Update 33: New Year's Goal: Become an "official" Gourmess by August 2010

I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then, I just ate. --Julia Child

So, it has been a terribly hot summer, which means this lesson was a bit tricky to complete, but oh-so appropriate!

Session 24: Frozen Desserts and Meringues was a lot of fun, and who knows, I might end up opening an ice cream shoppe instead of a restaurant someday!  It was interesting to see the different kinds of frozen treats -- the French-style of ice cream was egg/custard-based and cooked, while the  American version (also called Philadelphia-style) was uncooked and more milk/cream based. The French-style ice cream was rich, but still light, and felt very elegant.  I could only eat a few spoonfuls of it, as compared to regular American ice cream, which I sometimes eat a whole pint of in one sitting (think Chubby Hubby by Ben & Jerry's). 

The first Demonstration was Glace à la Vanille (Vanilla Ice Cream).  The recipe was very similar to some of the creams and custards from Session 21. I put equal amounts of whole milk and heavy cream (2 cups plus 2 TBS of each) and a vanilla bean split in half lengthwise (seeds scraped into the milk) into a pot and brought to a boil. As soon as it came to a boil, I removed it from the heat and let it cool for about a minute. While it was cooling, I took eight egg yolks (room temperature) and blanchir (whisk until very pale yellow). 

Then, whisking constantly, I put half the hot milk/cream/vanilla mixture into the egg mixture to temper it, then added it back into the pot. I returned the pot to the heat and cooked for about 12 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon until it had thickened and coated the back of a spoon (nappant). I had to make sure that the cream was pasteurized, so I brought it to 175 degrees and kept it there for about 5 minutes, making sure the temperature didn't go beyond 180, or it would have curdled. I removed the mixture from the stove again and the put it through my trusty chinois (removed the vanilla bean pod, etc.) and into a clean bowl set over an ice bath. I stirred it for a while with a wooden spoon until there was no more steam and let it cool.  

I bought a Sunbeam ice cream maker at Target a few weeks ago -- for $6, so wasn't sure how great it would work, but I poured my ice cream mixture into the machine's bowl and turned it on for about 40 minutes.  At first, nothing really happened, but after about 15 minutes, it started to thicken and by 40, it was a creamy, custardy mixture. Then, I put it in the freezer for another 15-20 minutes.  

I handed a bowl to Chris and made one for myself. I added some blueberries to mine, but Chris wanted his plain. He loved it, and I did too. It was creamy and light and fresh -- the vanilla flavor was just right--not too intense, not too subtle. A success!!!

Next was Sorbet au Framboises (Raspberry Sorbet). The recipe called for glucose, so I had to order some -- I got it from Amazon. It is basically a liquid sugar that is half as sweet as granulated sugar. It was a clear and heavy syrup, but it didn't taste overly sweet and it didn't taste like light corn syrup, etc. It was called for in the recipe because it does not crystallize easily, which ensures smoothness in recipes like sorbets, icings, etc.  So, to begin, I  combined some sugar, water and the glucose in a medium saucepan over medium heat and simmered for about five minutes until the sugar had dissolved completely. Then, I removed it from the heat and let it cool.  While it cooled, I puréed 21 oz. of fresh raspberry purée and ran it through my chinois. 

I slowly poured the syrup into the purée, stirring frequently, but stopping every once in a while to make sure it was the right texture and sweetness. I didn't use all of the syrup as I wanted my sorbet to be a nice mix of sweet and tart. (The book reminds us that the sweetness will intensify once the mixture is frozen.) I knew it was ready when I felt a bit of resistance on the spoon when I pushed it through the bowl.  When it was, I poured the mixture into my ice cream maker and 40 minutes later, I had a lovely, ruby mixture.  I put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes more and was excited to see a lovely sorbet -- it tasted really refreshing. Tart, sweet, fruity and fresh. And the color was to die for -- and all thanks to Mother Nature!  Yum.

After that was Soufflé Glacé aux Fruits (Frozen Fruit Soufflé). First, I had to prepare my soufflé molds, so I buttered a strip of parchment paper and wrapped it around each ramekin (buttered side in) until it stood like a collar, about a half an inch above each rim, and then I put the ramekins in the freezer.  Then, I put about 3 oz. of sugar in a pan with about 2 TBS of water and brought it to a boil, then let simmer for about 20 minutes, until it was at the soft ball stage (about 234 degrees on my candy thermometer).   While the sugar was cooking, I took two large egg whites (room temperature) and beat them until soft peaks formed, then added in about 1/2 oz. of sugar and whipped until it was firm and satiny.

Then, I slowly drizzled in the hot syrup into the whites and whisked it into a meringue. I kept beating it until the mixture was cooled.  After that, I took a little over a cup of fresh mango purée and ran it through my trusty chinois. Then, I set it aside.  I put one cup and one tablespoon of heavy cream in a stainless steel, chilled bowl (over an ice bath) and whipped it until soft peaks formed, then set aside.

I folded half of the mango purée into the meringue, gently lifting it and folding it with a rubber spatula until well blended. I took the other half of the purée and folded it into the whipped cream until well mixed, and then I took the mango whipped cream mixture and folded it into the meringue mixture = a soufflé!

I removed the molds from the freezer and spooned equal amounts of the soufflé mixture into each ramekin, filling up to the top of the parchment paper collar, and then smoothed the top with a pastry spatula.  I put in the freezer overnight and then, after letting it thaw for a few minutes, I removed the collar.  Lovely!

It tasted like sunshine and the islands. Not too sweet, fruity, light and just a really nice treat.  

Finally, was Petit Vacherin Glacé (Ice Cream Cake).

The first part of this recipe was to make little meringue discs/hats for the top and bottom of the cake. So I made some meringue by combining egg whites and sugar in a heatproof mixing bowl, whisking just to combine.  Then, I filled a saucepan that was big enough to sit the bowl on with enough water to create a bain-marie (water bath), without the water touching the bottom of the bowl. I brought to a simmer over high heat and whisked the egg white/sugar mixture constantly until the sugar dissolved and the egg whites reached 130 degrees on a candy thermometer. Once it was, I removed the bowl from the saucepan and continued to whisk it until the meringue formed stiff peaks.

Then, I put it in a pastry bag and piped 2-inch circles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. I placed the meringue circles in a 175 degree oven and baked slowly for about an hour, until they were very dry, watching to make sure they didn't color. Then, I put on a wire rack to cool.The book's circles had clearly defined swirls, but mine just melted together, but it still came out alright, so whatev!  

I whipped up some crème Chantilly (heavy cream, confectioners' sugar, vanilla) and put it in a pastry bag.  I assembled the cake: a meringue disk on the bottom (inside up), a scoop of my lovely vanilla ice cream, and another disk.  I piped the whipped cream in a nice pattern and then finished with chocolate sauce.  It was a fancy version of a sundae.  Yum.

Up next is Session 25: Mousses, Soufflés, Bavarian Creams, and Charlottes. It is the last cooking session in the book! Five recipes to go!  (OMG!) xoxoxo

P.S. So, I've been told that there is a new fan club for my blog -- but not for me. For Chris.  He's become quite the star, apparently.  He heard that too, and so I've made a promise to include him more. But only if he promises not to complain about me including him. Got it? ;)  The problem is, he's not a big fan of sweets, so I haven't been able to get any reviews from him lately...

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