Tag Archives: dulce de leche

Chocolate Toffee Gelato

It’s funny how things work.  I was finally able to go to the nursery this past Sunday to choose plants for the patio project I’ve been working on for the past few weeks, and was so pooped lifting those 5-gallon containers I decided to put off planting them until the next day.  Bear in mind that lifting them into place and moving them around to decide which looked best next to what was just as physically taxing as planting, so quite a bit of stepping back to stare at the results was involved afterwards.

At some point Sunday evening, the clouds rolled in and the wind whipped the trees around, surprising us with rain lasting through much of Monday morning.  In this land of perpetually  sunny days and palm trees, I always welcome the rain but like to be able to look forward to it and have time to think about closing windows in the house I forget are open.  Yes, there were two open, and though I wouldn’t willingly risk having the rain come in and ruin the flooring, the soothing sound of a steady rain and scent of fresh moisture wafting through the house is what I was left with.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

It also leaves me with a gelato recipe to write about instead of rainy day food like a nice bowl of creamy asparagus soup, or cute little fruit handpies, but it’s a gelato recipe well worth writing about. Flavor you might find in a paper pint on a night when a good movie you’ve seen a trillion times is what’s in order and your couch has a spot with your name on it.

Jammies required.

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Apple Walnut Pancakes

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A friend of mine gave me a bag of small, crisp red apples the last time she came for dinner and somehow, I’d lost track of them.  I should have known they’d been sitting in the fridge, waiting for me to get around to making something with Fall written all over it.  Would it be apple nut muffins, a new take on a Waldorf salad, or perhaps an apple butternut squash soup?  I couldn’t decide until last weekend when I knew I’d be in the kitchen making macarons and decided to treat the menfolk to breakfast.  I’m not the one who normally makes breakfast on Sunday, so my offer was met with surprise and instant nods of, “Yes, please!”  Neither my husband or son would turn down pancakes even if they had a healthier twist than those my husband usually makes.  Besides, I knew I’d get to experiment a bit and it’s always fun to find out just how a particular recipe will end up.

If you have a jar of dulce de leche sitting around, it’s amazing what a little bit of it can do to a nice stack of hot ones on a cool Fall morning.  Initially, it was to have ended up filling the macarons, but it didn’t make it past the pancakes.

Who knew?

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Ricotta and Brown Sugar Gelato

IMG_4415 Quite some time ago, I came across a recipe in a magazine that I didn’t subscribe to but magically ended up in my mailbox each month, addressed to me.  It didn’t take long to realize the publication’s advertisements outweighed its content, but a two page piece featuring a local chef caught my eye as did his recipe for honey ricotta ice cream.   I’m more in the chocolate camp when it comes to ice cream, but once in a great while, a lighter flavor will temp me.  Rarely, if ever, will it be plain vanilla, however.  Sweet cream?  Yes.  Cream cheese?  Definitely.  It made sense that ricotta and honey would appeal to me, so I tore out the recipe and recycled the magazine.

The recipe sat among the other bits and pieces of paper that manage to hover near our telephone in the kitchen.  When looking for someone’s number, or trying to locate a coupon, I’d see the recipe and think, “I should make this…” and place it on the counter hoping that its presence would coerce me,  but it would get shoved back into the stack I removed it from, so never did.  There was the small matter of not owning an ice cream maker that could also be the culprit.  Not the old-fashioned hand-crank model my mother and I found at a garage sale for five bucks and which lost its novelty long ago.  No, I needed an electric model I could plug in and forget.

Years passed (honestly!) and I finally bought a Cuisinart with an extra freezing bowl so we could enjoy home made ice cream whenever we felt like it.  Ironically, the honey ricotta recipe disappeared, most likely falling victim to one too many sessions of being shoved into a drawer and out of sight when guests were expected, and then not retrieved.  It figures.

But I’ve not forgotten the idea of those flavors, and so finding myself with leftover ricotta from a recent gnocchi making session, I finally decided I’d try to recreate my lost recipe.  Of course all that entails is typing “honey ricotta ice cream” into my Google search box and voila!  A few hundred thousand ideas are at my fingertips.  Ah, but at some point, I’d decided to make gelato, so that reduced my options to just under 30,ooo.  What would we do without Google?

In the end, I compared three or four recipes merging a honey vanilla gelato with a ricotta gelato.  And guess what?

My gelato ended up with absolutely no honey in it.

Go figure.

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German Chocolate Cake: Inside-out

My sister celebrated a birthday recently, and since we both believe that sending a card or present across the country for this event is necessary, I’ve been trying to think of other ways to celebrate.  You know — it’s the thought that counts sort of thing.  Two years ago, I posted a tribute to her.  Last year, my husband and I held a candle and snapped a photo in mid, “Happy Birthday to You…” and this year?  I thought I’d make her a cake.

When I first thought of this, I really didn’t think she liked any type of cake, but I asked to make sure.  After all, if someone who doesn’t really enjoy cake is going to have to appreciate a cake they’ll never get to taste, then it should at least seem appealing to them, don’t you think?

Not only did I get a response from her, I got three:  Angel food, German Chocolate, and cheesecake with coffee.  The mention of angel food brought back memories of a cake she introduced me to, and that’s saying quite a bit because my sister doesn’t really enjoy cooking.  So I thought about recreating that cake, but decided to save it for another time.  Cheesecake is something I adore and make several times a year, so I passed on that one quickly.  But German Chocolate cake?

Really?  Call me completely surprised!  My thinking about German Chocolate cake is wrapped in memories of a gooey exterior hiding a dry cake that isn’t chocolate enough.  It always seemed rude that the frosting promised something quite flavorful inside, yet it never lived up to my expectations.  But I seem to be in the minority because no sooner had I begun to mention that I was going to make a German Chocolate cake, that I found out it’s not only enjoyed my many — it’s a favorite.

Another surprise was finding out there’s nothing actually German about this cake.  It’s named after Sam German who created Baker’s Sweet Chocolate.  A Texas homemaker sent the now familiar recipe for German Chocolate Cake to a newspaper in 1957, and General Mills sent the recipe to newspapers all over the country.

My search for the perfect recipe sent me to David Lebovitz’ site first, but after a quick scan of the ingredients listed, I realized I didn’t have buttermilk.  Next stop was epicurious.  I couldn’t get past the idea of what they described as an “inside out” cake.  Evidently, a few people had decided it was a darn good cake since there were 236 reviews, most of which were raves.

The problem I had with that recipe was the Dutch-processed cocoa.  I can’t tell you how many stores I’ve searched in and have just decided to not deal with it anymore.  Yes, there’s a conversion for using regular cocoa, but it’s not advised.  And when it comes right down to it, there are just about as many recipes for chocolate cake out there as there are renditions of German Chocolate cake.

So guess what?  I made it my own, of course.  Sheer chocolate-coconut-dulce-de-leche-almond-crunchy-but-moist heaven.

Seriously.

Happy Birthday Lori!  This is your birthday song — it isn’t very long…

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