Dark Chocolate Caramel Sauce

Click photo to enlarge; do not lick the screen.

It never fails to happen that I entertain guests and forget to serve a dish. Be it a topping, a salad, a finale – something often gets left out.

I probably jinxed myself, when on the day of Mateo’s birthday (and the receiving of 40 – yes, FORTY- guests into our home), I said to Danny.

“Remind me to serve the ice cream with the cake. Let’s not forget the ice cream.”

Yeah, I probably don’t have to tell you that the birthday cake was enjoyed sans ice cream. Of course I forgot it in the general mayhem of things and there was enough sweets so the ice cream wasn’t missed.

It wasn’t until about eleven at night, when we were watching the Olympic closing ceremonies and relaxing with some wine dregs, that we looked at each other and said

“The ice cream!”

Not that there is anything wrong with leftover ice cream, it’s just that I had bought So. Much. of it.

Fortunately, I was receiving guests three more times that week (it’s kind of an open door around here) and figured I could use up the ice cream that way.

Still, I can’t serve just ice cream to guests; that kind of makes me squirm. It’s an accompaniment to a dessert, but I didn’t have time to make one. I needed a topping.

A quick poll of my Tweeps put me in touch with this recipe faster than you can say ‘Sundae’. Robin from Hippo Flambe sent me her caramel chocolate sauce, advising me to ‘forget hot fudge sauce’ and try her recipe instead.

I’m glad I did, because it’s pretty sweeeet. I ate so much of it with a spoon, it’s a wonder there was any left for our banana splits that night. It leaves regular chocolate sauce way behind with it’s multi-levels of flavor from caramelized sugar and a touch of salt.

You must try this sauce – for ice cream, waffles, crepes, or just drizzled over poached pears.

Head over to Robin’s site Hippo Flambe to get the Joy of Cooking recipe for Dark Chocolate Caramel Sauce.

You’ll be glad you did, ice cream or no ice cream.

Maple Walnut Cookie Dough Ice Cream

I love May for so many reasons; watching the tulips waving from their beds, receiving Mother’s Day construction paper cards, celebrating seven years of married bliss, being excused from housework to garden, attending weddings…Oh, that reminds me, I have a wedding coming up and a cake to make.

It always seems like such a fun idea when I agree to make a cake; it is usually on a dismal January day, when the month of May and its weddings seems like a distant fantasy and I have no recollection of those panicky days leading up to ‘cake day’. Heck, why not, I tell the client, it will be fun! I wish this time was different, but as I stockpile butter and eggs and sketch the anatomy of the four-tiered beauty, I’m feeling the familiar butterflies and am wishing it was over already! Oh well, don’t worry about me. I’ll find a way to channel my stress! At least the client is a friend, and a polar opposite to a Bridezilla–she a sweetheart.

Enough about Project Wedding Cake–I also love May because it ice cream time!
OK, so this bonjour!-to-summer ice cream is amazing. Is actually Maple Ice Cream with Maple-Walnut and White Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Enough of a mouthful?

When Julie professed her love of these Maple Walnut White Chocolate Cookies and sang the praises of the dough itself, I knew I wouldn’t be waiting long to try them. A bottle of homegrown maple syrup from our families sugar shack outing was calling from the fridge and fortunately I had just stocked up on white chocolate chips from Bulk Barn. (A first in Quebec, Bulk Barn is my latest and greatest culinary discovery. Think Costco meets Ares meets Anatol.)

I don’t think it was coincidence that I also had a half a batch of Ben & Jerry’s Sweet Cream ice cream base in the fridge. The other half had already been made into strawberry ice cream and consumed entirely, but the rest was awaiting a destiny of cookie dough ice cream.
So I chunked up some cookie dough with a knife, spread it out on a tray, and threw it in the freezer to freeze solid. Then I added 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup to the ice cream base, churned it ’til it was hard and folded in the cookie dough right at the end. A few hours in the freezer and it was ready!

It was way better than the B& J original cookie dough ice cream–and I am a huge fan. I love nuts in ice cream so the walnuts made me happy. It was just nice to have a maple ice cream that didn’t taste artificial.
You could leave out the white chocolate chips as maple cookie dough ice cream is pretty spectacular as it is.

And if you don’t have an ice cream maker, or *gasp* ice cream just isn’t your thing, try a batch of Julie’s cookies. They will rock your world! Recipe at the bottom of the post.

Maple Walnut Cookie Dough Ice Cream with White Chocolate Chips

1/2 recipe raw Maple Walnut Chocolate Chip Cookie dough (recipe below)
1 recipe Maple Ice Cream Base (recipe below)
White Chocolate chips to taste

Have a 1 quart sized Tupperware container chilling in the freezer, ready to receive the ice cream.
Chop the cookie dough into bite-sized pieces, place on a tray, cover and freeze.
Prepare the ice cream maker and add Maple Ice Cream Base. Freeze following the manufacturers instructions until quite stiff.
Add the chopped cookie dough and a few handfuls of white chocolate chips. Continue freezing until the ice cream is ready. Scoop into your chilled container and place in freezer to freeze further. Enjoy licking the dasher of the ice cream maker–this is one of the fine things in life.
Enjoy your ice cream!

Maple Ice Cream Base
adapted from Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream & Dessert Book

2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Using a hand held blender, whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend. Finally, add the maple syrup and whisk thoroughly.
Chill completely before churning.

Go ahead and bake off some to eat, too.

Maple Walnut White Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Dinner with Julie

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup pure maple syrup (not flavoured pancake syrup)

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla or maple extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 cup each white chocolate chips/chunks and chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup until well combined — the mixture will have the consistency of wet sand. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda and salt (stir them together first only if you want to) to the butter-sugar mixture and stir by hand until almost combined; add white chocolate and walnuts and stir just until blended. It may seem dry at this point – I always find it easiest to get in there with my hands toward the end. Drop spoonfuls of dough (or roll rough walnut-sized balls) about 2” apart on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray. Flatten each a little with your hand, just to give them a head start. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until pale golden and set around the edges but still soft in the middle. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes 20 cookies.

Chocolate-Raspberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

We have a thing about ice cream in our home.

What home doesn’t? you ask, and you have a valid point, but around here it borders on obsession. We love it!

Everyone likes ice cream, that’s a pretty safe generalization, but how many engaged couples budget all-you-can-eat Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream into their wedding reception even if it means cutting other normal requirements (like a DJ) out all together? Priorities, people!

Yup, we bought four massive tubs of their most popular flavors, they threw in several hundred little serving cups and my brother was pre-scooping ice cream far into the night on the eve of the wedding. We had some leftover and our first few months of newly married bliss was made even sweeter by all those bowls of Cherry Garcia. Mmmm.

We’ve always loved Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and when we visited the B&J Mecca (their factory in Northern Vermont) I picked up their ice cream cookbook so I could duplicate their recipes in my own machine! It was a good investment as the recipes are fun, easy and delicious like this one for Raspberry Ice Cream. I generally make my ice creams with a cooked custard base, but the B&J recipes all have what they call their ‘sweet cream base’ that requires no cooking and is fast to whip up. Sometimes fast is good, like when you are trying to cook dinner for eight during the baby’s 30 minute nap and decide at the last minute to make a dessert too.

We’ve been enjoying the sweet local berries in many ways and I couldn’t resist churning some into ice cream. Would you believe I still have a stash of cake trimmings in my freezer from this wedding cake, so it was a no-brainer to make some cut-outs from the scraps and sandwich my ice cream between the rounds of moist chocolate cake. Voilà, dessert for the gang. Again, fast and easy. Hmmm, that’s not usually my motto, but it keeps rearing it’s head, doesn’t it?

Speaking of no-brainers, the first week of August is World Breastfeeding Week and to me breastfeeding is about the biggest no-brainer for a mother. You could say that I am an advocate! It’s free (Ok, it is fast and easy, too. I may as well throw that in there since I’m on that kick) and perhaps the most enjoyable and rewarding experience I have ever had.

Linda over at Make Life Sweeter is hosting an blogging event called “Got Milk?” in support of World Breastfeeding Week and although I found out about this about five minutes ago and the deadline to enter is tonight, I am going to try to participate with this post.

I should make the deadline….if I don’t get called away to breastfeed Mateo. How ironic would that be?

Ben & Jerry’s Raspberry Ice Cream
1 pt Fresh raspberries
2 lg Eggs
1 1/2 c Sugar
2 c Heavy or whipping cream
1/2 Lemon; juice of
1 c Milk

Compared to other fresh fruit, raspberries are intensely flavorful and very tart, so to make ice cream you need less fruit and more sugar. Toss the raspberries, 3/4 cup sugar, and the lemon juice together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more. Pour in the heavy cream and milk and whisk to blend. Drain the juice from the raspberries into the cream mixture and blend. Mash the raspberries until pureed and stir them into the cream mixture. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions. Makes 1 generous quart. NOTE: If you prefer a chunkier raspberry ice cream, return the raspberries to the refrigerator after pouring off the juice. After the ice cream stiffens, about 2 minutes before it is done, add the whole raspberries.

(As it turns out, both Ben & Jerry’s and I turn 30 this year. What great company to share a birthday with!)

Kiwi-Ginger Sorbet Helps Beat the Heat

What to do when you have impulsively bought ten kiwi fruit only because they were 10/$.99? Make sorbet of course!
I alway have a stash of fresh ginger root on hand when I am pregnant (in case I need an early morning brew of ginger tea to sooth an upset tummy), and so with ripe kiwis and ginger available, it was a no-brainer for today’s beat-the-heat solution. It’s HOT!
I tried making a few popsicles with the sorbet, but it was pretty soft and perhaps didn’t freeze long enough, so they were not very structurally sound. But they were cute and very refreshing!

Kiwi-Ginger Sorbet 1 tablespoon peeled and finely grated fresh ginger root
½ cup sugar
1 ¼ cups water
5 kiwi fruit Put sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Add the ginger and cook for one minute, then strain into a bowl and chill until very cold. (For a more pungent ginger taste, allow syrup to cool with the ginger remaining inside and strain when cold. Not recommended for toddlers!) Peel the kiwi and blend until very smooth. Add the puree to the chilled syrup and mix well.
Churn in an ice cream maker until think. Transfer to a plastic tub and freeze until ready to serve.
Serves 6.

Clementine and Cardamom Sorbet

I am happy to report that on Saturday we dined al fresco for the first time this spring! We were graced with glorious, sunny, warm weather all weekend, and while I know you are not looking for a weather report, I had to mention it because it was such a boost to the spirit!
It was also the inspiration for this sorbet I made for dessert.
A different take on the classic lemon sorbet, the spine-tingling sweetness of the clementines made it a complete dessert, while the delicate flavor of cardamom adds a fun dimension. Perfect for a lazy afternoon in the backyard!

Here’s a head’s up for all you ice cream lovers: if you don’t already own an ice cream machine, you may want this to be the summer you buy one! I have decided this is going to be the summer of iced desserts and, trust me, you are going to want to join in the fun. Classic ice creams, sorbets, terrines, water ices, tortes, iced drinks, maybe even a Baked Alaska or two: it’s time to use the machine every week, at least and not just on special occasions. It’s going to be fun!
Tip: Ice cream machines are now much more affordable! You don’t need a $2000 industrious machine for home use. I just use the Cuisinart 1 1/2 Quart and am happy enough with it (for now!) I can certainly recommend it for beginners. We’ll see if it makes it through the busy summer!

Clementine and Cardamom Sorbet

Serves 6
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups water
1 1/4 cups fresh squeeze clementine juice (or citrus fruit of your choice)
1 egg white
6 green cardamom pods

Put the sugar and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. This is what we call a simple syrup, the base for most sorbets.
Crush cardamom pods, remove seeds and add seeds to sugar mixture. Cover and allow mixture to infuse for 10 minutes or so.

Add citrus juice to simple syrup and chill well.
Stain sorbet mixture into ice cream machine and churn until thick.
Whisk egg white with a fork and add to sorbet mixture. Churn another 10 minutes or until firm enough to scoop.
Scoop into chilled glasses and serve or pack sorbet into an airtight container and freeze.