Thursday, August 30, 2007

Out with a Bang

It seems like only yesterday that I was plotting my ridiculous project of making a different ice cream flavor every week of the summer. And now--after adhering to the plan through June, July and August--I've nearly reached the end. This week I made my final flavor before Labor Day. And it was really, really good.

I went down a new path, calling on a recipe from a forthcoming book I just received, Dolce Italiano: Desserts From the Babbo Kitchen. I also tried a frozen dessert I'd never attempted before: gelato. Call it beginner's luck, but the Toasted Almond Gelato was a mega-hit. Definitely one of the summer's home runs.

I started by toasting almonds until they were nicely golden brown, since, as the recipe says, the toastier they are, the more intensely flavored your gelato will be. Then I put them in a saucepan with cream, milk, sugar and honey. The recipe calls for fancy millifiori honey, which is made from "a thousand flowers" and has subtle floral notes that are apparently sublime with almond. But I didn't have that kind of honey, nor was it for sale at the greenmarket. So I bought a jar of Berkshire Berries Roof-top Magic Honey. The man selling it said it was very flavorful--and it was made right here in NYC. Next, I let the almonds infuse in the liquid for awhile, until it was room temperature. I strained the almonds out and stirred in salt, Disaronno amaretto and almond extract. I put this in the fridge until chilled, and then churned it in the ice cream maker.

How to describe this gelato? It was so good my coworkers nearly wiped it out this afternoon. I had to snatch the container away from them so I could have a scoop left for Fork and I. We ate it on a chocolate cookie cone--so rich and delicious. It was so good I dripped it on my computer but I didn't care. It was so good that I have another batch on the stove right this very moment.--S

Toasted Almond Gelato

Makes 2 cups

1 c sliced blanched almonds
1 c heavy cream
1 1/2 c whole milk
1/4 c plus 1 T granulated sugar
1 heaping T flavorful honey, such as clover or millifiori
Pinch of kosher salt
2 t amaretto
1/4 t pure almond extract

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Spread the almonds in a single layer on a clean baking sheet and toast them for 12 to 14 minutes, or until they are golden brown and aromatic (I only toasted them for 8 or 9 minutes and they were nicely brown).

2. Remove the almonds from the oven and place them in a medium saucepan. Add the heavy cream, milk, sugar and honey and place over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

3. When the mixture comes to a boil, remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside to infuse the liquid with the flavor of the almonds.

4. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, then strain it through a chinois or fine-meshed sieve and discard the almonds. stir in the salt, amaretto, and almond extract.

5. Chill the gelato thoroughly in a covered container, at least 3 to 4 hours. Freeze it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Recipe courtesy of Dolce Italiano: Desserts From the Babbo Kitchen

No comments: