July Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Swiss swirl ice cream cake!

What is a Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake? It is chocolate cake that has whipped cream rolled up inside it (this is where the swirl part comes from) layered on top (though built upside-down!) of ice cream! The challenge included making the cake, whipped cream, ice cream and fudge sauce all from scratch!

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.

First of all, many of the recipes in this challenge call for caster sugar, which, according to the DB website, “Caster sugar is finely ground granulated sugar. It can also be found as “superfine sugar”, “fruit sugar” or “quick dissolving sugar”. If you can’t find it, you can make your own by whizzing some regular granulated sugar in the food processor or blender.”

I, of course,  could not find anywhere that sold caster sugar, so I made my own from granulated sugar. I would like to see exactly what caster sugar looks like compared to regular sugar.

Anyway, the cake was pretty easy to make, though I had some trouble removing the parchment paper from the back of it, so I had to do some patchwork, but it all worked out in the end.

The sugar that is used for the whipped cream and the vanilla ice cream (which is really just frozen whipped cream) is vanilla sugar, which (as said in the instructions) is ground sugar and vanilla pod pieces. You can make vanilla sugar anytime by adding scraped vanilla pods (leftover from other recipes) in with granulated sugar. Then you can use that instead of  granulated sugar and vanilla extract in any recipe such as cookies or cake.

I made a half recipe of everything, since I know that I’ll probably be the one eating it all! So, I used half the whipped cream for the filling in the cake and froze the rest for the vanilla ice cream part. It worked out perfectly.

The chocolate ice cream was simple but took much longer to freeze than the vanilla. I think if I make it again, I’ll try whipping it up a bit and then putting it in the freezer since the vanilla was whipped first and then frozen and still worked. It was interesting to make an egg-less ice cream and one that can just be put in the freezer and just stirred every so often rather than using an ice cream machine or some other way of spinning the base. It is a good thing to know in case I ever find myself in need of egg-less ice cream again!

The chocolate fudge sauce that goes in between the ice cream layers (this is not a dessert for someone on a diet!) was also easy to make. Just put all ingredients in the pot and whisk/cook until thick and bubbly.

Altogether, this was a pretty simple challenge, but you really have to be patient and allow for cooling, chilling, and freezing time of all of the components/layers. Since I tasted all of the components individually as I went along, I am sure that it will all be worth it when it is all frozen together! (after 24 hours…) I just tried all of the components frozen together, and they are good. I ended up with more vanilla ice cream than chocolate, but since the cake is chocolate, it ended up being a good balance. Continue reading

June Daring Bakers’ Challenge

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

This was one delicious, chocolate-y challenge. I think the hardest part was not eating all of it in one sitting.

This is a three-part dessert, but all parts are really simple to make. It’s chocolate meringues, chocolate mascarpone mousse, and mascarpone cream anglaise sauce.

I did not find mascarpone cheese in either Lucky or Safeway, so I bought cream cheese, sour cream, and (extra) heavy cream to “make” my own mascarpone cheese, as I did not feel like making mascarpone cheese the way we did a few months back.

Anyway, I think because of my impatience (not letting the cream cheese soften), there were some parts of the mousse that had pockets of cheese, but it still tasted good and made me just as fat.

I had some cream anglaise sauce and mousse left over because I did not make many meringues, so I did a little experimenting, and mixed the two together and froze them in my springform pan. My plan was to have a no-crust cheesecake, but what I ended up with was an un-mold-able cross between chocolate ice cream and frozen chocolate mascarpone mousse. I think some people might call this a semi-freddo, but I am not sure that is the proper name for it. Anyway, it is a mighty, tasty concoction.

Follow the jump for the recipes and pictures.

Continue reading

ice cream & cookie sandwiches

One of my favorite combos would be cookies and ice cream, so to make a sandwich with them is just fabulous. Whoever thought of the ice cream sandwich gets a gold star in my book!
We made the cookies from scratch, using the first chocolate chip cookie recipe ever, Nestle Tollhouse.

We then used Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream. It was a good flavor combo, but I like the classic vanilla ice cream in the middle of my chocolate chip cookies. What about making cookie sandwiches with chocolate cookie dough ice cream? or is that going too far? There are so many different cookie flavors and ice cream flavors, the possibilities are endless!

baking FAIL turns into awesome ICE CREAM! (aka this is what I did today)

Since I had some left over cookie dough from the pie pops, and some time to kill today, I was wondering what I had that I could mix with it. I found butter, sugar (brown and regular, granulated), and cinnamon—all ingredients I needed for cinnamon rolls! So, I softened and rolled out the dough, and softened the butter and mixed it with the sugars and cinnamon. Spread the butter mixture on the dough, rolled it up, cut 1″ pieces, placed them in a cake pan (I didn’t use my jelly roll pan because there weren’t that many pieces, and put them in a pre-heated, 375 degree oven. (sounds good, right? and if you look at the picture, it looks like they turned out well, and people ate them so quickly that all I had time to take a picture of was the empty pan—but after reading the title of this entry, you already know this is not true!) After about 5 minutes, I started to smell the butter browning. (kind of a nutty smell) So, I checked on the rolls, and found that all of the butter had melted out of the dough. I could have been frustrated, and dumped the whole thing, but instead, I put the pan back in the oven, and finished baking the dough, about another 15 minutes. Overwhelmed by the delicious smell of butter and sugar, I quickly thought “I bet this would be good in some ice cream. Like brown butter ice cream, with little cinnamon cookies sprinkled in.” So, I ran out, and got some Bryer’s  vanilla ice cream (now with 30% more REAL vanilla beans!) and put the softened ice cream in a bowl, and dumped in my buttery, sugary, cinnamony dough pieces, and used a rubber spatula to mix them together. Dipped a spoon in, tasted, and LIKED it!

Now, I don’t have any fancy equipment, such as a food processor, or ice cream maker (but they are on my gift wish list—and my birthday IS coming SOON…) but these items would be useful for making the dough pieces smaller, and I would have liked to make my own ice cream, because I did go to pastry school, and I know how to make it, but especially because I am not the biggest Breyer’s fan. (also realized I don’t have a rolling pin-I just used my hands to press out the dough-no big deal, since it was a small amount.) Anyway, the end result is still good, and because I am such a huge fan of chocolate, I added some chocolate syrup, but the extra flavor was not needed. (she writes, as she dips her spoon back in the bowl for some more ice cream…) Lesson learned: what might seem like a complete baking FAIL may turn out to be something GREAT.

While I don’t have a picture of the failed cinnamon rolls, I do have some pictures of the ice cream, and I am willing to share with you the recipe for the ice cream, and real cinnamon roll recipes, in case you want to make those instead of the failures-turned-good rolls.
First, the fail-rolls:
If your dough has been in the refrigerator or freezer (as in you didn’t just make it), then you need to soften it. I did this by putting it in the microwave. Easy and quick. Then, like I said, I rolled it out, spread on the butter mixture, etc.
I used part of the recipe for the Mama’s mini-cinis (below) to figure out the right butter-sugar-cinnamon ratio. I used 3 tablespoons of butter, about 1-1/2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar, and a dash of ground cinnamon (about 1/2 tsp if you are really into measuring what I like to call “the small stuff”—spices, vanilla, etc. that don’t make much of a difference in a recipe, unless you put in TOO much.) After spreading the butter mixture on the dough, I rolled it up, cut 1″ pieces and placed them in the pan. 375 degrees. 15-20 minutes. I don’t know exactly why, perhaps I was looking to soak up all of the butter that melted out, but I flipped over the baked dough. I used maybe a quart of ice cream. All I know for sure is that the label says 1.5 quarts, and there is some left, about enough for a good-sized bowl full. You’ll know it’s enough because You won’t see any cookie pieces sticking out, it will just look like lumpy soft serve.
So, it was really easy to fix this baking fail. Just add ice cream!
Now, some of you might want the satisfaction of cinnamon rolls that never fail, but are really easy and quick to make, so I introduce to you Mama’s mini-cinis. This is not a recipe from my mother, but someone else’s, who decided to put this recipe up on the interweb.
Mama’s mini-cinis:
Ingredients:
2 (8 oz) cans refrigerated crescent rolls (I guess Pillsbury makes these)

6 TBS butter, softened
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup pecans (optional)
1 TBS sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

2/3 cup powdered sugar
1 TBS milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1/8 tsp. salt

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll crescent rolls, and separate each portion along center perforation to form 4 rectangles; press diagonal perforations to seal.
Stir together butter, sugars, pecans, and cinnamon. Spread over one side of each rectangle. Roll up jelly roll fashion, starting at long end. Gently cut each log into 6 (1″ thick) slices, using a serrated knife. Place rolls 1/4″ apart into 2 8″ cake pans. (can also use a jelly roll pan, but you want something with edges-do not use a cookie sheet.) bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden. cool 5-10 minutes. makes 2 dozen.

Stir together powdered sugar and remaining ingredients, drizzle over warm rolls. (of course, you could eat these with ice cream, too!)

note: to make slicing easier, place logs in freezer for about 10 minutes.

my first dessert post is chocolate-filled

The desserts consumed over the weekend all involved chocolate in some way. Not very surprising, because I am somewhat of a choco-holic.
I went to Fish and Farm Friday night, and I had the wonderful Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse. This was served with chocolate ice cream and caramel-as a sauce on the plate, and a piece of caramel with salt (like a piece of brittle), that I consumed at the very end. I love the salty-sweet combo of  peanut butter and chocolate. The mousse was rich, but not overwhelming. I am not sure that the ice cream was a necessary addition to the dessert, but nonetheless, it was good, and chocolaty, and therefore fully consumed by me.

The next day, I was going to attempt the pie pops, as previously mentioned, but lollipop sticks are nowhere to be found in San Francisco, so I made the “better than brownie cookies” as presented on the Technicolor Kitchen blog. These are great cookies and certainly live up to their name.  Texture-wise, I tend to like fudge-y brownies, rather than cake-y brownies, and these cookies were somewhere inbetween. However, these cookies are similar to brownies because they have a crusty outer layer. I like this texture contrast. Also, I do not like the edges of brownies (I like the pieces from the middle of the pan.) so these cookies are better, because you don’t have the chewy, slightly burnt edges of a brownie. The cookies also take about half the time (about 12-14 minutes) than brownies usually take to bake, which is a plus, because I am impatient; once I smell the chocolate and sugar melting together in the oven, I want to just dive right in eat the partially baked brownie batter. These cookies are good warm or room temperature, if you can wait long enough to let them cool before eating them all. Next time I might add peanut butter chips, or butterscotch chips, rather than chocolate chips. Maybe even try adding some banana bits.
Those were my chocolate-filled dessert tastes for this week. Hopefully, lollipop sticks will be found, and I will have the opportunity to make pie pops, and maybe something else on a stick. I can’t wait for more sweet fun! (pun intended.)