Friday, April 17, 2009

Ice cream, truffles, and french macarons oh my!

Hello all! I haven't been able to post for awhile, so all of these yummy confections are from Christmastime at my parent's house. I had a fantastic time baking in my mother's five star kitchen!

A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to visit Paris on a school trip. A friend (and resident of Paris!) Annabelle introduced me to heaven in edible form: French Macarons. My mission? Making some of my own! I decided to make raspberry and dark chocolate macarons- my dad helped me by making some fresh raspberry puree, which definitely added to the overall product. I included raspberry puree in both the shells and the dark chocolate ganache filling, so the freshness of the raspberries certainly shone through!

Above, I have the shells of my macarons in resting stage (pre-baking) and also some peppermint bark that I whipped up while waiting.

While the shells cooled, I prepared a chocolate ganache from Ghiradelli dark chocolate, a little cream, grand marnier, and of course raspberry puree! The final product was beautiful (and tasty!).

I had a great time plating :)

These next three photos show the versatility of vanilla ice cream. My vanilla ice cream is a simple recipe that never fails, the ingredients including only heavy cream, milk, sugar, and vanilla (in top secret ratios!) While I love ice creams made with custard, one doesn't always have the time to slave over the stove, hoping and praying that their saucepan should not decide to boil and ruin their creation. Also, this recipe is simple and delicious, and all the time you save by choosing the simpler route allows you to come up with some scrumptious toppings!
(this recipe also holds up well to other flavors. currently in my freezer? Guava, coconut, and mint chocolate chip!)

This is a somewhat healthier option that I make for myself sometimes in the evenings. I saute a couple of apples with a small amount of butter, some cinnamon, raisins, and pecans. Lots of textures, and a tasty ice cream topping!

Balsamic vinegar, fresh strawberries, and homemade vanilla ice cream. It may sound like a strange combination, but they complement each other beautifully! Just add a few tablespoons of good quality balsamic vinegar on freshly sliced strawberries and a bit of sugar. Let them sit in the refrigerator for a few hours to get an extra vinegar kick! The the strawberries start to break down with the sugar, and the juice combines with the vinegar to make a delicious syrup. A great quick dessert option if you are entertaining!

Extra bananas? Bananas foster! Brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, dark rum, and banana liqueur are a great way to kick up vanilla ice cream.

This is one of my favorite kitchen accessories- my Le Creuset dijon skillet. I've used it for everything from bananas foster, chocolate sauce, butterscotch, and simple syrup to fried fish, lemon chicken, chapattis and curries. It is slightly coated, so I don't have to worry about imparting any funky flavors in my desserts :)

One of my favorite things to make? Chocolate truffles. I've tried a plethora of flavors, both white and dark chocolate. They may be time consuming, but I find the combination of aromas and repetition very therapeutic. These have a white chocolate chambord ganache with pecans and godiva white chocolate liqueur within a hard dark chocolate shell. Decorated with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and topped with either a white or dark chocolate circle.

These have a dark chocolate grand marnier ganache with godiva chocolate and godiva capuccino liqueur. Delicious!