Profiteroles, vanilla ice-cream, chocolate sauce

(Profiteroles, vanilla ice-cream, chocolate sauce)

Blame it on the weather. I wanted steamed pudding. The weather said no. And it’s pretty hard to argue with sunshine and warm breezes. So ice-cream it is.

We used to serve profiteroles with ice-cream at a bistro I worked in many years ago. At the time, they were presented as three dainty choux buns, stuffed with a rotating list of flavoured ice-creams (hazelnut was my absolute favourite), drizzled with chocolate sauce and sprinkled with chopped nuts. Prior to that, my only exposure to profiteroles were the frozen ones filled with Grand Marnier custard that mom would buy by the boxful. You were meant to defrost them before eating, but I liked them straight from the freezer despite the threat of brain-freeze.

We had these profiteroles with vanilla ice-cream (a lactose-free version) and plenty of chocolate sauce for dessert last night and I’ve subsequently discovered two things. 1. As a dessert item, these are damn good. No wonder they were so popular at the bistro. 2. What’s even better is, after the very last bite is gone, the remaining puddle of melted ice-cream and chocolate sauce co-mingle to form a few bonus spoonfuls of instant chocolate ice-cream!

So I think we’ll be having more frequent profiterole-themed desserts from now on, and it’s also tempting to have another wack at eclairs which I haven’t made since the Daring Bakers challenge from eons ago.

(PS: I’m heading to Hobart to work for a couple of weeks. It’s only been a few months since my last trip and having covered a few of the usual suspects including the tourist trifecta of Salamanca markets, Pigeonhole Cafe and the MONA gallery (all brilliant and highly recommended), I’m keen to explore and discover other new things. Any suggestions most welcome!)

Profiteroles :
(adapted from Beyond Nose to Tail by Fergus Henderson & Justin Piers Gellatly)

For the choux pastry :
(makes 12)
125g water
50g butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
70g plain flour
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 200’C. Line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

In a medium pot, bring the water, butter and salt to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and add the flour all at once. Using a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, beat the mixture rigorously. It will start to come away from the sides of the pot. Cook for about a minute then remove the pot from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool a little then beat in the eggs one by one, making sure they are fully incorporated. Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto the trays, about 1 1/2 inches apart. (You can pipe the dough but I like mine more freeform). Bake for 20 minutes then turn the oven down to 140’C and bake for a further 15-20 minutes. The profiteroles should have a crisp outer shell and a dry interior. When they are ready, cool them on a wire rack, then split them in half, fill with scoops of vanilla ice-cream (I used this one) and serve with a generous amount of chocolate sauce.

For the chocolate sauce :
250g 70% dark chocolate buttons
350g water, just boiled
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pour the water over the chocolate and sugar. Whisk well or blitz with a stick blender/immersion blender to get rid of any lumps. Stir in the vanilla extract and use immediately and keep covered and reheat it when you need it.

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Lemon speculoos ice-cream, ale poached peaches

(Lemon speculoos ice-cream)

There were some days last week when I would wake up and feel relieved that yesterday was over. It was hard not to feel a bit mopey since the boy had been away for so long. One upside was that it gave me plenty of time to tick things off my to-do list, and subsequently to come up with a few new and silly ones.

Like my Top 5 desert island ice-creams list, which after much consideration reads as follows. In no particular order :

1) Rum ‘n’ Raisin
(A inexplicable regular feature of any of my imaginary ice-cream lists. Maybe I was abducted by pirates as a child.)

2) Bitter chocolate
(Good chocolate ice-cream is a miracle in itself.)

3) Beer sorbet
(Because after an exhausting day trying to get rescued from a deserted island, everyone deserves an ice cold refreshing beer.)

4) Raspberry vanilla ripple
(I’m obsessed with things that ripple and swirl. Also, it’s almost like cheating and having two flavours in one. One bite and it’s vanilla! Now it’s raspberry!)

5) David Lebovitz’s lemon speculoos ice-cream
(I never was a fan of cookies ‘n’ cream ice-creams, but this I could definitely get behind.)

To the uninitiated, speculoos is a spiced cookie. It is truly wonderful folded through ice-cream, or even eaten on its own. I had to make two batches of speculoos for this recipe because I accidentally ate all of the first batch! You can find the recipes in David Lebovitz’s book.

To accompany the ice-cream, I poached some peaches in ale, after buying a bag of peaches at the market. If you can’t get peaches, try preserved cherries, but really, the ice-cream is already spectacular on its own. Amazing what a little refrigeration can do for you on a desert island. Or would that be dessert island?

Ale poached peaches :

4 ripe yellow peaches, blanched, refreshed and peeled
1 x 330ml bottle pale ale
750ml (3 cups) water
1/4-1/2 cup sugar
2 cloves
1 long pepper, crushed

In a pot, bring the ale, water, sugar and spices to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Taste the liquid and add more sugar if you wish. I prefer mine to be less sweet. Lower the peaches into the liquid and simmer until just tender. This should take no more than 5-10 minutes. Remove the peaches and reduce the poaching liquid to a light syrup. Cool, then pour the syrup over the peaches and keep chilled until you’re ready to use.

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Apples for Autumn

(Candied apple ice-cream)

Long before I ever needed to worry about keeping the doctor away, I was your average apple-a-day kind of gal for many years. First it was the rosy kiss of Red Delicious apples, then the crisp, juicy tartness of Granny Smiths. Then I gradually lost interest in them altogether. Sure there was the occasional flaky pie, muffin or crumble, but essentially I had grown bored of apples.

We were lucky enough to visit the US late last year during what I would consider perfect weather. The frost had not yet set in, and arrangements of pumpkins were still gracing door steps. It was during this trip that my interest in apples was reignited. In New York there was hot cider on sale at every market we visited and a dazzling array of heirloom apples filled boxes and baskets in many fresh produce stalls. We had a simple but tasty sugared apple tart at City Bakery and a very memorable slice of lard and butter-crusted apple pie from Shandaken Bake. Just picked, cute as a button Lady apples were presented to us as petit fours at Dan Barber’s restaurant, Blue Hills.

In San Francisco, I had apples, mascarpone and hazelnuts on generous slices of pan de mie at farm:table, and pickled apples and cajeta at Napa Valley’s Ubuntu. Bored of apples? What was I thinking!

Now in Sydney, this gentle change from Autumn into Winter reminds me of our trip and has me dreaming of apples. I was recently gifted an ice-cream machine by B’s co-workers, hence this candied apple ice-cream, which when paired with pickled apples and a spoon or two of oat crumble, creates a smile that starts at the corners of your lips and ends deep in your belly.

Candied Apple Ice-Cream :
(adapted from a recipe in Frozen Desserts by Francisco J. Migoya)

1000g milk
195g cream
90g egg yolks
80g liquid glucose
small pinch of ground cinnamon
180g candied apples (recipe below)

If you have a Thermomix :
Place all the ingredients in a Thermomix. Cook to 76’C and pass through a fine strainer. Chill well (preferably overnight) before churning in an ice-cream maker.

Otherwise :
In a pot, scald the milk, cream, cinnamon and glucose. Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl, add slowly add half of the hot milk mixture, whisking to combine, then pour all the contents of the bowl into the pot, whisking. Turn the heat down to medium and stir the mixture continuously until it reaches 76’C. Strain and chill well. Add the candied apples that have been pureed and strained before churning in an ice-cream machine.

For the candied apples :

1kg sugar
20g lime juice
250g water
400g Granny Smith apples (weight after peeling and dicing into 1.25cm cubes)

In a large pan, combine the sugar, lime juice and water. Bring to boil over high heat. When the sugar begins to turn a pale yellow (130’C), add the apples and continue to cook over medium heat until the apples are translucent, about 15 minutes. Strain the apples and allow to cool on a lined tray before using.

[NB : This makes more than you need for the ice-cream mixture, but the leftovers are great as a garnish, or used in other ways, such as in an apple and ginger cake]

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