Ice cream! Glace aux pêches, chocolat-amande, framboise-fraise, noix de coco-citron vert


Summer has certainly been in full swing and what better way to enjoy the season than to make some homemade ice cream. Absolutely!

I was on a major roll with this project, that's for sure. Part of it was spurred on by the fresh peaches and berries available at our favorite Fulton Farmer's Market.


And part of it was the realization that family was coming to visit for my mom's 90th birthday celebration. Having several flavors of ice cream in the freezer seemed like just the thing for any impromptu dessert needs.


I've mentioned in previous posts that I've been using an ice cream base recipe from David Lebovitz for many years now. It's so straight forward and allows one to come up with all sorts of flavor options. He talks about infusing flavors, add-ins before the churning step and mix-ins at the end. SO GOOD.

The base contains 2 cups cream, 1 cup milk, 5 large egg yolks, 155 g sugar and a pinch of salt. The preparation method is that of a basic crème anglaise, cooled over an ice bath and then refrigerated for some hours or over night until ready to process. I love making the bases a day or two ahead so they can cure and thicken in the fridge, plus I have two canisters for my Cuisinart ice cream maker always at the ready in my freezer. 

Bring it on!

Peach was definitely at the top of the hit list.



When incorporating certain fruits in ice cream there's the possibility that the end result may be a bit icy. David suggests peeling and slicing the peaches, cooking them until they're nice and soft then puréeing them. I added just a whiff of sugar and a splash of lemon juice to my pound-and-a-half of peaches and was very happy with the end result. Once my chilled base was ready to process, I blended in the cooled peach purée and churned away.

The peach flavor comes through nicely in this creamy, fresh summery treat. I served this one with my from-scratch angel food cake (YUM!) and some sliced fresh peaches. How can one go wrong with that combo?!

Of course it's great on it's own, one luscious spoonful at a time.

Now for chocolate almond, two of the most lovely flavors that one might put together, whether it's in ice cream or some other delectable baked good or chocolate confection.





This version took a little more time since the warmed dairy is first infused for an hour or so with a cup and a half of coarsely chopped toasted almonds. The only downside is that the almonds are discarded after the dairy is strained. Kind of sad.

BUT!! There's hope after all. Next time I'll rinse 'em, soak 'em in water overnight and make my own NUT MILK! I've been dying to try it. And an even more beautiful thing is once the almonds and water are ground and the milk is strained through cheese cloth, the almond meal can be spread out on a baking sheet, dried in the oven and used in baked goods. Now THAT'S a good deal all the way around.

In this case, once the ice cream base is cooked to the anglaise stage, 4 ounces of chopped and melted bittersweet chocolate (at least 60% is recommended) and 1/4 cup Dutch process cocoa are added to the warm mixture before cooling.

In addition, after the ice cream was processed, I mixed in coarsely chopped Ghiradelli 60% chocolate chips and some of my ground almond nougatine.


Now THAT made for a delicious finished version of creamy, chunky delight.


Next up - framboise-fraise!




With this version I prepared the strawberries in a similar fashion to the peaches mentioned above. Hull and cut up about 3/4 pound strawberries, add a couple of tablespoons of sugar and a splash of lemon juice and cook them on the stove top until somewhat thickened and jam-like. Then purée them and chill.

Since I was going for a strawberry-raspberry combo, I also puréed and strained about 8 ounces of fresh raspberries and added them in to the chilled base along with the strawberry purée. Then it's simply a matter of processing to a shear perfection of summery, berry goodness. YES.

Last, but not least, (although this was Steve's least favorite of the bunch, don't ya know!) is coconut lime.



For this version I infused the dairy with 170 grams of toasted coconut and the zest of two limes. After straining, proceed with the usual base prep, chill it over the ice bath and blend in 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed, strained lime juice. 

After churning, this one also got a mix-in of additional crushed toasted coconut to add another dimension to the mouth-feel experience. Quite frankly, in spite of Steve's lack of excitement, I found it nicely lime-y and coconut-y. I gave it a thumbs up.

There's just nothing like homemade ice cream! Now YOU come up with your own favorite flavor combos. You can do it!


Happy summer everyone!

Time for some tarts!

Tarts are my favorite desserts to make (and eat), going back to the days in the late '80s when I became a huge fan of pastry chef Emily Luchetti (then of Stars restaurant).  I used to pour over her book "Stars Desserts" and made many of the recipes, being particularly fond of the macaroon nut and the blackberry streusel tarts.

So, as I spent a fair amount of time in Grand Rapids, Michigan this past July and August, staying at my mom's, I simply had to take advantage of the summer fruits that the orchards of western Michigan produce.  I paid a visit to the Fulton Street farmers market where I scored some Michigan Red Haven peaches (BIG favorite from my childhood) and fresh local blackberries which soon went into a delicious peach-blackberry custard tart for a small family gathering. Deelicious!  Topped with sliced almonds and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, it was just the ticket. 

Above: peach blackberry custard tart

When I had a September request for some petits fours tartlettes, I took a break from my La Pâtisserie des Rêves project to turn out some of my favorites - lemon, chocolate ganache and caramel nut.

It's always such a pleasure to return to tart making, especially when the cool, crisp days of autumn are upon us.  Working with the cool, supple dough, lining the tart rings or petit four molds and thinking about those luscious fillings is such a delight.

The beauty of these tarts is the make ahead fillings.  You can even blind bake your crusts and freeze them ahead of time. Just thaw them briefly at room temp, warm in a 325º oven for 5 minutes to crisp up, then cool and fill.  As usual, it's all about the planning.

I've tried many lemon curd/lemon cream tart fillings over the years, always in search of the perfect one.  All can easily be made a couple of days (or more!) ahead. I normally prefer a classic pucker-y lemon curd, although this time I used a riff on Pierre Herme's (complements of Dorie Greenspan) lemon lemon cream.  It’s oh so smooth and lemony, especially garnished with a dollop of light, whipped lemon mascarpone and a fresh raspberry. 

Above: lemon cream tartlettes

The ganache tart filling (3 parts cream to 2 parts chocolate with a bit of butter added) also keeps extremely well in the fridge.  The day you wish to assemble the tart, gently warm the ganache over a bain marie to liquefy it before you pour it into a blind baked chocolate crust and allow it to set.  I garnish mine with my own chocolate cookie crumbs.

Above: garnishing the chocolate ganache tartlettes

For the caramel nut tart I toast a combination of almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios and blanched hazelnuts before coarsely chopping them and folding them into a caramel filling made with butter, honey, brown sugar, sugar and a little cream and vanilla extract.  The mixture is put into a blind baked pâte d'amandes crust and popped back into the oven until the filling is bubbly. Steve describes this one as the best "payday" he's ever had (and it doesn't even have peanuts!)

Above: caramel nut tartlettes

And now - leftovers!!  When making petits fours tartlettes, make plenty of filling so you'll have components on hand to create additional goodies for friends or family.  It's a great way to plan ahead for an upcoming dessert occasion.

Here are just a couple of ideas.

Lemon semifreddo -  freeze the leftover lemon cream in silicone flexi-molds or a plastic wrap lined loaf pan.  At serving time either pop them out of the flexis or turn out of the loaf pan and slice - great with fresh fruit, perhaps a little berry coulis and some lovely shortbread.

Caramel nut truffle tart - blind baked pâte d'amandes, layer of caramel nut filling with chocolate ganache poured over.  A definite keeper!

Above: the components

Above: pouring the ganache over the caramel nut filling

Above: ready to chill with some nuts peeking through

And finally, a summer reminder - the classic fresh fruit tart with crème pâtissière filling.  Ahhhhhh.

Ciao for now!