(For the book giveaway, scroll down to the end of this post)
I am really excited to introduce you to Anita from Married With Dinner as my guest blogger this weekend. When I first started blogging, there weren’t as many blogs to get lost into captivated by delicious recipes and lovely photos. One lucky day 3 years ago, I landed on Anita’s blog and I could not stop reading, still can’t. We virtually met around a box of macarons and I can’t wait for the day I bake a batch with her. As their "about" page states, "Married …with dinner chronicles the continuing adventures of a couple of San Francisco food dorks. Cameron and Anita are both professional writers, amateur cooks, cocktail geeks, and avid diners." I am always in admiration of their mixology knowledge and creations, as well as their awareness of local artisans, food and produce. I can’t wait for the day we meet when we can celebrate life and friendship around a good meal.
When Tartelette asked me to take a turn at posting, I froze. See, I love to cook, I’m a pretty good bread-baker, and I’ve been known to crank out the occasional homespun cake or pie. But to create something worthy of Tartelette — something as beautiful and impressive and drool-worthy as the sorts of things you’re used to seeing here — well, I wasn’t quite sure I was the right girl for the job.
I poured over cookbooks, went through my archives, begged friends for ideas. Then, when I’d almost given up, I sat down to do my weekly meal planning… and inspiration struck. In the back of my "to-try-someday" recipe file was a dessert I’d been wanting to make, tucked away for an occasion when I needed something special: Ice cream flavored with the French herbal liqueur Chartreuse.
Chartreuse is one of my favorite liqueurs; its spicy complexity adds a layer of mystery to so many wonderful cocktails, and it’s also a fabulous treat to sip on its own as a digestif. But until I read David Lebovitz’s ice cream compendium, The Perfect Scoop, it had never occurred to me to use it in food. It only took me 18 months to actually find a suitable occasion!
I spun a batch and set it in the freezer to firm up overnight. The next morning, I couldn’t wait to taste a sample: Oh, what a heavenly thing it was, light and bright from the addition of sour cream, with a haunting herbal shadow of Chartreuse in the place where you’d expect to find vanilla. I’d only intended to sample a small spoonful, to check the result of my work. But I couldn’t stop: I ended up eating a whole bowl of the stuff for breakfast!
When I confessed to David that his recipe was so good that I’d scarfed an entire serving before work, he wasn’t surprised: "I love that recipe," he confided, and patiently assured me I shouldn’t worry about its detrimental effects on my morning routine. "I actually developed it for a low-fat magazine — It is healthy!"
Of course, I’m of the school of thought that even full-fat ice cream is good for you. After all, there’s nothing wrong with eggs and dairy, in moderation. But David’s lean-and-clean version is a worthy treat in its own right, not just as a healthy alternative. Without any eggs, you might expect it to be more like a gelato. But instead, it’s almost sherbet-like, with a snowy lightness that sets off the richness of any accompaniments.
Unfortunately, even the most delicious bowl of ice cream looks a little ho-hum in photos, and we needed a Tartelette-worthy masterpiece! So I decided to take the plunge and try my hand at a batch of profiteroles to fill with the ice cream. And here’s a secret I wished I’d known years ago: As long as you have a pastry bag and a stand mixer, making pate a choux — the basis for eclairs, cream puffs, and profiteroles — is surprisingly simple.
But if, despite my assurances, the idea of whisking eggs into a hot dough seems a little too intimidating, you have my permission to sidestep the profiteroles, provided that you give this beautiful Chartreuse ice cream a little boost of richness with a drizzle of hot fudge. After all, as David told me, "Chocolate sauce is obligatory, even at breakfast."
Chartreuse Ice Cream Recipe from The Perfect Scoop
The published recipe made a little too much base to fit comfortably in my Cuisinart ice-cream maker without overflowing, so I’ve scaled the measurements down 25% from David’s original.
2 cups whole milk
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup + 1T sugar
2-1/2T green Chartreuse
Puree all the ingredients in a blender, and process until smooth. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze according to your ice-cream maker’s usual method.
Choux Pastry Puffs Recipe adapted from Tartelette’s Choux a la Creme with modifications from Baking with Julia
85g all-purpose flour
75ml whole milk
65g unsalted butter
2 eggs + 1 egg white
pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 425F. Set up a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
Sift the flour and set aside. Heat the water, milk, butter, and salt to a full rolling boil. Stir the flour into the liquid with a heavy wooden spoon, adding it as fast as it can be absorbed, but not all at once or it will form clumps. Cook the paste, stirring constantly and breaking up lumps if necessary, until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the dough to the mixer bowl and stir at low speed to cool the paste slightly, so that the eggs will not cook when added. On medium-low, mix in the eggs one at a time, then the egg white. The dough should have the consistency of thick mayonnaise.
While the dough is still warm, place it in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe quarter-sized puffs about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, then use a moistened spoon (or finger) to smooth out the tails at the top.
Bake at for 15 minutes at 425F without opening the oven door, then reduce heat to 350F and continue to bake until done, about 7 to 12 minutes.
To check for doneness, remove one puff from the sheet and tap the underside with your fingers; it should feel firm and hollow. (If you undercook the puffs, they may deflate as they cool, so err on the side of golden brown rather than pale). When baked through, remove the puffs from the oven and let cool.
Easiest Chocolate Sauce Recipe
Confession time: I cheated and used a jar of Scharffen-Berger chocolate sauce I already had on hand. (It’s delicious and locally made, so it’s hard to feel too guilty.) But making your own chocolate sauce is dead simple with this recipe, which I’ve used in the past with great results.
6oz best-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
Set a a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Melt all ingredients in the bowl, stirring until the mixture is smooth.
To assemble the profiteroles:
Cut each puff in half through the equator; it’s easiest if you use a serrated knife. Place three bottom layers on each plate; top each with a small scoop of chartreuse ice cream. Place the tops on the puffs, and drizzle with chocolate sauce.
You will have plenty of leftover ice cream for weeknight treats (or breakfast!).
I also want to thank you for stopping here like you do by giving one lucky person a copy of The Baker’s Odyssey, by Greg Patent, a whopping 400 pages dedicated to the recipes and culinary history of American immigrants from all over the world. I have already mentionned this gem of a book with the Princess Torte recipe and I would love to send the extra copy that I have to one of you.
All you have to do is leave a comment between today Friday February 20th and Monday February 23rd midnight (US Eastern time). A reader will be chosen at random and announced later that week (duplicate comments will be deleted and if you wish to remain anonymous, please at least sign Zorro or something)