Raiding the larder of ideas.

What one family eats, plans to eat, dreams of eating. Plus, other food and kitchen-related stuff from the home of steak-and-potatoes, pie and fresh green beans from the garden.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

I Scream...Well, You Know the Rhyme

Yesterday morning, just as she was getting ready to fix herself some lunch, and I was considering finishing that last 40 winks, The Bat got a call inviting us to sup with the extended family. When asked what we could contribute to the meal, the subject of dessert came up.

They like it when I bake.

Go figure.

Well, this time, I'd been seeing all my friends on social media sharing the simplest process for making ice cream without a churn. It promises that any idiot can make awesome stuff with only three ingredients, a mixer, and some room in your freezer.

And it's true. You can make a lovely, tasty ice cream with a pint of whipping cream, a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, and your flavor of choice. Some people go chocolate, some vanilla, some even go all coffee-crazy. The recipe adapts to your tastes.

What it doesn't necessarily do is make something lighter than a brick, once it's been in the freezer a few hours. Unless you disregard the instructions everybody gives you, where they say, "just dump everything into your mixer's bowl and whip it all light and fluffy like unicorn toots."

Okay, I added the simile. There are no unicorns mentioned in their promises.
But promises of fluffy, creamy dessert fall short, too. Dumping a can of sweetened, condensed milk into a bowl with a pint of whipping  cream is likely to make a sort of a sweet fatty goo. I know. I did it. No matter how long you beat this stuff, if you don't prep, you get uncooperative dairy products.

So, prep. Prep. Prep.

To make ice cream sandwiches using a variation on my favorite chocolate cake recipe, you'll need three (3) 12 inch by 17 inch jelly roll pans (also known as sided half sheet pans). I am specific about the size, because the cake batter will be stretched too thin by the 13 x 18 inch pan.

Line one cookie pan with plastic wrap and place in center of deep freezer, along with large mixing bowl and whisk attachment or beaters.

You will also need to refrigerate the whipping cream and sweetened condensed milk. Seriously. Put those cans in the fridge at least an hour before you start making the recipe.

While the dairy chills, take out your eggs for making the cake. The recipe calls for a full dozen egg yolks and ten egg whites, and I have all the grace of a circus bear, so, invariably I will let some yolk break while separating at least one egg for the meringue base to the sponge cake, so I bring 14 eggs out. If you feel brave, confident, reckless, stick to a dozen. But if you're like me, plan for the worst-case scenario.

All right. The dairy is chilled, the bowl and beaters are effing cold,  and you are ready to start.

Ice cream sammiches

Ingredients for ice cream:
1 pint (4 cups) whipping (or heavy) cream
2 cans (14 oz each) sweetened, condensed milk
1 Tablespoon orange liqueur (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla 

Directions for ice cream:

In deeply chilled mixing bowl, pour whipping cream. On medium speed with chilled beaters or whisk attachment, beat cream until light and fluffy, about 4 - 5 minutes.

Add in orange liqueur, continuing to beat until mixed in.

With mixer still running on medium, gradually stream in the condensed milk until completely combined.

Quickly transfer to the half pan you've had waiting, lined with plastic, in the freezer. Cover with another sheet of plastic wrap, and allow to chill at least three hours, until firm.

And, now, the cake.

Cake ingredients:

12 eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup extra fine granulated (bartender's) sugar (may use regular granulated)
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons extra dark cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons orange liqueur like Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon vanilla 

Cake directions:

While the ice cream is chilling out, put the oven racks near center, and preheat your oven to 375° F. Line your remaining two jelly roll pans with parchment and grease the parchment well.

In a large mixing bowl with whisk attachment set to high speed, beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. add the orange liqueur and vanilla, mix in completely, then lower the speed of the mixer to slow, and add in the cocoa powder. Mix completely, then transfer to a medium bowl and set aside for the moment. (I cheat. I have two stand mixers, so I do both yolks and whites at the same time. It knocks about 10 minutes off the prep time, is all.)

Thoroughly clean and dry the large mixing bowl and whisk attachment, then wipe thoroughly with paper towel dampened in vinegar. Whip the dozen egg whites until they begin to become foamy, then, with mixer running on medium, add a slow stream of sugar until fully mixed in. 

Continue to beat until firm peaks form.

Once you have made the batter, divide it evenly between the two pans, bake about 15 minutes, or until it springs back from a light touch near the center (this is one time when slightly over-baking a sponge cake is not a crime).

Allow to cool completely in pans on cooling racks, then turn out onto fresh parchment on a flat cookie sheet or cooling rack. This cake will settle considerably in the center. If you want to make the edges even all the way around the ice cream bars, you can trim the bulbous edges away using kitchen shears (knives will likely leave a rough, torn-looking edge). (Personally, I like the extra cake with my ice cream.)

Place in deepfreeze until ice cream is completely set up and cake is slightly frozen.

Stack layers*, cut with large knife (you may want to dip the knife in warm water and then wipe clean between each slice), serve immediately, or wrap individual portions in plastic or parchment, and freeze for up to 5 weeks.

*When I was assembling my sandwiches, it was hot enough that the ice cream would have melted and squished out the sides when trying to cut through the frozen top layer of cake, so I pre-cut the top cake into 3-inch squares using a very large knife. Then I brought out the ice cream, removed the top sheet of plastic, and flipped the thing out onto the top of the bottom cake layer, removed the other sheet of plastic, then recruited The Bat to help adjust the thing, and quickly arrange the cake "tiles" on top of the ice cream layer before slicing the rest of the assemblage between those cake "tiles".
Dessert of Champions

Back into the freezer it went until just before I was ready to finish with the cutting into squares, transport (in Tupperware cookie boxes lined with parchment, buried in bags of ice, in our trusty monster cooler) and serve.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Snowflakes In July

There was this lemonade....

They look naughty, don't they? They probably are…but who cares?

Well, really, there was this can of frozen lemonade concentrate. It sat in the back of the freezer, calling out my name. But the weather has been surprisingly cool, for July, so I haven't felt justified in taking up space in the refrigerator with a half-gallon jug of a beverage we'd all just sip at for the next week, so I needed another excuse.

Plus, I hadn't tried anything new in the kitchen since the old fogeys got back from their early summer gadabout, almost two weeks ago.

Needless to say, I needed to bake some lemonade. It was as simple as that.
I found this recipe, not too long ago, and it cried out for a little gluten-free treatment.

The recipe refers to them as moist, and I will give them that, but in using gluten-free flour, no matter what you do, the nature of the cookie is likely to change slightly. There is probably a way to make them gooey and gluten-free at the same time, but today was not the day to spend an extra six hours and five bags of flour trying to find it. We had family coming for supper, and I didn't need to have the kitchen in chaos right before they arrived.

I worked with Pamela's All-Purpose Artisan Blend (bought via the famous largest internet retailer), this time, and it created lovely, tender treats which melted in my mouth. As I work things out, I find I like their flour almost as much as I like King Arthur's Gluten Free…actually, I think I like it more because I don't have to add xanthan gum to make it hold together the way a regular wheat-based flour will. It's already in Pamela's blend. 

Also, slightly less money.

At any rate, these were a lovely, light dessert for the crowd.


Like snowflakes. In July.

They look like dirty little snowballs, but melt like snowflakes. 

Lemonade Snowflakes


For the cookies:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed and strained
Fresh zest of one lemon, finely grated (optional)

For the glaze: 
1/2 cup frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
fresh zest of 1/2 lemon, finely grated (optional)
sugar for dusting (you can use powdered, colored, or other decorative sugar if you like. I just enjoy the look of frost on the cookie tops, with the plain granulated sugar)


Arrange oven racks near center  of oven.

Preheat oven to 400ยบ F

In a medium or large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and soda.

With mixer at low speed, alternate adding in the flour mixture and the lemonade concentrate, until it is all completely mixed together. You may need to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times in the process.

Scoop by approximate teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet. (I used a #60 portioner – a 2 tsp scoop. If you do the same, be prepared with a bowl of hot water to dip it occasionally, to help the dough release. It will not adversely affect the flavor or texture of the GF cookies.)

Bake for 8 minutes. 

While the cookies are baking, arrange parchment, foil, or other "dribble-catcher" layer beneath your cooling racks.

Remove cookies from oven. Using spatula, transfer cookies from baking sheets to cooling rack.

While they are still warm, brush cookies generously with remaining lemonade concentrate, then dust with sugar. 

May be served warm, or refrigerated for maximum summer lemonade chill effect.

Makes about 70 bite-sized cookies.

I can't imagine who stole that cookie from the back row…she said all innocently.