What's that I hear? Oh, it's all of laughing at me for being such so obsessive and ridiculous. Thanks guys, I appreciate it.
But here's what came to mind when I began thinking about my choice to start the next leg of this project with vanilla ice cream. It's simple, classic, and sort of a staple item in a pastry chef's reportoire, much like veal or chicken stock. It's just one of those things you should always have in your freezer to serve on the side of pretty much anything. Or, if it's this recipe, to eat all on its own. By yourself. So you can lick the bowl. But while I thought this was a good place to start, I wasn't all that excited about it. I mean, vanilla ice cream...BOOORRRING. It can only be so good; it's not like it's chocolate or anything.
Boy was I wrong.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start with the ingredients for the ice cream:
vanilla pods, whole milk, heavy cream, eggs, sugar
To start, I slit the vanilla pods open lengthwise with a sharp knife and scraped out the tiny vanilla seeds.
This is where all the vanilla flavor comes from
I put the vanilla pods, seeds, milk, and cream in a pot and put it on the stove to bring to a boil.
While this was heating, I put a dozen egg yolks (that's right, A DOZEN. Can you feel your cholesterol rising?) and sugar in a mixing bowl
and creamed them together, just so they were well combined. Once the milk and cream had boiled, I used a ladle to slowly add it to the egg/sugar mixture, with the mixer running on low.
Once this was completely combined, I returned the mixture to the pot and cooked it over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. I continued to cook it until the mixture thickened to the point where it could coat the back of the spoon.
Once it had reached this point, I poured it through a fine sieve into a bowl and then put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice.
Once the custard had cooled to room temperature, I covered it and put it in the fridge to cool completely. Once it was cool, I churned it in the ice cream maker until it was creamy and semi-solid.
It was at this point that I first tasted the ice cream and immediately thought I'd died and gone to heaven because it was THAT GOOD
I put the ice cream in a tupperware and put it in the freezer to harden completely.
Later that afternoon, I made the Chantilly cream, which is just a fancy British name for whipped cream. Those Brits, always trying to be so classy. This was simple. I just whisked the cream with the sifted powdered sugar and vanilla extract until it formed stiff peaks.
This went into the fridge until it was time to serve.
Right before serving I made the hot chocolate sauce. This was also really easy. I simply boiled heavy cream and then poured it over dark chocolate pieces.
The recipe calls for chocolate that is 70% cocoa, but we only had 60% and since it looked like this outside:
we thought we would just make due.
Finally after a delicious dinner of homemade baked ziti (meaning we made both the noodles and tomato sauce from scratch. What else were we going to do on such a snowy day?), I scooped out the vanilla ice cream, topped it with some of the chocolate sauce and added the whipped, excuse me, Chantilly cream. Ideally I should have piped on the whipped cream, and I did use a plastic bag to sort of kind of maybe pipe it on, but it still ended up looking like this:
The recipe also calls for toasted slivered almonds, which would have added a nice crunchy texture, but we didn't have any. And, well:
We did without. And you know what? This was ammmaaazzzing!!! I would bathe in this if it wasn't so cold. And sticky.
It was by far, the best vanilla ice cream I've ever had. It was so creamy and rich and sweet, and just had the perfect proportion and texture. I mean, this really made vanilla ice cream into an event. Up until the point when I tasted it, I was worried that choosing this as the first recipe to make was a bad idea, because the preparation was just too simple and easy. I mean, I promised you guys more excitement and all you were getting was vanilla ice cream!? Ugh.
But really, this was soooo good. SO GOOD. It has validated not only my decision to switch gears but also to use this cookbook as a guide. Because if Clark can convince me to cheat on my all time favorite lovah, chocolate, she obviously knows her shit.
The slight bitterness from the chocolate sauce balanced out the sweetness of the ice cream, but as I ate, I started to feel that the chocolate and whipped cream were really just a distraction from the perfect vanilla ice cream, which was truly the star. My recommendation, (and how I ate this after that first night): omit the chocolate (gasp!!) and whipped cream.
Sadly, I finished off the very last remnants of the ice cream last night.
And yes, I licked the bowl.
Next Indulgence: Lemon Posset and Shortbread