Thursday, June 19, 2014

Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

We made Mr. Clever Mom some Toasted Coconut Ice Cream for Father's Day!  This is part of the clever girl's and my summer initiative to become ice cream pros.  Thus far we have had good success, with an amazing chocolate ice cream for the clever girl's birthday.  Since Mr. Clever Mom loves coconut desserts (see coconut cream pie and coconut cake for more options), we decided to try Toasted Coconut Ice Cream.

Yum.  Again, success.  Honestly, I think this is solely due to the fact that I am using David Lebovitz's book The Perfect Scoop, wherein he describes the ice cream process in detail.  The toasted coconut flavor is perfect - not too much, just right, just like Baby Bear's porridge in Goldilocks!  You toast the coconut and then let warm milk and cream steep with the coconut and vanilla beans for a while, to really get as much flavor as you can.  Then you toss the coconut bits, so the ice cream is still perfectly creamy.  Mmmm.

Toasted Coconut Ice Cream
adapted from The Perfect Scoop

1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1 cup whole milk
2 cups 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

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Spread the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently.  When it is golden brown and smells incredible, take it out of the oven and allow it to cool.

Warm the milk, 1 cup of the heavy cream, sugar, salt and coconut in a medium saucepan.  Once it is warm and steamy, remove the pan from the heat.  Use a small paring knife to scrape the vanilla beans from the pod and into the saucepan, and put the pod in as well.  Cover and allow to steep for at least one hour at room temperature.

Re-warm the coconut/milk mixture.  Strain the coconut/milk mixture through a mesh strainer set over another medium saucepan.  Press on the coconut with a rubber spatula to extract as much of the flavor as possible.  Remove the vanilla bean pod, rinse and save for another purpose (like adding them to your sugar bowl for vanilla sugar!)  Discard the coconut.

Pour the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream into a large bowl and set the empty (rinsed) mesh strainer over the bowl.  Whisk the egg  yolks in a separate bowl.  Using a ladle, slowly pour the warm coconut-infused mixture into the egg yolks, whisking briskly the entire time.  Pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and return to the stove. 

Warm the custard mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until the custard is thick and leaves a line on the spatula when you wipe it with a finger.  Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the remaining cream.  Stir in the vanilla extract or rum.  Set this bowl in an ice bath  and stir until cool. 

Chill overnight in the refrigerator and then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the maker's instructions. 
Printable Recipe

I wonder, instead of throwing away the soaked coconut, if I could dry it out in the oven again and use it to sprinkle over the ice cream when serving??  Maybe something to try next time! 

Another success on our ice cream journey.  What should we try next??

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

TWD: Baking with Julia - Phylloccine Ice Cream Sandwiches

Our recipe this week for Tuesdays with Dorie is Phylloccine Ice Cream Sandwiches.  I have to admit that the entire time I thought about and prepared this dessert, I was pronouncing the name wrong.  I didn't actually read the intro to the recipe (oops), otherwise it would have been very clear.  The bed of the "ice cream sandwich" (which you can admittedly barely see at all in my photo) is a nest made of phyllo that is cut into ribbons like fettuccine.  Thus, phyllo-ccine.  Duh.  Good job putting two and two together on that one.  Ahh well...
I actually altered this recipe a bit.  I made it an open-faced ice cream sandwich, as I thought that the phyllo nests were too big to use two.  I wonder if I actually made them bigger than they were supposed to be.  In looking at the photo in the book (again something I did AFTER making the dessert), the phylloccine nests look much smaller.  The recipe calls for "one box of phyllo dough".  Is it possible that there are boxes that come with less dough?  The boxes I buy always have two packages/rolls of phyllo inside.  Since I halved the recipe, I used 1 roll of phyllo and made 8 nests.  Had I used only half of the phyllo roll, or made 16 nests instead of 8, I think the nests would have been a better size.  Does this make sense?  I only wanted to make 4 sandwiches, not 8.  Anyway, since the nests were large, I used only one, on the bottom.
The layering of this "sandwich" is as follows:
  • blob of brown sugar/rum flavored whipped cream
  • phyllo nest
  • raspberry/blueberry salad made with pureed raspberries, blueberries, and a little sugar
  • homemade toasted coconut ice cream (look for recipe in following post)
  • another blob of whipped cream
  • homemade hot fudge sauce
  • sliced figs and peaches around the sides of the nest
The sandwich was supposed to have two layers of the phyllo nest, the whipped cream on the side, and have a skewer of fresh berries coming out of the sandwich.  I changed it up simply due to the fruit I had on hand.  Peaches and figs aren't as skewer-able as berries!  And I added the hot fudge sauce because, well, what isn't better with hot fudge sauce??
Honestly, I thought this dessert was just ok.  There is a lot going on.  And I felt like all that extra fruit and whipped cream detracted a bit from the deliciousness of my homemade ice cream.  However, if you used a nice vanilla ice cream (as the recipe suggests), this would be a really elegant dinner party dessert that is pretty easy to make.  I'd still leave out the whipped cream though, I just don't think it needs it - which is a lot to say, as I do love whipped cream!
You can find the recipe on pages 405-406 of Baking with Julia, or by going here.  And be sure to check out what the other TWD bloggers thought of this one, by going here!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Chocolate Ice Cream

While the clever girl is out of school for the summer (She just finished Kindergarten!  So hard to believe!!) we decided that we would learn how to make our own ice cream.  And let me tell you, we got off to a fantastic start!  We purchased the book The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz, for recipes and inspiration.  Actually, we first checked it out from the library.  But almost as soon as I opened the book, I knew it was a "cookbook" that I needed to own. 

David Lebovitz describes this chocolate ice cream as "perfect", "irresistible", "you won't be able to wait to dig in", and he is RIGHT.  Wow.  We all agreed that this is the best chocolate ice cream we have ever had, and I MADE IT!  I can do this!  The clever girl did not help with this one, as I made it over several nights as a surprise for her birthday.  With Rainbow Cake, also a surprise. 

She ate the ice cream and then ran around the house singing "I'm in love with the Ice Cream Girl", which is a song by Brady Rymer, a kids band that she enjoys.  She also informed Mr. Clever Mom that he was in love with the Ice Cream Girl as well.  Honestly, I think anyone who makes this ice cream will have people falling in love with them.  It's that good.  I know there are dishes out there called "engagement chicken" and such, that supposedly if you make for your love they will propose within days or something.  Forget the chicken.  Serve your love some of this ice cream and they will be forever yours.  I promise. 

Chocolate Ice Cream
adapted from The Perfect Scoop
makes 1 quart

2 cups heavy cream
3 TB unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (or semisweet, if you prefer), chopped
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk 1 cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow to simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly.  Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate pieces.  Stir until smooth.  Stir in the remaining 1 cup of cream.  Pour this mixture into a large bowl.  Scrape the saucepan with a rubber spatula as well as you can, but do not rinse it out.  Set a mesh strainer over the bowl, and set the bowl in an ice bath.  Set aside.

In the same saucepan, warm the milk, sugar and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.  Once the milk is hot and steamy, use a ladle to very slowly pour it into the bowl of egg yolks, whisking constantly.  This will keep the eggs moving around so you don't end up with scrambled eggs!  Make sure the sauce pan is no longer on the heat when you do this. 

Once all of the milk is whisked into the egg yolks, scrape the mixture back into the saucepan.  Use a heat-proof rubber spatula and stir constantly over medium heat.  Make sure you are scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir.  Stir until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula.  It is done when you can run your finger down the spatula and you leave a trail that does not fill in. 

Pour the custard over the strainer (which is over the chocolate/cream mixture, which is in an ice bath), and stir until smooth.  Add the vanilla extract and stir until it is cool.

Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator, preferably overnight.  Then freeze it according to your ice cream maker's instructions.  It is generally best to freeze the ice cream in the maker, transfer it to an air-tight container, and then allow it to freeze overnight in your freezer. 

Get ready to taste the best chocolate ice cream ever!
Printable Recipe

This ice cream is amazingly creamy and SO chocolaty.  It's a deep, rich chocolate.  Mmmm.  It is very difficult to resist eating the entire batch at once.  And would that really be a bad thing?  Aren't there supposed to be tons of antioxidants and stuff in chocolate?  We'll go with that.  Yep.  Go ahead and eat as much a you want.  It is good for your soul!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Rainbow Birthday Cake!

The clever girl is 6 years old!  It is hard to believe.  I made her a Rainbow Cake for her birthday, as a total surprise.   She had asked for a chocolate cake, and since I couldn't do a chocolate rainbow cake, I used chocolate buttercream frosting for the outside of the cake.  I also made some homemade chocolate ice cream, which you will see on a separate post.  (It was DELICIOUS, so make sure to check back for that recipe!!)
As I said, the rainbow part was a surprise for the clever girl, so she was introduced to the cake as it looked like this.  Her comment was, "Momma, this cake is GIANT!"  Uh-huh, just you wait!  Mr. Clever Mom and Auntie took her to another room while I cut the cake. We told her there was a surprise in the cake and had fun guessing what the surprise might be...  A giraffe inside?  Molten chocolate?  A rattlesnake?  A big rock? 

It's a rainbow!  She was thrilled.  And very fast to point out that there are 6 colors in my rainbow and she turned 6!  Uh, yeah, that was intentional.... NOT!  But isn't it great that it worked out that way?? 

Then she looked at the rest of the cake.....

"How'd you DO that???"

Indeed.  It actually isn't hard, it is just more time consuming than making a solid colored cake, as every layer cooks separately.  And since I only have two 8-inch cake pans, it took a while to get all of the layers baked.  The key is to start out with a great "white" cake recipe.  I used a recipe from Cooks Illustrated, which I had never used before, and will now probably become my go-to white cake recipe.  I think finding a good white cake recipe can be hard, but this one really hit it right.  It is delicious! 

White Layer Cake
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
alterations for Rainbow Cake in italics
makes 1 double-layer 9-inch cake (6-layer 8-inch rainbow cake)

2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting pans
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple GEL food color.  (Liquid color will not be vibrant enough and could change the structure of the batter - too much added liquid)

Set oven rack in the center, and heat to 350F.  Butter two 9-inch round cake pans (8-inch round cake pans), line bottoms with parchment, butter parchment, and dust with flour.  (Weigh your empty mixing bowl).

Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into a 2-cup glass measure and whisk until blended.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt at low speed.  Add the butter and continue to beat until the mixture resembles moist crumbs.  There should be no powdery streaks.

Add all but 1/2 cup of the milk mixture to the crumbs and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup of the milk mixture and beat for 30 seconds more.  Stop mixer and scrape the bowl.  Return the mixer to medium speed and mix for 20 seconds.

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans.  (Weigh the full mixing bowl and subtract the weight of the empty bowl.  This is the weight of the batter.  Divide that number by 6 and this is the amount of batter you will put into 6 separate bowls.  Gently whisk several drops of gel color into each bowl.  The color of the cake will be the same as the color of the unbaked batter, so mix in enough color to get the vibrancy that you want.  Pour two of the colors into the prepared 8-inch pans.  If you have more than two 8-inch pans, lucky you!  Do more!  However for baking purposes, you should still bake only two at a time.  If you need to re-use the pans, make sure you wipe them out each time, and run cool water over the outside bottom of the pan so that the pan is no longer hot before you re-butter, re-parchment, re-butter, and re-flour the pans.)  Use a rubber spatula to spread the batter to the pan walls and smooth the top.  Place the pans into the oven, at least 3 inches apart and 3 inches from the oven walls.    Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 23-25 minutes (12-13 minutes). 

Let the cakes rest in the pans for 3 minutes.  Invert onto wire racks, remove the parchment, and then re-invert onto a different wire rack.  Allow to cool completely.  (Do not worry if your rainbow layers are really thin, almost like pancakes.  Once you stack them up with layers of cream or frosting in-between, you will have a very tall cake.) 
Printable Recipe

For the layers in my cake, I used a stabilized whipped cream.  You can use whatever you want.  I thought that white in-between the rainbow layers would accent the colors nicely, and would be a tasty filling!  If you choose to use frosting, you'll probably need to double your frosting recipe to have enough.  There are several methods to stabilize whipped cream.  I found one using non-fat dry milk and decided to try that.  You can also use unflavored gelatin or cream cheese.  For this cake, I used 2 1/2 cups of whipped cream, less powdered sugar, and a mix of vanilla and almond extracts, as I like that flavor combination!

Stabilized Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 TB non-fat dry milk
~1 teaspoon vanilla extract
~2 TB to 1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar, to taste
Whip the heavy whipping cream and nonfat dry milk to a soft peak stage, then add the vanilla and powdered sugar (to taste).  Whip to desired consistency.  Whipped cream can be dolloped, piped, layered, and will keep its consistency for at least 24 hours, probably more!
Printable Recipe

This cake is moist and delicious.  It really is the best white cake I have had!  The yummy cake layered with the whipped cream s divine, really. i If I made this again, I might just use the stabilized whipped cream all around the outside as well, because it tastes so good!  The chocolate buttercream is good, but nothing compares to whipped cream, I say!

Days later, the clever girl is still talking about her rainbow cake!  Success!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

TWD: Baking with Julia - Savory Wheat Crackers

Crackers!  We made Savory Wheat Crackers this week for our Tuesday's with Dorie group.  They are actually really simple to put together, though of course I waited until the last minute to get it done...  Story of my life these days!  We actually eat a lot of crackers in my house, so I was excited to give these a try.  The clever baby loves crackers - I think it is the crunch.  He gets to use those sharp little teeth on something appropriate (i.e. food) instead of everything else he decides to try chewing on, like my collarbones, a shoelace, dog toys, paper, you name it!  Ahhh, teething.  So, I say, "bring on the crackers" so he can give those little teeth a workout! 

I did change the recipe a tad bit... First, I cut it down a LOT.  The recipe yields 12 dozen.  And while, yes, we love crackers around here, I really don't relish the thought of making 12 dozen of them!  That's a crazy amount of crackers!  So I made 1/3 of the recipe - the most logical reduction for me with ingredient amounts.  Also, the recipe called for some seeds that I don't generally have on hand - anise seeds and nigella seeds (I don't actually even know what nigella seeds are!!) and I didn't feel like finding and buying them so that I could use a teensy weensy bit, like less than 1/4 teaspoon!  The seeds are simply sprinkled on top, so I substituted pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.  I also ended up baking the crackers for much longer then specified.  The recipe states that they cook for 2 1/2 to 3 minutes.  Mine, after that amount of time, were not at all crisp.  And they didn't crisp up when they were out of the oven, either.  Limp crackers are no good!  So I cooked the next batch for more like 4 1/2 minutes and they actually crisped up nicely!  It is amazing how the limp, blah cracker became so great!  The crisp texture really helped the flavor - it is probably a brain thing, but really, crackers should go "crack" when you bite them, right? 

All in all, these are good crackers, from an easy recipe to adjust to your own liking.  Will I make them again??  We'll see.  They'd be great at a dinner party with some specialty cheese or something, I think.  You could flavor them a zillion different ways, so they are certainly versatile!

You can find the recipe for Savory Wheat Crackers on pages 163-164 of Baking with Julia, or by following this link.  I would bet that my fellow TWD bakers have come up with all sorts of interesting combinations for these crackers, so to check out some of those blogs, see the list here