Autumn apples are ripe for the picking and ready for eating. Did you go to the orchard and come home with more than you meant to? Get creative with your baking this year. Who said apple pie was all there is?
Last week, I mixed up a simple hazelnut cake batter and arranged some apple slices on top. I used one of my favorites: Granny Smith.
This weekend my family celebrated my Gramps' 87th birthday. My sister always remembered that Gramps' favorite ice cream flavor was butter pecan. So, I asked if I could make some for the soiree. I researched a few recipes and came up blank. How is it that the internet has no satisfactory butter pecan ice cream recipes? Come on, internet! I mean, ice cream should not include sweetened condensed milk or copious amounts of cornstarch. Real talk.
In my humble opinion, - okay...I'm not being very humble right now...- maple syrup is a great way to intensify pecan flavor, so my recipe includes a splash of Grade B. And check out my post from last week to see how to make the pecans crunchy and buttery.
-5 eggs yolks
-16 oz heavy cream
-16 oz whole milk
-pinch of salt
-1 vanilla bean
-230 g (~1 c.) light brown sugar
-120 g maple syrup (~1/3 c.)
-desired amount of caramelized pecan pieces
1. Heat the cream, milk, salt and scraped vanilla bean in a medium saucepan to a simmer.
2. In a bowl, whisk together sugar, maple syrup and egg yolks.
3. Pour the hot cream mixture into the bowl over the eggs and sugar, whisking and adding only a little at a time until fully incorporated. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
4. Cook mixture, stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook until any bubbles dissipate and the mixture coats the back of the spoon when a finger is dragged across it.
5. Strain and chill the ice cream base until cold.
6. Spin ice cream per the instructions on your ice cream maker. Fold in pecans and freeze.
This week I am making Butter Pecan Ice Cream. It's a classic, right? The process obviously requires pecans, so I've decided to caramelize mine for extra crunch. Plus, now I have some deliciously addicting pecans coated in buttery sugar sitting around for snacking. Ain't nothin' wrong with that.
Caramelizing pecans is as easy as can be. All you need is some toasted pecans - I broke mine into pieces - sugar, butter and a pinch of salt.
-1/4 tsp. salt
-2.5 T salted butter
1. In a large pot, heat sugar, water and salt, stirring with a wooden spatula until the mixture has reached 110 F. This is also known as the "thread stage" so it is easily tested by sight if you don't have a thermometer.
2. Add the pecan pieces and stir constantly. Add butter when the sugar begins to turn color. Pour pecans onto a parchment lined baking sheet when the nuts are coated and the sugar is light brown. Use two forks to separate the individual pieces.
Chefs tend to be very conscious of food waste. Of course, nobody likes wasting food, but in an industry where margins are already low, it's extra important to eliminate waste.
The last few years saw the rise of the "cake pop" or "cake ball." These cute, bite-sized creations are just a baker's way of getting rid of leftover cake and frosting. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but you should know that as a home baker you are perfectly able to re-create these often pricey treats at a low cost.
All you've got to do is crumble together leftover cake scraps and frosting, roll it into little spheres and get some chocolate for dipping. There is no exact ratio, just wing it.
Today, I used leftover pumpkin spice cake and cream cheese frosting. Use any flavor combinations you like. If you have these two ingredients left-over after a cake assembly, just freeze them until you're ready to use.
If you know how to temper chocolate: do it. If not, no sweat, just keep all of your ingredients cool before dipping and store the finished product in the refrigerator or freezer so your chocolate shells don't get too soft.