Back to School / Hot and Cold Desserts, Part I

Sadly, I had to say goodbye to California, get on a plane, and return to school. The good news is I had a pretty fun class to get me back into the routine. Hot and Cold Desserts was basically an ice cream class. And if anyone knows me well, I love ice cream. 

The first day of class consisted of American and French vanilla and chocolate ice cream, caramel sauce, and chocolate sauce. Not to mention a sundae party.  

French Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Ice cream is actually quite easy to make because the machine does all of the hard work. The base for french vanilla ice cream is something you may have heard of before: creme angaise. Creme anglaise is french for "english cream" and is a custard. Custards contain sugar, egg yolk, and hot milk. One rule about custards is that they must be cooked prior to serving because of the egg content. Therefore, french vanilla ice cream is cooked over the stove and cooled before being spun in an ice cream machine. What else does the egg yolk do? It provides more fat in the ice cream which results in a thicker and creamier taste, and a rich texture. The difference between French and American style ice creams are that American ice cream does not contain egg yolks, therefore, it does not need to be cooked. 
The following recipe uses a vanilla bean that is infused into the hot milk. If you were to use vanilla extract in place of the vanilla bean, you would need to add it after the base has been cooked because heating vanilla extract will not flavor the ice cream, but instead cook off the flavor. 

12 oz. heavy cream 
12 oz. milk
6 oz. sugar
4 oz. egg yolks
1/2 vanilla bean 

1. Place heavy cream, milk, half of the sugar, and scraped vanilla bean into a pot and bring to a scald.
2. Place egg yolks and remaining sugar in a bowl and whisk (do not let the sugar sit on the yolks without being whisked or they will cook the egg).
3. Temper the egg yolks by adding the hot dairy to the yolks and whisking constantly.
4. Place tempered mixture back into the pot and cook, stirring slowly with a wooden spoon, until it reaches nappe stage (170-180 degrees).
5. Strain immediately into a bowl over an ice bath. 
6. Allow the base to cool for 4-12 hours before spinning, if possible (or cool below 50 degrees).
7. Churn in an ice cream machine for about 5 minutes, checking often, until it ejects in a soft serve consistency. 

Green Tea Frozen Yogurt
Frozen yogurt is a low fat alternative to ice cream because it replaces the cream and egg yolk with yogurt. The flavor above is green tea, which means I simply infused the tea leaves in hot milk before mixing the ingredients.
**because frozen yogurt does not contain egg yolks, it does not need to be cooked before churning**

Parfait Glace and Souffle Glace

Parfait/souffle glace are both made from a frozen mousse. A parfait glace is served in a glass, while a souffle glace is served in a ramekin, to give the appearance of a souffle ("puffed up").

2 oz. egg yolks
2 oz. whole eggs
4 oz. sugar
1 lb. heavy cream
flavorings, to taste (I used melted white chocolate)

1. Place yolks and sugar in a bowl of a mixer, and put over a double broiler. Whisk/whip constantly while cooking to 145 degrees.
2. Remove from heat and place in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on high until cool and ribbon stage is reached.
**Ribbon stage = the yolk and sugar mixture is thick enough to the point where, when the whisk is lifted, the batter falls back onto the surface of the mixture in a ribbon-like pattern.**
3. Fold desired flavoring into the yolk mixture. Taste to ensure that the flavor is very strong, because the whipped cream will lower the intensity of the flavor.
4.Whip heavy cream to a soft peak.
5. Fold the whipped cream into the yolk mixture in 3 stages.
6. Pipe into parfait glasses or strong plastic-lined ramekins.
7. Freeze.

Baked Alaska
Baked Alaska is a dessert featuring ice cream, encased in sponge cake, and a layer of swiss meringue, and torched and sometimes flambeed (set on fire), which is always fun. 
Fun Fact: Baked Alaska was invented in 1896 to celebrate America's purchase of Alaska. 

Swiss Meringue:
3 oz. fresh egg whites
6 oz. sugar
pinch cream of tartar

1. Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tarter in the bowl of a mixer. Place the bowl of a double broiler, whipping the mixture constantly with a whisk until it has warmed to 120 degrees, or the sugar has melted. 
2. Remove from the double broiler and place on a mixer. Whip to high speed until cool and stiff peaks form. 
3. Use immediately. 

To assemble:
1. Line a dome mold with a very thin round piece of sponge cake. 
2. Pipe slightly softened ice cream into the mold and top with another thin round of spongecake, slightly smaller than the mold's circumference. 
3. Freeze the mold. 
4. Un-mold ice cream dome onto a turntable. 
5. Pipe a design over the cake layer with swiss meringue.
6. Use a gloved finger dipped in warm water to smooth any parts of the meringue that is sticking up from piping. Doing so will prevent the tips of the meringue from setting on fire during torching. 
7. Torch the meringue, moving the blow torch side to side quickly while spinning the turntable to brown evenly. 

Normally, baked alaska is served flambeed (aka: set on fire), by accounting for a half an egg shell while piping the meringue. Then, after the baked alaska is torched, the egg shell is filled with alcohol and set on fire. This is something I didn't get to do in class, but really wish I had. 

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Maira Gall