July 27, 2010

Daring Bakers Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake

This month's Daring Bakers challenge was something I could really sink my teeth in to... ice cream cake!  And how fitting considering that it's National Ice Cream Month. 

The dessert is comprised of swiss roll cake slices encasing fudge sauce and two different flavors of  ice cream.  Decided to go a bit architectural with the cake component .  Rather than roll it up, as is tradition, I stacked the layers.  I really like the striped effect of the finished product.  

I used the mint chip and dulce de leche ice creams that I made recently for the filling and whipped up a quick fudge sauce to complete the dessert.  What a great challenge!

The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.-

July 26, 2010

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

Whenever I travel somewhere I inevitably end up at the local supermarkets.  It's always a must-see for me and luckily a habit my friends have gotten used to, and graciously put up with!

Even when I was a kid I loved going to the grocery store.  I  remember passing up going to the movies with my sisters so I could go food shopping with my mom.   Supermarkets are such a great place to discover new foods and unusual souvenirs. 

It was on one of these jaunts when I was visiting Buenos Aires a few years ago that I discovered dulce de leche.  Dulce de leche: one of Latin America's greatest gifts to the culinary world.  Jars of the sweet, creamy milk caramel were stacked sky high on the supermarket shelves.  So many different brands and varieties.  One taste and I was hooked.

This ice cream pays homage to that wonderful concoction. Lately I've been obsessed with Haagen-Dazs' dulce de leche ice cream and I think my version comes pretty close.  The only thing missing are the swirls of dulce de leche mixed in with the ice cream.  Too bad  those jars I brought back with me from Argentina are long gone.

July 25, 2010

Mint Chip Ice Cream

I've mentioned in previous posts that San Francisco doesn't have a traditional summer.   It's pretty much the exact opposite.  June, July and August around here rank as some of the coldest  months in the year.  Fog, fog, fog.  It's kind of funny actually.   But it kind of sucks too; especially when you hear about clear, blue skies just 20 minutes outside of the city.  Oh well, can't really complain when you live in one of the best places on the planet.  

July is National Ice Cream Month.  Did you know that?  To celebrate this distinction I pulled out my ice cream maker from the cupboard and made some mint chip ice cream. 

This isn't like the mint chip I grew up.  You know, the kind that was tinted bright green? This ice cream is naturally flavored and colored using actual mint leaves, hence the pale color.   When you take a bite the first thing you notice is the distinct, yet subtle mint flavor followed by a hit of bittersweet chocolate.  So refreshing!

July 24, 2010

White Peach Pate de Fruit

My brother has a white peach tree in his backyard that seems to explode with fruit every summer.   Kind of ironic that its bounty is so abundant since he doesn't really tend to it that much.  When the fruits are ripe everyone in the family stops by his house to pick peaches fresh off the branches.  This year's harvest seemed to ripen a lot quicker than usual.  Not wanting all that juicy goodness to go to waste I used the white peaches to make pate de fruit, a French fruit jelly.    

The pate de fruit and I have a checkered past.    A few Christmases ago my sister and I  read about them on Alexis Stewart's blog.  We then suffered from delusions of grandeur and foolishly thought we could make a few batches to give away as holiday gifts.  Easy, right?  Easy, wrong!  Little did we know that it wasn't so  simple and unfortunately it was a costly lesson.  Down the trash bin went our hard earned money in the form of gourmet frozen fruit purees, glucose and tartaric acid cooked to a hard, sticky goo.

But this time was different: a) the peaches were free and the only special ingredient I had to buy was Certo liquid pectin (five bucks at my local Safeway), and b) I used a recipe from the queen of all yummy things, Helen from Tartelette.  Once again her recipe was fool proof and the pate came out fantastic.  Exactly the right texture and flavor I was looking for.  Think the pate de fruit and I have reached an accord.

July 18, 2010

Blueberry Scones

Sunday is the best day to do nothing.  Going back to work the next day is daunting enough so I literally make Sunday my day of rest.  I normally start the day by reading the paper and listening to Car Talk and A Prairie Home Companion on NPR. 

If I've put off cleaning my flat, which I often do, I'll then have some breakfast.   For something quick and easy I turn to a bowl of fresh fruit topped with greek yogurt and granola.  If I'm craving protein I'll go with eggs and toast.   For something baked, but not too sweet, I like to make these blueberry scones.

Scones are definitely a favorite of mine.  They're like a cross between a biscuit and a muffin.  I love them for breakfast but equally as much for afternoon tea with some clotted cream and jam.  Yum!

This recipe is really versatile and you can substitute the blueberries with currants or other dried fruit.  If you omit the fruit altogether it would be absolutely delicious as the base in a strawberry shortcake.

July 11, 2010

¡Viva España! Macarons

2010 has been a stellar year so far for Spanish athletes.  One of my favorite tennis players, Rafa Nadal, won the French Open and Wimbledon.  And the Spanish soccer team defeated the Netherlands today to win the World Cup for the first time in the country's history.  They'll be partying for days from Madrid to Malaga, and all points in between.   

In celebration of Spain's thrills of victory I made a red and yellow macaron in homage to their flag.  I actually had a ton of leftover egg whites in my freezer so I thought I'd make macarons this weekend, in five different flavors.  As providence would have it once I filled the macarons I was left with one lemon shell and one raspberry one.   Octopus Paul himself couldn't have predicted that one.

¡Viva España! 

Strawberry Tarts

Baking is so much more than a hobby for me; it's my "force", my creative outlet and at times a much needed stress reliever.  So when I can help someone else find the joy in baking  that's icing on the cake.  

Spent the 4th of July weekend in Boston and Cape Cod visiting my dear friend J.  She and I go way back; we became fast friends when we discovered our host families lived within a block of each other in Dijon.   Nevermind that I ended up moving out after two weeks to live someplace else, at least our friendship endured the relocation!

One of J.'s requests when I came was to help her with some of my recipes.  First on the list were the cherry blossom sugar cookies I made a few months ago.  Easy enough.  I  showed her some  decorating tips and tricks and her cookies came out great.  As an encore I introduced her to  the  wonder of homemade fruit tarts.   She was already of fan from when we were students in France so she was excited to learn how to make them herself.

I showed her how to make my favorite crust recipe, the Sweet Caillat crust, along with a simple pastry cream.  Topped off with fresh summer fruits and you've got  yourself a real crowd pleaser. They were a hit with J.'s family and friends and I know she'll be making them often. 

By the time I flew back home I was even more inspired to find new variations on this delectable  treat.  A recent post from one of my favorite blogs, Cannelle et Vanille, featured an apricot tart made with a lemon shortbread crust.   To entice me even more the crust was gluten-free and didn't require rolling.  Who could ask for anything more?  

This crust is fantastic and so easy to make.  I dare say that I think I actually prefer it over the Caillat crust because it is so flaky and crispy.  Try it for yourself!

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