Monday, July 25, 2011

On Things That Turned Out Better Than They Should Have

I have been on a gelato/sorbet/ice pops kick. The bug bit me, ok? We've been drudging through the "heat wave" (more like a heat slap-in-the-face)and so it seems obvious that I wouldn't want to turn on the oven, and would rather put my little ice cream maker to work. The funny thing about that is that it is stupid hard to keep the gelato base cold in my tiny maker, and it certainly isn't easy to work with melty spheres of gelato and dipping them in hot chocolate.

And yet.
And yet I got an amazingly good result with this recipe. I fully utilized the Ciao Bella philosophy by creating three gelato flavors out of one delicious base. Making the gelato base was rediculously easy, in part because I chose basic flavors (sweet cream, cinnamon, and coffee). I simplified the process by making the plain base, then poured it into three containers and mixed in the flavors. It worked splendidly and totally satisfied my urge to try lots of kinds of gelato at once.

This project also appealed to me because although I've never had bon bons and I'm not exactly sure what makes something a bon bon, I felt that these were indeed bon bons. They're referred to as truffles in the book, but they reminded me of the tiny hemispherical ice creams that I see and long for in Trader Joe's and Asian mini marts. But covered ganache. (Something about the word "ganache" makes it seem even more decadent than "covered in chocolate," don't you think?).

Furthermore, I like the idea that I could pick up a little icecreamlet and eat it with my hands. Although I imagined that would be the case due to the chocolate shell, this is not in fact that case (they melt immediately). I eat them with my hands anyway. In theory, these could be transportable if you had a very effective cooler (and maybe if it was winter).

Also, for what it's worth, assembling these little suckers was much easier than I thought it would be. It was how I had imagined cake balls would be (doable!). I borrowed a friend's ice cream scoop (the kind with the spring loaded releasing mechanism) and stuck the spheres in the freezer over night covered in wax paper. The next morning, I just whipped up some easy peasy ganache and got to work once the ganache cooled to about 100 degrees (which only took a few minutes). Although I did have to stick the balls in the freezer half way through, I only lost one almost-bon in the ganache, where it promptly melted.

That's ok.
Overall this idea is a winner because it can be used for anything. Cook out, pool party, classy summertime tea affair. They could be made bigger (one portion per person) or smaller (a pre-dessert dessert!) They could be rolled in coconut, sprinkles, nuts, or piped upon, if one is fancy. Boys and girls, young and old, cats and dogs will like this recipe. (Just kidding, I wouldn't let cats eat delicious gelato.)

Note: For those of you that don't have a ice cream machine, check out David Leobwitz's cool how to on making ice cream by hand.

Gelato Bon Bons
Makes about 15

2 Cups Whole Milk
1 Cup Heavy Cream
4 Large Egg Yolks
2/3 Cup Sugar
Instant Coffee

8 Oz. Semi Sweet Chocolate
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
2 Tablespoons Butter

Make the Sweet Cream

In a heavy bottom saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Set stove to medium low heat and cook, stirring occasionally so a skin doesn't form, until you can see tiny bubbles around the edge and the mixture reaches about 170 degrees F.

After you've begun the milk mixture, whisk egg yolks until smooth in a medium heat proof bowl (I used my kitchen aid). Gradually whisk in the sugar until it is well incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Slowly pour in the hot milk mixture while whisking continuously. Return mixture to saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the custard sticks to the back of other spoon and reaches 185 degrees F.

Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl and let cool to room temperature, stirring every five minutes or so. You can place it over an ice bath or another bowl full of cold water to speed up this process. Once cooled, stick it in the fridge for at least four hours.

Once cool, divide the custard into thirds using three different containers. Stir instant coffee granules into one to taste. (Start small! I believe I ended up using about 3/4 of a teaspoon). Add a teeny bit of vanilla and some cinnamon to taste to another (Once again, I used about 3/4 of a teaspoon of cinnamon).

Pour each mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to the directions. Transfer to airtight behavior and refreeze for at least two hours.

Assemble the Bon Bons

Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper and put it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. Take the gelato out of the freezer and put it in the fridge to soften it until it's easy to scoop, about 20 minutes or so.

Using a small ice cream scoop and working quickly, scoop out the gelato and place on the wax paper. Freeze for at least four hours or overnight.

Line another rimmed baking sheet with wax paper and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the ganache. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and butter. Place over medium low heat and cook until tiny bubbles form around the edges, whisking the cream and butter until are all mixed together. Pour mixture over chocolate and set aside for five minutes. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Let it cool until it reaches ideal dipping temperature, about 100 degrees F.

Take out those two pans (one with gelato balls and one without). Use a chopstick, popsicle stick, fondue thingy or some other spear-like utensil to spear the scoops. Dip each scoop in the gelato, turning to coat. Hover over the bowl to remove any drippings. Place each bon bon on the unused baking sheet and freeze until firm, at least two hours, and serve.

Recipe adapted slightly from the Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto.

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