Sunday, October 26, 2014

Browned Butter Ice Cream with Almond Brittle

With the wedding officially over, I'm now a happily married woman — which means I don't have to fit into that wedding dress ever again. Bring on the ice cream!

The brown butter base is creamy and nutty with flecks of browned butter solids dotted throughout. Then throw in the homemade almond brittle and it takes this ice cream to the next level — crunchy salty-sweet brittle packed full of almonds and layered throughout the ice cream.

{Browned Butter Ice Cream with Almond Brittle}
Inspired by Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams

Almond Brittle
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 ounces (2 cups) slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Generously oil a large baking sheet. Stir together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Using a candy thermometer, add the butter and bring the mixture back to a boil, then cook until it reaches 300 degrees F. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the almonds and then the baking soda, working quickly.

Spread the mixture onto the oiled baking sheet in a 1/4 inch layer. Allow to cool completely.

Break almond brittle into pieces and put them in a large freezer bag. Use a rolling pin to smash the brittle to small pieces.

Browned Butter Ice Cream
4 Tablespoons butter
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar, divided

Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks with half of the sugar. In a heavy-bottomed pot, brown the butter over medium-high heat until butter solids begin to separate. Once browned, stir in cream, whole milk, salt and the other half of the sugar. Insert a thermometer. Cook at medium heat, stirring often, until mixture reaches 170 degrees F. Remove from heat. Now it's time to temper the eggs mixture. Add 1 cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs don't scramble. Add another cup and whisk. Then, pour the egg mixture back into the milk mixture, stirring. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture reaches 170 degrees F. Remove from heat and pour the ice cream batter through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl. Place the bowl into the ice water, being careful not to allow any water into the mixture. Stir occasional. When cool, cover and put in the fridge to cool completely. Freeze in an ice cream freezer, then fold in the almond brittle. Enjoy!

Side note: This recipe makes a little extra almond brittle and it is delicious to eat just as it is. Make it. Do it. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sesame Almond Cherry Granola

While traveling through southeastern Utah and western Colorado last week, I was fed the best granola alongside my morning Americano at Steaming Bean Coffee Co. in Durango, Colorado. I fell for it, hard. First, let me say this little coffee shop was excellent — Mitch and I posted up in a sunny window seat where we look out on the town and enjoy our treats. We'd spent the morning taking a run around the quaint downtown and checking out the local guitar shops.  But back to the granola — it was crunchy and sweet and full of delicious nuts and sesame seeds. I had to recreate it for you, with a few additions.

{Sesame, Almond & Cherry Granola}
3 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup sesame seeds
3/4 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch cardamom 
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 cup dried tart cherries, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, walnuts, coconut, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. In a small bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Set the cherries aside.
3. Stir the olive oil mixture into oat mixture. Spread onto the lined baking sheet and bake, stirring every 10 minutes, for 30-35 minutes.
4. Let cool in pan, then stir in cherries. Serve with milk or yogurt, or snack on it plain!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Three-Bean Beef Chili

It's April now, officially time for spring … but nobody told the weather gods here in Utah. It's another chilly, snow-covered day in the mountains. In my book, that means another good day for mouth-watering, heart-warming, sweat-inducing chili.

I like my chili full of tomato and packed with vegetables, with just the right amount of spice.

{Three-Bean Beef Chili}

1/2 pound to 1 pound ground beef or turkey
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium-sized onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium-sized zucchini, diced
1 can (8-ounces) diced tomatoes
2 can (15-ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (15-ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15-ounces) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15-ounces) white beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
Grated cheddar cheese, jalapeños and sour cream (optional)

1. In a large nonstick pot or dutch oven, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Add ground beef and brown. Drain.

2. In a large nonstick pan, heat the rest of the oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, garlic and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add in pepper and zucchini and cook until slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Add to ground beef.

3. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. Serve with fixings of choice.

The great thing about this chili is that you probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry. Plus, it's even better the next day. Apply crushed red pepper liberally and enjoy!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

French Press Coffee

There are so many ways to get your coffee. You can brew it in a coffee pot, make a pour over, use a Chemex, pull an espresso, or head to your nearest coffee shop for a professionally crafted creation complete with latte art. All good options, all delicious ways to enjoy the joy that is coffee. But one of my favorite methods of preparing coffee has to be the french press: It's fast, it's easy and you end up with a dense, heavy, creamy cup bursting with flavor — every time. In our house, we call this weekend coffee.

{French Press Coffee}

What you'll need:
  • Coffee beans. Mine are dark-roasted Pink Elephant Coffee Roasters Tanzania Peaberry coffee beans I roasted myself
  • Water — I like a 1:10 coffee to water ratio for my french press. So if you have 50 grams of coffee, use 500 grams of water
  • French Press
  • Coffee Grinder
Yield: Two large mugs of amazing, full-bodied coffee

1. Bring the water to almost a boil in a tea kettle, aiming for 202 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Grind your coffee beans to a coarse, even grind.
3. Fill the french press with warm water to warm the glass. Empty. Then, add the ground coffee to the french press.
4. Pour heated water onto the coffee; allow to bloom for 30 seconds to allow the carbon dioxide to release from the coffee. It will bubble.
5.  Stir. Allow to steep for 3-4 minutes. When it has steeped, press the plunger down to separate the coffee grounds from the liquid. If it's hard to press, that means your grind is too fine; if it goes down too easily, it means your grind is too coarse. Try to find the sweet spot.
6. Serve immediately. Add cream and sugar if desired.

Here's a step-by-step:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cookies & Chemex

So I can't stop making these insanely huge cookies, the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies I shared a few weeks back. Seriously, make them. You won't be disappointed.

I added in a Chemex and some awesome Pink Elephant Coffee. Yum.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Cake. It pretty much epitomizes birthdays, right? So, naturally I had to have cake today.

Growing up when it was my time to announce which of my mom's delicious creations would be my birthday cake, it was never actually a cake. I went from requesting pumpkin pie for a solid ten years without fail, each birthday. Then, I graduated to apple dumplings, then brownies heavy on the homemade dark chocolate icing. This year, I decided, it was time to have a real cake. And being 1,735 miles (give or take) away from home with my not-so-kitchen-savvy fiancé, I made it myself. Which means I can pick a cake has little in common with the average birthday cake — this one is dense, it's gooey and incredibly chocolatey. Bring on the cake!

{Flourless Chocolate Cake}
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
8 eggs, chilled
1-1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon vanilla
Powdered sugar, for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-inch nonstick springform pan and set aside.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a medium-sized bowl, either in the microwave or using a double boiler, and whisk together.
3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs for five minutes on medium to high speed until bubbly.
4. Add sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla to the egg mixture.
5. Add chocolate mixture and mix until well combined.
6. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the center is just set and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.
7. Remove from over and allow to cool completely. Remove the sides of the pan and dust with powdered sugar.

The cake rises beautifully during baking before falling in the center to form a dense cake with a crusty, crackled top and a decadent, molten middle. Trust me. This is birthday-worthy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ice Cream Terrines

So what's better than ice cream? Three flavors of ice cream layered on top of each other then sliced for you on a plate.

These terrines are fun, elegant and impressive, plus they offer a little extra pizzaz to the usual ice cream sundae. I made these for a holiday dinner party a few months back and they were a hit. You can even pre-slice them in the freezer for the easiest party dessert and simply pull the plated terrines out after dinner … because who wants to be scooping ice cream when you're partying? A wine glass belongs in that hand.

{Ice Cream Terrines} 

Three flavors of ice cream. For mine, I used Salted Caramel, Browned Butter Pecan and Dark Chocolate. Here are some more  ideas.

Equipment & Assembly: Ice cream freezer, bread pans, parchment paper

1. Fit two bread pans with a layer of parchment paper each. Tape the edges of the paper to the sides of the pan to hold it in place.

2. Make the first flavor of ice cream according to recipe and freeze according to ice cream freezer instructions, then layer into the bread pans (about two inches of ice cream in each one). Cover with parchment paper to avoid freezer burn. Allow to harden in the freezer for at least four hours.

3. Repeat with second flavor of ice cream. Remove parchment paper before pouring the next flavor onto the terrine, then re-cover.

4. Repeat with third flavor of ice cream.

5. Allow to freeze for at least four more hours or overnight. When ready to slice, pull the parchment paper and terrine out of the bread pan and place on a cutting board. Slice into one-inch servings and serve on a plate. These can be slice ahead and left in the freezer, just be sure to cover each with a layer of parchment paper to ward off freezer burn.

A terrine is fun because you can customize it any way you please — make them with three flavors of ice cream or just one, roll them in chopped nuts, top them with a drizzle of chocolate sauce, etc. And, well, it's a delicious slab of ice cream. How could it not be fun!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

The ultimate. For something as essential as chocolate chip cookies, this is a bold claim. But really, what more could you ask for in a cookie? This one starts with a fist-sized ball of chocolate and walnut packed dough. After a few minutes in the oven, it comes out as the mother of all cookies — huge, with crispy edges and a gooey middle. I use two kinds of chocolate and toasted walnuts for an amazing mix of flavors and textures.

This is not on the wedding diet.

{Ultimate Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies}
Yield: 15 cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons corn starch
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2-3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips 
1 cup extra dark chocolate chips, finely chopped or grated
1-1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

1. Preheat oven to 385 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the cubed butter and sugar until well blended.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, until well mixed. Add in vanilla extract.

4. Add salt, corn starch, baking powder and baking soda to sugar mixture. Stir in flour until just combined.

5. Add in chocolate chips and walnuts. The dough will be very thick.

6. Using your hands, divide into large balls. This recipe makes 12-18 cookies, depending upon how big you want them. Place on an un-greased cookie sheet, leaving plenty of space for the cookies to spread out.

7. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies turn golden brown. Now, try to wait long enough to let them cool and eat!

Here in Utah it's a chilly, rainy gray winter day and there is no reason to go outside … or leave my couch, or stop re-reading The Dog Stars by Peter Heller for that matter. My advice is to break them apart and enjoy while still warm — as always, with a large mug of my coffee and a book in hand.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

Guess what. I made ice cream again.

Now that we live in Utah, I've come to rationalize spending well over $10 for a pint of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams once or twice a week… call it Ohio homesickness. Those pints don't last long in this house. While I can't stop (won't stop) picking up a pint or two every time I go to Whole Foods — have you seen the new winter woods collection? — I figure it's time to supplement my ice cream habit with my own creations.

This one has it all — knock-out peanut butter ice cream, huge dark chocolate chunks and a hint of honey. It looks like cookie dough and tastes like peanut-buttery heaven.

{Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream}
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks
5 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon tapioca or corn starch
1/2 cup peanut butter
4 oz. melted dark chocolate

1. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway full with water and ice. In a small bowl, place 1/2 cup peanut butter. Fit a fine-mesh strainer over the bowl with the peanut butter.
2. Combine heavy cream, whole milk, salt, 3 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons brown sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Bring to 170 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring often.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks to break and whisk in the remaining sugars.
4. Once milk mixture reaches 170 degrees, slowly pour about half of the milk mixture into the egg mixture — one cup at a time, whisking constantly — to temper the eggs. Then, pour the egg mixture into the remaining milk mixture.
5. Heat over medium heat until mixture again reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove from heat and pour through the strainer into the small bowl containing the peanut butter. Whisk to combine (Pouring in and whisking a little bit at a time makes this go easier).
6. Immediately place small bowl in ice bath, being careful not to get water in the bowl. Stir occasionally until cool, then store in a covered dish in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
7. Make ice cream according to your ice cream maker's instructions. Meanwhile, melt chocolate. When the ice cream is nearly finished (and is pulling away from the sides of the ice cream maker) slowly pour the chocolate into the ice cream to form chunks.
8. Store in an airtight container in the freezer. Eat up!

This ice cream is somewhat similar to Jeni's Buckeye State Ice Cream, which I made here. However, through trial and error, I've changed the ingredients, the method of making the ice cream and the size of the chocolate chunks. Try them both and take your pick!