I took my standard, easy-recipe key lime pie to a dinner party last Saturday, and everyone raved. “This pie is so amazing!” To which I say, “What? This old thing? I just threw it on.” That pie is such a cheap thrill. Fast, easy, and pretty fool-proof.
My lemon ice cream entry in dessert club the Wednesday before? Not so much. I’ve mentioned my friend started a dessert club three months ago. About 18 of us aspiring diabetics bring a dessert to her house once a month. The rules:
- You must make a dessert on that month’s theme to come.
- You must taste every dessert to vote.
- You may vote for one or two favorites. No voting for yourself or voting for the same dessert twice.
- Winner gets a kitchen gadget paid for out of the club dues and the privilege of choosing the next month’s theme.
So the first month, the theme was a recipe you’ve never tried before, and my Passion Fruit Creme Brulees won! The next month, I chose candy as the theme because I knew it would stretch me to try new techniques. My raspberry-blood orange sour chews took second place. (Recipe below) Okay, I’m cool with that. Then this month, my lemon ice cream with blueberry compote and crushed Nilla wafers didn’t even make top three. And thus we see the inevitable decline of an empire into disarray and ruin.
I thought I was being so clever bringing a frozen custard, but no. There were also a sorbet, a gelato, a granita, and a whip. And the frigging gelato was legitimately better than my custard. This is what you get for picking up crappy, bitter lemons from Target on a toilet paper run instead of hunting down quality produce. When life gives you lemons, make sure they’re fresh before you make lemonade.
Now to the recipes:
Raspberry-Blood Orange sour chews
- 2 or 3 cup raspberries
- 1/4 c blood orange puree
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (1)
- 3/4 tsp apple pectin
- 1 cup granulated sugar(2)
- a bit less than 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- Microwave raspberries in a glass bowl at 20 second intervals until soft. Mash through sieve to remove seeds pressing hard to extract 3/4 cup of pulp. Combine with blood orange puree.
- Combine the pectin and sugar(1) in a small bowl, mix and set aside.
- In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan with a candy thermometer attached, bring fruit puree to a simmer.
- Add the pectin and sugar mix whisking continuously. In 2 stages, add sugar(2), whisking continuously. Bring to a boil.
- Add corn syrup and boil until temp reaches 225 F (using a candy thermometer) whisking continuously
- As soon as temp hits 225, remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice.
- Pour immediately into parchment-lined baking sheet 1/2 deep.
- Smooth with off-set spatula and allow to cool overnight. Cut into little squares and dust with extra fine granulated sugar.
You could experiment with using less pectin in these to make them more like a pate de fruit. There are charts which tell you how much pectin to use with various fruits according to their natural pectin content, but honestly, there is enough variation in batches of fruit, that it makes sense to plan on making a few batches so you can tweak the texture to your taste.
I actually liked my frozen custard and compote. I think the lemon was too aggressive and needed to be cut back by maybe 1/4 cup of juice to my taste. I also appreciated that it wasn’t too sweet, and the blueberry sauce I thought was a great contrast.
Lemon Ice Cream
1.5 c sugar
3 large eggs or 5 large egg yolks (If I use eggs, I call it ice cream. If I use yolks, I call it frozen custard.)
3 c heavy whipping cream
1 T lemon zest
1.25 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
Whisk together the sugar and eggs. Heat the cream in a heavy saucepan just to boil, scraping to avoid burning. Remove from heat immediately, add zest and cover. Let stand for 10 mintues. Add the cream to the eggs and sugar in a slow thin stream whisking vigorously to avoid scrambling the eggs.
Using a candy thermometer, heat the mixture in a saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, until it reaches 170 degrees. Do not let the mixture boil. Strain the custard into a clean bowl and cool slightly. Add the lemon juice pulp. Chill in the refrigerator overnight, then churn into ice cream according to ice cream machine’s instructions.
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 4 cups blueberries or frozen, thawed
Stir water, sugar and juice in saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Add berries; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until mixture thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly.
I served the frozen custard with the compote warm and topped it with Nilla wafers for crunch.
Next month’s theme has not yet been announced, but you can see pictures from the first two months here. I am preoccupied with housing issues, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to compete next month. I refuse to become the Ottoman Empire here!
My real victory is that I’ve always voted for the two desserts I liked best (not my own) instead of trying stuff the ballot box or confound the results by not voting at all. For me, who used to have trouble letting kids win at boardgames, that shows some real maturation.