A few weeks ago, I went to Pulino’s, a restaurant on the Bowery that merges Keith McNally’s meticulously-aged restaurant aesthetic with San Francisco chef Nate Appleman’s roughly-hewn pizzas. We had the pizza and a knock-out bean salad, but the dish that stood out was a dessert, a dish called “Almond Ice.” The ice arrived looking like finely shaved parmesan cheese with a few glazed cherries sunken into the center. The ice was delicate and nutty, a little sweet but only suggestively so. It wasn’t ice cream but it wasn’t granita, either. It was more like newly fallen snowflakes. The cherries were fresh, a little cold and coated in a gently bitter syrup. If I had to design a flawless dessert, this would be it. Adapted from Jane Tseng, the pastry chef at Pulino’s in New York City. —Amanda Hesser
For the ice
4 1/4 cups water
2 cups almonds (with skins on), chopped
1 teaspoon aniseed or fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 tablespoons sugar
For the cherries
2 1/2 cups cherries
2 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup dried cherries
3 ounces Aperol or Campari (or other bitter aperitif)
Bring the water to a boil. In a bowl, combine the almonds, aniseed, salt, and sugar. Pour in the boiling water. Let cool, then refrigerate overnight. (If you don’t have time to let it sit overnight, don’t worry, just move on to the next step.)
Puree the almond mixture in a blender and get it as smooth as possible. Strain through cheesecloth into measuring cup with a spout. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
When the almond ice cubes are completely frozen, fit your food processor with the grating blade. Grate the ice cubes, a few at time. Immediately transfer the almond snow to a freezer container and freeze the grated almond ice.
Meanwhile, make the cherry glaze: pit the cherries, reserving the pits. In a small saucepan, combine 1 1/2 cups fresh cherries, the water, reserved pits, dried cherries, and Aperol. Bring to a simmer and cook gently for 30 minutes. Strain the mixture, pressing the solids to extract as much juice as possible, into a clean saucepan. Boil this mixture until it’s a light syrup.
Just before serving, fold the remaining 1 cup fresh cherries into the syrup. Spoon the almond ice into chilled shallow bowls, making a small well in the center. Spoon a few cherries and some syrup into the well. Enjoy – quickly!
Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.