To kick off the official start of summer (forget the calendar), Parade magazine published great hamburger recipes from great chefs: There's a terrific burger from Emeril that includes a recipe for Orange Habanero Ketchup; a quirky take on a pork burger from Mario; a thin comforting burger from Katie Lee Joel, the queen of comfort; and a bunch of burger recipes and tips from Bobby Flay, who just wrote the book on burgers.
With all this grilling going on, who was thinking about dessert? Me! Because that's what I always think about. And the only dessert I could imagine that would hold its own against juicy, mile-high burgers, was a fabulous ice cream sundae. In fact, what I thought of was three fabulous sundaes: Banana Split, Strawberry Shortcake and Caramel Affogato!
I love ice cream sundaes and I love how dipping into even the most sophisticated sundae - and I think the Caramel Affogato is plenty sophisticated - makes you feel like a kid.
The three sundaes are each fun in their own way. The Strawberry Ice Cream Sundae's got little cubes of pound cake, fresh berries, strawberry ice cream, hot fudge sauce and, of course, whipped cream. The Banana Split's got bananas (how could it not?), both chocolate and vanilla ice cream, hot fudge sauce, whipped cream, chopped chocolate and an optional cherry on top. And the Caramel Affogato, which I like so much, has the classic ingredients: espresso and ice cream (although I used coffee instead of the usual vanilla ice cream), but it's also got whipped cream and warm caramel sauce, which is so perfect in the sundae that it ought to be written into the affogato rule-book.
You can make all of these sundaes with ingredients straight from the supermarket, but I don't have to tell you how much better they'll be -- and how much more fun you'll have -- if you start from scratch and make your own hot fudge and caramel sauces and your own ice creams.
(You can find recipes for both sauces in Baking From My Home to Yours or you can use the Chocolate Sauce recipe I posted to go with the Simplest Loaf Cake. The chocolate sauce is thinner than the hot fudge and won't firm much when it hits the ice cream, but it's very tasty.)
To get you started on the road to homemade sundaes, here's my recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream.
VANILLA ICE CREAM
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
A word on vanilla: This ice cream can be made using a fresh, plump, pliable vanilla bean or pure vanilla extract. If you use a bean, you should split and scrape it and then allow it to infuse the hot milk and cream with its flavor - give yourself an extra 30 minutes for this.
A word on quantity: If you'd like to make a pint rather than a quart of ice cream, use the following proportions: 1 cup milk, 1 cup heavy cream, 3 large egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract.
Makes about 1 quart
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1 plump, moist vanilla bean, split and scraped, or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Bring the milk and cream to the boil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. If you are using a vanilla bean, toss the bean, pulp and pod, into the pan, cover and set aside for 30 minutes. At the end of this infusion period, bring the milk and cream back to the boil. If you are using vanilla extract, you'll add it later.
Working in a mixing bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar together until they are very well blended and just slightly thickened. Whisking all the while, drizzle in about one-third of the hot liquid. Once the eggs are acclimatized to the heat, you can, still whisking, beat in the remaining liquid a little more quickly.
Pour the custard back into the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring without stop, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon; if you run your finger down the bowl of the spoon the custard should not run into the track. The custard should reach at least 170 degrees F (but not more than 180 degrees F), as measured on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat immediately and pour the custard into a clean heatproof mixing bowl. If you are using vanilla extract, now is the time to add it, stirring to blend.
Allow the custard to chill before churning it into ice cream.
Scrape the chilled custard into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Pack the ice cream into a container and freeze it for at least 2 hours, until it is firm enough to scoop.
Serving: If the ice cream is very firm, allow it to sit on the counter for a few minutes before scooping.