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Author Notes: Although the thought of ice cream cakes always zips me back in time to childhood, summertime and Baskin-Robbins' birthdays, there is something deeply pleasing about good ice cream slathered atop good cake.
As summertime approaches (finally?) and I look for festive, flavorful, cool desserts other than strawberry shortcakes and fruit pies, the ice cream cake seeps into mind.
Recently, I bought six of the loveliest apricots, and tended them thoughtfully until ripeness, but not a bit more, moved in. It is at that point with apricots that you simply must put them to good use, lest you be left with the horrible mush of past-their-prime apricots.
I quite enjoy roasted fruits, love the concentration and richness of flavor cooking them provides. I also like pretty much anything caramelized so decided to do just that with my half-dozen peach-colored beauties. Ice cream, ladyfingers, Cognac.... it all started coming together in my mind and then in the kitchen.
Et voila. This is really lovely served in thick slices by itself but might also be nice with a good yet light drizzle of caramel!
You'll need an ice cream maker for this recipe (I use a Cuisinart electric one). It's best to make this a day ahead. —em-i-lis
For the caramelized apricots
- 1 - 1½ tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup (generous) brown sugar
- pinches kosher salt
- ½ teaspoons almond extract
- 1 teaspoon water
- 6 fresh apricots, ripe but still firm, washed, pitted, halved
- In a 10" skillet, or the like, set over medium-high heat, melt your butter and then gently stir in the brown sugar, kosher salt, almond extract and water. Turn the heat down to medium and put the apricot halves, cut side down, into the hot, bubbling sugar-butter.
- Cook gently, flipping once and then again (so that cut sides end up back down; you just want to coat the fruit in the good syrup), until the apricots are easily pierced with a knife but are not falling apart, about 4 minutes.
- Remove from heat, pour apricots and syrup into a glass bowl, and let everything cool. When cool enough to handle, chop the fruit, cover and chill. Reserve the syrup for later in this process.
For the ice cream and all the rest
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup milk (2% or whole)
- ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
- 1 box ladyfingers (3.5 ounces, about 20 cookies)
- 2 tablespoons Cognac or other brandy
- In a 2 quart saucepan set over medium-high heat, stir together the cream and milk and scald; use a thermometer to measure temp and remove the pan from heat when the temperature reaches ~170° F. After removing the pan from heat, stir in the vanilla extract.
- In a small mixing bowl, beat together the egg yolks, brown sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar until well-combined, light and somewhat fluffy. Very slowly, pour a tablespoon or two of the scalded milk mixture into the egg-sugar mix, whisking earnestly the whole time. You need to temper the eggs so go slowly so they don’t scramble. Repeat a few more times, and then pour in the rest of the milk-cream. Cover with plastic wrap pressed to the surface, and let cool to room temp. Then put in the fridge for three hours.
- When well-chilled, pour the ice cream base into a blender and add the reserved chopped apricots (but not their syrup). Blend until most of the apricot chunks are gone. Pour this mixture back into the bowl in which you'd chilled the ice cream base, cover and chill for another hour.
- In an ice cream maker, pour the chilled apricot ice cream custard and churn for 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile, into the reserved apricot syrup, whisk the Cognac and remaining tablespoon of sugar.
- Line a loaf pan with foil (going up the sides and leaving some overhang for lifting the frozen cake out) or use a rectangular Pyrex or glass dish (a 4 - 6 cup/1 - 1.5 L). Place ladyfingers snugly in a single layer on the bottom of your dish (my loaf pan fit 11) and over them pour all of the Cognac-apricot syrup. When the ice cream has churned for long enough, spread it atop the soaked ladyfingers. Suggested: crush your extra ladyfingers and mixed them into and atop the ice cream. Smooth the top, cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze until solid, at least a few hours but preferably overnight.
- When ready to serve, invert over a cutting surface and slice into slabs. Serve!
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Frozen Dessert
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What to eat and listen to tonight.
We've got the summer blues.
Za'atar: the spice with zip.
Have a ball (jar).