Monday, April 20, 2015

Glace à la ricotta et macarons craquelé aux noisettes

Making ice cream at home is a special treat, and now that spring weather has finally appeared here in Providence, it seemed right to make a batch of creamy goodness.


Hurray!!

For those of you who aren't familiar with them, many basic home ice cream makers (lets call them ICMs) come with a special insulated canister that has to be frozen before use.  I like to pop it into the freezer at least 24 hours ahead of when I intend to use it - it has to be brrrrrr cold.

My first ICM (many moons ago) was a Donvier brand, hand-crank version that had a simple handle that fit into the top and required turning every few minutes over the 20-25 minutes it took for the ice cream base to firm up.  It was a work horse and delivered some delicious stuff, but, of course, I couldn't wander off when I was supposed to be turning the crank.  Then I moved up to (and continue to use) a Cuisinart electric version that plugs in, turns on and churns the mixture for you.  It's been great.

But enough about that.

I had a container of ricotta in my fridge that was just begging to be used.  After considering a ricotta cake of some sort, a little light bulb went on . . . .  how about ice cream?!

For some years now I've been using a basic ice cream base recipe from David Lebovitz - it's delicious and can be "doctored" to create whatever flavor you might want.  He describes a ricotta version of it in a 2014 post, and I decided to run with it.

The base calls for 5 egg yolks, which means there are egg whites to be used later!!  Time for some rustic macarons to go with that ricotta ice cream.  Yes indeed.

First the ice cream.

les ingredients

David's standard base calls for 2 cups of cream and 1 cup of whole milk, whereas this ricotta version calls for 1 cup of cream and 2 cups of whole milk ricotta.

Start by making a basic crème anglaise.  Have 5 egg yolks ready in a separate bowl.  Warm 1 cup heavy cream with 1/2 cup sugar and a pinch of salt just until you see small bubbles forming around the edges.  Temper the warm mixture into the egg yolks then return it all to medium heat.  Cook while whisking until little bubbles form around the edges and the mixture just begins to thicken.  Don't boil!

Strain into a clean bowl placed in an ice bath and let cool, whisking periodically.




Once the mixture has cooled blend in 2 cups ricotta (see note below), 1/4 cup honey and a teaspoon of vanilla.




A note about ricotta - store bought varieties tend to be grainy, so to smooth it out I whizz it in my small Salton processor for a few minutes.


before whizzing
after whizzing
Still a bit grainy but definitely smoother.

Pour the finished mixture into a covered container and refrigerate.  I like to make my base a day ahead of the actual processing step - it thickens and matures in the fridge.


cover and pop into the fridge

When ready to "spin" the ice cream (as they say in the biz), just pull the canister from the freezer, set up the ICM, stir a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice into the base mixture . . .




pour it in and turn 'er on!


and away we go!

In about 20 minutes it becomes a lovely, thickened, creamy ice cream.  Yes.


et voila!

Planning for the use of my 5 egg whites and continuing to pare down my supply of hazelnut flour, I decided to make a rustic version of macarons.  I have always found the classic French macaron process to be fussy and often frustrating, so I definitely prefer a more "rough and tumble" end product that doesn't have to be so pristine and perfect.

Some years ago, while I was in the thick of macaron making at Gracie's, I purchased Stéphane Glacier's book un amour de macaron.  




After paging through the options I chose to make a noisette version of macaron craquelé aux amandes to accompany the ricotta ice cream.




Let's go.


les ingredients

Egg whites mount better when warm so I weighed out my 150 gm and let them sit a while in the mixing bowl at room temp while preparing the other ingredients.

Weigh out 125 gm powdered sugar and 125 gm hazelnut flour and whisk them up, breaking up any lumps with your fingers (alternatively you can sift the two together to achieve the same goal).

Weigh out 42 gm sugar in a small bowl, have a pinch of salt and 3/4 teaspoon lemon juice ready (for the egg whites).

Whisk the whites with the salt and lemon juice on low-med speed until they start to get foamy.  Then add the sugar and whisk on high to softly firm peaks.


love those peaks

Blend the dry ingredients into the whites in two steps, gently folding until just incorporated.


ready to pipe

Since I wanted a finished base on which to scoop the ricotta ice cream I piped out approximately 3 inch rounds on one sheet pan . . .




and smaller rounds (that would later be sandwiched with chocolate) on a second pan.




Into the oven they go (350º for about 15 minutes) until lightly browned and set.






little cuties
The beauty of these goodies is they hold extremely well in the freezer.  I made them a couple of days ahead of serving, so into the freezer they went.

On the day that I planned to serve this dessert, I sandwiched the little ones with a chocolate glaze (113 gm chocolate and 42 gm butter melted together over a bain marie).




I wanted some additional crunch so I baked up some honeyed hazelnuts for garnish.




It's time for dessert!

The ice cream was pretty firm, so I had to soften it up a bit for scooping.  Into the bottom of the bowl went a macaron round, followed by the glace à la ricotta (which got a little softer than I intended) and then a mixed berry and crunchy honeyed hazelnut garnish.  A couple of dainty chocolate sandwiched macarons along side and the deed was done.


et voila!
Now I'll admit that I snuck a taste of the ice cream right after processing it and, while the flavor was good, the texture was a tad grainy.  But somehow it smoothed out after a rest in the freezer for a day or two.

The final verdict - deeeeelicious!  The combination of fruity, nutty, crunchy and creamy was superb.  Just goes to show ya that it never hurts to try something new.



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