Fine Cooking (June/July 2009) | Martha Stewart Living (July 2009) | Food & Wine (June 2009)
For Clay's birthday dinner, we were hopelessly undecided about dessert and went round and round in conversation about it. Should we make a cake? A pie? We knew three things for certain:
1. There had to be chocolate.
2. Dessert needed to seem special but not too fussy.
3. And we were going to make ice cream.
As we began to pick out recipes, we found ourselves drawn to three in particular. We couldn't make them all, so instead we settled on an option that the kids seem to find all the rage these days: a mash-up.
We've wanted to make ice cream ever since we received the June/July Fine Cooking. We've been absolutely obsessed with their create-your-own-ice-cream feature by David Lebovitz. It's the best magazine feature we've seen so far this summer, laying out a simple and fun method for designing your own ice cream flavors.
There's a really terrific interactive component of the guide on the Fine Cooking Web site. Just customize your ice cream, add the flavors and mix-ins you want, and the guide tailors the recipe just for you! Genius!
Using the guide, we created a basic custard, flavored it with peanut butter, mixed in chopped chocolate and set it to freeze. The key to the ice cream guide -- and great thing about it -- is that it encourages you to customize to your liking, and so we did. After tasting the concoction along the way, we ultimately amped up both the peanut butter and the amount of chocolate, adding more than the recipe called for. After all, this was a birthday dinner.
So we were set on ice cream, but we were also intrigued by the July Martha Stewart Living feature on pound cake, which offers a classic recipe along with 10 variations for different flavors (toasted coconut, cinnamon raisin and so on). We opted for Chocolate Pound Cake (it also had a peanut butter glaze but we featured this would be overkill).
And finally, a recipe that we had bookmarked but not yet tackled -- Food & Wine's Grilled Lemon Pound Cake with Peaches and Cream -- inspired us to grill the cake prior to serving it. We've never thought of grilling a pound cake. But it's summer. We're adventurous. Hey, why not?
Making both homemade pound cakes and ice cream is a time-consuming task. And although we were having a weeknight meal, we knew we couldn't make them both that night. Luckily, both components could be made the night before.
The only hitch in all this was that the pound cake ended up dry. Really dry. Dry to a disappointing extent. It wasn't terrible by any means, but just wasn't the moist pound cake we had envisioned. Apparently, we weren't the only ones who had this problem -- commenters on the Martha Stewart site shared the same complaint. We weren't worried, though: We knew we'd be dousing the whole thing in delicious ice cream.
Making everything ahead really took the pressure off on the evening of the dinner. We set the ice cream out to soften and quickly grilled the pound cake, placing a big scoop of ice cream on top of each piece.
Together, the ice cream and grilled pound cake were delicious! The chocolate and the peanut butter is, of course, a heavenly classic. The grilling added an terrific summer twist.
It was just about the perfect birthday dessert!
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Created using Fine Cooking's Create Your Own Ice Cream Guide
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Yields about 1 quart
* 2 cups heavy cream
* 1 cup whole milk
* 3/4 cup granulated sugar
* Table salt
* 5 large egg yolks
* 1 cup peanut butter (add more if you want a stronger peanut butter flavor)
* 1/3 cup chopped chocolate (or as much as you'd like)
In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup of the cream with the milk, peanut butter, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Warm the cream mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.
Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal bowl (one that holds at least 1-1/2 quarts) in the ice water. Pour the remaining cup of cream into the inner bowl (this helps the custard cool quicker when you pour it in later). Set a fine strainer on top. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.
In a steady stream, pour half of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.
Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof rubber spatula until the custard thickens slightly (it should be thick enough to coat the spatula and hold a line drawn through it with a finger), 4 to 8 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 175˚ to 180˚F at this point. Don’t let the sauce overheat or boil, or it will curdle. Immediately strain the custard into the cold cream in the ice bath.
Cool the custard to below 70˚F by stirring it over the ice bath. Stir the mascarpone into the cooled custard.
Refrigerate the custard until completely chilled, at least 4 hours. Then freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Fold the chopped chocolate into the just-churned ice cream, transfer to an air-tight container, and freeze for at least 4 hours or up to 2 weeks.
(This Photo: Martha Stewart Living)
Makes 2 cakes
* 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 cup best-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1 tablespoon coarse salt
* 4 sticks softened unsalted butter, plus more for pans
* 2 cups sugar
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 9 large, room-temperature eggs
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter two 5-by-9-inch loaf pans. Combine all-purpose flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, and salt in a bowl.
2. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy, for 8 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Reduce speed to medium, and add vanilla extract.
3. Lightly beat eggs, and add to mixer bowl in 4 additions, mixing thoroughly after each and scraping down sides. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 4 additions, mixing until just incorporated. Divide batter between pans. Tap on counter to distribute; smooth tops.
4. Bake until a tester inserted into center of each cake comes out clean, about 65 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire rack.
Light a grill. Using a serrated knife, cut the pound cake into 10 slices. Lightly oil the grate and grill the slices over moderate heat, turning once, until toasted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to plates. Top with your favorite grilled fruit or ice cream and serve.