Sunday, October 15, 2017

Simple Cranberry Sauce

An old Cook’s Illustrated recipe that keeps on working for our family. There are so many more creative cranberry sauce recipes out there, with orange or horseradish or whatnot, but this is the one we like. Not just for Thanksgiving! My kids love it stirred into steel cut oats or spread on pancakes.

INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup water
1 c granulated sugar (evaporated cane sugar, whatever you like)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 (12 oz)  bag cranberries, picked through

DIRECTIONS
  1. Combine water, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat until it comes to a boil, stirring a few times along the way
  2. Stir in the cranberries and bring back to a boil
  3. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer until about 2/3 of the berries have popped open and the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon—use your eyes and nose here; when it looks right it is. This will take about 5 minutes or so
  4. Remove from heat and pour into a non reactive bowl. Let sit at least 30 minutes at room temperature to thicken fully then serve or refrigerate or freeze

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Best Chocolate Ice Cream

I like chocolate ice cream ok, but usually as a vehicle for mix-ins like nuts or mixed with coffee flavor. However, The Kitchn’s recent post on chocolate ice cream made me want to try my hand at a batch. Whoa this stuff is good, and it’s egg-free in case you need to be mindful of that.

I didn’t make any changes to the ingredients or proportions, but I have clarified the instructions because the first time I made this recipe, the ice cream took ages to get to soft serve consistency and then melted much faster after hardening than I would have expected. I attribute this to two things: I didn’t let the dairy mixture simmer long enough and I didn’t cool the base enough before churning. This time I was more careful in both areas and the end result was better. The sweetened condensed milk, an ingredient I never use, really did a great job of adding a malty note to the ice cream and should not be omitted.

After a few more episodes of ice cream not hardening very well I decided just to add 1 TBSP cornstarch to the dairy and it solved the problem while still yielding a supple and creamy end product. You may be able to get away with 1/2 TBSP if you want to minimize the starch.

We are serving with white chocolate mint magic shell and gluten-free shortbread for family birthday dinner and expect no complaints.

INGREDIENTS
4 oz high-quality dark chocolate in medium sized chunks (we used Theo 70%)
2 oz high-quality milk chocolate in medium sized chunks (we used Theo milk chocolate)
2 c. whole milk (I bet 2% would work too)
1 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. sugar (we used evaporated cane sugar)
1/4 c. sweetened condensed milk
3 TBSP cocoa powder. The Kitchn specifies Dutched but that’s ridiculously hard to find these days so I used regular cocoa powder and it was fine
1/2 to 1 TBSP cornstarch

DIRECTIONS

  1. Get an ice bath and strainer ready for the base.
  2. Melt the chocolate in whatever method works for you. I like to do it in the microwave on 50% power for two minutes, stir and then another 1- 1/2 minutes. Set aside
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high unit it reaches a boil. Immediately lower the heat and let simmer two minutes. The cornstarch in the mixture will ensure that the mixture thickens as you would expect from a custard
  4. Remove from heat. Add one ladleful of heated mixture to the melted chocolate and whisk in. It’s the same idea as bechamel, where you don’t want the flour and butter to seize up. Add three or four more ladlesful, one at a time, whisking after each incorporation. When the chocolate/dairy mixture is very loose, go ahead and add the rest of the dairy and whisk well until incorporated
  5. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl sitting in the ice bath and let cool thoroughly. The original recipe said 20 minutes but I think it’s better to use a temperature goal. I cooled my mixture to 68 degrees F, stirring three or four times during the initial 20 minutes and topping up the ice bath with ice once or twice. The cooler the base, the easier to churn into ice cream. However, the original recipe specifically counsels against putting the base in the fridge for hours or overnight becuase the chocolate could then become grainy. I can attest that doing it this way leads to a delightful smooth texture in the finished product
  6. Once the base is chilled, churn in an ice cream maker according to its instructions but know that you’re very likely to need to churn longer than usual. I usually churn 20 minutes and I went up to 30 this time. I had a very nice soft-serve consistency after 30 minutes
  7. Harden in the freezer for at least four hours and then it’s ready to serve