into the ice cream. They tasted so good---crispy on the outside and meltingly gooey on the inside. I had to leave the kitchen because I kept snacking on them.

This recipe was a lot of work, but well worth it. I thought this ice cream tasted like the best pumpkin pie I've ever had. Chris even liked it, though marshmallows are probably number one on his most hated foods list (ricotta is a very close second). The best part is that I have a ton of marshmallows left over. I'm going to dig up some chocolate and graham crackers and have a s'mores party!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

T-Fuzz rollin'

baby shower cake with almond cake and blackberry buttercream
Crazy things happen when Anthony and I work late at night on a cake. We trash talk, start inventing ridiculous stories and generally have a lot of fun. When we began putting together the bear on this baby shower cake for my friend Marietta, we decided he needed a name. Chris, who sits in the living room and throws in wry comments while Anthony and I bake, came up with the winner.



He be gangsta y'all. You remember that black bear that was roaming around Newark a while back? That black bear was surely coming to find T-Fuzz because he wanted roll with his crew.

Now for the nuts and bolts. We made the bears' head out of rice crispy treats and his body out of cake so that his head wouldn't be so heavy that it would crush his body.

The block ended up being nine layers high and a perfect eight inch cube. I will be the first to admit that eight inches was just too big. I always have that problem, though, and Anthony always makes fun of me afterward when I can't fit the cake in my fridge, let alone lift the thing. In order to make sure that this giant Borg Cube of a cake was stable, we decided to insert a cardboard square halfway up the block and support the square with wooden dowels.

I also made a batch of strawberry macarons to bring to Marietta's party. Aren't they lovely?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

my ice cream idol

salty caramel ice cream
Thursday night I went to a book signing for Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home. Ohio native Jeni Britton Bauer has been making amazingly flavor-packed, rich and creamy ice creams since 2002. I first became aware of the brand when I did my restaurant project in school at FCI. I new I wanted to create a prototype for an ice cream business, so I began scouring the web. I found Jeni's website and fell in love. She is a former artist and you can tell from the presentation of the site and the design of the interior of her stores. I actually didn't get a chance to try her ice cream until a few months back. Dean and Delucca sells an assortment of her flavors, so I made my way down to Prince Street to get a taste. I tried the salty caramel and was extremely impressed by the creamy, rich texture of the ice cream and assertively bitter taste of the caramel. When I heard that she had a book coming out, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it and learn her her secrets.

At the signing, Jeni explained the base recipe that she uses to make all her ice creams. She prefers to make cornstarch-thickened ice cream bases instead of egg-based custards because she doesn't want any of her flavors to be obscured by the eggs. Once the bases are made, she whisks in a small amount of cream cheese to give them a bit more body and richness. Brilliant.

As soon as I got my copy of her book home this weekend, I knew I wanted to make the salty caramel ice cream first. To start, I let the granulated sugar melt over high heat and caramelize before adding in the cream. I added the milk next. After it came to a boil, I added in the cornstarch and returned it to a boil. I then whisked in the cream cheese and sea salt and chilled the finished base over an ice bath. I spun the ice cream yesterday and Chris and I dug in immediately afterward. We loved this ice cream so much that I completely forgot to get a good picture of it before we ate it all. Below is all that is left of the salty caramel. You can see the stab marks from the fork that Chris attacked the ice cream with. Geez.

The book is beautiful and the recipes extremely easy to make. So go buy it! And while you get churning, I'm going to sneak back to the kitchen and lick up that last little bit of the salty caramel ice cream before Chris realizes there's still some left...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

bigger is better

mixed berry slab pie
Pie is the quintessential American dessert and perfect for this weekend's backyard barbeques. . But what do you do when you need enough pie to feed a crowd? I ran into this very problem on Saturday. I could have baked several pies, but I used this opportunity to finally try baking a slab pie instead. A PIE AS BIG AS A HALF SHEET PAN. Thirteen by eighteen inches of buttery goodness.

I used Martha Stewart's slab pie recipe in her baking handbook as a starting point, but I had to adjust it slightly because the pan I used was bigger. The dough rolled out beautifully, though, even when I had to roll it to such an obscene size. I made the dough the night before and let it rest and hydrate in the fridge overnight. I cannot emphasize the importance of this step. Your dough will seem a bit dry the day you make it, but letting it sit overnight in your fridge allows the water to seep into every part of the dough, making it the perfect consistency for rolling. It's like magic!

I filled this pie with a mix of blueberries, blackberries and cherries and covered the top with some of my precious chouquette sugar that I spirited back from my stage in France. I baked the pie for an hour until the crust was golden and the fruit filling had just started to erupt through the top. If you bake it any longer, you run risk of cooking the filling into mush and I CAN'T STAND THAT. I want to be able to tell what the filling is by looking at it. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone bakes an apple pie so long that they turn beautiful sliced apples into applesauce. PLEASE. Let's try to make pies and not pureed baby food.

I wish I could give you a picture of the inside, but I fear I cannot cut into it before it's served at the barbeque. Sigh.

Happy Independence Day!