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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries in a Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

I'm sensing that the country is now in full Strawberry Season swing. My food blogging friends at Daydreamer DessertsSteamy KitchenWhite on Rice, and Citron et Vanille have recently posted about their strawberry creations. If you have been paying any attention on Taste Spotting or Food Gawker it seems like every other photo contains some form of strawberries. I love seeing everyone's creative take on the strawberry -- it's such a delicate and versatile fruit. 

As with most things in life, simplicity is best. Just let the individual ingredients stand out and shine on their own.  For my latest strawberry creation, I wanted to create something simple that would portray the sweet and lively strawberry flavor in its best light. Just imagine eating chocolate dipped strawberry with a scoop your favorite vanilla bean ice cream. 

In this recipe, I dipped pieces of freshly diced strawberries into melted dark chocolate and froze them on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. I then made a simple and delicious vanilla bean ice cream. Just keeping it simple.

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries:
1 cup diced strawberries
6 ounces dark chocolate

I diced the strawberries into bite size pieces. I then melted 6 ounces of dark chocolate. You can melt chocolate in your microwave or you can use the double boiler method. If you are using the microwave, I would suggest you do it in 10-15 second intervals and stir the melted chocolate until it is completely melted.

Next, mix in half of your diced strawberries into the melted chocolate. I used two forks to cover and coat the strawberries with chocolate, remove them one by one and place them onto a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. Once you have repeated the steps with the remaining strawberries, place the baking sheet in the freezer. I would suggest you leave it in the freezer for a couple of hours, and then remove the frozen chocolate strawberries from the sheet and place them in a freezer safe container or a ziploc bag. 

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, adapted from the David Lebovitz book The Perfect Scoop:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean pod 
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In a medium saucepan heat up 1 cup of the heavy cream, milk, sugar, and salt. Split the vanilla bean pod lengthwise and use the tip of the knife to scrape out the vanilla bean seeds. Place both the vanilla beans and the pod into the sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a slight boil and then temper the egg yolks with the mixture. Place the ice cream base back in the saucepan and return it to the heat.  Once the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon and you can swipe a line on it, remove from the heat. 

Pour the ice cream base into a heat proof bowl and add the rest of the cream and vanilla extract. Stir and place the bowl into an ice bath. Let cool for 1 hour and then refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Pour the chilled ice cream base through a fine mesh strainer -- the vanilla seeds should be small enough to flow through the strainer. You can rinse the vanilla pod, dry it out and leave it in your sugar jar to infuse your sugar with a beautiful vanilla aroma (great in your morning cup of coffee). 

Follow your ice cream maker instructions. Once the ice cream is at a soft serve consistency, transfer it to a freezer safe container. Alternate a layer of vanilla ice cream with your frozen chocolate-covered strawberries.

Strawberries remind me that spring is here and summer is just around the corner. You'll probably see a couple more strawberry ice cream related posts before the end of strawberry season. Enjoy the sunshine.

If you have any requests, please leave them in the comment section below. 

Thank you. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Salted Carmel Cheesecake Ice Cream Sandwich

I had a cheesecake craving this week. It all started when I went to the bakery last week and I was all set to order a slice of cheesecake; but, they had completely run out of it. Even though I had already planned my post this week to feature a salted caramel ice cream, when I was in the kitchen, I realized that I still really wanted cheesecake. And that's when the idea hit me: How about a cheesecake ice cream with salted butter caramel drizzles and graham cracker pieces, too? Thinking it through some more, I figured that cheesecake ice cream drizzled with caramel and sandwiched in between a couple pieces of graham crackers would be the best route.

So it was born -- the Salted Carmel Cheesecake Ice Cream Sandwich. Obviously this isn't your traditional baked New York style cheesecake. The ice cream is airy, sweet and cream cheesy. The salted caramel drizzle brings in a sweet buttery flavor; and the tiny bit of salt enhances the cream cheese flavor of the ice cream.

This cheesecake ice cream is very versatile. You can serve it with fresh fruit. You can even crush up graham crackers and  use it as a bed for your ice cream, then add some fresh black berries (or any other fresh berries you have on hand) to make a totally different dessert. 

Cheesecake Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cups sugar
8 oz package cream cheese
pinch of salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream (optional)

The Salted Carmel Sauce can be found on my previous post "Sassy Strawberry."

In a medium sauce pan, heat 1 cup of the heavy cream, milk, and sugar. When the mixture is warm, temper the 3 egg yolks in a separate bowl. Once 3/4 of the mixture has been tempered with the eggs, pour the ice cream batter back into the sauce pan and return to the heat. Add the cream cheese and, if you desire a bit more tanginess, you can include some sour cream. Use a whisk to break up the cream cheese and make the ice cream base smooth. After the ice cream base reaches a low boil, remove it from the heat. Place the ice cream base in a heat proof bowl. Next, stir in the remaining heavy cream, salt and vanilla extract. Place in an ice bath for 1 hour and then chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.  Follow your ice cream maker instructions. When your cheesecake ice cream is a soft serve consistency, place the half of the ice cream in a 9x9 inch freezer safe pan.  Let the ice cream set up in the freezer.

To make the ice cream sandwiches, break some of your graham crackers in half and use them as patterns to cut out ice cream squares in the 9x9 pan. Place an ice cream square on top of one half of your graham cracker, drizzle on your salted butter caramel, and then place the other half of your graham cracker on top of your ice cream sandwich.  

You can serve your Salted Caramel Cheesecake Ice Cream Sandwich with a side of caramel sauce for those with an extra big sweet tooth. 



Friday, April 16, 2010

Purple Princess Ice Cream

It was my daughter's 3rd birthday this week. I asked her what color ice cream she wanted and she said "purple". That conjured up all sorts of possibilities. At the beginning of the year I took my family to San Francisco to relax and visit some friends. We also had a chance to visit some great ice cream parlors -- one of our stops was at Mitchell's Ice Cream, where they had taro ice cream that was a very bright purple color. I was seriously thinking of copying that ice cream; but, I don't think my daughter would have appreciated it. So I played it safe. I combined fresh blueberries and strawberries to make a very purple reduction.

I made this purple ice cream "Philadelphia Style," meaning that it contains no eggs. Usually I make my ice cream with 3-4 eggs and a cup of whole milk along with heavy cream. But this time I just used straight up heavy cream. When making a "Philadelphia Style" ice cream you can expect that the fat content is going to be greater, so when the ice cream melts in your mouth, you're going to taste a lot more cream. To compensate for this, you will need to add more flavor to your ice cream so that you can taste it better.

The blueberry and strawberry reduction works great for this style of ice cream because of the intense flavor that comes through the extra creamy texture. I also served this with some freshly toasted almond slivers and drizzled some of the left over reduction on top of the ice cream to make sure you can taste the fresh blueberries and strawberries that were used.

My daughter had a great birthday. She is my little princess. We will be making our first trip to Disneyland in the coming weeks, where I am sure she will be awe-struck to see the Disney princesses in person.

Purple Princess Ice Cream

1 cup of blueberry-strawberry reduction
3 cups of heavy cream
1 cup of sugar
pinch of salt

For the blueberry-strawberry reduction, I used 1 cup of fresh blueberries and 2 cups of fresh strawberries. I pureed them together, then reduced the mixture over medium heat. When the reduction is nice and thick, remove it from the heat and place in a heat-proof container. Let cool, then refrigerate until you are ready to add it to the cream.

To prepare the ice cream base, heat 1 cup of heavy cream, sugar and salt together. Once the sugar and salt have dissolved, pour the warm cream into a bowl and combine with 2 cups of cold heavy whipping cream. Add 1 cup of the blueberry-strawberry reduction.  Chill the ice cream base for 1 hour in the refrigerator. Then follow your ice cream maker instructions.

When I served this purple princess ice cream, I placed it over a slice of sponge cake, drizzled some of the blueberry-strawberry reduction and topped it off with some toasted, slivered almonds.

I love reading your comments. If you have any questions feel free to leave them for me and I will answer them all.

Thank you.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sassy Strawberry - Strawberry Gelato with Buttery Salty Caramel Sauce

Sassy Strawberry is my name for this combination of fresh strawberry gelato drizzled with ooey gooey buttery salty caramel sauce. The inspiration for this creation came from a recent SteamKitchen.Com post on Salted Carmel Covered Strawberries. I wanted to put a Triple Scoop spin on this great post. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Jaden and her husband, Scott, along with her partners, Diane and Todd, from at the Food Blog Forum Seminar on Saturday March 27th, 2010.

I had fantastic time at the event. I had no idea what to expect; I went into it with an open mind and I left with a spirit that anything is possible. I enjoyed meeting some bloggers who I have been following and other bloggers whose posts I am just starting to read. It was a fun day of learning and networking. I feel fortunate to be part of a community that shares so openly and is very supportive of each other's creativity.

One of the bloggers who I recently started following writes about Italian food and that they are partial to gelato over ice cream. I love them both; but there is something about being in Italy and having gelato at its birthplace that may convince you there is no other better frozen treat. I do agree that once you experience a food or dessert in its birthplace it hard to beat. Since we can't all travel to Italy this very minute maybe we can bring a bit of it into our homes.

Gelato is very similar to ice cream and is created slightly differently in the various regions of Italy. At it's core, it has less fat content (that means we can eat more!) and denser than ice cream. Gelato is usually served from a freezer that is a bit warmer than than a traditional ice cream freezer. It makes the gelato easier to serve and also allows you to enjoy the flavors better because your taste buds aren't as numb as when eating hard packed ice cream.

Gelato Recipe:

1 cup of freshed reduced and pureed strawberries
1 1/2 cup of whole milk
1 1/2 of cup of heavy cream
1 cup of sugar

I pureed one pound of strawberries and placed into a pot.  Next, I added the sugar, letting the puree reduce by half over medium heat. This will evaporate most of the water and leave you with a concentrated strawberry flavor. Removing the water will give your gelato a smoother texture; otherwise, the excess water would freeze and make your gelato icy.

Combine one cup of the pureed strawberry reduction with your milk and cream. Let the gelato base refrigerate for 4 hours. Place in your ice cream/gelato maker and follow your machine instructions. Once the gelato has reached the desired texture, place in freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 4 hours.

Salted Butter Carmel Sauce, adapted from Smitten Kitchen:

1 cup sugar
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/4 cup of heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tsp of sea salt

In a 3- or 4-quart pot over medium high heat, pour the sugar and stir until a golden brown color. Then add the butter, let everything melt and stir constantly. Remove from heat and add your salt and cream.  Stir ingredients together and return to heat -- make sure all the solids have dissolved and the caramel sauce is nice and smooth. Poor caramel into a heat-safe container; let cool then store in the refrigerator.

Before consuming the gelato, let it sit out for 5-10 minutes so that it softens up. During that time you can warm up the caramel for a minute in the microwave. Scoop the gelato into bowls and drizzle (or slather) with the Salted Butter Carmel Sauce. Enjoy!
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