Thursday, February 13, 2014

Vanilla Bean Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Cake (Dairy Free)

With all this weather we’ve been having, I can understand if it’s hard for you to imagine eating an ice cream cake. I’ve spent most of my life in some Midwestern state and I’ve seen my fair share of cold snaps and blustery streaks, but this is too much. That and Seattle spoiled me rotten with it's perpetually 45 degree winter days. While I'm naturally inclined to exaggerate, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to claim that it didn’t get above 10 degrees for a month straight. Or when it got right up to 10 degrees, it felt like a heat wave and I was itching to get off the treadmill and into the slush.

I don’t know how much more of this I can take! Yet oddly enough, an ice cream cake in the middle of the worst of it was just the thing I needed. And exactly what one Marybeth Falish wanted.

The girl I mention above? It’s my pleasure to call her both a good friend and co-worker. When the personal life gets messy or the work gets tough, she’s there for me on both fronts. Days where I think I just can’t make it through another excel document, she’s there to help me and then engage in a little bit of girl talk. Moral of the story: I am so incredibly grateful to work with such a wonderful woman and call her my friend.

Naturally, I made a cake for her birthday. In early January. When the temperatures refused to crack zero degrees. And what did she request? An ice cream cake. An unexpected bonus to making an ice cream cake in January is that my little ice cream machine performed much better in a chilly kitchen than its usual setting - a torturous 95 degree day. 

Armed only with the direction to include ice cream and those “little black flecks” (vanilla beans), I went to work crafting a cake for MBF’s 24th birthday bash. Goat butter is still in nonexistent supply, so I knew I had to go vegan for my cake base (plus eggs). Earth Balance buttercream is not too pleasant, leading me to try making coconut whipped cream for the first time. Topping the experiment off, I had never made an ice cream cake before!

With the photos as evidence, the cake turned out surprisingly well and was the delicious hit of the night! 

Vanilla Bean Cake
Adapted from: More from Magnolia

  • 2 ¾ cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 vanilla beans, cut in half and seeds scraped out

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease/flour cake tins.
  2. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream (preferably with an electric mixer) the Earth Balance until smooth and light yellow in color.  Gradually beat in the sugar until fluffy, approximately 3 minutes.  Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla.  This is key: after each addition, make sure to beat enough to incorporate the ingredients, but do not overbeat.  (This will create gluten and you will have a rough and dry cake)
  5. Fill the prepared cake tins.
  6. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a cake tester is inserted into the center of the cake and comes out clean.

Vanilla Bean Cookies & Cream Ice Cream

  • 2 (14 oz) cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup unrefined granulated sugar, such as evaporated cane juice
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
  • 20 all-natural cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (I used Newman’s Own)

  1. Refrigerate the cans of coconut milk for 1 hour (no longer). Chilling the coconut milk will cause the coconut cream to rise to the top of the can and slightly solidify. Carefully scrape out the coconut cream and milk from both cans into a large mixing bowl. Add in the sugar and vanilla bean paste. Hand-whisk lightly to break up the solidified cream, and then whip with an electric mixer for about 10-20 seconds, or until smooth and thick - don’t whip for any longer than a minute.
  2. Pour mixture into your ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer's instructions, gradually adding in the chopped/crushed cookies during the last 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer mixture to a freezer-safe air-tight container and freeze until desired consistency is reached (at least a few hours).

Coconut Whipped Cream
  1. Buy a can of full fat coconut milk. Thai coconut milk is fattier and works the best.
  2. Place it in the fridge overnight.
  3. Open the can without shaking it or turning upside down.
  4. Carefully spoon out the top layer of opaque white stuff that has gathered at the top of the can. Spoon into a mixing bowl. You will be left with about 1/2 cup of white syrup-y looking translucent liquid. Leave this in the can.
  5. Add 2-3 Tbsp of powdered confectioners sugar to the coconut cream.
  6. Using an electric mixer, whip the coconut milk froth until creamy. Start on low and move to a higher speed, move the beater in an up and down motion to infuse the mixture with as much air as possible.
  7. Use to frost the cake!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Oven Puffed Pear Pancake (Pannekoeken)

Today I woke up and experienced a full-blown Saturday conundrum. Starving and craving a luxurious brunch, but rolling over seeing the clock strike 11:20am. Fridge supplies running a bit low, but the essentials still intact, rendering a grocery store trip superfluous. Never the one to backdown in the face of a food challenge, “A” exclaimed “PANNEKOEKEN!”

For strangers to the Dutch language or non-native Minnesotans, such an exclamation roughly translates to “YES! OVEN PUFFED PANCAKES!” 

This is an incredibly easy recipe to adapt to whatever you do or don’t have in your kitchen. We’ve been making different variations for years based on what’s in season, where we’re living or what’s in our kitchen. While living in Seattle and at the height of berry season, I loaded up our pancake with the best fruits the Pacific Northwest had to offer:

Today we had a renegade pear, leftover ginger from brewing kombucha and an orange “A” brought home from work. And you know what? Those seemingly random bits came together to create one of the best oven puffed pancakes yet! Don’t discredit the scraps at the back of your crisper drawer; let them make friends with the other rejects. It’s a culinary creation just waiting to happen! 

As long as you have the basics of eggs, butter, flour and (almond) milk, brunch is obtainable. 

Oven Puffed Pear Pancake
Adapted from Two Tarts

  • 1 tbsp goat butter
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1 in piece of ginger, finely grated (microplane works best)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pear, thinly sliced

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F. Place the goat butter in a 8-in cast iron skillet, and place it in the oven.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, orange zest and ginger in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, almond milk milk, and vanilla. Add this to the dry ingredients, and whisk until combined and smooth.
  3. Wearing an oven mitt, remove the hot skillet from the oven (the butter should be bubbling), and pour in the batter all at once. Quickly arrange the pear slices in a circular pattern 1 ½ inches away from the edge of the pan, and return the skillet to the oven. Bake until the pancake is nicely browned and puffed around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pancake from the oven (don't forget that oven mitt!). Cut into wedges and serve with a bit of maple syrup or powdered sugar.


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