Ice Creams & Sorbets



It has been a month of new flavours in the Mélanger kitchen.

Enjoying the fruit of an avocado in a sweet ice cream dessert.  Experimenting with glutinous rice flour and homemade red bean paste in a mochi cake.  Combining a water roux bread making method and the flavour of pandan in a popular ‘Rotiboy’ inspired bun.  And ditching the typical heavy “British influenced” pudding (a common craving for me!) for a light and refreshing Asian inspired tapioca pudding.

I hope you enjoyed my Asian inspired assortment.  But next month will take us in a completely new direction.  All I will say now is, I hope you will be tickled pink with the idea.  I know I am.

In the meantime, here is a round up of this month’s recipes!

  { Avocado ‘milkshake’ ice cream & sesame brittle } For quite some time I have wanted to incorporate avocado into a sweet dessert.   I was inspired by the avocado milkshake, apparently one of the most popular drinks in Southeast Asia, in Pichet Ong’s, The Sweet Spot.  This ice cream is sinfully sweet, yet surprisingly, pairs well with the sweet nuttiness of a crisp sesame brittle.

 

{ Green tea and red bean mochi slice } This slice is ridiciously simple.  But even better than that, it is delicious.  One taste, and I practically slapped myself for taking so long in whipping up this mochi slice.  It has a delightful hint of sweetness offset by the earthly flavour of the green tea.  And the sprinkling of red bean paste added a surprise texture with each mouthful.

 

  { Pandan ‘Rotiboy’ Mexican Buns } It was quite shameful to admit I had never tasted the flavour of pandan.  So enter these soft and fluffy on the inside, and crunchy and sweet on the outside buns.  The best bit it uses a gelatinised dough method (water roux starter).  There really is nothing to it, and it truly does produce an unrivalled softness.  If you have never used this method of bread making before, I urge you to try.  Soon!

  { Coconut lime tapioca pudding with chilli salt green mango fritters } I paired a zesty green mango with this pudding.  I stuck with the tradition of serving the green mango with salt and chilli by sprinking a healthy dose on the fritters once cooked.  The inherent sweetness of the pudding (from the coconut milk as well as the lime syrup), is the perfect balance to counter the spicy, salty flavour of the fritter.

There has been a hint of spring in the air recently.

Fresh, warm breezes have been welcomed into our home.  Every single window has been opened wide to capture the full warmth of the sun.  The bright blue, sunny sky has charmed smiles from all of us.

The recent explosion of sunshine and happiness was reason enough for me to celebrate with a generous bowl of cool, homemade ice-cream.

For quite some time I have wanted to incorporate avocado into a sweet dessert.   I was inspired by the avocado milkshake, apparently one of the most popular drinks in Southeast Asia, in Pichet Ong’s, The Sweet Spot.

I took the basic ingredients that Ong includes in his recipe (avocado, whole milk, lime juice, condensed milk and salt), adapted the quantities to my taste and then continued the preparation to make ice cream.

This ice cream is sinfully sweet, yet surprisingly, pairs well with the sweet nuttiness of a crisp sesame brittle.

{ Avocado ‘milkshake’ ice cream & sesame brittle }

Avocado ‘milkshake’ ice cream Recipe inspired by Pichet Ong’s, Avocado Milk Shake from The Sweet Spot

* Ingredients *
200g avocado flesh (approx. ¾ avocado – I used a Shepard avocado)
395g condensed milk (1 tin)
250ml whole milk
2 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch salt

* Directions *
Place all the ingredients into a food processor, and blend until thoroughly combined.  Transfer to a jug/bowl and refrigerate overnight.  The following day, churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.  Transfer to a container, and freeze for a further 1-2 hours to firm up the texture.

Sesame brittle Recipe by Julia @ Mélanger

* Ingredients *
40g sesame seeds (I used half white and black)
60g white sugar
30g water

* Directions *
Sprinkle the sesame seeds in a single layer over a silpat sheet on a baking tray.  Set aside.  In a small saucepan, place the sugar and water and stir until clear.  Place over a medium heat and, without stirring, cook until syrup comes to a boil.  Wash down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush if necessary.  Continue to cook until it reaches 165C/325F.  At this stage, gently pour the caramel over the prepared sesame seeds.  With an offset spatula, evenly spread the caramel across the sesame seeds.  Allow to cool.

Separately, I have received a few gentle requests for an update on baby Mélanger.  I have not included any photographs of her on my blog all year (shame on me!).  She is, if you can believe it, only a couple of weeks away from 11 months!  So here is a little sequence from earlier this week.

I have started experimenting with some muffins (looking at low fat and low sugar options) for baby Mélanger.  Here is the result of one of my recent trials.  This muffin included blueberry, which she had never eaten before.

I think she likes them, no?

When I started crying, I almost thought I would not stop.  Baby Nina was beside me in hospital.  She was four days old.  I was reading the card Mr Mélanger had just handed me for our 1st wedding anniversary.  It was touching, moving and stirred up plenty of emotion.  Next came the gift.  After electing to go down the traditional route of presents for our anniversaries, I wondered what paper item would lie within the wrapping.  Once opened, the tears once more were instant.  But this time with more force.  A black and white framed photograph of me holding our 36-hour old baby girl was my gift.  I was dumbstruck at how Mr Mélanger was able to organise such a precious present.  I was completely unaware of his intention when he took the photograph originally.  What a special piece of paper indeed.

So tonight, we celebrate our belated wedding anniversary.  Actually, on a day of another two anniversaries.  Our baby daughter is now one month old today.  How quickly that time has flown – and how quickly she is growing!  It is also a sad 14 years today since my father passed away.  I cannot believe it has been that long.  The middle names we gave baby Nina are in honour of my father.  We used the same initials, so she will have some connection to the only grandparent that will never meet her.

My father loved strawberries.  Particularly growing them.  I have fond memories of him in his garden tending to rows upon rows of strawberries.  So it is only fitting that I post this homemade strawberry ice cream today, on this anniversary.

{ Strawberry Ice Cream with Lemon Coconut Macaroons } Original recipe by Julia @ Mélanger

Despite the high cream content, this is a refreshing ice cream with the addition of the sweet fruit of the strawberry.  I wanted to pair this with a little zesty biscuit and it was quite some time until I thought of the simple coconut macaroon.  A little grating of lemon rind cuts some of the sweetness and is a nice little tasty treat with the ice cream.

{ Strawberry Ice Cream  }

* Ingredients *
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 1/2 cups full cream milk
8 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
500g / 1 pint strawberries, hulled

* Directions *
Beat the egg yolks together with the sugar.  In a saucepan, gently heat the cream until bubbles appear around the edges.  Remove from heat.  Meanwhile, prepare an ice water bath and set aside.  Slowly whisk the heated cream in a steady stream into the yolk mixture to temper.  Once it has been completely mixed, transfer the mixture back to the saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat and mix in the milk.  Pour mixture through sieve, and set into an ice-water bath.  Chill mixture overnight in the fridge.  The following day, churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Coarsely chop the strawberries and add to the mixture at the final stages of churning.*  Freeze for a further 1-2 hours to firm up the texture.

*Although delicious, some of the fruit was a little too firm to the bite in this ice cream.  Next time I will make a strawberry coulis and churn in at the end.

Makes 1 1/2 litres/quarts

{ Lemon Coconut Macaroons }

* Ingredients *
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2 large egg whites
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

* Directions *
Preheat oven to 350F / 180C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine sugar, coconut, egg whites, lemon zest, vanilla, and salt. Use your hands to mix well, completely combining ingredients.  Dampen hands with cold water. Form 1 1/2 tablespoons of mixture into a loose haystack shape, and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture, placing macaroons about 1 inch apart.  Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven to a wire rack, and let macaroons cool slightly on baking sheet. These are best served warm from the oven, but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Makes 20

Tropical fruit month summary

Pineapple, mango, passion fruit, pawpaw and payapa, coconut, banana, lychees.

This month on Mélanger, it was 100% tropical fruits.

Here in Queensland, we are blessed with a climate that produces fresh, sweet fruit.  Many native fruits and fruits from around the world are grown effortlessly in this tropical state.

Tropical fruit is at the heart of growing up in this part of Australia.  Mango trees at your school.  Banana trees in your own backyard.  Pawpaw that you can pick from your own back deck.  Passion fruit on a vine intertwined between neighbouring properties.  Summer is incomplete without them.

Here is a round up of the recipes from this month.  What tropical fruit dessert favourite would you add to this list?


banana crepes small Caramelised banana crêpes with roasted macadamia and caramel sauce :: Simple caramelised  banana paired with macadamia and caramel is simple to prepare and a delight to savour. { More … }


Pawpaw and lime sorbet small

Pawpaw & lime sorbet with coconut tuiles :: A thirst-quenching homemade sorbet teamed with crispy, coconut tuiles.  The combination is more than a wink to summer.  { More … }


Pavlova roll small

Pavlova roll with mango and passion fruit :: In this quintessential summer dessert, the succulent, buttery flesh of the mango is cloaked by a soft pavlova roll, and finished with cream and passion fruit. { More … }


coconut ice cream single smallLychees in mint syrup with coconut milk ice cream :: Mint syrup soaked lychees, served with coconut milk ice-cream. Using a blend of cream and coconut milk as the base for the ice-cream, the overall flavour is not exaggeratedly sweet, perfect for the sugar rich lychees.  { More … }

panna cotta smallVanilla panna cotta with pineapple champagne granita :: The creamy texture of the panna cotta is a perfect complement to the cold, icy granita.  And extraordinarily simple.  Perfect for those slow, hot days.  { More … }

banana pudding ice cream smallBanana pudding ice cream :: A creamy and rich ice cream base injected with custard powder and cinnamon, along with a healthy dose of tropical bananas, produces a refreshing dessert reminiscent of banana pudding.  A winter pudding, with a summer twist. { More … }

Thank you to my father working tirelessly in his much-loved garden who gave me so many memories.

Nanaimo bars single

Where does the time go?  Here we are already, the 27th of the month, and the very first Daring Bakers Challenge for 2010.

This month, we are baking a Canadian specialty, Nanaimo bars.  I had never heard of Nanaimo bars before reading this challenge.  Had you?  I was so pleased Lauren at Celiac Teen shared this recipe – and something special from her country.  I love learning about food origins.

As I reach the end of Tropical Fruit month, I wanted to punch up the challenge with a few more tropical overtones.  As I read through the recipe, the healthy dose of coconut included in this bar was encouraging, and prompted me to create an ice cream pairing.

I cherry picked a couple of key flavours from the Nanaimo bar recipe to incorporate into the ice cream.  The selected custard powder and cinnamon ingredients were injected into my standard vanilla ice cream recipe, along with a healthy dose of tropical bananas.  The overall combination reminded me of banana pudding.  A winter pudding, with a summer twist.  Delicious.

With Lauren’s obvious enthusiasm for her chosen dish as well as the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver, I have added a little Canadian Olympic cheer into one of my photographs.  Lauren, that photograph is for you!

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.

Nanaimo bars set

{ Nanaimo Bars }

Please note I did not follow the gluten free instructions for the challenge. My ‘official’ and willing taste tester, my lovely co-worker’s Canadian husband, has fond memories of the Nanaimo bars his mother would make when growing up in Ontario.  I wanted to make them taste as close as possible to what he would remember. Hopefully they do, eh!

* Ingredients *
Bottom Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar
5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa
1 Large Egg, Beaten
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Graham Wafer Crumbs (See following recipe)
1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)
1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)
Middle Layer
1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons (30 mL) Vanilla Custard Powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (254 g) (8.9 ounces) Icing Sugar
Top Layer
4 ounces (115 g) Semi-sweet chocolate
2 tablespoons (28 g) (1 ounce) Unsalted Butter

* Directions *
1. For bottom Layer: Melt unsalted butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler. Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into an ungreased 8 by 8 inch pan.
2. For Middle Layer: Cream butter, cream, custard powder, and icing sugar together well. Beat until light in colour. Spread over bottom layer.
3. For Top Layer: Melt chocolate and unsalted butter over low heat. Cool. Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

{ Graham Crackers } From Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from the La Brea Bakery (Villard, 2000) via 101cookbooks.com

* Ingredients *
2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
For the topping:
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* Directions *
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.
In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.
To prepare the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.
Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.
Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get about two or three more crackers.
Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line.
Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the tough, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

Yield: 10 large crackers

{ Banana pudding ice cream } Original recipe by Julia @ Mélanger

* Ingredients *
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
8 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
¼ cup custard powder
2 bananas, partially frozen and coarsely chopped

* Directions *
Beat the egg yolks together with the sugar.  Separately, mix the salt, cinnamon and custard powder thoroughly into the cold milk.  Set aside.  In a saucepan, gently heat the cream until bubbles appear around the edges.  Remove from heat.  Meanwhile, prepare an ice water bath and set aside.  Slowly whisk the heated cream in a steady stream into the yolk mixture to temper.  Once it has been completely mixed, transfer the mixture back to the saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat and mix in the milk.  Pour mixture through sieve, and set into an ice-water bath.  Chill mixture overnight in the fridge.  The following day, churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Towards the last 5 minutes of churning, add the coarsely chopped bananas. Freeze for a further 1-2 hours to firm up the texture.

Makes 1 1/2 litres/quarts

coconut ice cream single

On a regular daily jaunt, why is your level of perception heightened one day, and virtually non-existent another?  Perhaps I was not as pre-occupied with my thoughts (as I typically am).  On this particular day, while strolling to my bus stop one morning, I was taken aback by a small flock of crimson Rosellas

I paused for a moment to soak up their vibrant splendour.  The bright, colourful, iconic native bird, once a common sight in my childhood, but less so recently.  As I continue to walk, I am overwhelmed by a sense of nostalgia.

Not long ago, the customary afternoon summer thunderstorm in Queensland gave way to a practically rain free existence.  A drought.  But now, a few years on, the rain has returned (at least for now), and along with it a few old familiar sights.  The lush, fluorescent green grass (replacing the recent dusty, burnt brown ground covering).  Plants in full bloom, heavily perfumed and majestic in appearance (no longer scratchy and struggling).  And it looks like the birds may have returned, too.

You never know when the rain will disappear again, officially labelling the area in drought once more.  Until then, I will be on alert for all the small pleasures that have returned.  Like the regal Rosella birds.

Inspired by their colourful plumage, comes a bold tropical dessert.  Mint syrup soaked lychees, served with coconut milk ice-cream.  Using a blend of cream and coconut milk as the base for the ice-cream, the overall flavour is not exaggeratedly sweet, perfect for the sugar rich lychees.

lychees set

{ Lychees in mint syrup with coconut milk ice cream } original recipe by Julia @ Mélanger

This dessert is not only simple to make, but all the components can be prepared ahead – the ideal dessert menu selection for easy summer entertaining! 

{ Mint syrup soaked lychees }

* Ingredients *
500g / 1 lb lychees
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 cup loosely packed mint leaves

* Directions *
Peel all the lychees and set aside.  Bring the sugar and water to the boil.  Add half the mint leaves.  Stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Continue to boil for 1-2 minutes and remove from the heat.  Cool and then pour mixture through sieve discarding the mint.  Once the mixture is completely cooled, add the lychees.  Finely chop the remaining mint, and add to the fruit and sugar syrup.  To serve, ladle a few lychees in a bowl or cup and top with syrup.

{ Coconut milk ice cream }

* Ingredients *
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 1/2 cups coconut milk
8 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

* Directions *
Beat the egg yolks together with the sugar.  In a saucepan, gently heat the cream until bubbles appear around the edges.  Remove from heat.  Meanwhile, prepare an ice water bath and set aside.  Slowly whisk the heated cream in a steady stream into the yolk mixture to temper.  Once it has been completely mixed, transfer the mixture back to the saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.  Remove from heat and mix in the coconut milk.  Pour mixture through sieve, and set into an ice-water bath.  Chill mixture overnight in the fridge.  The following day, churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze for a further 1-2 hours to firm up the texture. 

Makes 1 1/2 litres/quarts

Panna cotta single

It was a day of thrills, fun and excitement…and dessert inspiration.

This weekend, Mr Mélanger and I journeyed with my nieces to the Gold Coast.  To Dreamworld.  One of the most popular theme parks in Queensland – and the highly anticipated Christmas present destination for my two nieces (ages 9 & 6).

The day was an adventure enthusiast’s delight.  Jam packed of rides (counting a few heart stoppers that Mr Mélanger enjoyed solo!), up close animal capers (including some overwhelmingly large 180kg/400lb White Tigers), and acres of wave pools and slides, eliciting a steady stream of laughter and screaming from us all.
 
At the end of the day, I am not sure who was most exhausted.  I think it was me!  We shuffled out of the park with sustenance in hand.  A cold, strawberry sno kone.  It was the perfect respite to the long, muggy, hot day (35C/95F).
 
As we drive back to Brisbane, with the two young thrill seekers happily chatting in the back seat, my mind wanders to the sno kone.  My mouth still cold from the mounds of crushed ice.  I pondered a tropical frosty creation of my own.  A pineapple granita.
 
Later, in my kitchen, with heat exhaustion setting in — and feeling somewhat slow in movement — I paired a fresh pineapple and champagne granita with, conceivably, the easiest dessert in the world.  The panna cotta. 
 
The creamy texture of the panna cotta is a perfect complement to the cold, icy granita.  And extraordinarily simple.  Perfect for those slow, hot days.

Panna cotta set

{  Vanilla panna cotta }
 
* Ingredients *
1 ½ cups of cream
½ cup whole milk
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean, or vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons of gelatine
 
* Directions *
Prepare 4 pudding moulds about ½ cup capacity with a light brush of oil.  Gently warm the cream, milk and sugar in a saucepan.  When the sugar dissolves, and bubbles start to appear around the edges, stir in the vanilla.  Separately, sprinkle the gelatine over the cold water and stir until dissolved.  Then mix into the cream.  Pour the mixture into the prepared moulds and refrigerate at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.  To un-mould, fill a bowl with hot water.  Dip the moulds immediately in and then out of the bowl, being careful not to allow water to reach inside.  Turn the mould onto a plate, slowly jiggle to loosen.

{ Pineapple champagne granita }
The champagne in the granita flatters the vanilla overtones in the panna cotta.  But feel free to substitute sparkling water for your liquid if you choose.
 
* Ingredients *
1 whole pineapple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1 cup Champagne / sparkling wine
¾ cup sugar
Salt, optional
 
* Directions *
Puree the pineapple in a food processor until smooth but still with some texture.  In a saucepan, heat the Champagne and sugar.  When the sugar dissolves, and bubbles start to appear around the edges remove from the heat.  Let cool for a few minutes.  Mix the champagne into the prepared pineapple.  Add salt to taste.   Pour the mixture into a shallow container and place in the freezer.  After 30-40 minutes, remove from the freezer, and break up the mixture with a fork.  Repeat until the entire container is frozen.

Pawpaw and lime sorbet single

Imagine it is a warm, summer day and you crave something refreshing to eat.  You wander out your back door, walk a few short paces across your deck, and pick a ripe piece of fruit from a nearby tree.

Growing up, there was always an abundance of tropical fruit available in our garden.  Pawpaw was one such fruit — and within arms length of our back deck!

Served simply cut into wedges and a sprinkling of sugar, with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice-cream, or as part of a tropical fruit salad, pawpaw was a regular on the dessert menu at home.  When fresh produce was this close to hand — literally! — there was really no excuse to not eat well in our family.

For Tropical fruit month, I wanted to create a twist on an old favourite.  A thirst-quenching homemade sorbet teamed with crispy, coconut tuiles.  The combination is more than a wink to summer!

Pawpaw and lime sorbet set

{ Pawpaw & lime sorbet }
A sorbet can be made from nearly any fruit, or combination of fruits.  It is simple, too.  A basic sugar syrup is mixed with a fruit puree, then churned to reach the desired consistency.  When experimenting with flavours and fruits, however, the only trick is to ‘measure’ the sugar content.  Too little or too much sugar and your sorbet will not set to the right consistency (not freeze enough or freeze too much).  But you can test this, with the humble egg.

* Ingredients *
1 kg / 2.2 lbs pawpaw (de-seeded and peeled), yields about 800g or 1.75lb
1/4 cup lime juice
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 egg, cleaned (for sugar test only)

* Directions *
Bring the water and sugar to a simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Puree the pawpaw with the lime juice.  Strain to produce a smooth consistency.  In a deep container, mix three quarters of the sugar syrup with three quarters of the fruit puree.  Stir well. Drop an egg into the mixture.  You want the egg to float to the surface and reveal enough shell equivalent to a 10 cent piece/US nickel/5 pence piece.  If the egg is floating too much, add more fruit.  If the egg is sinking too much, add more simple syrup.  Add the remainder of your fruit puree and simple syrup until you get the right consistency.  Remove the egg and then chill the mixture overnight.  Churn the sorbet mixture in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s directions.  Pack the sorbet into a freezer container and store in freezer for at least 2 hours.

{ Coconut tuiles }
From Desserts by Pierre Hermé written by Dorie Greenspan

* Ingredients *
1 1/4 cups dessicated coconut / sweetened coconut
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature slightly beaten
1 tablespoon butter, melted and still hot

* Directions *
Process the coconut and the sugar until you achieve a find powder.  Transfer to a bowl and mix in the eggs and melted butter until just mixed.  Cover the bowl and chill overnight.  (Can be kept in the fridge for up to 1 week.)

Prepare a baking tray with non-stick paper.  Gently re-stir the mixture. Drop 1/2 teaspoon measure of dough onto the baking tray leaving 6cm (2 1/2 inches) space between each drop.  Aim for about 8-10 cookies on the tray.

Chill for 15 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 150C or 300F.

Run cool water over the heel of your hand, and tap the cookies into round shapes.  (Their shape will not be perfect.)  It is important the dough be flattened very thin and that the thinness is uniform.

Bake one sheet at a time for 12- 15 minutes (watch as they brown very quickly).  The cookies need to be removed from the baking sheet as soon as they come out from the oven.  Working quickly, gently slide a plastic scraper until each and to a cooling rack.  To mold the cookies in the tradition shape, press the over a rolling pin or bottle instead of transferring to a cooling rack.

Repeat with the remaining mixture, or as required.

Makes 40 cookies.

Belle Helene

For my next caramel challenge, I attempt Pierre Hermé’s version of the classic Belle Hélène.

The traditional Belle Hélène includes poached pears served with vanilla ice cream and a chocolate sauce.  Pierre Hermé’s version includes a few substitutes, bien sûr.  Most notably, the ice cream choice is chocolate and the sauce, caramel.  He also includes pear halves instead of whole pears.  Because of this, I originally started plating the dessert instead of serving it up ‘sundae’ style.  I was afraid the pears would be lost and wanted to display them more prominently.

So I carefully cut and fanned a pear on a plate.  Then drizzled with caramel sauce.  Setting that aside, I made a spun sugar ball as final decoration.  Next, the-clock-is-now-ticking part.  I made a perfect quenelle of ice-cream and delicately added to the plate.  I was shocked and then horrified to see it immediately starting to melt practically as soon as it made contact with the plate – and before I could even pick up the camera.

I am not sure if it was because the spoon I used to quenelle the ice cream needed to be warm so it already started the ‘melting process’, or if the plate should have been chilled, or if the eggless ice cream is more difficult to work with?  Any thoughts?

So Plan B it was.  The original sundae serving suggestion.

I quickly made some more sugar threads to top the sundae. I flattened them out slightly to achieve a little contrast with the shape of the pear.  (I should point out that this caramel decoration is not part of Pierre Hermé’s recipe, but when reading through it, I wanted to inject a little more caramel into the dessert.)  The rest of the sundae came together quickly.  And with just enough time to take a photograph, or two.

In terms of flavours, it was a delicious combination.  I already have plans to make additional caramel sauce to keep in the fridge – as back-up.  The chocolate ice cream was a refreshingly light version of the more popular creamy variety.  And the pears?  A simple lemon-vanilla syrup certainly infused its way throughout this fruit.  I am not typically a big fruit dessert fan, but the delicate flavour of these pears will certainly have me coming back for more.

My next caramel challenge will absolutely be something with a little more ‘shelf life’ – for my sanity, if nothing else!  And as soon as I receive the wedding photographs (pending!), I will do a little update on the wedding macarons favours and a few snaps from the big day.

{ Belle Hélène } recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé and Dorie Greenspan
 
Pears
 
* Ingredients *
29 oz (825g) can of pear halves in syrup
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pulp from half a vanilla bean
 
* Directions *
Drain the pears.  Bring water, sugar, lemon and vanilla to the boil.  Remove and pour over pears.  Cover with wax paper and refrigerate overnight.
 
Caramel Sauce
 
* Ingredients *
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons salted butter
 
* Directions *
Bring cream to a boil and then set aside.  In clean saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of sugar over the bottom of the pan.  A soon as the sugar starts to melt and colour, stir with a wooden spoon until it caramelises.  Sprinkle over half the remaining sugar, and repeat.  Add the remaining sugar and cook until the colour is deep brown colour.  Take the pan off the heat and add the butter carefully (may splatter) and then add the cream.  Continue to cook until the sauce just starts to boil again. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
 
Chocolate Ice Cream
 
* Ingredients *
½ cup powdered milk
3 cups whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
8 oz (230g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
 
* Directions *
Set up an ice water bath with a small and large bowl and set aside.  Place powdered milk in sauepan and gradually whisk in whole milk.  When powdered milk dissolved, whish in sugar.  Bring mixtgure to the boil, then stir in the chopped chocolate and bring to the boil again.  Pull pan from the heat and pour the hot choolate mixture into the reserved small bowl.  Set the bowl into the ice water bath until cool.  Churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker following the manufacturer’s dictions.  Pack the ice cream into a freezer container and store in freezer for at least 2 hours.
 
Spun Sugar (recipe by Sherry Yard)
 
* Ingredients *
¼ cup water
1 cup sugar
 
* Directions *
Prepare an area for spinning the sugar.  Position two medium saucepans with metal handles at the edge of the kitchen counter/bench.  Let the handles extend out over the floor.  Place some newspaper on the floor to cach drips.  Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan.  Cook the sugar until the temperature reaches 300F or 150C.  Watch closely until the temperature edges up to 325F or 165C.  Take the caramel off the heat and let cool to about 275F or 130C.  Dip a fork into the caramel and carefully scoop out. Position the fork about 12 inches or 30cm above the handles and let the caramel flow off the fork, quickly wiggling the fork and draping the caramel back and forth over the handles.  After two or three forkfuls, stop and gather up the sugar threads and set aside and begin again.  Spun sugar needs to be used immediately.
 
Assembly
 
Put two scoops of chocolate ice cream into the bottom of a long stemmed balloon shaped wineglass or other cocktail glass.  Top with a few pear halves and drizzle over some caramel sauce.  Top with spun sugar, if using.

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

I remember the first time I saw snow.  I was in my twenties, but I felt (and acted!), like a five year old. I am almost certain I screeched with sheer excitement upon seeing inches of fluffy, white magic not only forming a soft blanket on the ground around me, but delicately falling from the sky flaunting its unique snowflake shape.

This snow spectacular was in Boston – my former residence for quite a number of years.  Winter in Boston certainly can be cold and long.  The snow can start before Thanksgiving and continue all the way through to Memorial Day.  During these months of chilly temperatures, apart from the typical memories of constant driveway shovelling, car windshield scraping, and leather boots waterproofing, there is one memory that has me shaking my head until this day.  Ice cream consumption.

It has been mentioned here, here, here and here, that New Englanders consume the greatest proportion of ice cream in the USA.  And after witnessing the hoards of lines outside fine purveyors such as JP Licks, Emack & Bolio’s, Herrell’s, and the former Steve’s (inventor of the mix-in!) throughout the city and surrounding towns, I do not question this fact at all.

I have recently been reminded of my years in Boston during my recent honeymoon.  Mr Mélanger and I took a relaxing and tranquil holiday to Tasmania.  For those unfamiliar with Tasmania, it is our most southerly state in Australia.  During our travels, we reached the magnificent World Heritage-listed wilderness of Cradle Mountain.  (Some photos from the trip below.)  As we were approaching the rugged alpine peaks of the mountain we could see they were still peppered in snow – which was a thrill to see given it is spring here in Australia.  Along the windy drive to the Lodge, it actually started to snow, too.

I had not seen snow since Boston.  I was that five year old kid again.  Moreover, after the thoughts of hoping there may be enough snow on the ground for a little snowball fight action, I thought of ice cream.  As you do.  With my ice cream food memory top of mind, I knew I would have to make some deliciously, rich ice cream as part of caramel month.

So back in sub-tropical Brisbane, I turn my attention to some refreshing ice cream.  For this task, I look to none other than the undisputed ice cream authority, David Lebovitz.  David showcases a mouth-watering double caramel ice creamon his blog.  The custard for the ice cream not only has been caramelised, but David incorporates crunchy caramel throughout the churning process at the end.  After the triple caramel feast, I elected to keep things simple, enjoying the single caramel overtones of the ice cream custard in its most pure form.

I followed the directions to the letter.  For this exercise, no point tweaking a recipe which had been expertly created.  Having made considerable quantities of homemade ice cream in the past (all due to the abundance of egg yolks I have on hand after all my macaron efforts!), I was not anxious at all by the directions.  The only area of watchfulness I noted was cooking the sugar.  If there is only one trick to making caramel, this is it.  The heating of the sugar to the right colour and temperature makes or breaks the caramel.  In this recipe, you want it to be a strong flavour, but certainly not bitter.

I have never enjoyed a caramel ice cream like this one.  Because of the caramel, it remains deliciously creamy even after freezing.  It would also be sensational with the addition of praline per David’s original recipe to add some further crunch.  I think this will be a firm favourite even after caramel month is over.

{ Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream } adapted from David Lebovitz

* Ingredients *
2 cups (500 ml) whole milk, divided
1½ cups (300g) sugar
4 tablespoons (60g) salted butter
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cups (250 ml) heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

* Directions *
Make an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and adding a cup or so of water so they’re floating. Nest a smaller metal bowl (at least 2 quarts/litres) over the ice, pour 1 cup (250 ml) of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it.  Spread 1½ cups (300 gr) sugar in the saucepan in an even layer. Heat the sugar over low to medium heat until the edges begin to melt. Stir the liquefied sugar towards the centre until all the sugar is dissolved. Continue to cook stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it is just about to burn. Once caramelised, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go. The caramel may harden and seize, but return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted. Stir in 1 cup (250 ml) of the milk.  Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, stirring constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard using a heatproof utensil, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens. If using an instant-read thermometer, it should read 160-170 F (71-77 C).  Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or until thoroughly chilled.  Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Makes one litre

Cradle Mountain 1

 { Images } Distinctive alpine vegetation and temperate rainforest waterfalls of Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain 2

 { Images } Forest flora and local wildlife of Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain 3

 { Images } Abandoned Dove Lake boat shed at Cradle Mountain

Cradle Mountain 4

{ Images } Reflections and Cradle Mountain Lodge at Cradle Mountain