Brownie Fudge Ripple Ice Cream

This time last summer we were living in China. If you would have told me then that a year later we would be living in Chicago, I might have laughed at you. Then again, you could almost say that about everywhere we have been/have lived for the past 4 summers. To say that life has been unpredictable is a bit of an understatement.

So here I sit. 37 weeks pregnant, living in Chicago, and rejoicing that I have once again been reunited with my ice cream maker  (just like I did when I made this and this).

This ice cream came about because of 2 almost unbelievable words. Leftover. Brownies. What kind of a person has leftover brownies?! As crazy as it sounds, I did indeed have a few brownies left over in a pan that were just a day or so away from becoming stale. Not wanting to be wasteful, I decided I must use them to make ice cream. The fudge ripple just seemed like a natural addition to round out the entire ice cream experience.

For the ice cream base I went with a Philadelphia style vanilla. Philadelphia style ice cream does not have a custard (egg) base. The milk and cream are simply heated together with the sugar and then chilled until churning. It’s slightly easier than custard style ice cream. Some people think you lose some of the rich, creaminess that the custard provides while others swear they can taste the egg in custard ice cream and therefor prefer Philadelphia style. Me, I can go either way. I like custard. I like Philadelphia style. Custard is probably a touch richer, but Philadelphia style is still creamy and delicious. Can you really go wrong with homemade ice cream? I don’t think so.


Not-Ice Cream Sundae Cake

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You know how certain rides at the amusement park have a warning like, “Those with heart disease, high blood pressure….” Well, I think maybe this cake should have that warning. It’s a little over the top. But isn’t that what birthdays are all about?

Yep, birthdays (and in my case birthday week) are all about going over the top. Calories don’t count on your birthday (or birthday week). Lucky for me, when you have a food blog you can actually go above and beyond over the top. So we won’t talk about calories. Or the health implications of consuming a piece of a cake that contains 6 sticks of butter, a cup and a half of heavy cream, and nearly 5 cups of sugar. Birthday calories don’t count. Also I’m a firm believer of “Everything in moderation.” So don’t make this cake and plan on eating the whole thing yourself. Instead, have a small slice and invite some friends over to enjoy the rest!

This cake is what I would like to call a “Not-Ice Cream Sundae Cake.” It’s a very vanilla, fluffy, white cake, filled with chocolate ganache and vanilla bean mousse, frosted with a whipped vanilla bean buttercream, topped with more chocolate ganache, sprinkles and another nice dollop of buttercream and of course finished with a cherry on top. Happy Birthday to me!

Not-Ice Cream Sundae Cake
(Sunny Side Up original idea; Cake adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody; Vanilla Bean Mousse adapted from Sugarlaws; Whipped Vanilla Buttercream adapted from Sweetapolita, Chocolate Ganache adapted from Savory Sweet Life)

Cake

1 cup whole milk, room temperature
6 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Vanilla bean, seeds scraped from pod
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (6 oz), softened

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease two 8 inch cake pans with vegetable shortening, line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper, grease the parchment paper and flour the pans.

Combine milk, eggs whites, vanilla bean seeds, and extract in a small bowl with a fork. Set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in an electric mixer and mix at slow speed with a paddle attachment. Add butter. Continue beating at slow speed until mixture looks like wet sand.

Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining milk mixture and beat for an additional 30 seconds, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. Do not overmix.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans and gently shake to smooth batter.

Bake 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the pans for 15 minutes then invert onto racks to cool completely before frosting.

Vanilla Bean Mousse

1 Vanilla bean, seeds scraped from the pod
2/3 cup sugar, divided
2 egg whites
1 cup heavy cream

Whip together heavy cream, 1/3 cup of sugar, and vanilla beans, on high speed until soft peaks form. Set aside.

In a new, clean and oil free, bowl, beat egg whites until frothy, about 1 minute. Add 1/3 cup of sugar and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.

Add the egg whites, 1/3 at a time, to the bowl with the whipped cream and gently fold together. Cover the mousse and refrigerate until ready to use.

Chocolate Ganache

1/2 cup heavy cream
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped

Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Bring heavy cream to a boil. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate is smooth and melted. Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature before pouring over cake.

Whipped Vanilla Buttercream

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 5 minutes on medium speed, until it is pale yellow and appears fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and (starting on low speed and working up to medium) beat for 5 more minutes.

How to Assemble Cake

Place one 8-inch cake on a 10-inch cardboard cake circle. Poke the top of the cake all over with a fork. Then, pipe a border on the top of cake all around the edge. Pour 1/3 cup of chocolate ganache onto the cake and use the back of a spoon to spread it out. Top with 1 cup of Vanilla Bean Mousse, using the piped border as a guide.

Place the second 8-inch cake on top. (Now is a good time to put it in the freezer for a few minutes to make it easier to frost.) Frost the top and sides with the Whipped Vanilla Bean Buttercream. You can pipe a border along the bottom to make it look pretty. Put the cake back in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Pour the chocolate ganache onto the top of the cake and use a spatula to carefully spread it close to the edges. It shouldn’t need too much prompting to start to drizzle over the edges. Finish the cake by piping more buttercream on top of ganache and sprinkling with sprinkles.

This cake should be stored in the fridge because of the egg whites in the Vanilla Bean Mousse.

Strawberry Vanilla Scones

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Ni hao! I made it to China. That was one really long flight. 13 1/2 hours to be exact. Then after all that we had to taxi for 25 minutes before pulling up to the gate. By that point I was really ready to get off the plane and stretch my legs. But it was so worth it! Suzhou is awesome. The people have been very friendly. Though I have not done much exploring outside of the hotel yet, we did go out to dinner with 2 local girls that Jesse works with and that was a great experience. I let the 3 of them do all the ordering and I was a good girl and tried it all. I didn’t really not like anything, though I only ate one piece of the chicken because I have a hard time getting past the bones. My favorite was a stir-fry like dish with cabbage, green peppers, spicy red peppers and green garlic scapes (which I had never heard of but were amazingly delicious). I don’t think I will have any problem finding food to enjoy while I’m here. I’m just going to remain open minded and remind myself that anything I don’t like I can just skip next time.

Before I left I stock piled some recipes and pictures so I would be able to continue to post while here. So for the next 5 weeks it will be a mix of China updates and recipes. I hope you stick around and I’d love to hear about any experiences you’ve had or advice you have for a first time international traveler, as well as comments on recipes. I love comments! (nice ones of course :))

I made these scones for a quick and easy breakfast while my parents were in town. I prepared the dough a few days in advance, then I shaped the scones and froze them. It was so easy and they tasted like I had just made them. Give this a try the next time you have company coming in town and want to spend more time visiting than in the kitchen!


Strawberry Vanilla Scones
(Adapted from Sugarcrafter)

Scones

2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup half and half
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
3 cups unbleached flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar*
1 stick butter, cut into chunks
6 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and finely chopped

Glaze

1/2 cup confectioners sugar
Left over vanilla bean
2-3 tbsp milk

To make and bake right away, pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. To freeze and bake later gather saran wrap and a gallon sized ziploc bag.

Start by splitting and scraping the vanilla bean. In a large measuring cup whisk together the eggs, milk, half and half, vanilla extract and beans from the vanilla bean. In a small bowl take the sugar and remaining vanilla bean “skin” and rub together between your fingers, until the sugar starts to become fragrant, then remove the bean. Place the bean in another small bowl (or ziploc baggie if you plan to freeze scones and bake later) and mix with the confectioners sugar. Set aside for later use.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Using a pastry blender (or 2 forks) incorporate the butter chunks into the dry ingredients until it starts to resemble wet sand and there are no butter chunks bigger than a pea. Using a wooden spoon mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then carefully fold in the strawberries.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and kneed with hands for 1-2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and then flatten into a large circle. Cut the circle into 6 even wedges.

To bake now, place the wedges on a baking sheet fitted with parchment paper about 2 inches apart. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.

To bake later, set scones uncovered on a plate in the freezer for 30-60 minutes. Remove from the freezer and wrap each scone in saran wrap and place in a gallon sized ziploc bag, then return to freezer. When you are ready to bake remove from freezer and saran wrap and follow directions above only baking for 18-20 minutes.

While the scones are baking, rub the vanilla into the confectioners sugar then remove the beans and discard. Add milk 1 Tbsp at a time and blend with fork until the glaze has the consistency of thick syrup.

Drizzle the glaze over the scones and serve warm or room temperature.

*Vanilla beans can be expensive so I made sure to really get my moneys worth out my bean by rubbing it into both the granulated and powdered sugar. I think it really added to the vanilla flavor but these steps can be skipped. If you have enough time to plan ahead, vanilla beans can be purchased on Amazon.com for a much more reasonable price.