Thursday, February 10, 2011

Warm, hot, icy and spicy: An ice cream sandwich for Valentine's Day

I wrote this story in February 2010 for the Salon Kitchen Challenge. My assignment was to create a recipe using chocolate and chile together. It's a flavor combination that I love - both in savory and sweet dishes. When I thought about chocolate chile ganache, as in a truffle, I thought how nice it would be to have something cold and creamy to counteract the heat. That's how I ended up with cinnamon ice cream, chocolate cookies and chocolate-chile ganache. It's still one of my favorite creations, and worth making again very soon, to eat, and to take another picture - this one doesn't do them justice. 

Some days, I feel just like a minivan mom, which in fact, I am. But underneath this practical exterior beats the heart of Bizet's Carmen, a Gypsy vixen in Spain who sings in French and drives the men crazy. In my fantasies, I wear a red dress, sing like Jessye Norman and vamp like Jessica Rabbit.

I may be in my car, in an endless carpool line, but my mind is in sunny Seville, and after I dance and sing, I’m left to wonder: “What will I serve my lover Don Jose for Valentine’s Day?” To the strains of “Habanera,” I compose a dessert of fire and ice, cinnamon ice cream and chile-laced ganache sandwiched between chocolate cookies. Rich chocolate, spicy cinnamon and sweet cream tease your taste buds then the chile hits the back of your mouth and lingers near your throat. This cool dessert sizzles, and it’s meant to be eaten with your hands. Now, that’s sexy.

Chocolate-Cinnamon Ice Cream Sandwiches with Chile Chocolate Ganache
There are three components to the sandwiches: ice cream, cookies and chile ganache. All three elements can be made in advance. Assembly should take place a few hours before serving so they can set up.

Yield: 8 sandwiches.

Cinnamon Ice Cream

1 ½ cups whole milk

1 ½ cups heavy cream

¾ cup sugar

Pinch of salt

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

7 egg yolks

1 teaspoon vanilla

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, cream, sugar, pinch of salt and cinnamon stick and heat until scalding, which means that little bubbles will appear inside the perimeter of the pan. Remove pan from heat and let the cinnamon steep for 15 minutes.

2. Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together. Slowly add some of the cooled cream mixture to the eggs, tempering them. Now, reverse and add the egg mixture slowly to the cream, whisking constantly to completely incorporate the eggs.

3. Cook the mixture over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. The doneness test is when the custard is thick enough to coat a spoon. Remove from heat and strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard the cinnamon stick and any flotsam.

4. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. I use a Krups with the canister that you keep in the freezer. Once ice cream is complete, store in an airtight container in the freezer.

Chocolate Cookies

½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 egg

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

¼ teaspoon salt

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy and nearly white-colored. Beat in the egg, cooled and melted chocolate, and vanilla extract.

2. In another bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, and salt. Pour into the butter mixture and mix on low speed until combined.

3. Shape dough into a ball and wrap in plastic. Chill for one hour in the fridge.

4. Preheat oven to 400. On a floured surface, roll out dough to ¼ inch thick and use a 3-inch round cutter to cut out cookies. Roll scraps with scraps and cut until all the dough is used. Carefully transfer (an offset spatula is handy for this task) the cookies to a Silpat-lined cookie sheet.

5. Bake the cookies for about 8 minutes or until the edges are just crisp. Set on wire rack to cool. After five minutes, use a spatula to remove cookies and place them on the wire rack to cool completely. If not using right away, place in an airtight container and store at room temperature.

Chile Ganache

Kid friendly note: the cinnamon ice cream and the cookie are kid pleasers, the chile ganache for serious chile heads only. Make some ganache without the chile for the kids, or make the sandwiches plain without the ganache. Leftover chile ganache can be chilled and rolled into truffles; dust with cocoa powder and additional chile powder.

8 oz. cream

8 oz. dark chocolate such as Lindt Excellence 70% cocoa or Green & Black’s Organic Dark 70%

1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (this is gringo heat, two teaspoons is fiery Gypsy heat)

1. Bring cream to scald, just below boiling, with bubbles on the perimeter. Break chocolate into pieces in a bowl. Pour warm cream over chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted. Cool to room temperature. Store in refrigerator.


You’ll need a roll of plastic wrap in addition to the cookies, ganache and ice cream. If the ice cream is too hard to scoop, zap in microwave for 15 seconds at a time.

1. On a sheet of plastic wrap, place one cookie. Scoop the ice cream onto the cookie. Spoon a generous portion of ganache on a second cookie, place the two together and gently squeeze until the filling just meets the edge. Wrap in plastic and place in freezer. Continue with remaining cookies. Store cookies in an airtight container in freezer.

L'amour! L'amour! L'amour! L'amour!
L'amour est enfant de Bohème,
il n'a jamais, jamais connu de loi;
si tu ne m'aimes pas, je t'aime:
si je t'aime, prends garde à toi!

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