Friday, April 16, 2010

(P)FAT on a whole new level!

In a completely self-promoting post, check out my guest blog post on Eating Is Art. It will be familar to regular Pleasant Eats readers, but it's the first in a monthly series called 'Better Bites' on eating well. Check it out!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Frozen Custard with Homemade Dark Chocolate Syrup

So many sweets lately, I know. It's hard to whip up enthusiasm for a meal you make out of the last wilting selections in your cupboards when special sweets are so much sexier. I promise, more proper meals to come in the near future, but right now, let me share with you one fabulous warmer-weather treat!

Custard has to be one of the most simple, fabulous and yet underrated foods of the world. Almost every culture has their own take on custards, sweet and savory. Bake it in a crust with some onion, bacon, spinach and cheese and you've got quiche. Add sugar, caramelize, set it and you've got flan. Add gelatin and you're rocking a pana cotta. Add mango and you're getting closer to one tasty pudding. The basic formula of egg + milk +cream yielded some pretty fabulous results.

Sometimes, these results come when you're not really expecting them. Like when I started making David Liebovitz's vanilla ice cream last night.It started out as a regular ice cream, but as I stirred the delicious combination of egg, vanilla, cream and milk over the stove I got a little wrapped up in the mouth-watering aroma and probably let the egg firm up a bit more than I should. More than I should if I were going for regular old (if fabulous) vanilla ice cream. However, it turns out, just about perfect for making frozen custard. That velvety, decadent custardy flavor you know from creme brulee, baked custards and creme anglaise...spiked with vanilla bean, cool and lovely, melting against your tongue. Oh, and the dark chocolate syrup didn't hurt either. Now, where did that spoon go...

Frozen Vanilla Custard
Adapted from David Liebovitz's The Perfect Scoop

1 c 2% milk
2 c heavy cream
5 egg yolks
3/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 vanilla bean
pinch of salt

Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the milk with the tip of a paring knife. Add the bean pod to the milk.

Stir together the egg yolks in a bowl and gradually add some of the warmed milk, stirring constantly as you pour. Pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula - or if you're really going for that frozen custard flavor, a little past this stage but before the mixture begins to curdle. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Rinse the vanilla bean and put it back into the custard and cream to continue steeping. Chill thoroughly, then remove the vanilla bean and freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup
Adapted from Kim O'Donnell

1 c unsweetened hershey's special dark cocoa powder
1 c granulated sugar
1 c cold water
¼ tsp salt
2-3 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk cocoa and sugar until all the lumps of cocoa are gone. Add water and salt and mix well with whisk. Cook over medium heat, bringing it to a boil. Keep boiling until thick, stirring to keep from scalding.

Remove from heat and allow to cool. When cool, add vanilla. Pour into an airtight glass container or a squeeze bottle and keep refrigerated.

To make chocolate milk, use at least 1 tablespoon of syrup for every 8 ounces of milk, adding more to taste.

Makes about 1 3/4 cups.