Monday, August 29, 2011

Coconut Crush.

The cooler weather (by that I mean 70-80 degree temps; usually it's smokin' in August) is foreshadowing fall, here in the midwest.  However, I'm revolting and churning out as many ice cream flavors as I can before the leaves start to tinge!  As much as I love fall and the change of seasonal food (soups and stews, hot chocolate and apple anything!), I'm a summer girl through and through.  So in my last ditch effort to celebrate the waning days of summer, I recently made a coconut concoction that really stole our hearts.  And oh, good god my friends...We are besotted!

We coined it 'Cherry Ice Cream Smile' after a line in a Duran Duran's song Rio, because well, I like that song and it makes me think of a tropical kind of summer. And I think I can vouch for Luisa and Lori, we all love Duran Duran (Lori remember you were going to marry Simon-or was it Roger? And I was going to marry John?). To live up to its name, it's loaded with cherries (of course), tropical coconut,  toasted almonds.  And it's every bit as luscious as Simon LeBon...

(Also making a note to use homeade dried mangoes or chopped up almond joys in lieu of cherries next time this is made).

Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz's 'Toasted Coconut Ice Cream'
(from the book The Perfect Scoop):

Coconut Cherry Ice Cream (a.k.a. Cherry Ice Cream Smile)

For custard:
1 cup dried shrededed coconut, preferably unsweetened
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup whole milk
2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
big pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, or 1 teaspoon rum

For cherries:
recipe here, drain cherries before adding to ice cream machine
or use canned cherries in syrup (not cherry pie filling!)

{the shining stars of the ice cream}

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit.  Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and bake for 5-8 minutes, stirring so it toasts evenly.  Likewise, toast the almonds at the same temperature for about 10 minutes until lightly toasted.

In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, 1 cup of the heavy cream, sugar and salt and add the toasted coconut.  Use a paring knife, and scrape all the vanilla seeds into the warm milk, then add the pod as well. Cover and remove from the heat.  Seep at room temperature for about 1 hour.

{vanilla bean yumminess}

Rewarm the coconut-infused mixture.  Strain the mixture through a strainer into a saucepan.  Press the coconum down fimrly to exract as much flavor as possible.  Remove the vanilla bean pieces and discard the coconut.

Pour the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream into a large bowl and set strainer on top.  In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks.  Slowly pour the warm coconut-infused mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly.  Place the egg mixture back into the saucepan.

{yolks from eggs via 'the ladies'}

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.  Pour the custard through the strainer and stir into the cream.  Mix in the vanilla or run and stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chll the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.  Before the mixtures sets (is soft-set), add cherries and almonds.  Place in the freezer for a firmer ice cream.

***I made ice cream cone bowls to accompany the ice cream, but I found them to be a little tricky to make without a waffle cone maker because I had issues with the cone sticking to the pan, despite many attempts. (A waffle cone maker is now on my list of must-haves).  Here's the recipe here if you want to tackle making these; they are tasty!!

Posted by Dawn

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Basil Blueberry Ice Cream.

At the beginning of summer I made a to-do list of all the things I wanted to accomplish, and one of those things was to create some frozen treats befitting of those warm summer days that scream for, cream of course!  With summer nearing an end soon, I thought I'd get after crossing that goal off the list.  Enlisting my daughter Elena in my ice cream-making endeavor, we decided to tackle making a basil-blueberry flavored ice cream inspired by one of of our favorite vendors that sells these addictively delicious blueberry basil cupcakes.

The ice cream has several steps, but as always, was well worth the effort.  It's aromatic, refreshing and intriguingly different...even my picky 10 year-old couldn't stop eating it.  We found the fantastic recipe in David Lebovitz's book, The Perfect Scoop.  (It's an amazing book that includes some classic flavors, but also an encyclopedia of brilliant, creative choices.  Seriously, it's the only ice cream book, you will ever need!). 


Recipe from David Lebovitz :

Basil Ice Cream

For custard:
1 cup packed Italian basil leaves
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1 lemon, preferably unsprayed (or orange)

For blueberries:
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon (or orange) zest
2 teaspoons basil, finely chopped

Prepare your ice cream maker, according to the direction manual.

Using a blender or small food processer, grind the basil leaves with the sugar and one cup of cream.  Grind the basil as fine as you can get it.  Pour half of the basil mix into a bowl and add 1 cup of the remaining cream.  Place a strainer on top, and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, stir the other half of the basil mix with the milk and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks.  Slowly pour the warm mixture in to the yolks, whisking constantly.  Place the mixture back into the pan and stir constantly over medium heat until thickened (The mixture should coat the back of your spoon or spatula).

Pour the custard into the strainer over the cream.  Zest the lemon (or orange) in the custard and then chill in an ice bath.  Place the custard in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled.  Meanwhile, wash blueberries and place in a bowl.  Top with a sugar, zested orange rind and chopped basil.  Let macerate in the refrigerator.

Freeze the custard according to your ice cream maker manual.  Right before the ice cream sets, place the macerated blueberries (drained) into the ice cream maker. 

Makes 1 quart.

Posted by Dawn.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Coconut Cream Pie Parfaits

Over the weekend, we headed into Chicago and wanted to make something that was easy and portable to take along for a picnic.  We've been going sans dessert for awhile and wanted something sweet to satiate our deprived taste buds and settled on making a Coconut Cream Pie.  I was running late and wanted to speed up the process, so I nixed making a pie and opted to do it in a parfait style dessert instead, placing layers of  graham cracker crust, coconut cream and whipped cream into mason jars (which as of late, I have a slight, unhealthy obsession with).

Well they worked out fabulously!  The coconut cream was smooth and creamy and I opted to use real whipped cream over whipped topping. I used a graham cracker crust the first time I made this, but it's really optional (photos posted are sans crust) and you could easily substitute sugar or chocolate cookies in it's place.  Next time, I'll make a mental note to freeze the desserts beforehand so they also double as ice packs for the rest of our picnic food (I prefer creme pies in a semi-frozen state anyway!).  It's also nice to have on hand when unexpected company pops in or for those times you crave something sweet.  By all means if you want to bypass the humble, but charming mason jar you can also use a footed dessert dish or up the ante with a martini glass. 

Either way, it's a fun, nostalgic treat!

Coconut Cream Pie Parfaits (adapted from here):

For graham cracker crust:

3-4 graham cracker- large rectangles, crushed
2 t. sugar
2 T butter, melted

For coconut cream:

3 cups heavy whipping cream
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (or 1/3 c. corn starch)
1 can of creme of coconut
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flaked coconut, toasted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For topping:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 t. vanilla
1-2 t. sugar to sweeten

{coconut cream, whipped cream and toasted coconut}

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Cover a baking pan in foil and add coconut. Toast for about 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.

For the coconut cream, add flour or cornstarch, sugar and salt in a medium sized saucepan.  Whisk in cream slowly.  Add the creme of coconut, followed by the eggs.  Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly (about 15-20 minutes).  Remove from the heat and add 3/4 cups of the coconut and the vanilla extract.  Chill in the fridge for about 2 hours.

To make the whipped cream:  Use a mixer or hand immersion blender to whip the cream.  When it starts to set, slowly sprinkle the sugar and vanilla extract into the mix. Continue to whip until thick and fluffy. 

Spoon in a few teaspoons of graham cracker crust mix to the bottom of your jar or glass. Next layer 2 teaspoons of the coconut cream, whipped cream and top with a sprinkling of toasted coconut.  Continue layering if you like!  Top with a final dollop of whipped cream and a generous sprinkling of toasted coconut. 

Posted by Dawn.