Sunday, June 26, 2011

Banana White Miso Sesame Crunch Ice Cream


On Friday I had 3 bananas sitting on my counter.  They were looking like they were past their eating prime as I hadn't been home much last week to eat them.  Something needed to be done with them, because I am not one to waste any sort of food.  What do I do with my over ripe bananas?  Well most of the time I suppose I would freeze them for smoothies or just make banana bread.  However those options seemed rather boring to me.  Friday the weather was wonderful, the sun finally started to show its face after a few days of rain and clouds, and it was starting to heat up, so I thought it was the perfect day to make ice cream! 


Banana ice cream is always delicious afterall, and over ripe bananas are the best kind to use for it!  I didn't just want to make plain banana though.  I decided to add white miso for a salty sweet flavor base.  I had made ice cream with it before and it gives a flavor similar to slated caramel.  I also added some sesame seed brittle for crunch, a nice contrast to the smooth ice cream.  Both contributed a wonderful caramel flavor that paired wonderfully with the bananas! Perfect for the start of summer, and I was happy I didn't just make banana bread.  I guess there is never such a thing as too many bananas, because you can always find new delicious things to create with them.  If you have some over ripe bananas on your counter, try this recipe out! 


Banana White Miso Sesame Crunch Ice Cream
Makes 5 cups

Ice Cream:
3 cups organic full fat coconut milk, chilled
1 cup banana puree, chilled
2/3 cup white miso
3/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 tsp sea salt
sesame cruch brittle (recipe follows)

Combine all ingredients except brittle in a blender, and process until well blended.  Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to package directions (mine takes about an hour, and is still a little soupy like the consistency of a malt, but firms up in the freezer later). Once processed, stir in a cup of brittle, and pour into freezable container with a lid, and place in the freezer for at least a few hours, or overnight to firm up for best results. Serve with more brittle if desired.

Sesame crunch brittle:
1 1/2 cups sugar
11 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup white sesame seeds, toasted

Lay out a sheet of foil sprayed with non-stick spray.  Place the sugar and sea salt in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat and cook sugar, swirling the pan until melted and dissolved.  use a spoon to mix it a little once it is almost all dissolved to ensure uniform color.  Continue to heat until light caramel color, then add the sesame seeds stir in and remove from heat once it reaches medium caramel color.  Pour out onto foil and spread out.  Let cool completely then break into pieces.  Crush 1 cup of the brittle into very small pieces and reserve the rest to serve with the ice cream, or as a garnish for another fabulous dessert!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Little Lemon Scented Cherry Galettes


Today was one of those days. This morning I couldn't go for a run because my leg was in pain, I discovered that I had forgotten to put a large container of yogurt away last night and left it on the counter, and I spilled my entire pot of oatmeal ALL over the floor and had to clean it up...  although not running was a bummer, I had to laugh at the food mishaps because what else can you do sometimes when you make stupid mistakes.  Afterall it doesn't pay to get upset.  Work was super busy, more than it has been in a long time, and although I am glad we are getting a lot of business, I wish I didn't feel so drained by break time.  As I sat on my break today, I was wishing I was at home baking a cherry pie instead of working.  Why a cherry pie?  Well I had a large amount of delicious perfectly ripe cherries in my fridge, and was craving a summer fruit pie!  What could be more relaxing than making a pie at my leisure.  Taking my time to make the dough, roll it out, slowly pit the cherries one by one while munching on a few...then being able to enjoy the finished product with some home made ice cream, the best part!  It all sounded wonderful. 

Although my daydream couldn't completely come true, I made sure I came close to it!  A pie was a little more effort and more time than I had to commit to after work so I decided on some mini galettes instead!  Afterall, they have the same wonderful qualities of a pie, just quicker to make. I still went with the cherries, but decided to scent the galettes with lemon for a little something extra.  They smelled wonderful while baking, filling my kitchen with a light scent of lemon and sweet cherries.  But most importantly, I got to live my dream of enjoying a piece of warm jammy sweet cherries enclosed in buttery crust with some cool vanilla ice cream.  It was wonderful!  I love a warm dessert with ice cream, just melting and the contrast of hot and cold!  I guess today wasn't so bad afterall...bad days are never as bad as we make them out to be, and being able to laugh at your messes and mistakes can make them better!  If you have even just a little time, here is the recipe for the galettes if you would like to try them for yourself!

Little Lemon Scented Cherry Galettes
makes 4 small galettes

Crust:
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp maple sugar
7 Tbsp chilled Earth Balance butter, cut into chunks
1 Tbsp organic lemon zest
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4-5 Tbsp ice water

Filling:
1 lb organic cherries, pitted and halved
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp organic lemon zest
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup maple sugar
pinch of sea salt

2 Tbsp Melted Earth Balance
Turbinado sugar

To make crust, combine flour, sea salt, maple sugar and butter in a bowl, and use a pastry blender to cut into the mixture until it resembles pea sized chunks (you can also use your hands).  Add zest, and vanilla and water and mix into the dough.  Knead a few times until it comes together (you may need to add an additional Tbsp more water).  Shape into 4 disks, cover with plastic and refrigerate until cold, but not hard.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each portion of dough to a 7-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick.
Place cherries, lemon juice, zest, vanilla, flour, maple sugar and sea salt in a large bowl and toss to combine. Arrange cherry mixture on top of dough on each round, leaving a  1 1/2-inch border all the way around. Fold border over the fruit mixture, overlapping where necessary and pressing gently to adhere the folds. Brush edges of dough melted Earth Balance, sprinkle with turbinado sugar, and bake until crust is deep golden brown and juices are bubbling, 40-45 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack to cool the galette. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dark Chocolate Cherry Stout Cake


For some reason I got it into my head that this weekend I would love to make a dessert that included beer.  I had some stout in the fridge, and since it goes so well with chocolate, especially in a cake that was what I decided needed to be made.  I know many people have made chocolate stout cakes, but I didn't just want a simple cake, but rather one studded with some sort of summer fruit! 


While I was at the store, I scoped out the produce section for something to add to my delicious cake and some lovely red cherries caught my eye!  I love cherries in the summer afterall, and hadn't had the luxury of enjoying them since last year...so I snatched up a large amount to buy.  Enough to both make my cake and still have enough to snack on a few while I made it!  I couldn't decided whether I wanted this to be an upside down cake or one with frosting, but the frosting in the end won out, since I just made a chocolate upside down cake last weekend.  Variety is the spice of life afterall! 


I used my vegan chocolate cake base and beer instead of the usual coffee or soymilk.  Of course I had to taste the remnants of batter left in the bowl after pouring it into the pan, scraping the last bits and enjoying them is required since there is no risk of salmonela from a vegan cake batter!  The batter was delicious, intensely chocolaty with a hint of the beer...I was incredibly excited to taste the baked cake, especially with the heavenly aroma that was emerging from the oven!  I covered the baked cake with a glossy stout laced glaze, the perfect way to dress the intense brownie like beauty.  When it was finished and fit for enjoying, I poured myself some of the extra stout to enjoy with the cake, and I cut myself a large piece and dove in.  It was like a piece of rich chocolate heaven!  The stout intensified the chocolate to another level, and the sweet cherries that were scattered throughout contributed little bursts of flavor.  It was as if a black forest cake married a brownie!  I loved being able to enjoy the stout along with the cake it was included in, it was the perfect pairing!  You must try it for yourself, and here is the recipe! 


Vegan Dark Chocolate Cherry Stout Cake
Makes 1 6 inch cake

1 6 inch cake pan
Cake:
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I use ghirardelli)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup maple sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup Stout Beer
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup pitted, quartered cherries

Glaze:
1/3 cup cocoa powder, plus more if needed
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup Stout beer
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt

cherries for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position rack in center of oven. Spray a six-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large bowl to blend well. Whisk oil, beer, and vanilla and almond extracts together in small  bowl to blend well, then whisk into the flour mixture until well blended.  Whisk in vinegar and stir quickly (pale swirls will be in the batter, which is the baking soda reacting with the vinegar, which allows the cake to rise since there are no eggs). Stir in cherries, and transfer cake batter to prepared pan and bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes. Cool cake about 20 minutes in pan on rack, then cut around sides of pan to loosen, and invert onto cooling rack.  When cake is cooled, to make glaze, whisk all ingredients together until smooth.  If too thin add more cocoa powder, if too thick add a little more beer until you have a just spreadable consistency.  Smooth over the top and sides of the cake and top with cherries for garnish.
*if you double the recipe you can bake this in a 9 inch pan, but the baking time will take at least 15-20 minutes longer if not more depending on your oven. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dark Chocolate Red Wine Strawberry Upside Down Cake


 
Red wine, chocolate and strawberries.  It sounds like a rather romantic combination, filled with deep rich flavors to enjoy with a significant other... But actually, to me it sounded like a perfect combination for a relaxing evening all to myself.  Afterall, what woman doesn't enjoy being able to relax in sweat pants while sipping some red wine and watching a chick flick?  On Friday after work I had opened a bottle of Italian red, and though I could have simply finished the bottle of wine, that sort of gluttony isn't smart, so instead I had some left over on Saturday.  I wanted to do something with it other than drink it though, so I decided that it would be wonderful in a chocolate cake. 


I have used red wine in this way before, and it was wonderful!  The wine contributes a deep complexity to the chocolate flavor in the cake that is amazing!  But I decided that the cake needed to have strawberries as well to make it even more wonderful.  A strawberry upside down cake!  Afterall, I had never heard of a chocolate upside down cake, and a strawberry one with jammy berries atop dark rich red wine flavored chocolate cake sounded amazing! 


I made a small six inch cake perfect for a single girl to enjoy in a few servings, but perfectly sharable.  I confess though, that I ended up eating the whole thing yesterday, as it was more delicious than I could have imagined.  It was beautiful, the red glossy berries arranged atop the dark deep chocolate cake, but not too beautiful to devour.  The flavors were amazing, moist rich dark chocolate cake with a red wine undertone and sweet jammy berries to set off the intensity...it was heavenly! 


As I sat in peace and quiet last night enjoying the delicious cake with a little more of the left over wine all to myself I was truely in my happy relaxed place.  I have included the recipe below if you would like to enjoy some as well!  And if you are nice, I suppose you could share some with that someone special. Otherwise, it is ok to be selfish once in a while!


Vegan Dark Chocolate Red Wine Strawberry Upside Down Cake
Makes 1 6 inch cake

1 6 inch cake pan

Topping:
1 1/2 Tbsp Earth Balance vegan butter, melted
1/4 cup Tbsp maple sugar
1 cup halved (or quartered if large) strawberries, or enough to cover bottom of pan

Cake:
3/4 cup plus whole wheat pastry flour
2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I use ghirardelli)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup maple sugar
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup red wine
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and position rack in center of oven. Spray a six-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick spray. pour butter into bottom of pan, and scatter over 1/4 cup maple sugar.  arrange strawberries cut side down on the bottom of the pan, filling all holes until bottom is completely covered.  Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large bowl to blend well. Whisk oil, wine, and vanilla extract together in small  bowl to blend well, then whisk into the flour mixture until well blended.  Whisk in vinegar and stir quickly (pale swirls will be in the batter, which is the baking soda reacting with the vinegar, which allows the cake to rise since there are no eggs). Transfer cake batter to prepared pan and bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes. Cool cake about 20 minutes in pan on rack, then cut around sides of pan to loosen. Turn cake out onto platter, berry side up.   

*if you double the recipe you can bake this in a 9 inch pan, but the baking time will take at least 15-20 minutes longer if not more depending on your oven. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Chocolate Lavander Ice Cream Sandwiches


Remember when you were a kid and you used to get ice cream sandwiches at school, or picnics?  The ones with the soft rectangle chocolate cookies and the soft vanilla ice cream?  I am sure most of us have, and I know many people love them, but to be honest they were never my favorite.  I found the cookies too soft, and the vanilla ice cream too mushy and not vanilla enough, as I am sure it was artificial vanilla.  I haven't eaten one as an adult, never had the urge to. 


But I have seen gourmet ice cream sandwiches in various magazine's and on other's blogs and I was inspired to create an ice cream sandwich worthy to be devoured on a hot summer day!  I already had made some lavander ice cream last weekend so I decided to go with the flavor of lavander. 


I have made many things with vanilla and lavander, so I thought this time I would make some intense chocolate shortbread laced with lavander to sandwich the cookies together.  The shortbread was delicious on its own but even better with the lavander and vanilla scented ice cream!  The lavander flavor was so delicate, and when taking a bite I got the rich flavor of the chocolate cookies, and the subtle sweet smoothness of the cool ice cream, all of it was pure heaven!  Especially since it has been so hot in Minnesota lately, and a dessert like this is welcomed to cool oneself down! 


My opinion of ice cream sandwiches has forever been changed now that I know they can be made delicious!  Here is the recipe if you would like to make some for yourself!  I promise you will enjoy them much more than the ice cream sandwiches of your childhood! 


Chocolate Lavander Ice Cream Sandwiches
Makes 8

Chocolate Lavander Shortbread:
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Ghirardelli)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 stick plus 3 Tbsp Earth Balance vegan butter
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup maple sugar
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp fleur de sel
2 Tbsp dried lavander flowers
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda.  In a large bowl, beat together butter, maple sugar, vanilla, and fleur de sel until light and fluffy. Mix in dry ingredients until well combined, and then the lavander until well incorporated.  Turn out onto a piece of parchment and roll out to a 1/4 inch thick.  Chill about 15 minutes and cut into hearts with a medium sized cookie cutter (you should have 16).  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, and chill in the fridge until cold.  Transfer parchment and cookies to another (unchilled) sheet, and bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until set.  Cool on the pan for about 5 minutes then remove to a wire rack to cool.

Lavander Vanilla Bean Ice Cream:
 3 Tbsp dried Lavander flowers, divided
1 cup lite coconut milk
2 cups organic full fat coconut milk, chilled
3/4 cup agave nectar
seeds of one vanilla bean
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
a few drops purple food coloring (plant based), optional

To make ice cream, combine lite milk, and 2 Tbsp lavander in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and chill in the fridge until very cold. When chilled, combine with all ingredients except remaining Tbsp lavander in a blender, and process until well blended. Mix in the last Tbsp lavander, and pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to package directions (mine takes about an hour, and is still a little soupy like the consistency of a malt, but firms up in the freezer later). Pour into a freezable container with a lid and place in the freezer for at least a few hours, or overnight to firm up for best results.  You will have extra ice cream after making the sandwiches.

To assemble sandwiches, Spead ice cream on half of the shortbread hearts about an inch thick, then top with another heart and carefully but firmly press together.  Serve!