Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Theoretical Ice Cream...

...the best kind?
Cinnamon Peach Skin Ice Cream

One of the most disappointing things about canned peaches is the lack of skin. The slime in which they are suspended is pretty cool, and that counts for something, but when I'm eating a slice of peach, it doesn't matter how sweet, juicy, and sexy the flesh is, there's nothing I like more than gnawing on the tangy, fuzzy skin. This flavor deserves to be a headliner, to be the center of attention in a dish. People, however, are not likely to look fondly on being served a platter of skin, so what better way to get our peachy point across than with ice cream?

Here's the issue: I haven't made this recipe yet, for lack of an ice cream maker (mine is about 3000 miles that way -->). As of right now, this ice cream is merely a really tasty thought experiment. Hopefully it turns out...

Yield: a little over 1 qt.


  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • skin of 12 peaches (yeah, so you might want to make a fruit salad or something too...)
  • 1/4 cup peach juice
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Some quantity Ceylon cinnamon (maybe... If the peach skin by itself is good, fuck the spices)
  • Small pinch salt
So here's the basic theory behind this recipe: We want the essence of peach skin, and we need to counterbalance the sweetness native to the ice cream. To do this we add lemon juice, to kill the sweetness, and we attack with three different kinds of peach flavor: We blend half of the peach skin, to make a peach-skin puree, add general peachy essence with the peach juice, and then we chop or grate the rest of the skin so that people will know what they're eating (munching down on the skin is basically the best part). Timing is the part I have to get down, that is when to add everything. I'm concerned about losing the freshness and tangyness of the skin in the cooking process, so maybe I'll add half the puree before the boil, and half after. I'll figure it out, and I'll actually post directions when I do. Until then, dream of peaches (if you know what I mean). Oh and if anyone figures out how to do this, let me know, and I'll gladly take credit for your hard work.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sauce Without a Cause

Passion Fruit Red Wine Dessert Sauce

I really don't like being told I can't do something, especially by people with authority. This is why I write a blog about food that no one reads instead of doing something productive like calculus. Anyways, I mused out loud one day about a sweet red wine reduction sauce for some kind of dessert, and was swiftly told that it shouldn't be done, that it shouldn't even be thought about. With my middle finger to the world, I set out to make a red wine dessert sauce. But aren't red wine reductions are better for savory dishes? Don't the strong flavors and tannins better complement meat and onions than fruit and pastries? Bite me.

  • 2 cups decent red wine (I like a cabernet sauvignon, but I'm sure anything will do... merlot, however, is for pansies)
  • 1 cup passion fruit juice (they sell it at Shaw's - Goya makes it, it's in the "world foods" section)
  • some quantity of sugar... to taste, I guess? (I'll get back to you on that)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (doesn't have to be fresh)
  • 1 stick cinnamon (this will come out, so don't substitute with powder)
  • *optional: 1 tbsp whole cloves* (<-- for the winter)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
In medium saucepan, combine wine and spices. Bring wine to a simmer, and let the alcohol mostly reduce off. Let simmer uncovered for about 10 min. Add juices and sugar and let return to a boil. Simmer uncovered for about 20 min, or until the liquid has reduced down noticeably and the sauce is ever-so-slightly more viscous than it was originally. Don't worry, detail will be added in this section when I make this sauce again. Add the vanilla extract and simmer for about five more minutes. Let cool to room temp and store covered in the fridge for later use...

That brings me to the present issue with this recipe: what the hell do I use it for? It tastes pretty good, but the only way I've ever had it is by letting pieces of English muffin soak it up and then eating the muffin. It's just a little too runny to top ice cream with or to drizzle over black-bottom cupcakes. Please let me know if you think of anything. Maybe I'll soak slices of angelfood cake in it and layer them with whipped cream.

Other ideas I've been considering:
  • Make sorbet out of it
  • Flavor whipped cream with it
  • Make a mousse cake with it
Dammit, no matter what I consider I can never find any reason to just use it as it is. It always seems to take on some other form. Well whatever, I did succeed in making a red wine dessert sauce, for the record.

New Authors!!!one!

I am but a poor lost lamb, but you already knew that. I guess we all are. Sheep, however, are pack animals, and in my quest for culinary cronies I have successfully sucked a few more in to this particular herd. Please welcome, with warmth and moisture... our new author.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Cake of Life/Cake of Death

Depending on Your Point of View
Triple-Layer Chocolate Cake with Banana Filling

My friend likes chocolate. I mean he really likes chocolate. He likes bananas too, and when his birthday came up I wanted to make something truly awesome. I don't know if I succeeded, but we're married now, so I guess it worked out.

Layers 1 and 3

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
Layer 2 Ingredients:
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter , room temperature, plus extra for buttering pan
  • 10 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate , preferably French or Belgian, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
Filling Ingredients:
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 bananas, soft but not brown
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • confectioner's sugar to taste
Frosting Ingredients
  • 1 pound semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped (I like to use a really distinctive chocolate here, something with a lot of crazy flavors in it naturally - if you can get it, Scharffen Berger is a great option)
  • 3/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
Layers 1 and 3:
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.
(This might sound remarkably like the recipe from the back of the Hershey's cocoa powder container - it's not)

Layer 2:
Keep oven at 350°. Lightly butter a 9-inch round springform pan with removable bottom. Line bottom with parchment paper; butter parchment.

In the top pan of a double boiler over simmering water, melt chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from heat and whisk butter into chocolate until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. Set aside.

In a small, heavy pot over high heat, bring sugar and corn syrup to a boil, swirling pot occasionally to dissolve sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

In the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer with wire whisk attached, beat eggs and yolks at medium-high speed until thick and frothy, 5 to 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium low and carefully pour hot sugar syrup into beaten eggs in a thin, steady stream, avoiding the beaters. Remove bowl; use a rubber spatula to fold chocolate mixture into egg mixture.

Pour chocolate mixture into prepared pan. Place pan on a cookie sheet. Bake until cake has risen and set, 45 to 50 minutes. Move pan to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Run a thin, sharp knife around cake to loosen; remove from pan.

Let cake stand until room temperature
(This might sound remarkably like Oprah's Flourless Chocolate cake - it's not)

DISCLAIMER: this part of the recipe might be bullshit... it's been about 7 mos since I made this cake and this and the frosting are the only parts of the recipe I actually made up... not gonna lie, I don't really remember if this is exactly what I did... I'll update this if I find that what I've written is an absolute failure

Cream the bananas in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on high. Once the bananas are basically a smooth liquid add in the lemon juice and set aside. In another mixing bowl, combine the cream, vanilla, and sugar to taste. Whip that shit up to stiff peaks, but try to avoid making really sweet butter. Fold in the banana jizz until combined.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler, stirring frequently until glossy and smooth. Add in the butter and vanilla, and stir until the butter is mixed in.

Transfer the melted chocolate mixture to a mixing bowl, and beat on high. While beating, sift in the confectioner's sugar and beat until the sugar is incorporated and the mixture is fluffy and awesome.

For this cake, you might find it appropriate to shave your top and bottom layers so that everything fits together nicely. Personally, if the cakes aren't too different from each other in terms of flatness, I like to leave them unshaven. I think the unevenness of the cake makes it feel more authentic. Plus, you get more cake that way. So to start, lay down one of your cooled Hershey's Chocolate cakes and spread the top with half of the banana goo. Next, add on the Oprah Flourless layer, more banana goo. Top it off with your final Hershey's layer, and frost. I would let the whole thing chill in the fridge for an hour or so before serving, but if you can't wait, whatever, you earned it.

Note: The banana filling tends to dry out if the cake is left in the fridge too long (i.e. a couple days). I don't think it goes bad or anything, it's just not quite as magical.

Word, so this cake obviously kicks ass, but it does take a long time and makes a pretty formidable mess. It's worth it, but proceed with caution. Don't start this one an hour before the party.

Addendum: the first time I made this cake, I did so without any electric mixing appliances. DON'T DO THAT. I had hand cramps for like a week afterwards

Yeah I forgot about it

I guess it's pretty clear what happened. I forgot about this blog. Shit came up, what can I say?