Strawberry Shortbread Sundaes

 

I love ice cream.  I love it so much that when I was child, I used to celebrate my birthdays with sundaes instead of cake.  Now that I’m an adult I celebrate with both.  Frankly, because I can.

For me, no sundae spells summer quite like strawberry.  Which is why I am going to share my strawberry shortbread sundae recipe with you.  The inspiration for it comes from one of my favorite milkshakes in Los Angeles–the strawberry shortcake from MILK on Beverly Boulevard.  It’s creamy and crunchy and bursting with strawberry sweetness.  Think of it as the summer solstice in a bowl.

Ingredients for the strawberry sauce:

400 g strawberries, halved

1/2 cup apple juice

the juice of half a lemon

caster sugar, anywhere from 2 tbsp to 1/4 cup depending on how sweet you like it

 

Method:  Place all ingredients in a saucepan and heat over a low flame.  Stir until all the sugar has dissolved then turn up the heat and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Remove the saucepan from the heat.  Purée with a hand blender.  Pour into a small pitcher and allow to cool.  Once room temperature, chill the sauce in the refrigerator.

 

 

Ingredients for the shortbread:

2 oz caster sugar + a little extra for dusting

4 oz room temperature butter

6 oz plain flour

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

 

Method:  Preheat the oven to gas 5/190C/375F.   In a large bowl, mix the butter, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.  Beat in the flour a bit at a time until incorporated.  The mixture will be extremely crumbly.  Use your hand to push the dough together in the bowl.  Shape it into a disk.  Cover it with plastic wrap and chill it in the refrigerator for half an hour.  After this time, remove it and roll it out on a lightly floured surface.  I actually prefer rolling mine out on wax paper.  Roll it so it’s about 1/2″ thick.  Cut out shapes with cookie cutters.  Place them on a baking tray.  Sprinkle them with a bit of sugar and bake for about 15 minutes.  Do not let the cookies brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

 

To assemble the sundaes: Crumble part of a shortbread biscuit in a bowl.  Add your ice cream.  I like a scoop of vanilla and a scoop of strawberry, sometimes a bit of strawberry sorbet.  Top with strawberry sauce and the rest of the shortbread crumbles.  Put on the Beatles and enjoy.

 

sundae

 

 

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Saturday’s Sundaes

Sometimes when the sun shines and the sky is blue, life feels like a Kinks’ song.  On Saturday, I found this especially true when surrounded by good food and family in the Chilterns.  As the sun came up, the t’wit t’twoo of the previous night’s owls gave way to birdsong.  At breakfast, gray skies rolled in and rain poured threatening our afternoon of fun.  Thankfully the sun soon emerged and everyone sighed a sigh of relief then began basking in its glow.

My three year old sat listening to the ticking of the clock in the foyer (she can’t tell time), until her cousins arrived for lunch at half past noon.  This is when the real fun began.  The kind of fun that starts with the holding of little hands in the garden, laughing at grownups, and racing up and down the lawn.  Of course this merriment ends with grass stains, wine stains, coffee stains, and endless laundry for days, but all of that scrubbing is worth every giggle and good moment.

Post chicken, ham, and leek pie, we taught the little ones about spread betting.  We had to.  It was the Grand National.  Unlucky for us, we were placing a bet on Many Clouds at the last minute but the William Hill server was too busy and the race started before our transaction completed.  C’est la guerre.

The children had no interest in the Oxford Cambridge boat race and thusly engaged in their own championship game of Beetle.  The winner got the rest of last weekend’s Easter candy.  The losers got sour grapes, marmite toast, and tea with Super Ted.

Finally, we had an all family boules tournament fuelled by brownie sundaes.  With hot salted caramel and chocolate sauce to choose from, everyone was a winner.  Below are my recipes for both.  I hope you enjoy them.  The brownies I made were Alice Medrich’s from Food 52.

through the window

foyer flowers

grand national

boat race

beetle tea with super ted

boules

henry

misti

 

 Sundae Sauces

Ingredients:

300ml of thick cream (double cream)

100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), broken into pieces

2 tablespoons golden syrup

1 cup of caster or granulated sugar

100 grams of butter (cut into cubes)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

fleur de sel

 

Method:

For the chocolate sauce – In a heat proof bowl, combine the chocolate and golden syrup.  Place it over a simmering pot.  Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.  When the chocolate begins to melt, stir it.  Add half the container of cream and continue stirring to incorporate.  Take off the heat and add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste and a pinch of fleur de sel.

For the salted caramel – Put the sugar in a small pot and melt over low-medium heat.  Stir constantly until melted.  When it starts to turn tawny in color, add the butter.  Be sure to keep stirring though take caution as the butter can cause the caramel to sputter.  Once that’s incorporated, add the remaining cream.  Take off the heat and add 1 teaspoon of fleur de sel and 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.

Serve over your favorite ice cream and enjoy.  Keep the remaining sauces in glass jars in the fridge and reheat as needed.  I keep them for about a month.

sundae sauces fleur de sel hot fudge caramel brownie sundae

Things That Stick to Your Ribs (A Profiteroles Recipe)

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Yesterday, I walked a mile uphill in English rain just to drop an essay in the post to a magazine that does not accept submissions via email.  I got soaked along the way as I carried no umbrella.  Couldn’t.  I was pushing my stroppy daughter who bandied her legs about under the dryness of her stroller’s plastic cover.  In protest, she doused the inside with apple juice.  Spill-proof sippy cup, my eye.

This journey into the local village made me feel like an aspiring woman writer from yesteryear.  It was all very “Gosh, I hope the ink doesn’t run off the envelope in this storm and jeepers, wouldn’t it be swell if I heard back from the editor soon?  Note to self: don’t forget milk for the baby on the way home.”

When I came out of the post office, the downpour had stopped and there was a rainbow in the sky.  At the end of it was something better than gold.  It was Hand Made Food.  Hand Made Food is the best cafe and shop in Blackheath and their cheese selection is tops.  I decided to stop in and see if I could find any special ingredients as our friends, Alexei and Linda, were joining us for dinner.

Lucky me.  I found the creamiest Stichelton to substitute for the Iowa Maytag I knew I couldn’t get for my blue cheese dressing.  It was extremely subtle for a blue cheese and perfectly tangy.  Nothing at all like Roquefort whose piquancy borders on the rancio.  It was the perfect accompaniment to one of my favorite salads, that ubiquitous iceberg wedge of America in the 1950s served with piccolo tomatoes and crumbled bacon.

The rest of our menu was equally brawny.  Rump steak, wilted spinach, buttered potatoes with parsley, with bottles of Dao and Barolo to drink.  For dessert, I couldn’t help myself.  Perhaps I should have made something lighter but I didn’t want to.  Summer has left and England is going cold.  Besides my flirty, 60 year old, Cockney butcher with glinty eyes and a shiny smile made even sparklier because of a few gold teeth, told me I looked like I was wasting away and he’d make it his business to build me up before winter so I wouldn’t fade away.  Yeah, I made profiteroles.

Aptly described by a friend of mine as “Godless bundles of temptation,” profiteroles have always been more seductive to me than forbidden fruit to Eve.  Last night, they proved the same for Henry and our friends.

 

For my choux, I use Ina Garten’s profiteroles recipe.  Though the chocolate sauce I make is a little different from hers.  The recipe is below.  I hope you like it as much as our friend, Linda, did.  She gave it the thumb’s up.

baking cooling

profiteroles1

A&L

Ingredients:

100g bar of dark chocolate (I use Chocolat Menier), chopped

3 tablespoons Lyle’s golden syrup

3/4 cup double cream

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of sea salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Method:

Place the chocolate and syrup in a double boiler.  Or if you’re like me and haven’t got one, place them in a bowl atop a gently boiling pot of water.  Once they begin to melt, add the cream and stir constantly to emulsify.  Before taking the syrup off the stove, mix in the cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.

Spoon the sauce over the profiteroles then garnish with toasted slivered nuts and soft fruit.

Store the remaining pastry in an airtight container.  Pour the chocolate sauce into a glass jar and refrigerate.  I promise this dessert is just as delicious and beautiful a day later as evidenced below.

a day later

 

 

Frozen Happiness

Yesterday, I took my daughter to Ladurée for her first time.  We were walking through Covent Garden when she started begging for ice cream.  The sun was brutal and there was nary a breeze so I thought “sure, let’s spend too much on a fancy sundae.”  As she’s a chocolate fanatic I ordered her (and Reg, her golden dragon and current best friend) le Chocolat Liégeois which is chocolate sorbet, iced chocolate, chantilly cream, and caramelized almond flakes served up in a frosty silver goblet.  It put any frozen dessert I’ve ever had at Serendipity to shame.  Despite the heat, it was a perfect outing and I think it set a precedent for mommy-daughter ice cream dates to come.  At least I hope so.

2014-07-29 12.41.47

 

Strawberry Rosewater Popsicles with Cardamom

strawberry rosewater with cardamom

Today’s recipe was inspired by the exotic flavors of Mashti Malone’s, my favorite ice cream in all of L.A.  In case you don’t know, this little shop on La Brea is owned by two Iranian brothers who pack the magic of the ancient world into their products.  My favorite treat of theirs is the orange blossom ice cream.  It tastes like a flower garden frozen in cream.  One bite and I feel like a fictional Persian princess ready to take a carpet ride with my loyal pet tiger.

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh strawberries, washed, rinsed, and hulled

1/4 cup rose water

2 tablespoons honey

the contents of 2 cardamom pods

Method:

Purée all ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Pour into popsicle molds and freeze at least four hours.

Strawberry Nectarine Cream Popsicles with Raspberries

strawberry nectarine cream popsicles

When it’s really hot, I seem to dissolve into my younger self.  Not just in the activities I pursue like playing splashy dinosaur wars in huge puddles with my one year old, but even in the way I dress.  My husband told me, “You look like you’re going to Disney World with your parents in 1986.”  Perhaps my jean shorts cutoffs, pink scoop neck tee, high ballerina bun, no makeup and sneaks don’t exactly scream adult.  Especially when I’m drenched with water and holding a rubber Tyrannosaurus.

summer me

Well, nothing made me happier during the summers of my youth than a quality homemade popsicle.  And I’d say that’s still true now.  Below is today’s recipe.  Tomorrow there’ll be another.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup fresh washed and hulled strawberries

1/2 a banana (for sweetness more than actual banana flavor)

the flesh of one peeled nectarine

1/4 cup honey

2/3 cup Greek yogurt

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

a carton of fresh raspberries

Method:

In a blender combine all of the ingredients except for the raspberries.  Those you will divide amongst your popsicle molds.  Pour the mixture into the molds over the raspberries and freeze until solid, approximately 4 hours.  To remove pops from the mold, run them under warm water.  Now enjoy!  And don’t forget your sidewalk chalk and jacks when you meet up for hopscotch with the kids outside.

more strawberry nectarine cream popsicles