Friday, June 6, 2008

Cherry Chocolate Vanilla Open-faced Sandwiches

Cherries are among us! These bright shiny jewels with their long green stems are bursting with sweet colorful juice. Ah yes, Spring has truly arrived.

There is a wonderful Cherry Sauce from Charlie Trotter seared in my memory. It combines some lovely flavors in perfect proportion and of course it pairs perfectly with chocolate and vanilla. So here is my idea for an open faced ice cream sandwich that I think is the most delicious way to experience the genre.

The Cherry Sauce is a tart-sweet concoction with a nice mystique of spice and a delicate back note of wine. The not-too-sweet chocolate cookie showcases a deep cocoa flavor and crisp texture that complements the fruity sauce and the lusciousness of fresh vanilla ice cream. Put this trio together if you find yourself with a packet of fresh cherries on your table. Its magic will keep you spellbound well beyond the last bite.

Bench notes:
- The recipe for this Cherry Sauce calls for Sauternes, but a white Muscat, Beaumes de Venise, Sémillon or Monbazillac would be good substitutes. Be careful not to confuse Sauternes, a sweet French dessert wine, with Sauterne, a dry wine made in the United States.
- If your cherries are not at all sweet, add 1 T of sugar to the sauce ingredients.
- The Chocolate Cookies are a wonderful version of the standard that take their primary flavor from cocoa, so use a quality brand if you can. The recipe makes about 40 2” cookies. For this plating, I rolled out four larger rectangular shapes and formed one 2” log with the remaining cookie dough. Or simply serve this as a Sundae with a couple of cookies on the side.
- It can be difficult to tell when chocolate cookies are done because they don’t brown, so watch them very closely. Bake just until the cookie moves easily when nudged. Baking too long will produce burnt edges and they will taste bitter. The cookies crisp up as they cool.
- When making the base for the ice cream, watch it closely. If you use an instant read thermometer, cook it to about 165 degrees, then pull it off and keep stirring for just a moment. Residual heat will usually take it to 170, which is about right. But you have to watch it very, very closely because at that point the temperature rises very quickly. When it reaches 170 you have to pour it off immediately into the chilled cream. It's trashed at 180.
- Preparation can be staged over 2 or 3 days. Prepare the ice cream base and mix the cookie dough on day 1. Spin the ice cream on day 2. Make the sauce and bake off the cookies. If you don’t have the time or inclination to make fresh vanilla ice cream, substitute a great artisan or quality brand.

Cherry Chocolate Vanilla Open-Faced Ice Cream Sandwiches
Makes 4 servings

Cherry Sauce
adapted from Charlie Trotter’s Desserts

1 C Sauternes
1/2 C water
1/4 C lemon juice
2 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
1 lb cherries, pitted

Bring liquids and spices to a slow boil over medium heat. Add the pitted cherries and slowly return to a boil. Remove cherries and reduce sauce by half. Remove the cinnamon sticks and star anise. Cool. Add half the cherries to the sauce reduction and puree. Strain and add remaining cherries to the sauce.

Chocolate Cookies
Makes about 40 2” cookies

6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) butter @ room temperature
1 C sugar
1 egg
2 t vanilla
1 1/2 C flour (7 1/2 oz)
3/4 C cocoa, sifted (2 oz)
1 1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt

Sift cocoa and spoon into measuring cup to get 3/4 C or 2 oz.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.

Beat butter and sugar together for 2 – 3 minutes until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and beat for another minute.

Add dry ingredients on low speed and mix for about a 1/2 minute or so, just until combined. Divide dough into two parts and place each on a piece of parchment paper. Gather the dough and form into 12” x 2“ logs, rolling up in the parchment paper. Wrap the logs tightly in plastic wrap and freeze. (Alternatively, divide the dough and position each part in the center of a piece of plastic. Top with another piece of plastic and roll out to 1/4”. Place on a baking sheet or pizza pan and chill thoroughly for a few hours or overnight. Cut out desired shapes to bake.)

Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

Slice dough into 1/4” cookies and bake @ 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until the cookies move easily when nudged.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
adapted from Fruit by Alice Waters
Makes 1 quart

6 yolks
1 C whole milk
2/3 C sugar
pinch salt
1 vanilla bean
2 C heavy cream, chilled

Place the chilled heavy cream into a large bowl. Set aside.

Whisk the yolks in another bowl.

Combine the milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the milk mixture along with the bean pod. Heat slowly over low heat, until the sugar is dissolved and the milk is steaming a bit, stirring to fully combine.

Take off the heat and add some of the hot liquid into the egg yolks. Whisk constantly to combine and temper the two elements. Add the remaining milk and whisk thoroughly. Return to the saucepan and cook on low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula until it begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon, leaving a clean trace.

Remove from heat and strain into the heavy cream, whisking to mix and cool. Cover and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.

Freeze in your ice cream maker. Pour into a container and freeze to firm up.


Cannelle Et Vanille said...

great recipe gayle! i love how you used spices with the cherries (star anise is one of my favorites) and I loved your bench notes. Sometimes I forget to mention some of these (like how to know that chocolate cookies are done) because it is normal to me but not everyone knows and you give great tips. Gorgeous!

Mike of Mike's Table said...

I'm delighted cherries are in season and I've been buying more than I can possibly eat. This looks like a great way to put them to good use and the ice cream sandwich looks delicious.

My Sweet & Saucy said...

What a great recipe for cherry season...thanks!

Y said...

Great looking dish! I'll have to bookmark it for when cherries are back in season here.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Mmmm, what a fantastic summer dessert!