Showing posts with label frozen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label frozen. Show all posts

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Guest Post: Ultimate Root Beer Float with Homemade Sassafras Ice Cream

Since I'll be in Singapore for almost a month, I've invited some dear friends to "blog-sit" for me 8D. Each of these women has their own unique stories and food specialties. Once you see what they have to share, I'm certain you'll become avid fans just like me.

To get this party started, I've invited over the incredibly talented Stella of Brave Tart. Though I've long pined over Stella's picture-perfect macaron creations, it was only recently when I joined Twitter and started making macarons that I got to know her better. I wouldn't have survived my early macaron-baking attempts without Stella and other tweeps providing real-time feedback and tips. Then as I became more comfortable playing with macaron flavors, Stella was again my most enthusiastic partner-in-crime, eagerly discussing possible flavorings from dried milk powder to citric acid.

But lest you think her skill is limited to French macarons, let me assure you that this is one creative and multi-talented lady. A CIA-graduate no less, Stella currently works as a one-woman pastry department for
Table 310, a hot new restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky. If the treats on her blog are any indication, a trip to Table 310 would be well worth it for the desserts alone. We're lucky today, though, because Stella's all set to share her formula for the Ultimate Root Beer Float directly with us, no road-trip required. Please give her your warmest welcome!

1 floatwithstraw
I stepped into the world of food blogging less than a year ago, so I must bashfully admit that I've only recently gotten to know Xiaolu via Twitter. Xiaolu's playful sense of style and clever flavor pairings (hello, cardamom-spiced cashew macarons with halwa buttercream) immediately endeared her to me. Something about the energy on 6 Bittersweets invigorates me, especially her knack for using familiar flavors in new ways. When she asked if I would write a guest post while she vacationed in Singapore, I squashed my raging jealousy over her visit to such an epic culinary destination and responded with a resounding, "heck yeah!"

And in the midst of this sweltering heat wave, I knew exactly what I wanted to write about: the ultimate root beer float. Cold, fizzy and slurp-able, it embodies everything a summertime dessert should. Root beer has an especially refreshing feeling: a slightly cooling menthol quality, a bright note of citrus, and a depth of flavor colas can't touch. But how could I take a simple dessert of root beer + vanilla ice cream to the next level? I would need a few secret ingredients...

2 pouringrootbeer
First, brown sugar ice cream. With "Ultimate Root Beer" in mind, I wanted to up the ante from a plain vanilla bean base by giving the ice cream a little extra character. Raw brown sugar would provide a mellow back hint of molasses, which would meld with the root beer's caramel notes.

Second? Sassafras. Here in the South, old codgers use it to make an herbal tea used as a remedy for whatever ails you. I wanted it because of its historic flavor. Sassafras was the original root in root beer. Modern root beers don't contain sassafras though, because of an interesting chemical quirk. Safrole, the essential oil found in sassafras root that gives it its characteristic flavor, stands one molecule removed from the amphetamine MDMA. A.k.a., Ecstasy. Soooo, the FDA gets antsy when anyone starts buying lots of sassafras. So antsy they put your name on a list and monitor your future purchases. So due to the legal hoopla involved, modern root beer manufacturers eschew safrole and use other substances (both artificial and natural) to recreate its flavor. How amazing would a root beer float taste if I could reunited it with sassafras?

The final secret ingredient: ROOT, an artisanal liquor from a boutique in Philadelphia called Art in the Age. They've gone to painstaking efforts to recreate prohibition era bootleg Root Beer using a traditional recipe. They make it with birch bark standing in for sassafras and brew it with a complicated blend of wintergreen, orange peel and smoked black tea, among other fabulous natural and organic ingredients.

3 dropofrootbeer
When their powers combine, you'll have the ability to survive whatever summer throws at you. For me, the flavor of root beer has an intensely nostalgic effect. The epic rootiness of this float makes it virtually culinary time travel. It tastes like you remember root beer tasting, while simultaneously tasting like nothing you've ever had.

The recipe comes together without any trouble, it's acquiring all the ingredients that will take the most effort. Getting a hold of sassafras shouldn't prove too difficult. Here in Kentucky it turns up every year at the farmers' market, and many people find it growing wild on their property. So check your local farmers' market, co-op, health food store, or pretty much anywhere you might buy granola or patchouli sticks. If you find someone selling the essential oil, it is not intended for human consumption, do not use it. The ROOT may prove more difficult, but visit their website for a store locator and see if they have an outpost near you. The ice cream tastes fabulous even without it, so no stress.

Don't worry that using sassafras at home might have, shall we say, illicit side effects. The essential oil itself has no Ecstasy-like properties. Safrole occurs naturally in many spices like cinnamon and black pepper. Your friends will undoubtedly greet the sassafras ice cream with rave reactions, but not so much they start breaking out glow sticks.

Sassafras Ice Cream [Printable Recipe]
12 oz. cream
12 oz. milk
3, 4-inch sticks of Sassafras root
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
8 large egg yolks
10 ounces brown sugar, raw if possible
1/4 tsp salt
1 3/4 oz. ROOT
the zest of 1 small orange

In a medium pot, bring the milk and cream to a boil together with the sassafras and vanilla bean. When the mixture begins to simmer, shut off the heat and cover with a lid. Steep at least one hour and up to three.

After you’ve finished steeping, whisk the yolks with the sugars and salt in a medium bowl.

Bring the milk/cream mixture back to a simmer. Once the mixture is nice and hot, shut off the heat and remove the sassafras. Use a spatula to scrape off all of the heavily flavored cream that cling to the sticks of sassfras; likewise scrape out the vanilla cream from inside the vanilla pod.

Now, whisk some of the hot mixture into the egg yolks, a ladle-full at a time, until the egg mixture is quite warm. Then whisk it back into the pot of cream.

Stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens (“coating the back of a spoon” being the popular description of done-ness). Immediately strain into a large bowl. Stir in the ROOT and orange zest.

Cool in an ice bath, refrigerate for 24 hours, and churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Use with your favorite root beer (and a shot of ROOT if you like) to make the ultimate root beer float.

Hurray summer!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Coconut Mung Bean Kaffir Lime Popsicles for MLLA Anniversary!

Mung Beans
I've long been a fan of my friend Susan and her gorgeous blog, The Well-Seasoned Cook, especially her elegant photography and her blog event, My Legume Love Affair (MLLA), which has done a great deal to popularize nutritious and delicious beans/legumes. MLLA recently had its 3rd anniversary, and I was honored to accept Susan's invitation to help celebrate this momentous occasion as well as help kick-start what's sure to be a fabulous 4th year! Inspired by Chinese mung bean popsicles as well as our Southeast Asian neighbors, I'm sharing these flavorful Coconut Mung Bean and Kaffir Lime Popsicles over on Susan's site. I'd love if you'd stop on by to check out my full guest post. But if you're in a hurry and just wanna grab the printable recipe, you'll find it right here.

Coconut Mung Bean Kaffir Lime Popsicles

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cool It! (Spiked Watermelon Cooler)

Some of you have been asking for more fast, easy recipes on 6 Bittersweets -- and such you shall receive! Today watermelon cooler is very simple to make and inspired by a favorite childhood drink. Though the term "watermelon juice" will probably just make you furrow your brow in confusion, it's actually a drink widely available in restaurants throughout China. Made purely of blended and strained watermelon chunks, this juice has got to be one of the most refreshing things on a hot summer day.

The major (for serious) heat wave we've had in the D.C. area lately inspired to make this grown-up watermelon juice cooler. Don't tell anyone, but I actually intended this to be a frozen drink (and still included directions in case you prefer it slushy). But alas, I ran out of time and didn't get to fully freeze the melon. Perhaps it was for the best as this version is even closer to the beloved drink of my memories of China. Of course it didn't have vodka back then, but I think spiking this juice only made it better ^__^.

Watermelon Lemon Vodka Cooler
Spiked Watermelon Cooler/Slushie [Printable Recipe]
Serves 4 to 6

6 cups cubed seeded watermelon, 3/4-inch cubes
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 cup tonic water
1/2 cup vodka (optional)
6 Tbsp powdered sugar, or more to taste

If making into a slushie, place chunks side by side on a large baking sheet, so that they're not touching one another. Freeze at least 2 hours. Then puree melon cubes (frozen or not) with the remaining ingredients in a conventional blender or using a stick immersion blender. Taste and add more powdered sugar, if desired. For slushie, pour into glasses or small bottles and serve immediately. For non-frozen drink, pour into a pitcher and chill well before serving.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Guest Post: Mango Orange Yogurt Popsicles

Photo 2
If you're like me and scroll through a post's photos first, I know what you're thinking: "WOW -- this looks straight out of a magazine!" That's the same reaction I have to every one of my friend Vera's photos. We met through Flickr only about a year ago but I was instantly taken with her sweet personality and talent; we became fast friends. Together with other women including Aisha, Asri, Laksmi, and Sylvie, we formed a supportive community of photographers sharing honest feedback with each other. I've quickly come to love and rely on these friends.

Meanwhile, Vera's talent for styling and shooting food grew by leaps and bounds, becoming so outstanding that I was not at all surprised (though quite delighted) when she turned it into her profession. You can check out more of her incredible work on her
blog, professional site, and Flickr photostream. But first, please give your warmest welcome to Vera and the refreshing treats she brought us today! It's truly an honor to have her as my latest guest.

Photo 1
I would have never thought that one day I would call strangers, whom I've never actually met, friends. Yes, Xiaolu is my friend although we have never met personally; a friend who shares the same passion for photography and food. And what photography! And what food! Have you seen her latest photos and delicious sweet treats? Aren’t they gorgeous? Oh my, you can understand my excitement when she asked me to guest post on her site. Man, what do you bring to someone when she bakes so fantastically? Cookies, cakes and cupcakes were out of question. My little sweets would look just ridiculous against her miraculous treats.

Photo 4
So about a month after I had been asked, I decided to go for popsicles. I have never met anyone who wouldn’t like popsicles, so here they are. This is so international that it really doesn’t matter whether you are Hungarian (like me), American or Asian -- people like ice cream the same way everywhere in the world. It reminds me of my childhood. I always preferred the fruity popsicles and the yellow fruits. I love the color red in everything but in my ice cream. Now, how crazy is that? Yellow fruits are so sunny and remind me of the hot, summer days at my grandmother's. Of the way the sweet, sticky, fruity juice ran down on my arm and of course dripped on my clean, white dress...but I was the happiest girl on Earth at that time. I hope these popsicles will bring back some of your childhood memories, too. Enjoy!

Photo 3
Mango Orange Yogurt Popsicles [Printable Recipe]

2 mangoes, peeled and diced
Freshly squeezed juice from 1 large orange
200 ml water [3/4 cup PLUS 2 Tbsp]
150 g sugar [rounded 3/4 cup]

Fill the bottom of your popsicle mold with the yogurt, then freeze it until the mango puree is ready, but for at least 30 minutes.

Stir sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Process mango and orange juice in a food processor until smooth, add syrup and process to combine. Let it cool in the refrigerator.

Fill popsicle molds and freeze until firm. Insert wooden popsicle sticks and return to freezer until frozen. Dip molds in hot water to unmold before consuming.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Guest Post: Frozen Brazo de Mercedes Cake

Trissa of Trissalicious was one of the first bloggers to reach out to me as a new kid on the (bloggin') block. I just had the honor of guest posting on her site. And to my delight, she also agreed to prepare a post for mine. As you'll soon experience, Trissa has a wonderfully warm style of writing that's guaranteed to make you smile (and often laugh). Plus her beautiful photos always make me drool. Another thing I love about Trissa is that she's both sweet and spunky. When she learned of my Donna Hay obsession, for example, she immediately offered to mail me the latest issue from Australia. Yet this same lady successfully faked a proposal to get into a famous and completely booked restaurant! How's that for gutsy? Oh and did I mention she's a master of macarons? Some other standout recipes on her blog include the mango natilla custard cake, strawberry watermelon cake, and bechamel prawn-stuffed mussels. But (and I hope I don't seem biased when I tell you) the cake she shares below just jumped to the top of my to-try list! Please give your warmest welcome to my dear friend, Trissa.

Being invited to someone's house for dinner always poses a problem for me. I often wonder, what's the best thing to bring? Given a choice between bringing the standard wine, flowers or food, I'll inevitably resort to bringing food. Then there's the dilemma of what dish to bring. Do I bring an entree or dessert? And God forbid if I bring the same dish that the host is cooking!

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes 1

Being asked to guest blog is just as nerve wracking. Especially when the one asking has such a beautifully written and photographed blog like Xiaolu from 6 Bittersweets. If you haven't already met Xiaolu, let me tell you a little bit more about her. She's a great baker, cook and all-around super foodie. I admire her because she turned her back on a successful career at a law firm to pursue a career in nutrition, for which she is currently studying for. It takes guts and personality to do something like that - and both traits shine through when you read her blog. Plus she makes the most beautiful cakes...

I pondered for weeks over what would be suitable for her blog. I knew she was fond of desserts so definitely something sweet most likely...but what? Should I make something tried and tested or experiment on something new? Would she like it? Would she have already made something similar? The list went on and on...but of course Xiaolu, ever the gracious host, gave me the kind encouragement, inspiration and free hand to let me do as I pleased.

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes 3

So I decided to make a dessert I had never made before but had heard rave reviews from friends and family. It's a twist on a very popular Filipino dessert called Brazo de Mercedes, which literally translates to "The arm of a lady named Mercedes". The reason being the original dessert is shaped like a jelly roll which was supposed to resemble the shape of a woman's arm. The outer layer is a fluffy meringue and inside is a custard made from the left over egg yolks and milk. I had heard that a popular variation on this cake was to freeze it, so instead of a jelly roll, you instead had a frozen layered cake where the bottom layer is made from graham crackers, followed by a thick layer of vanilla ice cream, then the custard and finally the meringue.

Now, I'm not much of a sweet tooth and the idea of ice cream, custard, and meringue sounded a little bit too sugary for my liking - but I did manage to wolf down two large slices, which went down especially well given the heat of the Sydney summer. Everyone else that I offered it to enjoyed it and also asked for seconds so yes, it was a great success. Good enough for Xiaolu's blog?

I'm certainly hoping so! :)

DEFINITELY good enough! Trissa, can I please just have the whole cake to myself? =p

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes

Frozen Brazo de Mercedes [Printable Recipe]
Serves 10 to 12

Meringue Layer
8 egg whites [save yolks for custard layer]
1/2 cup (110 grams) sugar
pinch of cream of tartar or egg white powder

Preheat the oven to 275 F (135 C) for non-convection ovens OR 250 F (120 C) for convection ovens. Grease and line a 15 x 10-inch pan and then grease the baking paper once more. Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites until semi-stiff peaks and then gradually start adding the sugar until you have stiff peaks but make sure that you don't over beat the egg whites, otherwise it will go grainy. Spread the egg whites on to the baking tray and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from the heat and then place the baking tray on top of a rack and allow to cool. Set aside.

Custard Layer
8 egg yolks
10.58 oz. (300 grams) sweetened condensed milk
3 tablespoons (around 50 grams) of butter

Place the egg yolks and condensed milk in a stainless steel bowl and place the bowl a top a pot of simmering water, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Mix the egg yolks and the condensed milk until thick using a whisk until the mixture has thickened like a custard. Remove from the heat and then add the butter, making sure to fully incorporate. Allow to cool in the refrigerator and set aside until needed.

Graham Crust
8.8 oz (250 grams) graham crackers OR digestive-style biscuits, crushed using a food processor
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons (around 50 grams) of butter

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C) for non-convection ovens OR 320 F (180 C) for convection ovens .

Heat the butter in the microwave until melted, then add the sugar and the graham crackers. Mix thoroughly and then spread over two 8 1/2 x 6-inch pans. Bake for 10 minutes and then remove. Allow to cool before assembly.

4 1/4 cups (1 liter) vanilla ice cream, softened at room temperature for about 10 minutes

To assemble, place a layer of ice cream, around half an inch (1.3 cm or so) thick, over the graham crust. Place the mixture in the freezer and allow to set for around 30 minutes. Then add the custard layer and then return this to the freezer and allow to set for another 30 minutes. Finally, cut the meringue (you will have more than you need, so ensure that you can cut it large enough to fit the tray) to fit the two trays and place on top of the custard layer. Return the dessert to the freezer and allow to set for around three hours.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Cookbook Review: My Sweet Vegan

Self-Frosting Cupcakes!
Self-Frosting Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

One of the greatest joys of entering the blogging world has been meeting so many talented, large-hearted bakers and cooks who share my passion for good food. One of these amazing individuals is Hannah Kaminsky, vegan baker extraordinaire and mastermind behind the lovely Bittersweet blog. Her credentials are beyond impressive: she'd won baking awards and written a cookbook by college! When her publisher offered me a free review copy of her book, My Sweet Vegan, I naturally jumped at the opportunity.

I was immediately impressed by the variety of offerings in this book. The recipes are divided into 5 sections: Sweet Starts (like Golden Glazed Donuts), Cookies and Bars (like "Cheese" Cake Thumbprint Cookies and Peanut Butter Bombs), Cakes and Cupcakes (like Bananas Foster Cake and Mocha Devastation Cake), Pies and Tarts (like Baklava Tart and Pink Lemonade Tartlets), and Miscellaneous Morsels and Desserts (like Green Tea Tiramisu and Hazelnut Ravioli). Plus each and every recipe comes with a color photograph and inviting introduction from Hannah.

Orange Hazelnut Biscotti
Orange Hazelnut Biscotti

Ultimately I tested the Self-Frosting Peanut Butter Cupcakes, Orange Hazelnut Biscotti, and Green Tea Freezer Pops. All delicious, and even my non-foodie boyfriend raved about the cupcakes and biscotti. The self-frosting cupcakes, made by swirling the chocolate "frosting" into the batter before baking, were a tasty and much faster alternative to my usual. With a cake so moist and flavorful from the peanut butter, butter and eggs weren't missed at all. The popsicles were fast, easy, and refreshing. Featuring almond and green tea flavors paired to great effect. Finally, you can find my detailed review of the biscotti (with recipe) in this past post.

Matcha Green Tea Popsicles (from My Sweet Vegan)
Green Tea Freezer Pops

It's true that recipes are the heart and soul of any cookbook. Yet sometimes it's the little thoughtful touches that win me over. In My Sweet Vegan, these were the Ingredient Guide and Food Allergy Index. While many ingredients in this book are probably already in your kitchen, a few are made especially for vegan cooking (like vegan cream cheese and soy yogurt). Luckily Hannah provides a lot of guidance for finding these. Unlike many cookbooks that just say an item is "available at specialty stores" (as if that's helpful?!), Hannah tells you not only the type of store but often the section where you're likely to find it. She also provides an index of the recipes that are gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, etc. at the end of the book for those struggling with allergies.

Are you starting to get the impression that I like Hannah and her book 8p? I had so much fun reading and baking from it, I hope you'll give it a chance, too. If you've got holiday shopping left to do, My Sweet Vegan would make a lovely and affordable gift for any adventurous bakers or vegans in your life (yourself included ^_^).