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Archive for August 9, 2015

RECIPE: S’mores Baked Alaska

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S’mores Baked Alaska. Chef Brian molds the
ice cream on top of the cake layer before
covering the ice cream with Marshmallow
Fluff. We took an easier path, creating a
layered ice cream cake and covering the
Hotels.

 

For National S’mores Day on August 10th, here’s a brand new take on the classic, gooey chocolate bar, marshmallow and graham cracker cookie sandwich.

Chef Brian Millman at Atwood Kitchen & Bar Room in New York City has created S’mores Baked Alaska, a twist on the American classic of ice cream cake*, shrouded in freshly-whipped meringue and then browned under a broiler or with a kitchen torch.

WHY YOU CAN BAKE ICE CREAM WITHOUT MELTING IT

The beaten egg whites in the meringue protect the ice cream from melting because beating unfolds the protein molecules. This causes air bubbles to be trapped in the unfolded proteins. This foam acts as an insulating layer around the ice cream and protects it [for a brief time] from the heat.

This dynamic was discovered by a prominent physicist, Benjamin Thompson, at the beginning of the 19th century. Here’s the history of Baked Alaska.

 
WHY YOU CAN BAKE ICE CREAM WITHOUT MELTING IT

The beaten egg whites in the meringue protect the ice cream from melting because beating unfolds the protein molecules and causes air bubbles to be trapped in the unfolded proteins. This foam acts as an insulating layer around the ice cream and protects it from the heat.

This was discovered by a prominent physicist, Benjamin Thompson, at the beginning of the 19th century. Here’s the history of Baked Alaska.
 
Meringue has similar ingredients to marshmallow, which is why marshmallow cream also works.

  • Meringue ingredients: egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar
  • Marshmallow Fluff ingredients: egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, water, salt and vanilla extract
  •  

    READY TO MAKE YOUR OWN BAKED ALASKA?

    Chef Brian makes these substitutions to turn S’mores into Baked Alaska:

  • Chocolate cake and chocolate sauce instead of the S’mores chocolate bar
  • Marshmallow Fluff instead of the S’mores marshmallows and meringue
  • Graham cracker marshmallow ice cream and graham cracker crumbs instead of the whole graham crackers (Chef Brian makes his own marshmallow and graham cracker ice cream; but you can make hack a variation from a quart of vanilla, some mini marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs)
  •  
    He also adds a pinch of flake sea salt (Cyprus Flake Sea Salt and Maldon Flake Salt flake salts are typically available at specialty food stores or fine supermarkets).

    You can use your broiler to brûlée the Fluff; but if you have one, use a kitchen torch instead. With a torch:

  • You can evenly brown the entire surface. Under a broiler, when the top is perfectly browned, the sides will be much lighter.
  • You don’t have to check the broiler to see how the browning is going. A delicate process, it can turn from done to overdone in seconds. The torch gives you control.
  •  

    RECIPE: S’MORES BAKED ALASKA

    Here’s how we adapted Chef Brian’s concept to make our own version of S’mores Baked Alaska:

    You can bake the cake or buy a chocolate loaf cake (or any unfrosted chocolate cake). You can make the marshmallow ice cream from scratch (here’s a recipe—add the graham cracker crumbs), or buy ice cream and mix in the crumbled graham crackers.

    Ingredients

  • 1 chocolate cake: loaf, sheet or uniced layers
  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream plus mini marshmallows, store-bought marshmallow ice cream* or homemade marshmallow ice cream
  • Graham crackers or graham cracker crumbs‡
  • 1 marshmallow fluff tub (16 ounces) Marshmallow Fluff or other marshmallow cream
  • Garnish: graham cracker crumbs
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    Add mini marshmallows to softened ice cream to make “quickie” marshmallow ice cream. Photo courtesy DeBakery.Weebly.com.

  • Optional garnishes: chocolate sauce, coarse sea salt or flake salt (like Maldon—see the different types of salt)
  •  

    Preparation

    1. MAKE “quick” marshmallow-graham cracker ice cream: Soften the quart of vanilla ice cream on the counter. While the ice cream softens, crumble the whole graham crackers between sheets of wax paper, using a rolling pin. When the ice cream is soft enough to stir, use a spatula to scoop it into a mixing bowl; add the crumbs and stir to combine. Then add the marshmallows and stir. Place the ice cream back into the container. The lid will no longer fit, so cover the top with plastic wrap.

    2. ASSEMBLE the ice cream cake. Create a middle layer of ice cream. For a loaf cake, cut in half horizontally; for a sheet cake, cut two “layers.” Wrap in plastic and place in the freezer. When ready to serve…

    3. PLACE the ice cream cake on a heat-proof (or sturdy) serving plate and use a spatula to cover the sides and top with Marshmallow Fluff. Use the torch to brûlée, on all sides. If the plate isn’t heat-proof, steer clear of the lower part of the cake.

    4. BRING to the table. Dip the knife in warm water to cut. Sprinkle the edges of each dessert plate with graham cracker crumbs and place the sliced cake on top. Pass the optional chocolate sauce and sea salt so guests can customize their portions.

     
    *Baked Alaska is typically made with a thin cake layer on the bottom, and two or more different flavors of ice cream on top. When we created our version of S’mores Baked Alaska, it was easier for us to use thicker layers of cake, for a 50:50 proportion of ice cream to cake. You can construct your Baked Alaska in the proportion you wish.

    †Chocolate Marshmallow ice cream from Turkey Hill, S’mores from Ben & Jerry’s, Schwan’s Chocolate Ripple and others have a base of chocolate ice cream. We prefer a vanilla base, so we made our own.

    ‡We crumbled our own when we could have purchased crumbs. The reason: We preferred the texture of the larger home-crumbled pieces of graham crackers in the ice cream. The purchased crumbs, however, are fine.

      

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    FOOD FUN: Lucky Charms-Type Marshmallows

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    You can have your own stash of Lucky Charms-type colored mini-marshmallows. Photo courtesy Sweet Gourmet.

     

    If you got hooked on Lucky Charms cereal, you’re in luck once again: You can buy the dehydrated marshmallows to add to any cereal you like—or any other use.

    We came across these dehydrated marshmallows made by Kraft Foods (Lucky Charms are made by General Mills). They’re regular marshmallow rectangles—not the green clovers, pink hearts, purple horseshoes, tri-color rainbows, orange stars and other Lucky Charms shapes.

    Here’s a fun fact: In October 2012, Lucky Charms posted its best sales volume ever. The company attributed this success to their change in strategy: marketing to adults as well as to children. [Source]

    Add the dehydrated mini marshmallows:

  • To baked goods
  • On cereal
  • As a dessert garnish
  • Atop hot chocolate or warm milk or coffee
  •  

    They’re sold in bag of 6 ounces, 1, 2 and 3 pounds. Get yours at Amazon.com.

     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Frittata

    Making an omelet requires a bit of technique. If your omelets don’t look as lovely as you’d like, there’s an easy solution: Make a frittata!

    With an omelet, the filling ingredients are placed on the beaten eggs that are setting in the pan. As the omelet continues to cook, it is folded with a spatula to envelop the ingredients (that’s the part that requires practice, practice, practice).

    With a frittata—the name comes from the Italian friggere, to fry—the eggs and other ingredients are mixed together, then cooked more slowly than an omelet. The egg mixture completely fills a round skillet: no folding. The result looks like a crustless quiche. As with a quiche, a frittata can also be enjoyed at room temperature.

    Frittatas can be packed with vegetables, a sneaky way to get people to eat more of them. You can use the cookware you have, or consider a frittata pan (see photo below), ideal for stovetop cooking when you have to flip the frittata. Alternatively, you can bake it in the oven—no flipping needed.

       

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    Wouldn’t you like to wake up to a weekend brunch like this? It’s easy to make a frittata, watermelon and feta salad, and luscious summer tomatoes on goat cheese-topped toast.

    WHAT TO ADD TO YOUR FRITTATA

    Check the fridge: You may not have to buy anything else! Frittatas are a great receptacle for leftovers—even cooked pasta and grains.

    Vegetables: You can add almost any vegetable* to the beaten eggs, but take advantage of the summer’s specialties: bell pepper, chanterelle mushrooms, corn, eggplant, lima beans, okra, peas, sweet onion, tomatillo, tomato, yellow squash, Yukon Gold potatoes, zucchini.

    Cheese: melting cheeses like Emmenthal/“Swiss cheese,” mozzarella and Provolone; grating cheeses such as Asiago, Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano/Parmesan and Pecorino Romano; and soft cheeses including feta and goat cheese/chèvre.

    Fish/Seafood: clams, mussels, shrimp, smoked salmon.

    Meat: ham/prosciutto, roast chicken/turkey, salame, sausage. When you make chicken or ham, set some aside for the next night’s frittata.

    Accents: capers, chiles (fresh or dried), herbs, olives, red pepper flakes.

     
    *For starters, consider artichoke, asparagus, bell pepper, cabbage, cauliflower, carrot, chard, eggplant, kale, mushrooms, onion/leek/green onion, potatoes (boiled/roasted), spinach, zucchini.

     

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    A frittata pan is actually two frying pans that hook together for easy flipping, and can be easily detached for regular use. This one is a Cuisinart Frittata Pan.

     

    RECIPE: OVEN FRITTATA

    With this recipe, you can go heavy on the vegetables—2 cups instead of one. Or, you can make a cheesy frittata by adding a cup of shredded cheese instead of the second cup of vegetables.

    Some cooks start the frittata in a fry pan on the stove, then finish it in the oven. Fritattas can be cooked only on the stove top, but this means they have to be flipped—not easy for some people. Some frittatas can be cooked entirely in the oven, like this one.

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetables, diced or sliced
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, mozzarella or other
    favorite)—or 1 additional cup vegetables
  • One tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (basil, dill, chives,
    oregano, parsley, rosemary, etc.)
  • Olive oil
  • Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. While the oven heats, cook the vegetables: sauté in olive oil until tender or steam in the microwave.

    2. BEAT the eggs, herbs, pepper, salt, and Parmesan cheese together. Put a tablespoon of oil in a heavy, oven-proof skillet. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and scatter the vegetables on top.

    3. BAKE for 15 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, which will melt.

    4. SLIDE the frittata onto a serving plate. It can be served hot or at room temperature.
     
    ANOTHER TIP

    There are thousands of frittata recipes online, with the oven, stove top or stove top/broiler cooking techniques. Try them all, and see which works best for you.

      

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