Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Strawberry Ice Cream

So, I have just done a transatlantic move. Sadly, this meant saying goodbye to my beloved Kitchenaid mixer. I thought I would be without a mixer for quite awhile, but my guy's mom kindly gave me hers! I was only without a mixer for a week but as soon as I got it, I couldn't wait to get back to doing what I love. My guy happens to be a HUGE fan of ice cream. So, we treated ourselves to the Kitchenaid ice cream attachment and as soon as it was frozen, I made my first batch of homemade ice cream.

I have to say, that I was dubious about homemade ice cream. Could it really be better than Ben & Jerry's? Why try to improve on something already so good? I am happy to say that my doubts were unfounded. Homemade ice cream is seriously amazing. It is creamier and the flavour is more intense than any store-bought version. I highly recommend investing in an ice cream machine-it opens up a whole new ice cream world!!

So, my guy's first ice cream request was strawberry. I decided to try a David Lebovitz recipe, since I've heard such good things about his book, The Perfect Scoop. After making this recipe, I bought the book immediately! It is the creamiest, strawberriest ice cream I have ever had! You can't taste the sour cream at all-it just adds an extra creaminess to it.

Strawberry Ice Cream

1 lb. (450g) fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp vidka
1 cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Slice the strawberries and toss them in a bowl with the sugar and wodka. Stir until the sugar begins to dissolve. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hr, stirring occasionally.

Pulse the strawberries and their liquid with the sour cream, heavy cream, and lemon juice in a blender until almost smooth. It should still be somewhat chunky.

Refrigerate for 1 hr, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Recipe adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Salted Caramel Chocolate Hearts

The August 2011 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Lisa of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drive and Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!. These two sugar mavens challenged us to make sinfully delicious candies! This was a special challenge for the Daring Bakers because the good folks at offered an amazing prize for the winner of the most creative and delicious candy!

This month's challenge was exactly that....a challenge!! We were required to temper chocolate and use it to make at least 2 different types of candies. It took me 3 different attempts to get a well tempered chocolate. The first candy I made was peppermint bark, using a much loved recipe that has appeared on my blog before. Although the chocolate wasn't successfully tempered, it was really yummy!

The second type of candy I made was a chocolate covered honeycomb. Again, I wasn't successful in tempering the chocolate, but the results were still delicious! I might blog about that another day because in this blog post, I want to focuse on the successfully tempered chocolate candies I made. From my numerous attempts at tempering, I can say that the key to my success was patience..... something that I don't tend to have a lot of. Waiting for the chocolate to cool down to the appropriate temperature is a long process. And it is imperative that you raise it back up to working temperature veeeerrrryyy slowly, taking it off the heat often to ensure that the chocolate doesn't get too hot.

Ultimately, this was a great challenge and I was very proud of my chocolates. I will definitely be making more chocolate candy now that I have achieved the elusive tempered chocolate!

Salted Caramel Chocolate Hearts

For the salted caramel:
2 cups sugar
1 2/3 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp salted butter
1/2-3/4 tsp coarse sea salt or fleur de sel (to taste)

For the chocolate:
600g extremely good quality dark chocolate (at least 60%)

Method to make the caramel sauce:

1. Spread the sugar in an even layer in a large metal dutch oven or casserole, at least 6 quarts. Set over a moderate heat and cook without stirring, until the sugar near the edge just starts to liquefy.

2. Use a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula to begin gently stirring, encouraging the melted sugar around the edges toward the centre, delicately stirring up any sugar melting on the bottom as well. The sugar will start to look pebbly as it cooks, but keep going until it is melted completely and an amber colour.

3. Continue to cook until the sugar turns deep brown and starts to smoke. The darker you cook the sugar without burning it, the better the sauce will be. It's ready when it's the colour of a well-worn penny and it smells a bit smokey. Do not allow the sauce to burn!

4. Remove from the heat and quickly stir in about a quarter of the cream. The mixture will bubble up quickly, so you may wish to wear an oven mitt. Continue to whisk the cream, stirring as you go to make sure it's smooth. Stir in the butter and salt. Serve warm. This makes a lot of sauce, which can be stored for up to one month in the refrigerator.

Method to temper the chocolate:

1. Break up the chocolate into small, almond size chunks. Place 2/3 of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, and place over a saucepan with a small amount of barely simmering water. Ensure the bowl does not touch the water and be very careful not to get any of the water in the chocolate.

2. Using a rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate so that it melts evenly and very slowly. Use a chocolate thermometer and keep a close eye on the temperature of the melting chocolate. Once it reaches 45*C-50*C (113*F-122*F)*, remove from the heat.

3. Add small amounts of the remaining 1/3 unmelted chocolate chunks and stir in to melt. Continue to add small additions of chocolate, stirring frequently, until you have brought the chocolate down to 27*C/80.6*F.

4. Put back onto the double boiler and bring the temperature, very slowly, up to 32*c/89.6*F. This is the crucial stage so watch the thermometer carefully and do not let the temperature go over 89.6*F! Once the chocolate reaches 86*F, I would recommend taking it off the heat every time it raises by 1*F and giving it a stir, just to be on the safe side. The chocolate is now tempered and ready to use.

To make the chocolate hearts:

1. Holding the chocolate molds over the bowl of chocolate, pour the tempered chocolate into heart molds (I used silicone heart molds). Knock the mold against a heard surface to remove bubbles, then turn upside down over the bowl to let the excess chocolate drip out. Turn right side up and drag a bench or plastic scraper across so that all the chocolate in between the wells is scraped off cleanly, leaving only chocolate filled wells. Put in the fridge to set for 5-10 mins.

2. Remove from the refrigerator. Fill a pastry bag with cooled caramel sauce and use this to fill each of the chocolate coated molds with caramel. Do not fill all the way to the top, as there needs to be room left for the chocolate. Place in the refrigerator to set for 5-10mins.

3. Finish the molds with a layer of chocolate, using the same method as before. Allow to set fully in the refrigerator. Once set, carefully unmold the chocolates.

Salted caramel recipe adapted from the Sweet Life of Paris by David Lebovitz.
*Please note: the temperatures given are for tempering dark chocolate only.