Food & Wine (June 2011)
We spent most of Memorial Day weekend cooking.
Well, that's not exactly true. We spent the entire weekend eating, with some cooking thrown in. See, Zach's mom came to town, and we used it as an opportunity to hit a lot of great restaurants -- but also to cook as many dishes as we could muster.
We made amazing eggs with a fresh garlic scape pesto, a few desserts we'll share, some way out-there pancakes, a crazy salad dressing, and the Grilled Mussels we posted about earlier.
For actual Memorial Day, we headed out to Annapolis, Maryland, to see Zach's sister and her family for lunch. She had requested that we bring the Beer-Baked White Beans. We didn't have to be asked twice -- we jumped at the chance to make them again! They were just as good as the first time. We even made a double batch, so we're still eating them this week.
But we also wanted to take something sweet to Annapolis, so we used it as an opportunity to try out these Ice Cream Bonbons.
Perhaps we should have just stuck with the beans...
If only it were that simple...
It all started innocently enough. We picked up some coffee ice cream at the supermarket and searched for some chocolate wafer cookies that would be crumbled for the base of each bonbon. (Chocolate wafer cookies continue to elude us. Just as we did for Mini Mocha Cheesecakes, we instead picked up some chocolate graham crackers as a substitute, and grinding them into a powder. They were shaped like adorable little bears -- don't judge.)
The problems started with the actual assembly. We were all prepped to go. Our chocolate was melted. Our cookies were crushed. We were ready to conquer these bonbons.
There was a small matter of missing equipment. The recipe instructs you to "scoop a 1-tablespoon-size scoop of ice cream, packing it tightly." We don't have a small ice cream scoop, so instead of we used tablespoon measuring spoons. This wasn't a really a problem -- it just meant that we didn't have perfect little orbs of ice cream. They were....a bit lopsided. More like ice cream ovals, or something approaching a football shape. Some of them looked like little sculptures -- think Mount Rushmore in ice cream.
The bigger issue is that it was exceedingly difficult for us to scoop the ice cream quickly enough that it wouldn't melt. Our ice cream was very cold but as soon as we plopped the scoops onto cookie sheets, they began to melt. The recipe instructs you to work "very quickly." There were three of us working and we were going as fast as we could. But placing the ice cream in the chocolate was like dropping a snow cone into a fire -- the ice cream immediately lost what little shape it had.
So we inserted a step, placing the ice cream scoops in the freezer to firm up for a few minutes. Of course, by then the chocolate had cooled, so we had to reheat it. Then, working as fast as we could, the three of us tried to coat each scoop of ice cream in the chocolate, get it into the cookie mixture and then onto a baking sheet so it could go back into the freezer.
It was (what's the word...?) a disaster.
Tensions we running high ("Hurry it's melting!"; "I'm doing exactly what the recipe says!"). Some of the ice cream got coated, but was already melting on the second cookie sheet ("This bonbon has sprung a leak!"). As quickly as we were working, it still it wasn't fast enough. The chocolate was getting too thick; the ice cream too soft.
We managed to eke out six of the recipe's 18 bonbons before raising the white flag of surrender. That's right -- we gave up. A group hug restored our unity, and we went on with making dinner, as if we had never even begun the bonbon experiment.
But we did take the six bonbons we had and place them in the freezer. The next morning, we packed them in ice and headed to Annapolis.
So how'd they taste?
Not great. The chocolate coating was way too thick. The ratio of ice cream to coating was way off. They tasted mostly like the chocolate with a small bit of ice cream. The sea salt was nice; we do love a salty-sweet combo. The cookie crumble was fine, if a bit inconsequential. The flavors were fine together -- how could they not be? But overall it was decidedly a bust.
Sure, we were disappointed all over again.
But we've never felt so good about giving up on a recipe.
TOTAL TIME: 30 MIN PLUS FREEZING
SERVINGS: MAKES ABOUT 18 BONBONS
- 10 ounces extra-dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 2 ounces good-quality white chocolate from a bar, chopped
- 1 cup finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies
- 1 pint caramel, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla or coffee ice cream
- Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
- In a medium heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt the dark and white chocolates together. Scrape into a smaller bowl and let cool slightly.
- Put the crushed cookies on a small plate. Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper and place one in the freezer. Fill a cup with ice water.
- Working very quickly, scoop a 1-tablespoon-size scoop of ice cream, packing it tightly. Transfer it to the melted chocolate. Using a skewer, poke the rounded top of the ice cream and coat the ball in the chocolate. Lift the bonbon, allowing the excess chocolate to drip into the bowl. Dip the bottom of the bonbon in the cookie crumbs and set on the baking sheet. Sprinkle salt on top. Let stand for 10 seconds, then transfer the bonbon to the baking sheet in the freezer. Repeat to form the remaining bonbons; dip the ice cream scoop in the ice water between scoops. Freeze the bonbons until firm, 30 minutes, then serve.