I’ve always wanted to be a part of a secret club. As a kid, this was a fantasy that involved secret passwords and solving crimes (Enid Blyton phase); older teenage versions included men that looked like Hugh Jackman in a tux and women who wore slinky red outfits and smoked those thin, long cigarettes (romance novel phase). I have vague recollections of even starting a club in middle school – I was the president, of course. The reason I say vague is because this club didn’t actually do anything. We just hung around, drank a lot of lemonade and gossiped about boys. (Things don’t change too much, do they? Only now it’s martinis.)
So when I read about the Daring Bakers, a group of food lovers that got together and invented challenges and kept them secret from the rest of the world until the end of the month, of course I wanted in! I applied and was accepted into the fold. (I was almost disappointed there was no secret initiation ceremony.) The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s World – Life and Food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home. (Like spies, we have to use certain lines and words that can then be tracked – okay, maybe I’m taking this theme a little too far, but it’s true.)
But my heart sank a little when I read the challenge. Dreading the Swiss roll (more of that in Part 2), I decided to start with the ice cream. I needed two flavors; the first – chocolate – was so obvious I didn’t even think about it. The second was a little more difficult, taking me all of 20 seconds to home in on the cherries that have found a permanent space on the counter, and my heart, this summer. The recipes were another matter – I don’t own an ice cream maker but do have an old, cantankerous freezer. When I found a post by David Lebovitz titled The Easiest Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe…Ever, I was skeptical but willing. David Lebovitz – I owe you an apology. Never will I ever, ever doubt your word again. If you tell me to make something, I will make it with blind faith. Because people, this, without an ice cream machine, without any cranking, stirring or sweating of any kind, is the easiest, creamiest ice cream you could make. Ever.
The secret solution (as to most of life’s problems) is alcohol – it keeps the ice cream from freezing too hard. I did make a lot of changes to the original recipe to suit the flavor profile I was looking for. I increased the chocolate, added cream, skipped the banana and used Amaretto as my poison of choice. I just realized that apart from the chocolate and milk, this has very little in common with the original recipe. Great – that just means I now have two amazing ice cream recipes. This recipe requires 4 ingredients and 2 steps – microwave and freeze! And the next morning, you can sink your spoon into some decadent ice cream for breakfast. (This was just in the interest of research, you understand.) Don’t believe me? I don’t mind – head over to David’s and make his recipe. Because the world should know of this ridiculously simple, ridiculously lush 2-step ice cream.
Don’t let my enthusiasm detract you from this other wonderful ice cream – a delightfully fresh cherry one, which is an adaptation of a recipe from 101 Cookbooks. The ice cream has a creaminess from some added mascarpone (a trick I picked up from the ever-gracious Melissa at Traveler’s Lunchbox) and an underlying hint of sweetness from some added honey; fresh cherries add a brightness and zing. And of course, there’s Amaretto – the almond flavor works as well with cherries as it does with chocolate. But the next time, I’m going to add more of it. Or buy an ice cream maker. The flavor was spot-on but I was disappointed by the tiny, icy particles I had expected to magically disappear like they did with the chocolate ice cream. I’d suggest you try the recipe even if you don’t have an ice cream maker. Only, don’t be lazy like me and be sure to stir up that ice cream in a blender every hour or so to demolish all those ice crystals (if you don’t own one of those wonderful machines that do the churning for you).
What are you still doing here? Go stir up some ice cream.
The EASIEST Chocolate Ice Cream
Adapted generously from David Lebovitz
5 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup whipping cream
5 teaspoons whole milk
6 tablespoons Amaretto (this is not optional; the liquor is essential for getting the creamy texture)
1. In a microwave (or over a double boiler), melt the chocolate with the cream and milk.
2. Mix in the Amaretto.
3. Freeze in a plastic or metal container for at least 6 hours.
2 cups whipping cream
2/3 cup whole milk
2 oz (60 gm) mascarpone
1/4 cup honey (add 1-2 more tablespoons if you like your ice cream sweeter)
1 pound (450 gm) dark, sweet cherries
4 tablespoons Amaretto (or try any other cherry or almond flavored liquor)
1. Pit the cherries and chop them. (If you don’t have a cherry pitter, a vegetable peeler works very well. Insert the pointed tip at the stem end of the cherry and scoop out the stem and the pit.)
2. Heat the cream, milk, mascarpone and honey in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring regularly to dissolve the honey and mascarpone, until the mixture comes to a gentle simmer.
3. Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes. Mix in the cherries and liquor.
4. Freeze in a plastic or metal container for at least 6 hours. Take out the container every hour or so, blend the mixture to break the ice crystals and transfer back to the freezer. (Or if you’re one of those lucky people that own an ice cream maker, churn as per the directions. Also, can I borrow yours?)