This is the 3rd course in a 4 course meal, designed to be a springboard for your special occasion. You can find the other courses here:
Course 1 – Broth Seasoned with Pork + Vegetables
Course 2 – Arugula with Pears + Prosciutto
Course 3- Pork Tenderloin and Asparagus Over Dijon Potato Puree w/ Pomegranate + Balsamic Reduction
So today we’re wrapping up our 4 Courses to Love meal, and hopefully you’ve found something useful along the way. And there’s one thing I just want to make clear – you don’t have to make all four courses! I posted each recipe separate so you could make them separate. They go well together, but they’re great on their own as well. I know this is pretty obvious, but I just wanted to make sure we’re all on the same page.
The great thing about vanilla ice cream is it’s pretty much perfect as is. Sure, you can add lots of stuff to it and it’s still awesome, but the standard mix of cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla just doesn’t require a lot of embellishment. So this dessert keeps it simple, while adding just a touch of fancy in the form of a homemade raspberry syrup.
Fruit syrups are really easy. Fresh fruit is of course preferable in almost all uses, but syrups are a tad less picky. So if you can’t find fresh raspberries in your grocery store, you’ll be fine with frozen. Here’s what you need:
• 1/2 cup fresh raspberries (1/3 cup frozen)
• 1 1/2 cups water
• 1/4 cup sugar
Put that stuff in a small sauté pan and simmer until the raspberries fall apart and the liquid has thickened a bit. If the raspberries aren’t falling apart and the water is reducing too much, add more water and keep it simmering. Once that’s done, pour the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve and work at it with the back of a spoon, smashing the raspberries into the sieve, like so:
You want to keep smashing the raspberries through the sieve until the pulp starts to get chunky and you can tell most of the liquid and syrup has made its way out. When you’ve reach that point, take another spoon and scrape the syrup from the bottom of the strainer and add it to the rest of the liquid that has strained out. The stuff stuck on the bottom of the strainer is golden, and you don’t want to waste any of it. If the syrup is too thin, you can put it back on the heat and reduce it more. Your call.
Make the syrup as far in advance as you need, and cool it in the fridge.
The syrup was easy. The ice cream, almost as easy. This is an adaptation of a recipe I learned in my culinary classes. Here’s what you need:
• 1 pint 2% milk
• 1 pint heavy cream
• 1/2 vanilla bean, split (or 1 tsp vanilla extract – not as good, but still good)
• 8 egg yolks
• 10 oz granulated sugar
• an ice cream machine – of course
The trick with ice cream is cooking the eggs, without them turning scrambled in your final product. We do this through a technique called tempering. First, put the milk and cream in a pot. Using a paring knife, scrape the insides of the vanilla bean to get all the good stuff out. Put the good stuff into the cream mix and whisk a bit. Then just put the vanilla bean in, as well. Bring this mix to a boil, whisking frequently and taking care not to let the mix burn on the bottom of the pan.
While the cream is coming to a boil, in a bowl or stand mixer, cream the egg yolks and sugar together until it’s fairly smooth. Once the cream has come to a boil, remove it from the heat and, while whisking constantly, ladle some of the hot cream into the egg and sugar mix. Whisking constantly is the key. This is tempering. Essentially, the hot liquid cooks the eggs, but the act of whisking prevents the eggs from coagulating. You’ll want to slowly ladle in about half of the cream, all while whisking. Then, pour the egg and cream mix into the rest of the cream, and bring back to a simmer while whisking.
Once the ice cream base begins to simmer, turn off the heat and strain the base through a fine-mesh sieve. Straining is important, because it’s likely you’ll get at least a few tiny pieces of coagulated egg. The strainer will keep those out.
Cool the ice cream base in an ice bath (put the base in a bowl, put that bowl in a larger bowl of ice water), transfer to a lidded container and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. One the mix has cooled, put it in your ice cream maker and run that thing until it’s thick, like a Frosty from Wendy’s. Then put it in a lidded container and stick it in the freezer, again for 8 hours or overnight.
Even though the process is slow, it’s really not difficult. And you can do this the day before, so you don’t have to worry about it the day of. To serve, put a couple spoonfuls of the raspberry syrup in the bottom of your bowl, place a scoop of ice cream directly on top, add a couple sprigs of mint, and shave some dark chocolate on top.
And there you have it. 4 modestly-portioned courses that equal one delicious meal that will satisfy your hunger and not inhibit any other… *ahem*… activities planned with your Valentine. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and, even if you already have plans for Valentine’s Day, I’d encourage you to try these dishes out another time. Tasty will still be tasty, even after the holiday passes. Happy Valentine’s Day, internet friends.
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