Archive for the 'ice cream' Category

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Appetite City: Baked Alaska

Appetite City: Fine Dining. My demo starts at 12:35

Ok. So mine is maybe not the prettiest Baked Alaska.  And sometimes, I show my colors as still being a young cook.  Like when I dump my carefully crafted dessert all over the floor.  Oh well–at least I’m honest about it.

The history of  how Baked Alaska came to be is a little loosey goosey, as origin stories for the most famous dishes tend to be.  We do know that at the turn of the 19th century, scientists discovered the insulatory properties of egg whites.  Cooks seized on this idea, and began creating Baked Alaska-like dishes in the first half of the 19th century.  But Chef Charles Ranhofer, the gifted head of the Delmonico’s kitchen, seems to be the one that perfected and popularized it.  Allegedly,  it was served at a dinner celebrating the purchase of Alaska in 1867, and the popularity of this fantastic new dish sky-rocketed over the next century, peaking sometime in the 1950s.

Making a good, old-fashioned “Alaska, Florida”  has a hella lot steps, and the end result doesn’t taste that great.  It was waaaay super sweet.   I think this is one of those instances when you should look up a modern version of the old classic.  The dessert is worth cooking up in a simpler form: the combination of hot meringue and cold ice cream seems like magic and will really impress your friends.



Alaska, Florida (Baked Alaska)

From the Epicurian, published 1893.
And Martha Stewart Living.Small yellow cakes
Apricot marmalade
4 bananas
1 qt heavy cream
1 ¼ lb sugar
½ vanilla bean
6 egg whites
1 tsp cream of tarter1. Cake base:  Make your favorite yellow cake recipe in advance, baking it in cupcake tins or ramekins, depending on the size of your ice cream molds.  Remove the cakes from the tins, level the tops, then cut a depression into the center of each cake.  Fill depression with apricot marmalade.

2. To Make Banana Ice Cream:  Mash 4 banana to a pulp; Mix with 1 pt heavy cream and ½ lb sugar.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Put into an ice cream maker until frozen soft.  Pour, or scoop, into a conical ice cream mold until mold is halfway full. Freeze until frozen hard.

3. To Make Vanilla Ice Cream: Infuse ½ a vanilla bean in ¼ cup milk by gently heating on a stove top burner.  Combine with 1 pt heavy cream and ¼ lb sugar; stir until sugar in dissolved.  Freeze in an ice cream maker until frozen soft.

4. When banana ice cream is hard, remove from freezer and pour vanilla ice cream over top, until the mold is filled.  Return to freezer and freeze until hard.

5. To make meringue:  Combine egg whites, remaining sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of electric mixer, and place over a saucepan filled with water.  Heat over stove-top like a double boiler, whisking constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 3 1/2 minutes.  Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip starting on low speed and gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Unmold ice cream, and place on top of cake.  Fill a pastry bag with meringue; encase ice cream and cake in meringue

7. Bake in a 500 degree oven for 2 minutes.  Serve immediately


Be sure to watch the episode to see me demo the whole thing, from start to finish!

Origin of a Dish: The Ice Cream Cone

Waffle Cone?

I had some custard left over from demoing ice cream making at the Brooklyn Brainery over Labor Day weekend, so I decided to toss it in my ice cream maker and enjoy a little made-from-scratch ice cream at home.  Plus, I wanted to try out these neat tip I learned during class:  I team-taught my session with Soma, one of the founders of the Brainery.  At the end of the class, students could pitch their dream ice cream flavors, and Soma would explain how to make them by using different techniques to incorporate flavors.  To add a “swirl,” like chocolate,  you take the ice cream out of the ice cream maker and you layer it in a Tupperware  much like a parfait:

How to make a chocolate swirl.

Then you put it in the freezer.  When you scoop it, it comes out like a chocolate swirl. I layered my vanilla bean ice cream with U-Bet Chocolate Syrup.

For my class, I did a lot of research on the history of ice cream in America.  I got really curious about the origin of the ice cream cone when I stumbled across this article from Saudi Aramco World: Zalabia and the First Ice Cream Cone.  SAW is a cool publication from which I’ve previously cooked some medieval Middle Eastern recipes.

The idea of an ice cream cone has been around for a few hundred years–they were known as “cornets” in Europe.  But as far as modern American cones, SAW recounts and ice cream cone legend I have heard before:

The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, also called the 1904 World’s Fair, was the largest the US had seen since the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It covered some 500 hectares (1235 ac) and showed off such inventions as the year-old airplane, the radio, the telephone switchboard and the silent movie… (There were also less memorable attractions, among them a butter sculpture of President Theodore Roosevelt and a bear made out of prunes.) With more than 18 million visitors passing through the Exposition over its seven-month run, there were also scores of vendors offering much to eat.

(Ernest) Hamwi and his wife, the story goes, took their meager life’s savings and invested them in a zalabia booth, joining other like-minded immigrants from the Levant in attempting to transplant to the US the crisp, round, cookie-like snack so popular back home. Each zalabia was baked between two iron platens about the size of a dinner plate, hinged together and held by a handle over a charcoal fire. They were served sprinkled with sugar. The Hamwis wound up doing their cooking next to one of the approximately 50 ice-cream stands dotted around the fair, though exactly who owned the stand is in some doubt: It was either Arnold Fornachou or Charles Menches. Whoever it was, his ice cream sold faster than Hamwi’s zalabia—so fast, in fact, that one day he ran out of clean glass cups. At this moment, some say, the ice-cream man saw the possibilities of the zalabia; others claim the zalabia man saw the possibilities of the ice cream.

It’s Hamwi himself who originated this story, in an ice cream trade journal, and is generally credited with inventing the ice cream cone.   However, his story has never been proven, nor has there been any evidence found that he had a booth at the fair at all.

But people do seem to think that the 1903 Exposition is the time and place that ice cream and cone met, and that the pizzelle-like zalabia had something to do with it.  I got curious to make a zalabia, which hail from Lebanon, Syria, Greece and Turkey.  However, when a scoured the internet for a recipe, all I could come up with were recipes for north-African zalabia, a yeast-risen, deep-fried dough with honey syrup.  Not the same.

I ended up trying out this Martha Stewart recipe for waffle cones, but being that I don’t have a pizzelle maker, I ended up making waffle cones.  The result was freaking delicious, but not what I had set out to do.

If anyone out there has a zalabia recipe, hit me up! In the meantime, read the rest of the fascinating Saudi Aramco World article here.

Events: Intro to Ice Cream Making

I’m teaching a class this Sunday on Ice Cream Making at the Brooklyn Brainery. Sign up here!

Sunday, September 4, 12-2:30pm or  3:30-6pm $30

I won’t lie: buying an ice cream maker has been one of the best investments of my life. I am amazed at the endless joy it has brought me; and now, I want to share that joy with you.

Join me to learn the simple steps of making homemade ice cream, from heating the custard to freezing the final product. We’ll chat about the history of ice cream in America as well as discuss the science of ice cream making. Finally, we’ll sample the delicious results of all our hard work. Sign up here!


The Gallery: Thomas Jefferson’s Ice Cream

After the revolution, Jefferson spent a number of years in France before becoming President.  In this time, he amassed an amazing culinary collection that would influence his dinner table for the rest of his life.  One of the dishes he enthused about was ice cream; not only did he buy an ice cream maker while abroad, but the Library of Congress also holds the vanilla ice cream recipes that Jefferson jotted down in his own hand.

1780s – Thomas Jefferson’s Handwritten Recipe
2. bottles of good cream.
6. yolks of eggs.
1/2 lb. sugar
mix the yolks & sugar. put the cream on a fire in a casserole, first putting in a stick of Vanilla. when near boiling take it off & pour it gently into the mixture of eggs & sugar. stir it well. put it on the fire again stirring it thoroughly with a spoon to prevent it’s sticking to the casserole. when near boiling take it off and strain it thro’ a towel. put it in the Sabottiere then set it in ice an hour before it is to be served. put into the ice a handful of salt. put salt on the coverlid of the Sabotiere & cover the whole with ice. leave it still half a quarter of an hour. then turn the Sabottiere in the ice 10 minutes open it to loosen with a spatula the ice from the inner sides of the Sabotiere. shut it & replace it in the ice open it from time to time to detach the ice from the sides when well taken (prise) stir it well with the Spatula. put it in moulds, justling it well down on the knee. then put the mould into the same bucket of ice. leave it there to the moment of serving it. to withdraw it, immerse the mould in warm water, turning it well till it will come out & turn it into a plate.


Below, an adaption of this recipe for the modern kitchen.  And if you’ve always wanted to know how to make ice cream from scratch, sign up for my class at the Brooklyn Brainery a week from today, on Sunday, September 4th.  I’ll go through the process step by step and talk about the origins and science of ice cream making.  See you there!

Basic Ice Cream Recipe
Inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s recipe, with some modern instructions pulled from “Martha Stewart’s Easy Ice Cream”

6 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 quart heavy cream (for a lighter ice cream, use 2 cups cream and 2 cups milk)
1 vanilla bean (or, other flavoring of your choice)
Additional mix-ins

1. In a glass bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar and salt until blended.
2. Add split and scraped vanilla bean to 1 quart of cream; bring to a boil, then pour slowly into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
3. Cook egg and cream mixture over a double boiler, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard thickens slightly and evenly coats back of spoon (it should hold a line drawn by your finger).  Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl set over ice, or place in refrigerator, until chilled.
4. Churn in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, adding mix-ins like nuts or fruits in the last few minutes. Transfer ice cream to a resealable plastic container and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.


The History Dish: Pear Ice

Three frozen baby food blobs of pear ice.

If you love eating things that are slimy and gross, you’ll love Pear Ice.

This recipe is the last in the triumvirate of pear creations selected on We Dig Plants.  This one was my pick; I loved it because it was so simple.  From Buckeye Cookery, published in 1877, the recipe read: “Grate, sweeten and freeze well flavored apples, pears, peaches or quinces.”  Easy.  And it sounds like a wonderful way to enjoy pure pear taste.

But at the same time, it doesn’t make sense that I picked this recipe.  I hate grating.  I hate trying to hold on to slippery things while grating them.  I hate trying to grate that last tiny nub and grating bits of my finger in the process.  Grating is tedious and boring and I hate it.

I pared and cored good-sized bartlett pears and grated them.  It gave me about two cups of baby food-esque pear squish.  To that, I added 1/2 cup of white sugar, which ended up being a little sweet.  1/4 cup is advisable.  Then I threw the goop into my ice cream maker and let it do its thing.

It was frozen in less than 30 minutes and I dipped my spoon in to get a taste.  The flavor was good, sweet and peary. But the texture was appalling.  Simultaneously slimy and gritty, I make a “blech” face every time I swallowed a spoonful.

My roommate/guinea pig Jeff didn’t mind it; in fact, he liked it and ate a whole bowl.  Go figure.  Perhaps it’s a better recipe for apples or peaches.

Snapshot: Boston Cooler

I just back from a road trip to Dearborn, MI; I have friends that live there, and they introduced me to a local “historic foodway” (their words) called the Boston Cooler.  The Cooler is an ice cream float made specifically with vanilla ice cream and Vernors ginger ale.

“The now-familiar “Boston Cooler” of ginger ale and ice cream was cited in the 1920 Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, described as ‘well known’ and a ‘favorite of the golf links.’ Vernors ginger ale was first made in Detroit in the mid-1800s and is one of America’s oldest soft drinks. Detroit’s Boston Boulevard is near Vernors, and it is claimed that this is the origin of the ‘Boston’ in ‘Boston Cooler.'(The Big Apple)”

Despite the Cleveland connection, I had never heard of a Boston Cooler until my recent venture into Michigan, where it is still popular.  And still damn tasty.

On a personal note…

I want to let you in on a few things going on in my life. First, I wanted to show off my gorgeous new pinner apron, made for me by Eva of Circa 1850 and The New York Nineteenth Century Society. She hand-sewed my golden pinner using a pattern from a period source, The Workwoman’s Guide, published in 1840. I am so excited to break this baby in. I love pinners. They look so smart.

Second, here’s my second video with Eric at We visited New York’s Miss. Softee, one of the few ice cream gals in the city. You can follow here on Twitter to get updates on her current location and specials for the day: Stop by her truck soon, she’s only open until the end of September!

Lastly, the 19th Century Pub Crawl is next Saturday, the 19th.

History Dish Mondays: Burnt Almond Ice Cream

Burnt Almondy Ice Cream Goo.

We’re continuing our ice cream social agenda with Burnt Almond Ice Cream, another flavor pulled form Lincoln’s Inaugural Menu.  This is a custard ice cream, so it’s a little more difficult than what we’ve been making up until this point. And I’ll let you in on the surprise ending: mine didn’t turn out.  It didn’t freeze in the ice cream maker, and it’s currently a Tupperware of goop sitting in my freezer.  I did something wrong in this recipe, I just don’t know what.  The great tragedy is that it TASTES AMAZING.  I think I’ll try serving it as a sauce on top of other ice cream.

At any rate, give this recipe a try, and if your results are more successful than mine, please let me know.


Burnt Almond Ice Cream
Original Recipe from the Boston Cooking School Cookbook By Fannie Merritt Farmer

Boston, Little, Brown And Company (1896).

1 1/3 cups sugar (set half aside)
1 tablespoon flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 cups milk
1 quart cream
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
2 cups finely chopped, toasted almonds (or to taste)

1. Mix half the sugar, flour and salt.

2. Add egg, slightly beaten.

3.  Add milk slowly, whisking constantly.

4. Cook over a double boiler (or makeshift double boiler) for 20 minutes, stirring constantly the first 15 minutes.  If you’ve made a custard before, this may not look as think as you think it ought.  But don’t worry, it will thicken up when you add the caramelized sugar.

Left: Makeshift double boiler. Right: Caramelizing the sugar.  Do not try to taste the caramelized sugar by sticking your finger in it; its is very very hot and you will get burned very very bad. Like me.

5. In the last five minutes of cooking time, caramelize the
sugar.  Put the remaining sugar in a non-stick saute pan over a low heat.  Stir constantly.  When the sugar begins to melt, it will caramelize soon after.  You want the sugar to be completely melted and the color of maple syrup. Take care not to burn it.

6.  With the double boiler still on, drizzle a fine stream of the caramelized sugar into the custard, whisking constantly.  As the sugar hit the custard, and might cool slightly and become gooey.  Don’t fret, just keep stirring until the sugar is fully integrated.

7. At this point, you custard will be a dark brown.  Add the cream and vanilla and combine.  Let sit until it comes to room temperature, or place in the refrigerator for an hour or more.

8.  Freeze in an ice cream make according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  I let my ice cream mellow in the refrigerator over night, and then I put it in the ice cream maker for 30 minutes.  It never seemed to freeze; I just tossed the almonds in at the very end and then stuck it in the freezer. tragedy.

History Dish Mondays: Kirschwasser Sorbet

Instead of attempting the Maraschino Ice Cream I had originally planned for my Ice Cream Social, I decided something a little lighter would be in order after all that heavy cream.  So instead, I’m reviving my Kirsch Sorbet recipe from The Devil in the White City Dinner Party. This recipe was a huge hit, so I highly recommend it.  Additionally, it’s important to garnish the sorbet with a good quality cherry preserve.  The sweet and tart flavor of the preserved cherries are the perfect compliment to the sorbet.


Kirsch Sorbet
Modern recipe adapted from
The Chocolate Traveler.

½ cup confectioners sugar
½ cup skim milk
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup water
¼ cup + 1/8 cup kirschwasser

Bring the milk, cream and sugar to a boil and simmer until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the water. Add the kirsch to taste. Pour into ice cream maker and freeze for about 20 minutes.  Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and freeze until ready to eat. Garnish with cherry preserves.

History Dish Mondays: Lemon Ice Cream

I’m planning an Ice Cream Social for the late spring, possibly to coincide with the Kentucky Derby. So I wanted to begin testing out a few ice cream recipes, and I decided to use the menu for Lincoln’s second inaugural banquet as a reference. Because if it was good enough for Lincoln, it’s good enough for me!

Lincoln’s guests were treated to Burnt Almond Ice Cream, which is built around a caramel base; Maraschino ice cream; and Lemon ice cream, which my friend Eva at the Merchant’s House Museum tells me was one of the most popular ice creams in the 19th century. I’ll be trying all of these, along with two modern creations (Cashew Cookie Dough and Chai Tea) and a frozen Mint Julep inspired by Jerry Thomas’ original julep recipe.

But first, Lemon Ice Cream. The recipe is as simple as can be. I made only a small amount, but this recipe can be multiplied to suit your needs.

1 pint cream
1/2 cup sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Add the sugar to the cream, a little at a time, and mix until combined. Grate the zest of one lemon into the cream mixture, being careful not to add any of the bitter, white pith. Juice the lemon and add to the cream, mix to combine.

Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for an hour or more to steep. I let mine sit overnight. Pour to mixture through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to remove the lemon zest. Pour into an ice cream maker, and let it freeze for about 15 minutes. Be careful not to over mix, or you’ll get frozen lemon butter. I like ice cream straight from the ice cream maker; the texture is similar to soft serve. But it is generally suggested that it should harden in the freezer for at least an hour before serving.

Left: The mixture of cream, sugar and lemon steeps. Right: Coming out of the ice cream maker. I left it in a little too long and it got a little buttery, but it was still good.

Rating: A+ This was easy to make and Delicious. Refreshing and smooth, this would be really enjoyable on a summer day. But it’s very, very rich–it is pure cream, so a little goes a long way.