Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Memories of Vanilla Ice Cream; Tuesdays with Dorie

Remember when we made the Perfect Party Cake? With eight egg whites (which I doubled, ending up with 16 egg yolks)? In June? I decided to use my egg yolks to make a double batch of Dorie's Vanilla Ice Cream (pg. 428, 429 of Baking, From My Home To Yours). I "played around" and made a mint chocolate chip version and a chocolate swirl version.

Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream With Katharine Hepburn Brownies

I didn't really take any notes or any pictures because I figured it was a dry run for this week's Tuesdays With Dorie, in which Vanilla Ice Cream was chosen by Lynne of Cafe LynnyLu. I figured in the month's time since then, I would make the ice cream again for real and take some great pictures. And write a great post.

Ooops. A month has flown by quickly, and it is Vanilla Ice Cream Tuesday, and I sit before you empty handed. No ice cream, no pictures, no post. I am sitting here on a cold, rainy summer night being challenged by my teenager to take him to the Ice Cream Shack to make good on a bet I lost today. I'd rather be visiting the TWD blogs and eating some rich creamy homemade vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blackberry Blanc-Manger, (TWD), a post including crushed bones, wobbly breasts, seaweed, rocks, and a delicious dessert

What an interesting Tuesdays With Dorie recipe this week. Susan, of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy chose Dorie's Raspberry Blanc-Manger. I found this to be such an and intriguing recipe. First, I needed to learn to pronounce blanc-manger. I failed French I in high school. "Blah-mahn-jhay". Répètes. "Blah-mahn-jhay". Très bien!

Next, I needed to learn what the heck it was. It looks to me like a panna cotta. Only with ground almonds in it. In fact, Dorie calls it the kissing cousin of panna cotta. This wasn't extremely helpful to me either, since I don't have a lot of experience to with panna cotta, except one near successful attempt at a coconut milk panna cotta made with agar agar. But I did learn something about panna cotta last week. According to Jay Rayner, on last week's Top Chef Masters, "A good panna cotta, if it's set right, is meant to wobble like a woman's breasts." Just thought I'd share that, in case you missed it.

So the blanc-manger may have been around for a couple thousand years. Today's version uses gelatin instead of crushed bones. That's great, unless you are a vegetarian who doesn't use gelatin because it is made of crushed bones. (Me!) So I decided to use agar agar as my gelling agent. Agar Agar is "a gelatinlike product of certain seaweeds, used for solidifying certain culture media, as a thickening agent for ice cream and other foods, as a substitute for gelatin, in adhesives, as an emulsifier, etc.". I substituted agar agar powder 1:1 for the gelatin in the recipe and followed the recipe instructions.

I questioned my judgment on that after I microwaved the agar powder with three tablespoons of water for 15 seconds. I ended up with a glob of what looked like an eraser.

Once I added it to the milk/almond/sugar mixture, it dissipated and was OK, but in the future, I might try just adding the agar powder directly to the milk on the stove. When I started to cool my mixture in the ice bath, the agar started to jell really quickly. My almonds were not ground very finely, and I was really worried because at this point, this recipe looked like Malt-o-Meal.

I quickly mixed in whipped cream and blackberries and was pleasantly surprised that it turned out really well. I made a blackberry coulis and was very pleased with the result.

The only aspect that maybe wasn't quite right was the texture of my almonds. I had whole almonds that I blanched and ground in the food processor. I have had trouble getting the skins off before, but this time followed these easy instructions from Amanda. I recruited my grandma to help with the almonds, but I couldn't get them ground very fine and the texture in the final blanc-manger was like rice pudding.

Speaking of pudding, this is really off topic, but it was a great "ah ha" moment for me. I am a rock hound and every year I assist with a class at a summer camp that teaches kids about rocks and fossils. The instructor has a PHD in geology and oceanography and is a great mentor, but sometimes explains things in really technical terms and doesn't show examples of what he is talking about. One of the rocks I have yet to find is a puddingstone, a "metaconglomerate of large dark crystals in a lighter fine grained matrix, that looks like a pudding". What? With that description I have never really been able to picture what I am looking for. However, when Jennifer brought her blanc-manger to book club, and cut it, as soon as I saw the way the berries were suspended in her "pudding", I immediately pictured the elusive puddingstone!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Peach Blackberry Brioche Tart, TWD

I did not do justice to this weeks's TWD recipe, Plum Brioche Tart, chosen by Denise, of Chez Us. I wimped out on making the Dorie's "poor" brioche. I don't have a stand mixer, and I didn't think I could do it by hand. I had a pound of Brioche dough from Artisan bread in Five Minutes a Day in the freezer, so I used that for my dough. I didn't have plums, but I did have peaches and blackberries.

I pressed the brioche dough into the tart pan and covered the bottom with seedless blackberry jam. I arranged some peaches and blackberries to look pretty. (I may have used a few too many.) I finished it off with some almonds and sugar.

After baking for the recommended time, my tart looked like fruit soup in a bread bowl. (Which might not be a bad idea.)

I removed some of the liquid and baked it longer. It turned out very good, but my brioche did not puff very tall. I don't know if it was because I did not let it rise much, since ABin5 bread does not usually need rising time, or if I had too much fruit and juice weighing the whole thing down.

I'd really like to try this again and attempt Dorie's brioche and use plums. My version was pretty tasty and made a good breakfast, but I have a feeling it wasn't as good as it was supposed to be.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tribute To Katharine Hepburn Brownies; TWD

This week, we had a guest host who chose our recipe, Tribute to Katharine Hepburn Brownies. Lisa, from Surviving Oz, is not a regular Tuesday With Dorie baker. In fact, I don't think she is a regular baker at all, but she did a spectacular job of making these brownies and writing an entertaining post about her experience with it.

How did she get the honor of choosing the recipe, when I have to wait about 100 more weeks for my turn? She designed our new TWD logo! (To the right.) It is beautiful and I am glad she got to slip into our rotation schedule and pick this fabulous recipe.

These were the *best* *brownies* *EVER*! They have cinnamon, a kick of coffee, and advice from Katharine Hepburn, "never put too much flour in your brownies".

I told KPOW I would bring these to her house on the fourth of July, but I couldn't get them out of the pan because they were so gooey. I know she had an abundance of desserts anyway, so I put them in the refrigerator and headed to her house without them. (More brownies for me Mwa Haa Haa.)

When I got home, they had firmed up and I was able to get them out of the pan. My whole family loved them. We put all arguments about cakey brownies vs. fudgey brownies behind us. These were definitely the fudgey type, but were so well liked, they bought peace into our home and made happy tummies.

When I had lots of egg yolks left over from perfect party cake, I made a double batch of Dorie's vanilla ice cream. This one was swirled with fudge and made the perfect accompaniment for the brownie.

My kids are already asking me to make them again and I cannot resist the simple requests of my sweet little children. As soon as I get more chocolate, I am making more of these brownies!