Thursday, August 30, 2007

Above and Beyond

The high school I attended had 7 formal dances a year. Since there were so many dances they weren't as elaborate as many schools that only have "Prom." Girls would borrow each other's dresses so they wouldn't have to buy 7 new dresses each year, and big bonus points were earned for creativity and fun on the part of the boy.

It was bad form to just call a girl up and ask her to the dance. Elaborate plans were made just for the asking phase of the dance. My sister once had a boy leave a gigantic envelope on the doorstep - it was probably 3 feet by 4 feet. It was addressed to her and had a large replica of a stamp affixed. Inside was a huge piece of paper, corners rounded, lined, and big holes punched so it looked like notebook paper. On it was handwritten the invitation to the dance. So cute!

A very creative young man led me on a Mission Impossible treasure hunt ending in a phone booth with the self-destructing tape and the recorded invitation to the dance. I put my reply on a small piece of paper ("yes"), rolled it into a film canister, baked a cake, cut out the center and put the film cannister into it, assembled and frosted the cake, and left it on his doorstep in a cake box.

Girl's Day Dance was a girl's choice dance and it was traditional that the day before the dance, the boy would take the girl who asked him to the dance out to lunch. Not just grabbing a hamburger at McDonalds, but something creative. Maybe this was a picnic spread in the school cafeteria , the hallway, or out on the lawn.

My sophomore year I asked an older guy who I didn't know to the dance. He was a friend of a friend and I thought he was cute. I didn't know much about him, but my friend said he was really nice and urged me to ask him. The day before the dance he kidnapped me for lunch and drove me up to the mountains in his Jeep. I had no idea where we were going. (You can keep reading. This isn't going to be a creepy story.) We parked, hiked, and arrived at a lovely site, high, high up, overlooking the valley, with a little stream going by, and a picnic laid out for us by his friends who'd come up earlier to lay out the tablecloth, the wine glasses and milk, and the bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. I was impressed!

The thought, planning, and effort that go into an endeavor pay off in the end. So it is with this ice cream. It was such a long process to make that I've put off blogging about it. I'm so lazy I didn't want to have to type in all the steps. But every time we ate it I would think, "This is sooooo gooood! I've got to let people know about this!" So here it is. Try not to be angry that I'm out of season here. You'll have a hard time finding fresh cherries. You can use canned, or just print it out and put it in your file to make next summer. You'll thank me then!

Almond, Cherry, Chocolate Ice Cream
adapted from The Perfect Scoop
by David Lebovitz

1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
Pinch of salt
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
2 cups (270 g) whole almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped*
5 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 cup (200 g) well-drained Sour Cherris in Syrup or Candied Cherries, coarsely chopped**
Fudge Ripple

Warm the milk, sugar, salt and 1 cup (250 ml) of the cream in a medium saucepan. Finely chop 1 cup (135 g) of the almonds and add them to the warm milk. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 1 hour.

Strain the almond-infused milk into a separate medium saucepan. Press with a spatula against the strainer to extract as much flavor from the almonds as possible. You can also pick up handfuls of the almonds and squeeze out all the liquid possible. Discard the almonds.

Rewarm the almond-infused milk Pour the remaining 1 cup (250 ml) cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan. (A rubber glove under the egg yolk bowl will keep it from skittering across the counter as you whisk.)

Stir the mixture constanly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, sraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Stir in the almond extract and stir until cool over an ice bath.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's insturctions. During the last few minutes of churning, add the remaining 1 cup chopped almonds. When your remove the ice cream from the machine, fold in the chopped cherries.

*To toast almonds spread nuts in an even layer on an ungreased baking sheet. Place the sheet in a preheated 350 deg. F oven for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once or twice while baking. Snap an almond in half: if they're done it should be lightly golden brown throughout. Let amonds cool completely befor using.

**Candied Cherries (makes 2 cups)

1 lb (450 g) cherries, fresh or frozen
1-1/2 cups (375 ml) water
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 drop almond extract

Remove the stems and pit the cherries. Heat the cherries, water, sugar, and lemon juice in a large nonreactive saucepan or skillet until the liquid starts to boil.

Turn down the heat to a low boil and cook the cherries for 25 minutes, stirring frequently during the last 10 minutes of cooking to make sure they are cooking evenly and not sticking.

Once the syrup is reduced to the consistency of maple syrup, remove the pan from the heat, add the almond extract, and let the cherries cool in their syrup. They can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

To use, drain the cherries in a strainer for about 1 hour. Save the syrup to pour over pancakes - heavenly!


The lovely and gracious Jaden of Steamy Kitchen awarded me the Thinking Blogger award. Thank you, Jaden!

I'd like to pass this award on to several other bloggers who inspire me, inform me, and make me think:

Kitchen Wench
My Kitchen In Half Cups
Food and Photo
Mulligan Stew Me
Technicolor Kitchen


Anh said...

Oh Lynn. what a wonderful ince cream treat again! I think you have inspired me to use my ice-cream maker more this summer!

Anonymous said...

Oh Lynn! The story was fabulous!!!So was the ice cream pictures! 7 dances in a year!? You were living the life, as you are now. ;)

Kelly-Jane said...

I have this one marked in the book, and it looks so good too. Beautiful little one as well, greast big eyes :)

Anonymous said...

yum yum ... your ice creams looks so delicious. I was practically trying to lick it out from the screen. :p

LizNoVeggieGirl said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the dances you had in high school, and elaborate ways boys asked girls to the dance!! how fun!! it's so wonderful of you to share your personal stories and memories with us :0)

and I love the photo, to go along with the ice cream recipe - cute!

Anne said...

your post is a pleasure to read :) I have never attended a prom night ever in my life but nevertheless reading stories about it somehow gives me the picture what it's like.

what a cute boy! and the ice cream looks really good. I love cherries, I know I would definitely go crazy for this :)

Patricia Scarpin said...

Thank you for the award, dear Lynn! It means a lot to me - you are constant inspiration for this Brazilian blogger, too.

I think I can find some cherries here soon... ;)

Brilynn said...

I cream is always worth the effort!

Anonymous said...

lol to Emily and Anne... dances aren't that great, honestly. Being asked is the fun part, and the dinner before, and everyone at some point can go out for a fun dinner and dress up.

Anonymous said...

What a great post!! We don't have traditions like those that you posted here, so it was with a little envy that I read through the elaborate efforts everyone put through in order to keep with tradition/expectations :) What a marvellous thing to have experienced and been a part of - and good work with the film-canister-in-a-cake reply!

I am still one of those who are sans ice cream maker, but despite the effort that this recipe calls for, as soon as I get my hands on one, I will most definitely be giving it a whirl :)

Amy said...

Aww cute stories! We never had anything like that in high school. :P That ice cream looks delicious, what a great flavor combo.

Helene said...

In France we do not have dances and proms and I know it is every high school girl's dream! Great ice cream recipe...I think I'll hunt for the last of the cherries just for that!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Anh - I hope to see lots of ice cream on your beautiful site soon.

Emily - Living the life? I don't know about that. I didn't say I got asked to all 7 dances. :-)

Kelly-Jane - Thanks!

Cooking Ninja - I don't think licking is good for the screen. You'd better just make some for yourself.

Veggie Girl - Glad you enjoyed the stories. Like so much of real life, high school is better in stories than in actuality.

Anne - Cherries remind me of you and your beautiful birthday cake.

Patricia - You are most welcome, dear!

Brilynn - Amen to that. :-)

Sarah - It's all about the dress.

Elllie - You certainly show your elaborate creativity in the kitchen!

Amy - You went to a lame high school. Sorry!

Tartelette - Wishing you success on the cherry hunt. :-)

Anonymous said...

I have been eyeing this recipe for awhile...I am glad you tried it out! It looks so good!