Chocolate Bread Pudding

Some time ago I had a marvelous, individual serving of a chocolate bread pudding, at a catered event. Too much time elapsed before I decided to make said bread pudding and I couldn’t find the caterer. I don’t know that they would have parted with the recipe in any event. That’s ok, I like a challenge. It was a bread pudding unlike any I’d had before. It was light and moist with no discernible cubes of bread. It had the texture somewhat like a flourless chocolate cake.

So why not start with recipe for a flourless chocolate cake? Well, for one, I wanted to take the catering server at his word and assume he knew he was serving a bread pudding and not a flourless chocolate cake and two, it was studded with dry fruit and I figured a flourless chocolate cake wouldn’t support those fruits. So, I hit the internet and found recipes from Cooks Illustrated, Dorie Greenspan and others. I tried them all and none really made the dessert I was looking for. Once again, on my own looking for the bread pudding in my memory.

There were multiple choices I had to make: what kind of bread to use, fresh or day old or toasted; the ratio of chocolate and/or cocoa powder, whole eggs or yolks only, cream and/or milk, leavened or not, and whether or not to bake them in a large pan and cut them to size or bake them individually. After I made a promising batter, I cooked some in a high sided pan oblong pan, some in ring molds and some in muffin cups. I cut out individual cakes from the batch in the high sided pan but didn’t like the exposed edge. The muffin tins were too short without liners and I didn’t like the ridged edge when I did use liners. Ring molds seemed to be the way to go. You get a bit of leakage coming out of the bottom but not too bad if your tray is completely flat. The silpat seems to help stop the leakage as does a cold sheet pan.

Julie

Individual ring molds 3″ x 1.75″ or 9″ square straight sided cake pan.

Ingredients:

  • 125 grams of lightly toasted brioche ( you’ll need to start with a 12 ounce loaf of an all butter brioche).
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 1 cup superfine sugar (remove and reserve 2 tablespoons to sprinkle on the top of the cakes)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 3/4 oz dutched cocoa powder
  • 4.5 oz bittersweet chocolate
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions:

  • Butter to grease the rings or pan and parchment paper if using a square pan
  • 4 oz dried tart cherries or golden raisins or prunes or 2 oz each of stem ginger and dried apricots. If using cherries, cut them in half. If using apricots and ginger or prunes dice them.
  • 2 oz dark Rum if using raisins, Kirsch if using cherries, Armagnac if using prunes and nothing if using apricots and stem ginger.
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. line a sheet pan with a Silpat. Grease ring molds with softened butter and put on the sheet pan and then put the pan in the freezer. If using a square pan, grease the sides and line the bottom with parchment.
  3. Remove crust from the brioche and cut into 1″ cubes. Place cubes on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for about fifteen minutes for 15 minutes until dry to the touch and slightly toasted.
  4. Place the dry fruit in a sauce pan with 2 oz water and bring to the simmer. Cook until the fruit has absorbed all the liquid.
  5. Bring milk to a simmer and add the cocoa powder. Whisk until combined.
  6. Pour the hot milk over the toasted bread cubes, stirring occasionally to make sure the bread is soaking up the liquid. After 15 minutes use an immersion blender to mash it up up the bread or use trap the bread between a fork and the side of the bowl to mash it.
  7. Chop the chocolate and place in a glass bowl.
  8. Heat the cream to a simmer and pour over the chopped chocolate. Let sit about five minutes and then stir to blend it.
  9. Wisk together eggs, sugar, salt, baking powder and vanilla and add to the chocolate mixture, whisking until combined. Stir into the bread mixture.
  10. Ladle mixture into the ring molds or the pan. Sprinkle the top of the cake/ cakes with the reserved sugar and place in the oven. These do rise and if they rise over the ring mold the tops become misshapen. I would advise only filling them about 2/3ds of the way up. You may end up with more than 10 cakes. Oops!
  11. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick come out with moist crumbs.
  12. Serve with unsweetened whipped cream.

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Addendum:

I wanted lighter cakes so I tried whipping the whites separately with about 3 tablespoons of sugar and folding them in. They looked promising. The batter was definitely fluffier. However, after baking, they did sink. Perhaps making a stronger meringue with more sugar would keep them from collapsing. In addition, I filled the rings 2/3rds full as I did with the original recipe and they puffed up over the top, becoming deformed as they fell because their edges got stuck on the edge of the molds. However, I think the cakes were lighter. Perhaps the solution is to use ring molds that are 3″ high. That way when the sink you’ll still have a cake that has reasonable height so it doesn’t look like a hockey puck.

One thing I am going to do is try making this with fresh brioche that hasn’t been toasted. This will ultimately result in using less bread and I wonder if it will be lighter. I did some experiments with 10 gram pieces of bread and 30grams of milk per piece of bread to see which absorbed the liquid better. I used a 10 gram piece of fresh brioche, a 10 gram piece of brioche dried for 5 minutes in the oven (which ended up weighing slightly less as it became dehydrated) and 10 grams of brioche that was dried for 20 minutes and was slightly toasted. The piece the bread that absorbed the most milk was the 10 grams of toasted bread. The fresh bread absorbed quite well but there was more liquid left. Ok kids, this is as close to science as I can get.

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4/25/18

So, because I am a little obsessive when trying to create a recipe, I did go back and try to use fresh Brioche that had been cubed and toasted at 300F for 5 minutes as well as reserving half the sugar to add to the whipped egg whites. The cakes were not lighter but the texture was creamier, more like a flourless chocolate cake. It was quite nice if you want to go that route. Again, when you whip the egg whites, you get temporary volume that deflates when it comes out of the oven. I baked this recipe in a 9″x13″ pan. It was too big. And even with that voluminous batter I would use a 9″ square pan or you’ll have a cake that is about 1″ high.

Ira’s Chocolate Raspberry Sandwich Cookies

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My father mottos in life were, “If it isn’t chocolate it isn’t dessert” (Ira Blitzsten) and “Whenever I feel the urge to exercise, I lay down and wait until it passes” (Robert Hutchins).

Chocolate cookies are problematic. Too much chocolate or cocoa and they are soft. Not enough and they lack a deep chocolate flavor. I have tried many a chocolate sandwich cookie recipe and I always circle back to this one. Somehow these cookies have the sandy texture of a sable and a deep chocolate flavor. Eaten alone they are lovely. Sandwiched with raspberry jam they are sublime. The jam does soften them but you won’t mind and they are just big enough so you can pop the whole thing in your mouth.

I would also try orange marmalade, apricot jam or a little coffee ganache (white chocolate ganache flavored with coffee), but for me raspberry jam brings special memories of my dad who passed away in 2008.

This is a soft dough and you can use a pastry bag to pipe it but I find it a bit faster and more uniform to use a cookie press. When filling the press you can either drop in bits of dough until you fill it up or use some Saran Wrap to make a little log a bit narrower than the tub and the same length. Then you can just slip the roll into the tube and you don’t have to worry about air pockets. The cookie press is easier for kids and they can help you press out the cookies. Make sure the cookie sheets are cold. They grip the cookie as it comes out of the press so it doesn’t lift off the pan when you pull the press up.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 oz 70% bittersweet chocolate
  • 9 oz bleached all purpose flour
  • 1T dutched cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 a jar of Raspberry preserves

Instructions:

  1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder and baking soda.
  2. Melt chocolate and cool to room temperature.
  3. Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl.
  4. Add yolks one at a time beating well after each addition.
  5. Add chocolate and scrape down bowl.
  6. Add flour all at once and stir gently until just incorporated.
  7. Fill your cookie press or your pastry bag and press out shapes on to a chilled sheet pan covered with a silpat.
  8. Freeze the cookies. Once they are frozen you can package them in an air tight container and keep them frozen for a few weeks. You can bake them from the frozen state. I think they maintain a better shape this way.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.
  10. When cookies are cool pipe about 1/2 teaspoon of preserves onto half of the cookies. Sandwich them together with the bare halves.

Cheers Poppy Boy! I’m sitting in the family room looking at the rain soaked garden and wishing you could enjoy these cookies with me.

Skillet Lemon Cake

imageDaniel is in a cook off with another boy in another fraternity, to raise money for charity.  They are allowed a hot plate, a grill and a sous vide, since they both have one.  I have to chuckle here as it’s not the customary possession of a college boy and yet, Daniel found possibly the one other boy in this huge University that owned one as well.

The boys were to prepare an entree using pork tenderloin, a side dish and dessert.  Daniel is making prosciutto wrapped tenderloin which he will cook to temperature in the sous vide and finish in a hot pan.  We discovered this technique at one of Jean-George Vonderrichten’s New York City restaurants, “Nougatine”. We had some unbelievable Berkshire pork chops which were tender with a crisp surface.  The sous vide Is perfect for tough cuts of meat, like pork chops, because you can cook them for a long time to tenderize them without overcooking them. In addition to the pork, Daniel will make a butternut squash risotto with rosemary and sage.

I was tasked with finding a desssert that could be made solely on top of the stove, that didn’t require any pre made items or special equipment and could be cooked in 30ish minutes. Hmmm!

My immediate thought was poached fruit served with creme fraiche or Greek yogurt, sprinkled with some lightly toasted nuts for crunch.  Too easy!  Serious Eats has a skillet cobbler that sounded good but I wanted something that was more Mediterranean in nature.  I’d been looking at Mark Bittma’s skillet lemon/almond tart and decided to try that.  However, it would have to be adapted as it was cooked for a few minutes in a skillet and spent the rest of the time in the oven to which Daniel would have no access.  I’m going to refer to the Bittman tart as a cake because in my mind it’s closer to a cake than a tart. There was also a discrepancy between Mark Bittman’s video and the recipe published by the New York Times that would have to be addressed.  The article gives you the option of using 1/2-3/4 cup of sugar and the video calls for 1/2 cup.  Since I was going to bake this entirely on the stove top I opted to go with 1/2 cup of sugar in the batter and save the 1/4 cup to sprinkle on top and caramelize. The recipe calls for the juice of one lemon, which I find to be unecesarily imprecise.   I did in fact use the juice of a lemon but it was a huge freakin lemon and I think it was more juice than necessary.  When I looked at the video it looked like there was twice as much cream as lemon juice and the recipe called for 1/2 cup of juice, so, I figure, 1/4 cup of juice is fine.

The next issue was the cooking method.  My Italian grandmother never used her broiler and taught me how to make a frittata using only the stove top and a covered pan. I thought that might work for this dessert which seemed to be essentially a sweet frittata.  They key is to put the batter in  a non stick pan with sizzling fat (butter or olive oil) so it doesn’t stick and so you can slide it out and flip it back into the pan to brown the other side.  Now, if you don’t want to mess around with flipping the cake I don’t think it’s critical.  Just make sure you place the cake in the plate so that the browned side is up.  This can easily be done by placing a plate on top of the pan and flipping the plate and pan as a unit so the pan ends up on top, the plate on the bottom and the cake drops out of the pan in one piece.  If if the cake does’t come out in one nice piece, don’t panic.  Smoosh it together, sprinkle some toasted almond slices on top and dust it with powdered sugar, or place the reserved sugar on top and hit it with a blow torch.

Julie

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  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds plus more for decoration
  • 1/2 cup cold whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar for batter plus 3 tablespoons for the top
  • 1/4 cup cold lemon juice
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

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  1.  Mix eggs until well combined, but not fluffy, into a homogeneous yellow mixture.
  2.  Add the cream, salt, and lemon juice to the eggs and mix well.  (Combining lemon juice and cream can curdle the cream. Keeping the ingredients cold reduces the likelihood that will occur. Also, the longer you let the cream and juice sit together the more chance you give the juice to curdle the cream so don’t let the mixture sit around).
  3. Rub the lemon zest into 1/2 cup of sugar and add to the eggs along with the almond meal and sliced almonds. Combine well
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter to an 8″ skillet and melt over medium heat foaming subsides
  5. Pour batter into the pan and cover it.
  6. Lower the flame to low.
  7. Cook for about 5 minutes and check it.  You are looking for the liquids to be set.  If you stick a wooden skewer into the mixture it should come out with mois crumbs but not wet.  If it’s not ready, cover the pan for another 5 minutes and check again.
  8. When the tart is completely set, loosen the edges from the side of the pan.  Take a plate and place it on top of the pan.  Take a deep breath, cross your fingers and flip the plate and pan unit upside down so the pan is now on top.  With any luck, the tart will release cleanly.  If it’s doesn’t scrape out the remainder in the pan and pat it on top of the cake.
  9. Now you have two options:  you can scatter some toasted sliced almonds on top and dust it with powdered sugar or you can sprinkle the top with granulated sugar and caramelize it with a blow torch.

Candied Fruit (adapted from Chef Pierre Herme)

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This is my go to candied fruit recipe for pieces of fruit. For whole fruits, like small tangerines or small Forelle pears, I use a longer process that does not entail simmering the fruit. The spices in this recipe can be changed or omitted.

Julie

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  • 5 navel orange
  • 1000 grams (4 cups) water
  • 470 grams (2 1/3 cup) sugar
  • 60 grams (1/4 cup) fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 10 black peppercorns, preferably Tellicherry
  • 1 star anise
  • pulp from one moist vanilla bean

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  1. Place a large pot of water to boil. I use about a 6 quart pot.
  2. Cut off a thin slice from the top and bottom of each fruit so that you can see the flesh.
  3. Working vertically from top to bottom, cut 1” slices of peel off the fruit including a thin slice of the flesh.
  4. Place the peels in the simmering water and boil for one minute.
  5. Empty peels and water into a colander.
  6. Fill pot with fresh water and bring to a simmer. Place peels in water and simmer one minute. Drain peels. Repeat this process 3 more time for oranges and lemons and 4 more times for grapefruit peel which is really bitter. The simmering process accomplishes two things. It removes the bitterness from the peels and it opens the pores of the peel so they can absorb the sugar which candies and preserves the fruit.
  7. Place the rest of the ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer. Add the peels, cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours until peel is translucent and tender.
  8. Remove pot from the heat and let it sit out in the counter for 24 hours, covered. At that point, the peel can be placed in jars, with enough of the syrup to cover the peels or the peels can be drained and left on racks to dry. I have jars in my fridge that are about two years old and they still taste amazing. Eventually the syrup tends to crystallize but I simply wash off the syrup and use them. For this dessert, I would take some of the peel, put it on a rack and let it dry for 24 hours. Stick the remaining peels in the fridge for something else down the road. You can dry them and dip them in tempered chocolate, chop them up and use them for fruitcake, use them for a Casatta Siciliana or cannoli. These peels are so much better than anything you can buy. You’ll always want to have them on hand. This preparation also works well with grapefruit, lemons, kumquats and Michigan Sour cherries. You can change the spices, or use no spices at all, and the cooking time will be far less for the small fruits.

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Caramelized Walnuts

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Caramelized nuts are a staple, in my opinion.  They can be used in pastry applications and also in salads.  They’re easy to make either with a dry caramelization method or a syrup.  I love the ease of just throwing a bunch of sugar in a pan and caramelizing it but for the nuts, I’ve had more success with using the method below.  For some reason, I seem to get a smoother coating over the nuts.  The ones in the picture I did with the dry pan method.  As you can see they’re a bit gloppy  although still delicious.

Julie

  • 150 grams of room temperature walnut halves
  • 70g (1/3 cup) superfine sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  1. Place sugar in a small pot and moisten with the water. You need a pot that is big enough so that you can comfortably stir the walnuts. I say this with my burnt finger in a glass of ice water because I used a pan that was too small and touched either a bit or the side of the pan while I was wrestling with the nuts. For this quantity of walnuts, I’d use a 5 cup sauce pan. In order to get a thermometer reading with touching the bottom of the pan, I tip the pan so that the liquid accumulates in one area. Then, it’s deep enough to get a reading without touching the bottom of the pan.
  2. Place pot on a low flame and swirl the pan by the handle until the sugar is completely dissolved and liquid is clear. Bring syrup to a boil. Dip a heat proof pastry brush in cold water and wash any sugar crystals off the sides of the pot. Cook until the syrup reaches 248 degrees Farenheit.
  3. Pour in all the walnuts at once and stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to coat nuts with the syrup. The syrup will turn white and crystallize on the surface of the nuts. Keep stirring until the crystals melt and turn a light brown.
  4. Pour the nuts out on parchment paper or a silicone mat, in a thin layer.
  5. Try and separate the pieces after a few minutes.

Earl Gray Ice Cream Cakes

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My family loves Earl Grey tea and begged me to try and tackle an ice cream cake with that flavor.  Earl Grey tea is a black tea flavored with Bergamot, a citrus fruit. I love the combination of Earl Grey and chocolate.  It also works well with other citrus fruits and with nuts, particularly walnuts.  So I thought a moist walnut and chocolate cake would be a nice base for the cakes.  If you don’t want to make a cake and prefer something crunchy, you can make a chocolate cookie crust.  Or, you can do none of the above and just scoop some in a dish and eat it plain or drizzled with sauce

Finding a chocolate cake recipe proved tricky. I didn’t want something too rich, like a brownie.  I thought about using my favorite chocolate butter cake recipe but butter cakes don’t like to be cold. They get hard and dry with refrigeration and I wanted to be able to assemble the ice cream on top of the cake and freeze the whole thing. So I started trying chiffon cakes which use oil instead of butter.  Oil doesn’t freeze so I figured the cake wouldn’t freeze hard. One recipe by Rose Levy Barenbaum in “The Cake Bible” caught my eye.  Apparently when her mother gave  her the recipe she told her the texture was perfect even right out of the freezer.  So I gave it a shot but it didn’t have a deep enough chocolate flavor and the texture was too fluffy so  I tried again, adding another 25 grams of cocoa powder and that seemed to do the trick. It had a deeper chocolate flavor and the texture improved as well.

This recipe makes about a pint of ice cream.  The number of cakes you get depends on the size of your molds. I use molds that hold about 4 oz so I get 8 cakes.

Julie

Earl Gray Ice Cream Cake Componants

  • Earl Gray Ice Cream
  • Chocolate walnut chiffon cake
  • 1/2  cup Caramelized walnuts ( see my post on Caramelized nuts)
  • 1/4 cup chopped candied orange peel (see my post on candied fruit)
  • 1 cup Bittersweet chocolate sauce
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  • Chocolate/Walnut Chiffon Cake

    • 38g (7 Tablespoons) Cocoa powder
    • 88g (6 Tablespoons) water
    • 87g  bleached cake flour
    • 187g (3/4 plus cup 2 tablespoons)superfine sugar
    • 1/4 salt
    • 1 tsp  baking powder
    • 1tsp vanilla
    • 80.5g (3 Tablespoon) walnut oil
    • 27g (1 Tablespoon) Canola oil
    • 3 eggs separated (55g)
    • 2 additional egg whites (150g)
    • 2 grams (1/2 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon) cream of tartar
    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a 17″x12″ aluminum jelly roll pan lined with a silpat.
    2. Wisk together flour, salt, baking powder and all but 2 tablespoons of sugar.
    3. In a separate bowl pour 6 Tablespoons of boiling water over the cocoa powder.  Wisk until smooth.  Wisk in the three egg yolks, oils and vanilla.
    4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the chocolate mixture in the middle
    5. Beat for 1 minute until smooth and glossy.
    6.  In a clean, grease free bowl beat the 5 egg whites at medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar. When egg whites are at soft peaks add sugar in a slow stream. Raise beater speed to high and beat to whites to stiff peaks.
    7. With a balloon wisk fold one quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen up the batter.  Fold in the rest of the whites just until blended.
    8. Pour batter gently into the sheet pan. Keep the bowl close to the pan so your not deflating the batter by pouring from a great height.  Even out batter with an off set spatula.
    9. Bake for 13 minutes until a tooth pick crumbs out with a few moist crumbs attached to the toothpick.  image
    10. Cool to room temperature and freeze. You get a cleaner edge when you cut it frozen.
    11. Cut to fit the bottoms of your molds.
    12. Freeze the rounds, separating each one with parchment paper.
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  • Earl Grey Ice Cream

    • 3 Tablespoons Earl Grey loose tea (I like the Earl Gray Royal from the Tea House which I buy on line. It has real pieces of dried bergamot as opposed to bergamot oil. I think it makes a difference).
    • 400g (2 cups) whole milk
    • 300 g (1.5 cups) cream
    • 50g (1/4 cup) glucose
    • 150g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
    • 100g (5) egg yolks
    • 1 tsp commercial stabilizer pereferably Cremodan 30 (optional but recommended)
    1. Wisk together stabilizer, if using, and sugar.  Place milk, cream and glucose in a pot and wisk in sugar.
    2. Bring to a simmer and stir in tea leaves. Remove from heat, stir in loose tea and cover. Let steep three minutes
    3. Strain dairy through a fine mesh sieve into a clean pot.  Press firmly on tea to release as much flavor as possible. Discard tea leaves.
    4. Wisk egg yolks in a heat proof bowl. Stir about 1/4 cup of the base into the egg yolks to temper them and gradually wisk in the rest of the base.
    5. Place mixture in a clean pot and stir constantly on a medium low flame.  Cook the mixture at least until 145 degrees to pasturized the yolks. When the mixture coats the back of a spoon and you can draw a line down the center of the spoon’s back and the edges don’t flow back together, the base is done. I’ve seen a lot of ice cream books say you need to cook the mixture until 180 degrees but I don’t think that’s necessary.
    6. Strain once again through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of any particles of yolk.
    7. Chill overnight in a covered container.
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  • Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce

    I have other hot fudge and chocolate sauces but this one is good for this dessert because it’s a little thinner and has a more delicate chocolate flavor

    • 8 oz fine bittersweet chocolate ( not chips but callets are fine.  For this sauce I like Callebaut semi sweet chocolate callets)
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1/4 cup glucose or corn syrup (I prefer glucose as it’s not as sweet and is more viscous)
    1. Chop chocolate into fine pieces and place in a heat proof container.
    2. Place glucose and cream in a pot and bring to a simmer.
    3. Pour hot cream over chocolate.  Cover and let sit about five minutes.  With a wisk, start from the center of the bowl and gently mix together the chocolate and cream, widening the circle as the mixture begins to amalgamate.  The purpose is to get a smooth mixture without air bubbles.
    4. Refrigerate until needed but warm it up before using.
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  • Assembling

    1. Freeze whatever molds you are using whether it’s silicone or a stainless steel loaf pan or ring. I love, love, love silicone as the ice cream pops right out.  If I use a loaf pan, I line it with parchment paper. I prefer it to plastic wrap, which wrinkles. Of course, you can go commando and not use a liner but then, in order to unfold, you need to blast the mold with a blow torch or dip it in hot water. Too messy!
    2. Churn the ice cream and fill the molds.
    3. Take the cake and presss it gently on top of the mold. When you unfold, the cake will be your base.
    4. Freeze at least 6 hours
    5. Unfold and plate.  Garnish with toasted walnuts and candied orange peel.
    6. You can garnish with other sauces as well: fresh oranges poached in orange marmalade and fresh juice, rhubarb compote perfumed with lemon or orange zest.  Anything with citrus will work. Just don’t use too much or it will overwhelm the flavor of the tea.  In the top photo I used some pink grapefruit which I poached for a minute in some of my blood orange marmalade and a bit of fresh orange juice. If you don’t have blood orange marmalade hanging around strain some Seville orange marmalade, thin it with a bit of fresh juice until you have a saucy consistency and throw in some supremed orange segments.  Easy, peasy.

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    Deconstructed Banana Split

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    I love ice cream, almost more than anything. Almost any dessert can be enhanced by a scoop of gorgeously silky cold ice cream.  A crisp, a tart, a pie, even a cookie is better with a bit of ice cream especially if the dessert your pairing it with is hot and crunchy. Cold, hot, creamy and crunchy is irresistible.

    I recently purchased an ice cream book called ” Hello, My name is Ice cream “, by Chef Dana Cree. Its a wonderful book, laid out in a logical way with clear instructions.  She is very thorough in her discussion of the science of ice cream with useful information on stabilizers, emulsifiers and other elements necessary for turning out silky ice cream.  She goes over the variety of frozen desserts: sorbets. sherbets, Philadelphia and custard style ice creams.  At the beginning of each chapter she gives you what she calls a blank slate recipe. This allows readers to create recipes beyond those that Chef Cree has offered.  For me, that’s the best kind of book because it allows me to create.

    Chef Cree’s recipe for banana ice cream is amazing and has inspired a few iterations.  I have spun it and added a thin stream of melted bittersweet chocolate at the end so I get a banana stratiatella. I have served it with a rum caramel ribbon and a fudge ribbon. But the prettiest plate I’ve done is a rif on a banana split. I love the flavor of bananas in a banan split but not the incorporation of banana slices.  This banana split has banana ice cream as the base, scooped up into three little scoops and each served with its own sauce: caramel/rum, bittersweet chocolate and fresh strawberry.

    A word about ice cream machines.  I use an ancient Simac Gelataio Boy.  It churns ice cream in about 15 minutes. The day it dies will. be a sad, sad day for me. It has a built in compressor which keeps the base chilled while you are churning it.  Since my Simac was manufactured, they EPA made it illegal to use this particular type of freon in non commercial ice cream machines, or so I was told by Simac.  I had purchased another Simac  a few years ago with a removable bowl, thinking it would be easier to clean and I did not like it. It didn’t get as cold and took longer to churn the ice cream. Therefore, the ice cream was not as creamy. I can’t recommend another built in compressor machine. Perhaps Lussino or Lello or another Italian company.

    I also have a freestanding Cuisinart  unit where you need to chill the bowl before you use it. For some ice creams they may be interchangeable but for at least one of my ice creams, the Simac gives it a much better texture.  So, I used the Simac for this banana ice cream and I don’t know how it will turn out with the Cuisinart.  Let me know if you try it. The advantage of the Cuisinart is that if you freeze multiple bowls you can make several quarts of ice cream. My Simac heats up so I can do two batches and then I have to let it cool down before I can use it again. Yep, I need a commercial ice cream maker. I just don’t happen to have 10k lying around.

    Julie

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    Banana Split Componants

    • 1 quart banana ice cream
    • Strawberry sauce
    • bittersweet chocolate sauce
    • caramel/rum sauce
    • chopped roasted almonds
    • whipped cream

    Banana Ice Cream

    • 500g bananas (Roughly 4 medium bananas.  Bananas should be very ripe with mostly dark brown and black skins)
    • 300g /1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
    • 400g/2 cups whole milk
    • 50g/1/4 cup glucose syrup (one could potentially use light corn syrup but I have not tried it with this recipe)
    • 150g/3/4 cup superfine or caster sugar
    • 100g egg yolks (5)
    • 1g/1/8 tsp sea salt (Chef Cree uses 1/4 tsp but I find it a bit salty)
    • 5g/1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 3g/1tsp Cremodon 30 ( this is a stabilizer/emulsifier you can buy on Amazon)
    1.  Peel and place the bananas in a 2 quart heat proof container.
    2. Wisk together the Cremodin 30 with the sugar.
    3.  In a heavy bottom saucepan wisk the sugar into the dairy and add the glucose.
    4. Place the pan over medium high heat.  Wisk the mixture and bring to a full rolling boil then immediately remove the pot from the heat.
    5. Pour the hot base over the bananas and place the container in the refrigerator. I steeped my bananas for 24 hours for a full banana flavor but you can do less if you prefer or if you are in a hurry. I would advise doing no less than 4 hours.
    6. After steeping,  pour the base, including the bananas through a fine mesh sieve. Pick out any large pieces of bananas and discard.  Gently shake or stir the remaining contents of the sieve to allow as much liquid as possible to pass through. I used very ripe bananas and some of them fell apart in the base. I didn’t want any of the loose bananas particles in the base so I didn’t mash them through the strainer.
    7. Place the egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl and wisk together.  I like using stainless steel because I find that when I add the hot milk it thickens almost immediately and shortens the cooking time. Bring the base to a simmer and pour slowly over the yolks, wisking constantly so they don’t curdle. Place the mixture back in a clean pot and cook over low heat until the mixture thickens.   Cook the mixture until it coats the back of a wooden spoon and the edges of the mixture stay separate when you draw a line down the back of the spoon with your finger.
    8. Place a heat proof ziplock bag inside a heat proof container and fold the edges back over the rim. Pour the base through a fine mesh sieve, into the bag. Zip up the bag, expelling as much air as possible and place it in the ice water bath.  When the mixture is cool take the bag out of the ice bath, add the vanilla and place the bag in the fridge and chill overnight.
    9. Pre chill your ice cream machine.  Pour the contents of the bag in the machine and churn until the ice cream has the consistency of soft serve ice cream and holds its shape.

    Strawberry Sauce

    • 1 quart strawberries
    • 2 Tablespoons of superfine sugar and more to taste
    • 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice and more to taste
    • Pinch of salt
    1. Purée sugar, salt and berries until puréed.  Push through a fine mesh sieve

    Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce

    • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate ( I like Lindt 70% or Valrhona)
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    1. Chop chocolate into fine pieces and place in heat proof bowl
    2. Heat cream to a simmer
    3. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir gently until combined

    Caramel/Rum Sauce

    • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1 cup superfine or caster sugar
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 2 tsp dark rum
    1. Place cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Cover pot so cream stays warm.
    2. Place water in heavy 3 quart sauce pan.
    3. Pour in sugar and stir so sugar is evenly wet.
    4. Put pot on a medium high flame and bring to a simmer. Pick up the pot and swirl it around so the contents swirl as well.  If the sugar is not all dissolved, related the process until the syrup is clear and you can’t see crystals of sugar.
    5. Place lid on pot and raise heat to high. Let it cook for a few minutes and remove the lid. If you see sugar crystals clinging to the side of the pan, wash them off with a heat prof pastry brush dipped in cold water. The syrup will become thick and bubbly. When the syrup starts to color, pick it up and swirl it from time to time. When the syrup is a light caramel color remove it from the heat. Add the cream slowly.  Be careful it will bubble up and may splatter.  Stir over low heat until the caramel is smooth and any hardened bits are melted.  Pour into a heat proof container and let it come to room temperature.  Stir in the rum and a pinch of sea salt.

    Assemble

    Place three little scoops or quenelles of ice cream on a plate and put a bit of sauce around each scoop. Garnish with fleurettes of whipped cream, chopped toasted almonds or bits of strawberry.  Or, put three scoops in a glass, pouring each sauce over the ice cream and garnishing with whipped cream.image