Salted Caramel Apple Sundae with Brandy White Chocolate Sauce

See that photo above? I’m hoping it’s making your mouth water just enough for you to forgive me for posting late…again. Also, while I write this, I’m sitting in my kitchen being enveloped by the most delicious smell of homemade bagels in the oven – you’ll be seeing that post next!

I feel like I should share with you something my adviser wrote to me before I moved up here this Fall. In response to my surprise at the number of courses I was signing up for, he said my first semester is truly a “sink or swim” regiment designed to get the majority of requirements out of the way as soon as possible.

I know my future self will appreciate the lighter course load once research begins in the Spring…but that’s making the very large assumption that my future self will still be here studying: right now I think it will take a small miracle to get me through the next month and a half. Last week, after multiple 4-hour nights still did not improve my workload any, I stayed awake for just over 35 hours to finish all my assignments. And those were just of the regular, run-of-the-mill, homework type. I’m pretty sure you can feel my panic through the screen right now, haha.

So, I’m still in my kitchen as frequently as I can possibly manage, but I’m making no promises on posts between now and Christmas, haha. The bagel post, I’m sure, will find its way up somehow in the next week or so, but other than that it’ll just be a matter of luck really. Let’s all hope I can “swim” better than I can cook!! 🙂

Salted Caramel Apple Sundae with Brandy White Chocolate Sauce

(this post was inspired by Jeni’s Splended Ice Creams, this sauce recipe, and this post my brother linked to me – thanks Al!)

* enough for 6 sundaes *

Ingredients:

1 gallon-sized ziplock freezer bag

ice bath

6   large apples (as symmetrically round and flat-bottomed as you can find)

1   C   chopped almonds or other nuts as you prefer

For the Ice Cream…

(makes about a pint)

2   C   whole milk

1   T   plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch

1½   oz.   cream cheese, softened

¼   t   fine sea salt*

1¼   C   heavy cream

2   T   light corn syrup

2/3   C   sugar

2   t   pure vanilla extract

*Note: Jeni’s original recipe calls for ½ teaspoon of salt, but we both found that too salty for our tastes. Remember that the ice cream base will have a milder flavor than the final frozen/proofed ice cream! I’d rather you find you can’t taste the quarter teaspoon salt and have to add more in the future than have your frozen ice cream turn out so salty it’s inedible (what happened with my first batch).

For the Sauce…

250   grams   (~ 9 oz. ) white chocolate

1    C   heavy cream

1-2   T   brandy (taste after 1 and see how you like it, we liked it boozy)

Procedure:

1) Prep Step: Mix about 2 Tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Mix the heavy cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout. Finally, fill a large bowl with ice and water (lots of ice!) put in fridge until needed.

2) For Ice Cream Base: Prepare the caramel using a “dry-burn technique” – Jeni describes this very well in her book, but if you don’t have a copy you should first consider buying one (have you heard of her flavors??) and then check out Dave Lebovitz’s page on making caramel. Basically you need to: heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over Medium heat until melted and golden-amber in color. Remove the caramel from the heat and, stirring constantly, sloooowly add a bit of the cream/corn syrup mix to the pan (be careful, it can splatter!). Stir well until combined then add a little more and repeat the process until all the cream/corn syrup is incorporated.

2) Return the caramel blend to Medium-high heat and add milk. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 4 minutes before removing from heat and gradually whisking in the cornstarch slurry. Bring mixture back to a boil and cook, stirring frequently with a heat-proof spatula, until slightly thickened (about 1 minute) before removing from heat to cool. If any bits of solid caramel remain, pour mix through a sieve.

3) Add about a third of a Cup of the hot caramel mix to the cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Pour the dissolved cream cheese/caramel blend back into the main caramel base and whisk until fully incorporated. Add vanilla and whisk. Finally, pour the mix into a 1-gallon ziplock freezer bag and submerge in the prepared ice bath. Let it cool, adding more ice if necessary, until cold (not warm, not cool, but COLD!) – about 30 minutes.

4) As ice cream base chills, prepare the Sauce: very carefully, melt white chocolate in a saucepan over Low heat (it is VERY easy to overheat white chocolate and have it seize on you. I’m speaking from experience here.) or use a double-boiler over barely-simmering water. Add the cream and stir until fully combined – you’re basically a white-chocolate ganache. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Once cooled, stir in half of the brandy and taste. Add more brandy as desired. Store in an airtight container until ice cream is ready.

5) When ice cream base is cold, pour into ice cream maker per manufacturer’s instructions. Once the ice cream has churned, pour into an airtight container, press a piece of cling-wrap tightly to the surface, and freeze until firm (I left it overnight, Jeni recommends at least 4 hours).

6) Once you have both the sauce and the frozen ice cream, prep your “apple bowls” by using a melon-baller or teaspoon and hallow-out one apple per serving. I left most of the flesh in my bowls due to simple laziness, but you can pack more ice cream in them if you do a thorough job. If you want to prep your apples ahead of time (while ice cream churns, for example) just sprinkle the bowls with lemon juice to keep them from oxidizing and turning brown. Finally, rough-chop your almonds or nuts of choice for topping.

7) Assemble your sundaes! Add a scoop of ice cream to each apple bowl followed by a drizzle of brandy sauce and a sprinkling of nuts. Enjoy immediately. 🙂

Beezer’s Notes:

With the exception of the too-salty first batch (see note above), my recipe mash-up turned out beautifully. I’m a big fan of the brandy white chocolate sauce especially; besides being an excellent sundae-topper it’s also yummy as a fruit dip – keep it chilled and I bet it could even work well as a frosting. To be honest, it must be the brandy; I’ve always found white chocolate to be too sweet in the past. The caramel ice cream, of course, also has an amazing flavor and worked as well with the apple bowls as I had hoped it would (so caramel doesn’t have to be hot and sticky to go with apples! haha); also, its slight bitterness really helps temper the sweet sauce.

Overall Enjoyment:  ♥    ♥    ♥    ♥

Double-Layer Ice Cream Pie

I like ice cream. I like pie. I like ice cream with my pie….but somehow, I had never before encountered – nor even considered – an ice cream pie. I suppose it’s not all that different from an ice cream cake, that easy fall-back for countless birthdays across the America, and yet the idea of a crunchy shell supporting two yummy flavors topped with a generous drizzle of caramel sauce was too good to pass up. Especially when the caramel sauce mentioned was advertised as “easy” and I had never before made caramel sauce in my life (sadly, melting caramel candies with cream doesn’t count). Plus, how can you go wrong with Ree’s wonderful step-by-step photo instructions?? I tweaked it a bit for my own tastes (and laziness) but barley enough to mention; see Beezer’s Notes below if you’re really that curious. I promise I won’t be offended if you skip directly to Ree’s site and work from her pictures – that woman could publish a photo-book of recipes that would still be perfectly functional without a single  typed word.

Double-Layer Ice Cream Pie (adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks)

Ingredients:

For the Crust…

3     egg whites

¼   t     salt

½   C    sugar

1     C    almonds, finely chopped

For the Filling…

2    Pints of ice cream, one each of different flavors

For the Caramel Sauce…

4     T     butter

1      C     brown sugar, packed

½    C    heavy cream

1      T    vanilla

pinch of salt

For Chocolate Ganache…

1     C     dark or semisweet chocolate chips

1     C     heavy cream

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add sugar and salt and beat again until stiff and glossy. Gently fold in nuts and spread mixture over the bottom and up the sides of a non-glass pie pan – make sure the sides are adequately coated. Bake for about 15 minutes or until a light golden brown. Allow crust to cool completely.
  2. About ten minutes or so before crust is completely cool, remove the first of the ice cream pints from the freezer and allow to soften while waiting on the crust.
  3. Once crust is completely cool and ice cream has softened, spread the first pint across the bottom of the crust and smooth the top. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 10 minutes or so to harden a bit. At the same time, remove your second ice cream pint and allow to soften on the counter while the first layer hardens.
  4. Remove pie from the freezer and spread the second pint of ice cream on top of the first. Smooth the top and return the completed pie to the freezer to solidify one last time. While waiting, prepare the sauces.
  5. Mix all caramel sauce ingredients except the vanilla in a small sauce pan over med-low heat. Cook while whisking gently for 5 minutes or so until thicker. Add the vanilla and cook a minute more to thicken further. Remove from heat and transfer sauce to a jar. If not serving the same day, refrigerate the sauce til needed.
  6. To make the chocolate ganache, mix chocolate and cream in another small sauce pan over med-low heat until smooth. Remove from heat and transfer to another jar. Again, if not serving the same day (or if you prefer your sauce cold) store in the fridge.
  7. When ready to serve, slice pie (meringue crust will stick a bit to the pan, that’s normal) and drizzle sauce(s) of choice over the top. Yum! 🙂

Beezer’s Notes:

Mmmm, this pie was everything I expected it to be. The crunch of the almond-filled meringue was a great base for the ice cream and the sauces added an extra layer of flavor on top. Plus, if you’re like me and pour the sauces on warm, you’ll end up with a slowly melting mound of deliciousness you can scoop up around chewy meringue blobs. Desserts taste even better when they soften into fun textures – don’t deny it!

I didn’t intend to tweak much in this recipe, I just didn’t want to measure out egg whites. I decided to use three eggs’ worth instead and bumped the sugar in the meringue up to ½ Cup to compensate. I also used almonds instead of pecans since I had them on hand. The addition of a chocolate sauce was simply because one of my ice cream pints was flavored caramel (it was on sale!) and I thought that a caramel ice cream with caramel sauce might be a bit too much for some folks. Lastly, I divided up the procedure a bit in how I layered my ice cream.

To be completely honest, it wasn’t some grand plan of clean layers or impressive presentation I had in mind when I changed the filling process. I ended up freezing my first layer because I was convinced the second pint of ice cream wouldn’t fit on top! It wasn’t until the first layer had frozen solid that I decided, what the hell, and gave it a shot. Lo and behold: two whole pints fit perfectly! Of course. Why do I always doubt?? Anyway, the two-part freeze did result in lovely divided layers, though, so I decided to keep the procedure. I’m sure your pie will be delicious any way you choose to fill it. Especially with all that sauce. 😉

Overall Enjoyment: ♥    ♥    ♥    ♥

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