November 19, 2011

Cherry (Almond) Ice Cream

Robin, 12 July 2011, ‘Summer Fruit and Squishiness’

2/3 c milk

1 egg plus one extra yolk

½ c granulated sugar

¼ tsp vanilla

1 lb sweet cherries

1 ounce slivered almonds

2/3 c whipping cream

Scald milk, set aside to cool.  Mix the egg and the yolk in the top of a double boiler/bain marie with the sugar and beat like mad, till it turns pale and ribbons off the spoon.  (Your electric mixer is your friend.)    Pour on the slightly cooled milk;  place over gently simmering water and stir till thick.  Stir in the vanilla and leave to cool.

Stone your cherries.  Ugh.  This is the worst bit.  You will need more than a pound, of course, because you’ll eat some of them to sustain morale.  I’m not sure how to allow for this, since the original weight includes the stones, which you are discarding.  Make your best guess.  The original recipe tells you to put the stoned bits in a food processor and buzz them to puree, but I think this is unsporting.  I just kind of rip them up some in the stoning process.  You do want enough pulp to turn your ice cream red, but I don’t think you can avoid this with dark expoding-sweet high-summer cherries.  Stir them, in whatever form, into the custard.  Whip the cream till it forms soft peaks.  Fold into the cherry mixture.  Pour the lot into your ice cream maker and do what it tells you to do to produce ice cream.

While your custard is becoming ice cream, toast your almonds.  The original recipe tells you to fold them into the finished ice cream, but unless you’re going to eat it all in one go, I wouldn’t;  the almonds will go soft.  I sprinkle them on per serving.  This will, I admit, probably mean that you need more almonds, but hey.

Apple butter

4 Dec 2010, Robin ‘Pumpkin, winter, etc’.

Grah. I keep meaning to look for my old apple butter recipe, and keep forgetting. However. You don’t really need a recipe: Take your apples. Core, peel and chop them—and you don’t have to chop them fine, just chop them—put them in a large, heavy, wide-bottomed pan with as little water as you can get away with—or better yet, apple juice—and boil, gently, till they go mushy. At this point use a potato masher on them. I personally find this a lot less effort than all that chopping-small stuff. Depending on the tartness of your apples and how sweet you want your butter you’ll need somewhere around ¼ to ½ c sugar (brown or white: I like brown) per cup of apple pulp, and if you mix it in with a whisk you’ll get the last of the lumps out. Again, depending on how spicy you like your butter, you’ll want anywhere from about ¼ to 1 tsp of cinnamon per cup, and about half that of allspice Then turn the heat down to low and let it cook forever. If you want to stand there and stir it you can have the heat a little higher, and it’ll take a little less time but . . . not enough less. Stirring is one of the most boring occupations on the planet.† You should be in the same house with it, however, your large, heavy, wide-bottomed pot with your future apple butter in it, because you need to stir it occasionally and make sure it’s not sticking. It will eventually congeal into . . . apple butter. I don’t remember how long it takes, but it’s one of these put it together before lunch and it’ll be done by dinner things, and then you’ll have fresh apple butter for breakfast tomorrow. As you’d expect with something that slow-cooks and is full of spices, it improves with a little age.

I never bottled it the way you’re supposed to. A couple of big jars of apple butter in the back of the fridge didn’t last long enough to be a nuisance. And the way I make it—without stirring—if you made it in a big batch it would take FOREVER to cook down to sludge. My way it’s simple enough that doing it again is not a big deal.

One more warning: you lose a lot of pectin—the stuff that stiffens the applesauce it into something you can spread—by peeling and coring. The first time I made it I’d automatically peeled and cored, because that’s what you do before you cook apples, and then I reread the recipe and thought, oh, frell . . . and besides, sieving the muck to get the peels and cores out is again to me way too much like work, like endless stirring. So I did it my way and it still came out butter, and has always come out butter†† every other time I’ve made it my way. I don’t know if I’ve been extremely lucky in my apples, or what. So you might want to follow a proper recipe.

Sweet Cranberry-Cider Sauce

1 Jan 2011, Robin in ‘Happy New Year’.

1 lb cranberries

16 fluid oz British cider. Which is to say, alcoholic. If you can get British/hard cider, use whatever kind you like to drink, which is to say this is not the time to go cheap. If you can’t get hard cider, use about 1 ½ c ordinary cider and ½ c port, Madeira, sherry, or whatever of that kind of thing you have around. You ought to have something of this sort because it’s great for enlivening dull food. You could certainly use Calvados or some such but I think that’s getting on for apple overkill myself.

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp (ground) cloves

¼ tsp nutmeg

about ¼ c, somewhat depending on how dry your cider/etc is and how sweet you like your sauce, dark brown sugar

2 oz preserved ginger in syrup, finely chopped, with its syrup

Put the cider in a pan with everything else except the preserved ginger. Bring to boil, boil gently till cranberries pop. Take off the heat, add the ginger. Let cool. Reheat just to warm to serve. You can warm the pudding too. I generally don’t, but you don’t want it cold from the refrigerator.

Linked in Robin’s post to ‘Sticky Cranberry Ginger Pudding’.

Supermocha Black Holes – or Julie’s Chocolate-Espresso-Hazelnut Truffles

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 14 Aug 10

This is most assuredly NOT something Sunshine would make at Charlie’s — they’re much too fiddly, and the kitchen is probably too hot to make tempering chocolate a reasonable proposition. But I learned these techniques during my year as a professional baker at a coffeeshop, and I’ve perfected the recipe over the past few years, so I bring it to you anyway, even though Sunshine might not approve.

1/2 cup of coarsely ground espresso-roast beans
1 cup heavy cream, plus about 1/2 cup more
8 oz. semisweet chocolate (in chips or in bar form)
8 oz. bittersweet (dark) chocolate
8 more oz. bittersweet chocolate (optional but recommended)
2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped (optional but also recommended)

For the truffle ganache:

In a small saucepan, stir together the half-cup of coarsely-ground espresso and the cup of heavy cream. Heat on the stovetop until the cream is just beginning to boil, then turn off the heat and let it steep for 30 minutes. Strain carefully through a sieve into a measuring cup, pressing the grounds with a spatula to get as much of the cream out as possible, then add more cream as needed to bring the level back up to one full cup.

In a glass bowl, combine 8 oz. semisweet chocolate and 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped. Heat the cream back up to a simmer, pour it over the chocolate, stir with a whisk until it’s all smooth, then pour into a wide, shallow vessel to cool and harden. I usually make these at Christmastime, when my kitchen is cold enough for the ganache to harden in a few hours if it’s sitting out on the countertop. If you want to speed up the process, you can put it in the fridge, though you should not let it get too hard or it’s difficult to work with.

When it’s hardened but still reasonably pliable, scoop out the ganache and roll it between your palms into bite-sized balls, as big or as small as you want — though you should remember that they’re quite dense and rich, so they don’t need to be too big. The faster you work, the less messy this step will be. Put the shaped truffles onto cookie sheets lined with parchment or wax paper, and chill them in the fridge to let them harden completely.

At this point you can just roll the truffles in cocoa powder and call them done, though you’ll have to store them in the fridge or they’re liable to get too soft. To make them stable at room-temperature, you have to…

Dip the truffles in tempered chocolate!

(dun dun dun)

This sounds scary, but it’s really not. All you need is a double boiler set-up, one of those metal-spike-style meat thermometers (not a candy thermometer), and some patience.

Here’s the low-down on tempering chocolate. If you just melt chocolate and dip things in it, it’s tasty, but the chocolate never hardens quite the same way — it’s softer, and often feels grainy. In order to get a professional-looking sheen and that distinctive snap when you bite into it, you have to carefully control the temperature at which the chocolate melts and re-cools. Ideally you want to melt the chocolate to no more than 110 degrees, cool it back down to about 85, then heat it back up to about 90. Here’s how you do it.

(By the way, if you’re using hazelnuts, get them ready before you start the business with the chocolate — you won’t have time otherwise. Toast them and chop them finely, and have them ready heaped on a plate or in a shallow bowl. In fact, find a friend or significant other who will be ready to jump in for the final step, because it’s much easier with two people.)

Set up a double boiler (i.e., a small saucepan, and a glass or metal bowl that can rest over the top of the pan, but keep the bowl off for now.) Put about an inch of water in the pan and bring it up to a simmer. Finely chop 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate and put about three-quarters of it in the bowl, reserving the last quarter for later. When the water is simmering, turn off the heat, and put the bowl on top. Keep an eye on the chocolate, and when it starts to melt, stir it around with a spatula. When it looks like it’s mostly melted, check the temperature with the thermometer, and when it gets between 105 and 110, take it off the heat.

Now, add the last few ounces of chopped chocolate, which will bring the temperature of the melted chocolate down. Stir until the chocolate is all melted, then take its temperature again. If it’s down to 85 or so, you’re ready to move on. If not, spend a few minutes stirring it to cool it down. Once you have it around 85, put it briefly back on the double-boiler (which will really only be slightly warm at this point) and bring the temperature up to around 90 degrees, which is the perfect temperature for working with chocolate.

Now you’re ready to dip the truffle centers. I like these with a thin chocolate shell, so rather than dipping the truffle straight into the bowl of chocolate, I first dip a big metal serving spoon into the bowl, let most of the chocolate drain off the spoon, then roll the truffle around in the spoon to coat it lightly with chocolate. If you’re coating these with hazelnuts, dump them immediately into the nuts, and have your (long-suffering) friend or significant other roll them around until they’re coated, preventing you from making a mess of the nuts with your chocolatey fingers. Put them back on the parchment or wax paper to harden, which they will do within minutes. Continue until all the truffles are dipped, and if the chocolate gets too cool and thick and sticky, warm it back up on the double boiler (just a few degrees, or else you’ll have to re-temper the whole thing) until it’s workable again. If you have chocolate left over when you’re done, find other things to dip in it, because tempered chocolate is a beautiful thing and shouldn’t be allowed to go to waste.

Once they harden, the truffles will be able to sit out at room temperature, just like commercially-made candy. Store them in an airtight container, and if you like you can put each one in a fancy little mini-size muffin paper. Depending on what you consider bite-size, this yields 60-70 truffles, which make excellent gifts.

Cloud 9 White Chocolate Truffles

Sunshine Contest – Round 2, 13, Aug 10

These are white chocolate truffles made with black pepper and mint. I know the combination sounds strange, but don’t knock it till you try it!

1 cup heavy cream
2 cups high quality white chocolate
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
4 tablespoons softened butter

1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces (or attack with a rolling pin – great way to relieve stress and keeps your hands from melting the chocolate if yours are too warm, like mine) and place in a heat proof bowl.

2. Place the cream and the peppercorns in a heavy bottom saucepan and to a full boil on the stove. Once the mixture has boiled, use a strainer to remove the peppercorns from the cream. Then return the cream to the stove and return to a full boil.

3. When the cream has boiled, pour it over the chopped chocolate. Using a rubber spatula, slowly stir the chocolate and cream together, making sure not to add any air to the mixture.

3. Once the cream is incorporated, add the butter, again stirring slowly, to avoid aeration. Continue to stir until the butter is completely incorporated as well. The mixture should be smooth and glossy at this point. If not, continue mixing the ingredients until they combine. I find this process takes different lengths of time depending on the chocolate being used.

4. Add the finely chopped mint to the chocolate mixture, and stir so that it is evenly distributed throughout. Then place the bowl in the refrigerator until the mixture has set. Again, the time will vary depending on the ingredients, the fridge and the altitude.

5. Once the chocolate has stiffened, but will hold a form when molded, begin to form it into balls. This can be done by hand, with a melon scoop, whatever works. Alternatively, if you have candy molds, you can pour the liquid chocolate mixture into them and then let it set.

6. When the balls are finished, roll them in the coating of your choice and serve. I like to use finely shaved white chocolate, but you can use candied mint leaves, chopped nuts, sugar or anything else you like, really.

Spicy Damson Jam

Amp15, October 4, in Playing With Your Food forum

In Denmark the wild damsons are ripe now, and yesterday I made a couple of pounds of my special jam. Over the years I’ve made it with any member of the Prunus (stone fruit) family from sour cherries, over peaches, plums, fresh prunes, and damson, to the bitter sloe. They have all tasted great, but the cinnamon rather spoil the delicate colour of for example green gages and peaches, so now I tend to make it only with dark fruits, and of those I best like the wild damson from the hedges around the farms. The resulting jam is very intense and not too sweet, and I use it as well to serve with for example roast duck and cold meats, as on toast and in desserts.

1 pound wild damsons,
0.5 cup water,
1-2 cup sugar,
2 tsp cinnamon,
1 tsp vanilla sugar,
0.5 tsp ginger,
1 tiny nip of cloves.

Start by putting a plate in the fridge.

Check the fruit for mold and signs of worm, rinse, and boil in the water until the skin disintegrates and the stones let go of the flesh. Pour the fruit through a colander into a bowl (or just skim the floating stones of the pulp in the pot). Move the stones around with a big spoon to press as much skin and flesh into the bowl as possible. Return the mush to the pot, and add the sugar, but taste before you add all of it, Now boil until a bit of jam dripped onto the cold plate in the fridge do not run after it’s cooled completely. Add the spices, and taste to see if you want to add more, as spices lose their potency over time. Pour into small clean jars, and close them.

If made with peaches (cut in quarters, but boil the stones along)or very sweet plums you might want to use the smallest amount of sugar, and in that case an opened jar must be kept in the fridge.

Lemon Whipped Cream

Eeralai, 28 May 09, ‘Summer Foods’ topic

The Lemon whipped cream recipe I got from Bon Appetite:

* 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon peel
* 2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat to soft peaks. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Rewhisk before using.)

I dished the whipped cream into four bowls and topped with raspberries. I used 6 oz of raspberries.

R and B’s Lemon Curd

R and B, 17 Feb 09, Recipe Thread

Here is the promised recipe for Lemon Curd
At the risk of offending purists it does involve the use of a microwave oven –
1 cup granulated sugar
3 whole eggs
mix eggs and sugar in one bowl
one cup lemon juice-about 3-4 fresh lemons depending on the size and juicyness
the zest of three lemons ( zest them first then squeeze for the juice)
1/2 c unsalted buttter, melted
mix together, then
cook for one minute intervals in microwave, stir after each minute in microwave, then cook for another minute etc
cook until lemon curd coats the back of a spoon
It took about 6 minutes-
if the egg curdles a bit you can strain it – the first time I made it, it did have little cooked egg bits but the second time I must have done something right ’cause no eggy bits.

the first time I made it i thought it was too soupy and I had not cooked it long enough – but I was wrong, it jelled up beautifully. This makes several jelly jars worth.

Lemon Curd

Susan from Athens, 12 Feb 09, Recipe Thread

Adapted from several recipes including the one in the Martha Stewart Living Cookbook. Quantities maximized to be made with the Almond and Chocolate cake, as I hate wasting 7 egg yolks.

7 large egg yolks
2 large whole eggs
1 and 1/8 of a cup sugar
3/4 cup lemon juice
6 tablespoons butter
grated zest of 3 lemons.

Mix the lemon juice and sugar together and let sit for 5 minutes.
Whisk the eggs and the egg yolks together in a medium bowl. Combine with the lemon juice and sugar and place in a bain marie (double boiler) but with the bottom actually in the boiling water (if you can achieve this). Cook whisking constantly (and I mean stirring and whisking without stopping for an instant) for 8-10 minutes, until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon (i.e. thick and syrupy).

Remove from heat. (if it is lumpy – which it shouldn’t be – whisk some more and pass through a fine sieve), add the butter, a small lump at a time, until smooth. Stir in zest carefully. Place in sterilized jars, cool and refrigerate. Makes 2 big jars.

Hint: this makes a great filling for Victoria Sandwich cake or for lemon tarts, but it is amazing on fresh bread or scones.

Chocolate Fudge Sauce

Merry, 5 Sept 08, comment to ‘It’s always a good day for chocolate’

18 oz. package unsweetened baking chocolate

1/2 c. butter

2 c. sugar

1 c. milk (any kind, even soy)

1 t. vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1. Melt chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring constantly
2. Add sugar and stir to dissolve
3. Add milk and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes
4. Add vanilla & salt
5. Cover & chill (this is critical, don’t ask me why)

According to the recipe this keeps up to 2 weeks. I’m not sure we’ve ever tested that :). And it seriously does not taste nearly so good until it’s been chilled and reheated. In fact the more times it’s reheated the better it tastes.

I personally like to cut out about a half cup of sugar, but I like my chocolate very very dark.

And yes, I’m the crazy one who says you can bake with soy milk. Admittedly the expensive, chilled, soy milk that doesn’t live forever, but I honestly can’t taste soy in this, and neither has anyone I’ve ever served it to.

We eat this on ice cream (of course), cake (soft crumbly ones work best), cream puffs, and straight by the spoonful :).


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