I’m celebrating a birthday this week. I remember this time last year, sequestering myself in a remote cabin in Sedona to figure out my life…all of it…over a brief seven days. I didn’t get very far, but I did decide that getting laid off would be a good thing (it was!) and that I needed to rekindle my dreams of inn ownership (I have!) and that “this” (whatever “this” was at the time) wasn’t enough for me (it’s not).
Another year wiser.
My co-worker, Dennis, also has a birthday this week. To celebrate, I made this bittersweet chocolate peanut butter ice-cream. We served scoops of it in crispy waffle cones, although I’ve decided it would even be better sandwiched between giant peanut butter cookies. Gilding the lily once again – some things never get old.
Dennis’s “You’ve got peanut butter in my chocolate” Ice Cream
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate chopped (at least 60% cocoa), divided (5 oz. & 3 oz.)
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
5 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small bowl, combine peanut butter, confectioner’s sugar and salt. Pinch off small bits of the peanut butter mixture and arrange on a dinner plate. Freeze plate of peanut butter bits until ready to use.
Warm one cup of the cream with the cocoa powder in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, whisking the entire time, then remove from heat. Add the 5 oz. chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Stir in the remaining 1 cup cream. Set a strainer over the sauce pan and set aside.
Warm the milk, sugar and salt in another medium sauce pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the yolks whisking constantly (to avoid scrambling eggs). Pour the entire mixture back into the sauce pan.
Stir the custard mixture over a medium heat with a wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula, making sure to scrape the bottom and corners as you stir, until mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon or spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and into the chocolate mixture. Add vanilla, and then cool completely by placing pan in an ice bath.
Cover and chill the mixture in the refrigerator overnight. Freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. A few minutes before it’s finished, add the 3 oz. reserved chopped chocolate and frozen peanut butter bits.
This recipe is the inevitable and tasty Venn diagram ensuing from 1) a recent purchase of an entire pound of Thai tea leaves with 2) my continual gelato flavor experimentation – a result of a previous 2013 trip to Italy to indulgently attend Gelato School.
Heat milk to 104 degrees. Remove from heat, add Thai tea mix, stir, cover and let steep for 1 to 1 ½ hours. Strain tea leaves, pressing to extract as much flavor as possible. Re-warm milk mixture. At 104 degrees, add sugar, corn syrup and salt. Continue heating and stirring milk mixture. At 144 degrees, add powdered milk mixed well with guar gum and carob. Heat milk to 194 degrees to pasteurize and immediately remove from heat.
Cool milk mixture in ice bath, adding cream and vanilla extract when mixture’s temperature is reduced to 144 degrees. Emulsify with a stick blender. When mixture has cooled to room temperature, pour through a sieve and refrigerate overnight.
Make gelato in ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Savor the flavor of Thai iced tea in creamy gelato form.
Ninety-four degrees and not even 11:00 a.m. yet. My walk this morning, more than any other morning this summer, brought to mind summertime memories of my childhood. My family didn’t spend the season at our grandparent’s lakefront cottage. There was no lake. There was no cottage. Our summers were the long days of middle-class suburban kids in Anaheim. Our summers were dusty, scorched, pavement summers. I’d wake up late morning, suffocating from the stifling air of my bedroom – air conditioning was an unnecessary luxury. I’d throw on shorts and a tank top and amble, on summer-calloused bare feet, to a friend’s house. At her home, as sweltering as my own and stocked with grape Otter Pops, we’d make plans to stay cool for the day. None of us had a pool, except one older girl, who doled out invites sparingly, and only to those she deemed worthy (I was rarely worthy). My favorite days were those when we combined funds to buy a bag of water balloons from Hanshaw’s liquor store and compete in boys-against-girls neighborhood balloon fights that always seemed to end with turning the hose on each other. On special summer occasions, like July 4th, my family would hand-churn ice cream in the late afternoon.
Don’t be surprised by the color – the bright green of most pistachio products is from additional coloring. The final color will be brighter green if you take the time to remove the pistachio skins (I did not). Measurements are in grams.
955 grams 2% milk
215 grams sugar
54 grams corn syrup
1 gram salt
33 grams powdered milk
1 gram guar gum
1 gram carob
215 grams shelled pistachios, plus more for garnish (optional)
2 grams vanilla
Heat milk to 104 degrees. Add sugar, corn syrup and salt. Continue heating and stirring milk mixture until sugar is dissolved. At 144 degrees, add powdered milk mixed well with guar gum and carob. Stir well to incorporate. Heat milk to 194 degrees to pasteurize and immediately remove from heat.
Pulse pistachios in a food processor until chopped (don’t chop them fine). Add a cup of the hot milk mixture and process well.
Add nut mixture from food processor to remaining milk mixture. Cool milk mixture in an ice bath, adding vanilla when mixture’s temperature is reduced to 144 degrees. When mixture has cooled to room temperature, refrigerate overnight.
The next day, strain gelato mixture pressing on the nuts to extract maximum flavor. Make gelato in ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Garnish with additional chopped pistachios if desired.
I’m an autumn girl. This favored season of mine showers me with crisp sweater weather, falling crimson leaves and cozy fires that align with my introvert’s sensibilities. And I cannot forget autumn’s bounty of rib-sticking roasted meats, soups and stews that beckon my German sensibilities as well. And yet, I bask in the first few weeks of summer – perhaps even more than autumn. Summer’s constant sun soaks through my tired flesh and warms my very soul. Birds sing the song of summer throughout the trees during the day while crickets serenade the night away, calming me. The longer days encourage my evening walks and dining alfresco – the TV is left silent. And my kitchen is inspired by summer’s bounty of sweet corn, ripe tomatoes, juicy nectarines and, of course, freshly made gelato.
This is my post-gelato school updated version of a 2012 recipe. Measurements are in grams.
500 grams 2% milk
1 bunch fresh mint leaves, washed, patted dry and lightly packed – about 2 cups
145 grams sugar
16 grams corn syrup
1 gram salt
38 grams powdered milk
1 gram guar gum
1 gram carob
250 grams heavy whipping cream
2 grams vanilla
1 package chocolate dinner mints, chopped (such as Andes) – about 1 cup
Heat milk to 104 degrees. Remove from heat, add ¾ of mint leaves, stir, cover and let steep for 1 to 1 ½ hours. Strain mint, pressing to extract as much mint oil as possible. Re-warm milk mixture. At 104 degrees, add sugar, corn syrup and salt. Continue heating and stirring milk mixture. At 144 degrees, add powdered milk mixed well with guar gum and carob. Heat milk to 194 degrees to pasteurize and immediately remove from heat.
Cool milk mixture in ice bath, adding cream and vanilla when mixture’s temperature is reduced to 144 degrees. Add remaining 1/4 of mint leaves and emulsify with a stick blender. When mixture has cooled to room temperature, pour through a sieve and refrigerate overnight.
Make gelato in ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions. Add chopped mints about one minute before gelato is finished.