Frozen Vanilla Bean Banana Icebox Cake with Ginger Snap Cookies

Frozen Vanilla Bean Banana Icebox Cake with Ginger Snap Cookies

  Growing up, my mom would make what we called ‘chocolate eclair cake’. It was the go-to dessert when we were asked to bring a dessert to large gatherings. It was my favorite sweet there most the time. It was rather simple to make, just graham crackers, boxed vanilla pudding, cool whip, and canned chocolate frosting- all layered and kept in the refrigerator. Not too long ago I tried recreating it from scratch, then I tried a slice in the freezer and it was even better that way. So, In a way, that dessert was the inspiration for this recipe. I guess it would be considered an icebox cake, but I’m still not sure. I used the label anyway as it comes pretty close in my opinion.

Traditionally, icebox cake is just chocolate wafers and whipped cream layered and refrigerated. This version has a bit more effort put into it, but the outcome is well worth it. I had a difficult time deciding what cookie/cracker/wafer I should use. I don’t like to buy pre-made things for most of my recipes, so graham crackers or any pre-packaged cookie was off the list. I decided on my ginger snap cookies and combined with the banana pudding, it’s the most delicious tasting combo.


Frozen Vanilla Bean Banana Icebox Cake with Ginger Snap Cookies

  for the pudding/filling:

2 cups whole milk

2 medium-sized bananas, mashed

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean)

1/3 cup raw cane sugar

3 large egg yolks

1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/2 tablespoons cake flour (or all-purpose)

pinch of sea salt

2 cups heavy cream, beaten to stiff peaks

1/4 cup raw cane sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or seeds from 1 vanilla bean)

  for the cookies

3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup raw cane sugar

1/3 cup blackstrap molasses

1 large egg, room temperature

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoons ground allspice

1/3 cup raw sugar, for rolling

  METHOD

  for the cookies:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F / 177°C. Prepare one large baking sheet by lining with parchment paper.
  2. In an electric standing mixer (whisks attached), beat -on medium speed- the butter and sugar until creamy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula and add the molasses and egg; beat on low until fully combined. Scrape down the bowl once more. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add to the mixer and beat on medium speed until just combined. Spoon out the dough, rolling each piece between the palms of your hands until they’ve formed into slightly smooth(but still have small cracks in the dough) balls, each being around 1/2-inch in diameter. Lightly coat with the sugar and place them on the baking sheet, spacing each piece an inch apart from each other. Bake for 12-13 minutes. Once the cookies come out of the oven, use a flat spoon to flatten each cookie while they’re still soft. Cool on the baking sheet for three minutes, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely before using.

  for the pudding/filling:

  1. In a medium sized saucepan, combine the milk, vanilla bean paste, and mashed banana. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once simmering, remove from heat and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. Once the time has passed, pour the milk into a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. Discard any pieces caught. In another bowl, combine the cornstarch, cake flour, and salt. Add half of the milk to the flour and whisk until combined, set aside(whisk the mixture again just before using). 
  2. Set aside a clean mixing bowl, whisk, and sieve; as well as a large bowl filled with ice water for later use.
  3. Create a double boiler by filling a saucepan with a few inches of water, then place a heatproof bowl that fits over the top of said saucepan(don’t let the bowl touch the water!). Bring the water to a simmer over medium-low heat. Once simmering, add the sugar and egg yolks and continually whisk until the sugar has dissolved(the mixture will look slightly pale yellow in color). Pour in the flour/milk mixture and whisk until combined, then add the remaining milk. Turn up the heat to medium and continue to whisk the mixture until thick and smooth, making sure to whisk the sides and bottom of the bowl so that none of the pudding burns. When it begins to bubble, cook for one minute, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and pour through a sieve into a clean bowl. Set the bowl in the ice water and whisk the pudding until cool to touch. Pour into a bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the top of the pudding so it doesn’t form a skin. Refrigerate until cold(about 30 minutes or so, or place in the freezer until cool; this way is faster). Once the pudding has chilled, proceed to the next step:
  4. Chill a large bowl and the whisk(s) to an electric hand mixer. Once chilled, add the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla bean paste and beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Stir the chilled pudding, then add to the whipped cream. Fold the two together until fully combined. Line the sides and bottom of a large loaf pan with parchment paper(I made the mistake of using plastic wrap, it was difficult to get into/out of the pan). To assemble the icebox cake:
  5. Place a layer of cookies at the bottom of the pan(they should be firmly in place), then spoon half of the pudding mixture on top of the cookies. Place another layer of cookies on the pudding, then add the remaining pudding over the top evenly. Lastly, top with another layer of cookies. Cover the pan tightly and freeze for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Once frozen drizzle with melted chocolate (optional).

Summer Blackberry Bourbon Pie

Summer Blackberry Bourbon Pie

  Pie tends to be a neglected dish on my site. I’m not sure why this is, but I think one of the reasons is because I’m a perfectionist and assembling the top crust of a pie to look decent can be difficult. There are many ways to style a pie; so many creative people out there coming up with all sorts of elaborate designs. But every time, I fall for a simple lattice pie. I like the rustic look it gives a berry pie, as well as it’s moderateness on difficulty.

  I have to remind myself I’m not at all about extremely elaborate recipes, but I’m not about taking the easiest route, either. It can be strenuous staying on this road in the internet world, where the theme most favored seem to be, “what crazy, extravagant, and excessively sweet thing can I come up with quickly in order to go viral?”.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing other people being creative with food, I myself am creative with it; but on my own blog, I try to keep the things I bake simple, delicious, and seasonal so people can recreate it without too much difficulty. So, what do I do? I walk outside and find a thicket full of plump blackberries, pick as many until my hands are stained purple, and soak them in bourbon. The next step is to spend quite some time working the flour, butter, and water together with a spatula. It’s a trick I discovered from Serious Eats a few days ago for a flakier pie crust, so I used the method with the pie crust I made for my cherry hand pies. It turned out so flaky and delicious.  Nothing says summer like a pie filled with tart, freshly foraged blackberries(spiked with bourbon at that)- along with a great scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tip for a scrumptious tasting pie crust: use a good quality butter (preferably unsalted); so good you could eat it alone! It may cost a few more dollars, but it’s worth it.


Summer Blackberry Bourbon Pie

   ingredients:

240 grams unbleached all-purpose flour { 2 cups }

2 tablespoons raw cane sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

8-ounces unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

7 tablespoons water, ice-cold

   filling:

1.5 pounds fresh blackberries

1/4 cup bourbon

1 tablespoon raw cane sugar

1 cup raw cane sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

   Method:

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and sugar until combined. Add to a food processor along with the cold, cubed butter. Pulse 27-28 times until most the butter is coated with flour and the mixture resembles small pebbles(it’s okay if there are larger pieces as well). Pour the mixture back into a bowl and sprinkle with the ice-cold water. Use a spatula to work the dough together until it forms a ball. This may take a few minutes. It will be dry and crumbly at first, but once the flour absorbs the water it will begin to come together. Divide the dough into equal halves (using a scale is the best way) and press into disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  2. In a bowl, combine the blackberries, bourbon, and sprinkle with the one tablespoon of sugar. Give a slight stir and cover the bowl. Soak the blackberries for 30 minutes. 
  3. Once the dough has chilled, turn one-half out onto a floured surface (leave the other half in the refrigerator) and roll into a large circle that will fit into a 9-inch pie tin and still overlap along the sides slightly. Gently roll the dough onto the rolling pin and transfer to the pie tin. Using your fingers, carefully press the dough to fit the tin. Place the tin in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling:
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the 1 cup of sugar and 1 1/2 tsp of cornstarch until combined, set aside. Drain the juices from the blackberries, add the sugar mixture, and gently toss until all the berries are coated. Remove the pie shell from the fridge, pour the berries inside, and gently spread them around with a spoon. Place the pie back in the fridge while you roll out the remaining half of dough to cover the top. Cover the pie with your preferred style(I prefer to lattice, but you don’t have to do it that way) and crimp or flute the edges to seal them together.  If you aren’t doing a latticed pie, cut slit vents for steam release. Place the finished pie back in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425°F and make sure the first rack is placed in the middle position in the oven. Place a large baking sheet on the lowest rack to catch any juice that might fall.
  5. Once the pie has chilled, brush the top with egg wash(1 egg + 1 tsp milk, beaten), and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350°F and bake for 45 minutes until the pie filling is bubbly and the crust golden brown. Cool completely before serving, about 1-2 hours. Serve with vanilla ice cream on the side.

 

Cherry and Thyme Hand Pies with Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream

Cherry and Thyme Hand Pies with Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream

  It’s officially cherry season in the state of Virginia. My first thought at the beginning of any fruit season is to bake a pie with the fruit I’ve obtained from the farms in my area. And that’s precisely what I did when I discovered my usual grocery store of choice was selling fresh, local sweet cherries from one of my favorite orchards. Such a find can be a rarity in my small town, there’s a slim selection of local vegetables in the summer if any; in the fall there might be apples. But, when it comes to common fruits such as strawberries, peaches, or blueberries, you can only find them at the farmers market once a week. Many times I’ll drive up to an hour to pick fruit from the local u-pick farms in my area, as I love going out and about to visit beautiful places.

  Each pie is filled with a delicious cherry jam, subtly flavored with fresh thyme. Accompanying these hand pies is a creamy, no-churn vanilla bourbon ice cream. There are many no-churn ice creams out there that commonly call for heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk- a canned milk with the water removed and a copious amount of sugar added to make a sweet, sticky dairy product. The condensed milk is usually folded into the whipped cream and the flavoring(s) of your choice is added. Once frozen, the result is a rich and creamy ice cream. To avoid so much sugar, I simply made my own sweetened condensed milk that doesn’t use any canned dairy product, but instead raw cashews and maple syrup. Just blend until smooth and creamy and fold into the fresh, whipped cream along with a good quality bourbon and vanilla.

CHERRY AND THYME HAND PIES WITH BOURBON VANILLA ICE CREAM


   bourbon vanilla ice cream

1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight then drained

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons good quality bourbon

1 1/3 cups heavy cream

  cherry + thyme jam

1-pounds sweet cherries, pitted and stems removed

2 fresh thyme sprigs

1 1/2 cups raw sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

  pie dough

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon raw sugar

12 tablespoons salted butter, cold

5-6 tablespoons water, ice-cold

   method

  1. In a high-powered blender, add the maple syrup, vanilla, bourbon and the cashews; blend until smooth and creamy. This may take a few minutes depending on your blender. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks, then gently fold in the cashew mixture with a spatula until combined. Place the mixture in an air-tight container and freeze for 2 hours until firm, or overnight.
  2. In a saucepan, add the cherries and lemon juice and mash them slightly, then add the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then add the sugar. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often until the cherries are very soft and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the thyme. Cool the jam completely before using. 
  3. In a bowl, lightly whisk the flour, salt, and sugar together. Pour into a food processor and add the cold butter, cut into cubes. Pulse until small, pea-sized pieces form(it’s okay if there are larger chunks, too). Pour back into the bowl and add three tablespoons of ice cold water to one side of the bowl; then gently work the flour into the water with a fork. Add more water, one tablespoon at a time, when needed. You should be able to gently work it into a ball. Split the dough into four, golf ball sized pieces and gently press them into disks. Wrap each one in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes or until ready to use.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare a rimmed baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. 
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough disks, one at a time, until they’re about 4 1/2 inches in diameter. Move them onto the prepared baking sheet and place in the freezer for about 2 minutes to quickly become firm again. Add the jam to the center of each disk, leaving an inch of space from the edge. Fold one side of the dough over the jam and crimp the two sides together until sealed. Gently press a fork around the sealed edges. Brush the tops with egg wash (1 egg, beaten) and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown. Cool until just warm, then serve with the ice cream.

Vegan Blueberry Chocolate Cashew Mousse with Ganache

Vegan Blueberry Chocolate Cashew Mousse with Ganache

 Chocolate is oftentimes my go-to when I’m short on ideas. A quick scroll through my blog and you’ll notice that it’s the most common ingredient in many of my recipes. But, can one really come up with too many chocolate things? I think not. This will make the third chocolate mousse to appear on my site. One of the goals I had for my blog this year was to be more inclusive in different ways of eating and preparing sweets.

And for those who are vegan (or have an intolerance to lactose), you’ll quickly discover traditional mousse recipes call for a lot of egg and dairy products. Although this is far from your traditional mousse, it’s still deliciously smooth, airy, and chocolatey with fresh, local blueberries speckled about giving a subtle flavor of summer with each bite. It’s then topped with chocolate ganache, made with coconut milk in place of the cream that is initially used. 

In my previous recipe, I would use a combination of egg whites and heavy cream whipped to stiff peaks in order to get a smooth, yet light and airy texture. In place of the egg whites, I used aquafaba. The thick, sticky liquid from cooked legumes such as chickpeas. To make things easier, I simply used a can of organic chickpeas. Just drain the liquid into a bowl and whip like you would egg whites until stiff peaks form.


VEGAN BLUEBERRY CHOCOLATE CASHEW MOUSSE WITH GANACHE

    for the mousse:

1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight in water then drained

1 cup fresh blueberries

1/3 cup organic coconut milk, hot

4 tablespoons coconut palm sugar

2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder

1 teaspoon pure vanilla

6 ounces vegan dark chocolate (80% cacao)

2 tablespoon coconut oil

15-ounce can organic chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained, but liquid reserved

  for the ganache

4-ounces vegan dark chocolate (80% cacao)

5-ounces organic coconut milk (full-fat)

 method

ganache

  1. Chop the 4-ounces of chocolate into small pieces and place in a medium-sized bowl. In a saucepan, heat the coconut milk over medium heat until it begins to simmer; remove from heat and pour the hot milk over the chopped chocolate and give it a slight stir. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then stir until smooth. Use when ready.

mousse

  1. In a bowl, heat the coconut milk until hot. Add the sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla and stir until combined; set aside until ready to use. In a separate bowl, completely melt the chocolate with the coconut oil (this can be done in the microwave).  Place the soaked cashews in a blender with the blueberries, cocoa mixture, and melted chocolate and blend until smooth and creamy; this may take a few minutes depending on your blender. To test if it’s the right consistency, rub some of it between your fingers. If it’s smooth feeling it’s good, but if it feels gritty, blend it a bit more.
  2. Drain the chickpeas in a strainer over a medium sized bowl to catch the liquid. This liquid is known as aquafaba and it’s a great substitute for egg whites. Beat the aquafaba with an electric hand mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form.
  3. With a spatula, carefully fold the beaten aquafaba into the chocolate-cashew mixture until fully combined. Spoon the mousse into small cups(I used small, glass cups that measure to about 1/2 cup) and fill them 3/4 of the way full. 
  4. Gently pour the ganache over the tops of the mousse. Cover each cup and place in the refrigerator until firm. About 2-3 hours. Top with sea salt or fresh blueberries, then serve.

Strawberry Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream Cake

Strawberry Vanilla Coconut Ice Cream Cake

  If I could define the month of May with only a word, “fresh” is the one that continually comes to my mind. Fresh new scenery brought to life after spending the months of March and April waking up. There’s a breeze blowing about today, carrying with it all the clean, floral scents May brings, specifically one fragrant tree native to my area is Robinia pseudoacacia- from which I could sniff the flowers all day! There’s so much to love about this month it would be endless babbling on about it.

 I tend to get excited about the month of May because that’s when things begin to ‘start’, so to speak. much of April is waiting for things to sprout up from the ground. Now that it’s May, strawberry season has finally begun and I was able to visit one of my favorite local orchards to do some picking. The orchard has one acre dedicated to strawberry picking in the springtime. The patch is situated at the foot of a mountain, and looking behind you there’s another lovely view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I would have posted a few photographs from my visit, but the sun was extremely bright and the heat intense, so they didn’t turn out so well. 

  During my visit to the strawberry patch, I picked four pounds of strawberries, all of which were used to make this delicious strawberry vanilla coconut ice cream cake. I’ve been aching to try my hand at strawberry ice cream, and to my dismay, I happened to pick one of the more difficult ice creams to make. It’s a creamy custard based ice cream, but it still has a bit of an iciness to it since I used fresh strawberries. The bottom made of crushed chocolate chip cookies molded together with a small amount of melted butter. Before cutting this cake, it is best to let it sit a few minutes to soften, then cut with a hot knife. The more difficult place to cut through is the cookie layer.

STRAWBERRY  VANILLA  COCONUT  ICE CREAM CAKE


 ice – cream

1/2 cup organic (canned) coconut milk

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup raw sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla 

4 fresh egg yolks

2 cups heavy cream

1 pound fresh strawberries, chopped

1/2 cup raw sugar

 cookie – crust

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/4 cup raw sugar

3/4 cups coconut oil

2 large eggs

4- ounces dark chocolate, chopped

4 tablespoons butter, melted

  method:

  for the cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the coconut oil, sugar, and vanilla and beat with an electric hand mixer/standing mixer until light in color. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Add the flour and mix until just combined, then stir in the chopped chocolate with a wooden spoon or spatula. Scoop out onto prepared pan, spacing each scoop about 2 inches apart. Bake for 11 minutes until the edges of the cookies are slightly golden. Cool the cookies on the pan for three minutes, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  4. While the cookies are cooling, prepare a 7-inch by 3-inch cake pan by cutting out a round piece of parchment paper and placing it the bottom of the pan. Set aside.
  5. Once the cookies have cooled completely, mash them/pulse in a blender until they’re crumbs. Melt the 4 tablespoons of butter and add 3 1/2 cups of the cookie crumbs. Stir with a wooden spoon until they’re all coated with the butter, it should be moist enough for them to mold together, if not, add a little bit more of melted butter. Place the crumbs into the prepared cake pan and press with your fingers until firmly in place. cover and place the pan in the refrigerator until ready to use.

  for the ice cream:

  Before you begin with the ice cream base, chop the strawberries into pieces, then place in a strainer over a bowl. Add the 1/2 cup of sugar and stir. Cover and place the strawberries in the refrigerator to drain most their juices. Use the strawberries when ready.

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the coconut milk, whole milk, and vanilla. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl halfway with cold water and ice, then place another bowl on top of the ice water(make sure you don’t get water inside the second bowl). Add the heavy cream to the second bowl, then place a fine-mesh sieve over the cream. 

2. Once the milk begins to simmer, turn off the heat. Begin whisking the egg yolks lightly, then pour a little of the hot milk into the yolks. Now, add the yolks into the saucepan with the remaining milk and return to medium-low heat. Continue to whisk the custard and all around the bottom of the pan(so it doesn’t burn) until it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and immediately pour the custard into the sieve over the cream. Whisk the cream and egg mixture (making sure not to get the cold water inside) until it’s cool to the touch. Cover a chill in the refrigerator for thirty minutes or overnight. Once chilled, churn according to your ice cream machine instructions.

3. Once churned, gently stir in the chilled strawberries. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan with the cookies. Cover tightly and freeze until firm.