Staff Favorites: Summer's ideal dessert
An occasional series in which staff members share a recipe that we turn to time and again:
On the day the temperature hit 102 degrees this week, I spent the whole day cooking. Tomatoes were roasting in a 325-degree oven. Sauces were boiling on the stove. Hours after the sun had set and the last dishes were done, my air conditioner was still battling mightily to cool the place down.
We get a lot of questions about what to cook (or not to) when summer arrives. But I’ve never been afraid of turning on the stove. But my day in the kitchen this week taught me once and for all that sometimes it really is just too darn hot. It got me thinking a lot more seriously about what to make when the weather isn’t cooperating.
For dessert, my answer is ice cream pie. I came across recipes for this (almost) no-bake dessert in 2007 when chef Nancy Silverton published her terrific cookbook “Twist of the Wrist” (Knopf, 2007), which uses high-quality ingredients from cans, jars and boxes for some pretty sophisticated recipes. (Amusingly, this includes things like mayonnaise and tuna, which Silverton would of course normally make/can herself.)
For the ice cream pies, all you do is make a graham cracker crust. It bakes for 8 minutes, a short enough time not to heat up the house. Then, you fill it with top-quality ice cream and dress it up with elegant sauces. It’s more “finished” than serving a bowl of ice cream to guests. Silverton suggests strawberry ice cream pie with strawberry-cinnamon-black-pepper sauce and dulce de leche ice cream with salty peanuts and hot fudge. But the sky is the limit for the creative possibilities: You could pair lemon ice cream with raspberries, ginger ice cream with peaches or chocolate with hot fudge.
I love dulce de leche. (I love anything with caramel.) But I’m not crazy about dulce de leche ice creams. They are always too sweet. So I make a variation.
I spread a thick layer of the caramel, then sprinkle it with salty marcona almonds and top it with good vanilla ice cream. If you don’t like the salty-sweet combination, you could use chocolate-covered espresso beans or raspberries.
-- Jane Black
The original recipe calls for dulce de leche ice cream, which can be cloying. Combining dulce de leche milk caramel and vanilla ice cream creates a nice balance.
La Salamandra dulce de leche from Argentina is a good brand to use; it's available at Cork Market in Northwest Washington (202-265-2674) and through Amazon.com and other online gourmet purveyors.
Salty marcona almonds add crunch, but a layer of crushed chocolate-covered espresso beans or raspberries would also be delicious.
MAKE AHEAD: The pie needs 1 1/2 hours' refrigeration to firm up before serving.
Adapted from Nancy Silverton’s "Twist of the Wrist" (Knopf, 2007).
1 1/2 pints vanilla ice cream
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup dulce de leche (see headnote)
1/3 cup salted marcona almonds. chopped, plus more for optional garnish
Scoop the ice cream into the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer, then place it in the refrigerator to soften (for about 15 minutes) while you make the crust.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Have a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate at hand.
Combine the graham cracker crumbs, butter, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl; mix well, then press the crumbs into the pie plate to form a single crust (bottom and sides). Bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned and set. Let cool.
Use all of the dulce de leche to spread a thick layer on the bottom part of the crust, then scatter the chopped almonds evenly over the caramel.
Use a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer to beat the softened ice cream on low speed for a few minutes, until it is quite soft but has not melted. Transfer to the caramel-lined pie crust, smoothing it evenly on top. If desired, garnish with more chopped almonds.
Freeze for at least 1 1/2 hours, or until the filling is firm. Use a knife dipped in hot water to cut clean slices for serving.
July 9, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
Categories: Recipes , Staff Favorites | Tags: Jane Black, Staff Favorites
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