Sunday, August 21, 2016

Concession Obsession Remix: Buttered Popcorn Ice Cream with Movie Theatre Confections

Everyone has a favorite Ben and Jerry’s flavor whether it’s Half-Baked or Cherry Garcia, or Chunky Monkey. Unfortunately my favorite is one that found its way into the flavor graveyard many years ago. RIP Concession Obsession. This tooth-achingly sweet combination of vanilla ice cream with some favorite movie theatre concessions – nonpareils, crunch bars, chocolate-coated peanuts, and a caramel swirl – does, I will admit, seem like a flavor and sugar overload so I can see how it may have been a less popular choice. But coming from a kid with a life aspiration of one day becoming the next Willy Wonka, this ice cream was perfection. And for the record, this still is my life aspiration. No shame there.

I came up with the idea to recreate this flavor, but with even more of an allusion to it’s cinematic inspiration, after coming across a recipe for buttered popcorn ice cream. I figured this of course would go well with the culmination of candies added to the mix. There are few flavor combinations more classic than that of a handful of movie theatre popcorn quickly followed by chocolate candy or candies of choice after all. And the buttered popcorn ice cream, though odd-sounding at first, really does work well. The flavor is subtle but is undeniably that of popcorn, its salty and sweet flavor buoyed by the rich eggy custard beneath it.

I jazzed up the Concession Obsession remix even more with the add-ins I chose. The nonpareils came from Zoe’s Chocolate, one of my favorite local chocolate shops, and I used chopped pieces of Theo Chocolate’sblack rice quinoa crunch bar. This, combined with pieces of maple-glazed cashews and a thorough drizzle of salted caramel sauce, certainly makes an ultra-sweet ice cream but one that is a true homage to its predecessor. I also discovered that when served in a chocolate and sprinkle coated waffle cone and eaten with some popcorn pieces scattered overtop, some truly magical things happen. So magical that the Ben and Jerry’s masterminds will decide to unearth this flavor from its frozen resting place? Well, we can all dream, right?

Concession Obsession Remix: Buttered Popcorn Ice Cream with Movie Theatre Confections
Ice Cream recipe from The Kitchn
Inspired by Ben and Jerry’s Concession Obsession
Makes about a quart

**Note: The chocolate dipped waffle cones are super simple to make if you want to serve the ice cream in them. See instructions at the very bottom.

For the ice cream base
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1 bag popped movie theatre butter popcorn
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 cup chopped nonpareils
1/3 chopped maple glazed cashews (or any candied nut of choice)
Salted caramel sauce

Chocolate dipped waffle cones, caramel sauce, and popped popcorn for serving

Heat the cream and 1 cup of the milk in a saucepan until bubbles just start to form at the edge. Remove from the heat and add in the popcorn. Stir and set aside to steep for an hour. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on the popcorn to strain out as much liquid as possible. Add the additional cup of milk and return to a clean saucepan.

Heat the milk mixture over a medium heat again until small bubbles just begin to form. While the milk heats, use an electric mixer to whip the egg yolks, sugar, and salt on medium speed for 2 minutes. This will form a light yellow and frothy mixture. When the milk is heated, slowly whisk about 1 cup of the milk into the eggs. Then, whisk the warmed eggs back into the saucepan with the milk.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and continuously stir the custard mixture until it thickens enough that it easily coats the back of a spoon and reaches 185 degrees. Strain through a sieve into a bowl or dish, stir in the vanilla, and transfer to the refrigerator to chill overnight.

The next day, churn the ice cream according to your machine’s instructions. Once churned, stir in the nuts and the two chocolates. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container, drizzling in caramel sauce as desired. Let freeze until completely firm before serving.

**To make chocolate-dipped ice cream cones melt chocolate chips in the microwave, swirl the top part of the outside of the cone in the chocolate and let the excess drip off. Pour some rainbow sprinkles onto a plate and roll the cone in sprinkles until it coats all of the chocolate. Lay them on a piece of parchment paper in the freezer until firm and keep stored in a plastic bag in the freezer until ready to use.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Bon Appetit’s Iced Coffee Shakerato


What do you get when you cross early-morning marathon training with a need for coffee and only coffee first thing when you wake up? Uhhh, good question, let me introduce you to the answer. World, meet iced coffee shakerato, the revolutionary coffee drink that finds that middle ground between the rushed and convenient coffee and the luxuriously long and slow coffees of my past. And boy is it absolute perfection.

I’ve had coffee in my life for a long time, like since 2-years-old long time, all the way back to the days of stealing sips out of my mom’s cup. I’ve gone from the standard filtered brewer to Starbucks and only Starbucks, from the k-cups of my always caffeinated college days, all the way up to my beloved French press with manually operated bean grinder in most recent history. These have all been fine methods, ones with a time and place in my life (and for some, still a very strong presence in it), but now that I have days that begin with over an hour of running, my lengthy “French press way is the best way” methodology must move aside for a bit.

I recently got a Nespresso machine and I love it! My obsession with it might be borderline unhealthy. But, I also didn’t want to trade in my prolonged coffee mornings for knocking back an espresso shot before hitting the running trails either. So what to do? Bon Appetit or my sister usually answer my distress calls for food and drink related questions. This time it was both.

About the time I got my machine and this month’s issue of the magazine, my sister was emailing me about their iced coffee shakerato recipe. It’s a quick and simple method but the result of its 3 ingredients is something unexpected and luxurious. I mean, did you know that espresso, sweetened condensed milk and simple syrup turn into a creamy and dreamy froth-filled drink when vigorously shaken in a cocktail shaker? Yeah, I was shocked too, almost in disbelief until I tried if for myself and stood there stunned when I strained it out. It almost takes on this latte meets slushy quality and although you’d think it would be excessively sweet, it doesn’t actually seem so. I’m not going to pretend to understand the science and logic (or is it witchcraft?) taking place inside that cocktail shaker but am simply going to give thanks for it in the mornings to come, because I cannot think of much else that will make me so happy when the day must start with 25 200-meter repeats on the treadmill.

Bon Appetit’s Iced Coffee Shakerato
Adapted slightly from this recipe
makes 1 drink

4 oz hot espresso
2 tsp. simple syrup
1½ Tbs. sweetened condensed milk
a dash of coconut or vanilla extract
optional: a shot of Irish whiskey if you’re feeling bold

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the espresso, simple syrup, condensed milk, and the extract. Cover and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Your shaker will become very cold, the ice will be crushed and the mixture extremely foamy. Fill a glass with more ice. Use a strainer to transfer the coffee mixture to the glass, allowing some of the smaller pieces of ice chips to slip through. If using the whiskey, stir in last.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Blackberry Chip Froyo Breakfast Pops

I signed up for my first marathon the other day and this week marks the beginning of an intense and strict 18-week training schedule. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I told myself for many many years that I didn’t want to attempt anything beyond a half, but here I am.

So I’ve bought new running shoes, stocked up on electrolyte drink tablets, and equipped myself with a plethora of post-run snacks including peanut butter (obviously), kind bars, orange juice, and these popsicles!! These are blackberry chip froyo breakfast pops. Yes, breakfast. Though I’ve had them at several points in they day and they work there too.

If you imagine waking up a 6:30 in the morning, followed by an hour of running in the already-sweltering July heat, a cool and creamy popsicle does sound nice right when you walk in the door, doesn’t it? And when it comes down to it, this popsicle is no different than having yogurt and fruit for breakfast with a handful of chocolate chips thrown in for good measure. Maybe you could even dip it in a bowl of granola on the side as you go too or take it in the car with you if you’re in a hurry, lots of options here.

The flavor here takes inspiration from one of my favorite ice creams, Edy’s Slow Churned Raspberry Chip Royale, and flavor which is unfortunately no longer around as far as I’m aware. When I was in high school, a time when I was running aggressively 6 times a week, my best friends and I would tear into a giant container of this stuff on a regular basis and without restraint. I remember us polishing off one of these monstrosities the night before a ten-mile run and the next day we felt amazing so obviously the ice cream did good things for us. Hopefully it’ll have the same effect on this marathon training too.

While these popsicles are not exact replicas of my favorite ice cream, they are very satisfying in their own way. Made with a base of vanilla greek yogurt, the resulting popsicle is more icy, as opposed to a creamy ice cream bar, making it more refreshing on hot days. I added blackberry sauce made by heating frozen blackberries with sugar in a pan until they break down and straining out the seeds. This gives them a deep berry flavor and their awesome merlot color. And of course the chocolate chips. No explanation needed there.

Blackberry Chip Froyo Breakfast Pops
Makes 10 popsicles (using this mold)
Adapted from Little Spice Jar

12 oz frozen blackberries
4 Tbs sugar, divided
2½ cups vanilla greek yogurt
¼ cup milk or almond milk
1/3 cup chocolate chips, roughly chopped

In a medium saucepan combine the blackberries and 2 Tbs of sugar and place over a medium heat. As the blackberries heat up use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture and mash the fruit into a sauce. Once the fruit is warmed and broken down, remove from the heat and strain using a sieve set over a medium bowl. Use the spoon to press down on the fruit to get out as much of the juice as possible (This step is optional but I really hate seeds in things so I take the time to separate them).
Set aside to cool.

While the blackberry sauce cools, combine the yogurt, milk, and the remaining 2 Tbs. of sugar in a medium bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add in the cooled blackberry sauce and stir to combine. Stir in the chocolate chips as well. Transfer the mixture to your popsicles molds using a ladle making sure to evenly divide the chocolate pieces as they may sink to the bottom of the bowl.

Place the molds in the freezer until completely solid. Run them under warm water to remove from molds and serve immediately.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Sticky Rice Bread

One TV show that I was recently sad to see ending was Downton Abbey. For a glorified soap opera about the lives of the exceedingly rich, I actually really enjoyed it. I mean, it’s no Game of Thrones (The King of the North!) but good enough to keep me emotionally invested for about 5 years and move me to tears perhaps more than once. And as much as Mary’s character annoyed me, I guess I’m glad she got a happy ending along with the rest of them.

There is one specific element of the show’s extraordinary production design that always stuck out to me. No, it’s not the lavish ballrooms in the Crawley’s house nor the elaborate table settings for their fancy dinners. It is much more minute than that but its allure would drive me insane regularly. There were many morning breakfast scenes that took place around the dining room in the servant’s quarters and in each scene a perfectly picturesque half loaf of the squishiest plushy white bread was placed atop the table.  The kind that is both dense and incredibly soft, bread that you can really sink your teeth into, bread that seems like it would be best served with a swipe of salted butter and a drizzle of honey alongside English cheeses and apples.

I specifically remember one scene where the character took a large wedge of the bread, fixed it up with butter and jam, and then was called upon so he hurried off before even taking a bite. I may or may not have been crying internal tears over that poor sad uneaten piece of bread for a long time. But let’s not talk about that moment anymore. Why? Because I no longer have to long for that bread. My dreams for it have come to fruition and for the past week I have been enjoying the tastiest morning toast and some bomb ass sandwiches thanks to a recipe for this sticky rice bread.

Despite what the title implies, this bread is not gluten free. In fact, it is full of it. However, a thick paste made of boiled glutinous rice flour and water joins the rest of the standard bread ingredients making for a final texture that is best described as stretchy. The two flours seem to join forces to create these ultra elastic strands of gluten giving the bread a very satisfying chew when soft. It kind of has that Wonder Bread appeal where the bread sticks to the roof of your mouth a bit when you take a bite. I mean this is a really good way by the way.

This all translates to toast really well in that it soaks up melted pools of butter without becoming soggy and the subtle sweetness that the rice flour gives turns into a caramelized flavor when the edges get just a little bit burnt. I obviously cannot speak highly enough of this bread and although it requires some planning ahead, more than a few steps, and an unusual ingredient that require a trip to the Korean supermarket, it is worth it. Trust me.

Never before have I been so excited about eating breakfast, and breakfast was already one of my favorite times of day. And guess what? It freezes really well so you can slice it up and pop it into some freezer bags as soon as it cools so that you can hoard this bread as long as you like and savor it at your leisure. The Crawleys can keep their fancy 7-course dinners, I’ll be down with the servants eating all of their bread, thank you very much.

Sticky Rice Bread
Makes 2 loaves
Recipe from Lady and Pups

1¼ cups plus 1 Tbs. sticky rice flour (Also called glutinous rice flour. You can find it at an Asian supermarket)
1 1/3 cups water
3½ cups bread flour
3 egg whites
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 1/8 tsp instant dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
1¾ Tbs. softened unsalted butter

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the rice flour and water and place over a medium heat. Stir constantly until it forms a gooey mass. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to let out some more of the heat.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the bread hook, add the bread flour, egg whites, sugar, yeast, salt and the cooled rice flour and water mixture. Mix on a low speed until the ingredients form a dough, scraping down the bowl occasionally as needed. Once it forms a solid mass of dough, increase the speed to medium high for 5 minutes.

Slow down the mixer and add half of the softened butter. Once it’s incorporated add the rest and knead again on medium-high speed for 15-20 minutes. The dough will be smooth but still pretty sticky. This is okay. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it proof at room temperature until doubled, about 1-2 hours. In the meantime line 2 large loaf pans with parchment paper.

Scrape the dough onto a floured countertop and divide in half. Then divide each half into 3 pieces, dusting with flour as needed. Roll the 6 pieces into long strips about the length of your loaf pan, pushing out any air bubble as you go. Take 3 of the strips and braid them together, pinching them shut at the ends. Repeat with the other 3 pieces of dough. Place the two loaves into you prepared pans and cover them very well with plastic wrap.  Place them in the refrigerator for 12-18 hours.

Take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit at room temperature while the oven preheats to 350 degrees. Place the bread in the oven and cover them loosely with a piece of parchment paper. Bake for 25 minutes and then remove the top piece of parchment and bake for another 20 until golden. Remove from the pan and place the loaves on a cooling rack for 30 minutes before having at it.