Friday, June 15, 2018

Summer Ice Cream Favorites and Fluffy Japanese-style Pancakes

It's no secret that my sweet tooth is my worst enemy. Back before Christmas, I gave the whole Keto lifestyle a try, and it was absolute torture. Now, I hear you saying that giving up sugar and carbs just before Christmas is a stupid idea. And you'd be right. But I wanted to test drive the lifestyle and see if it was something I could easily fall into after all the holiday excess.  Needless to say, I never did find my footing. I went running back to sugar like it was a boyfriend I had broken up with for all the wrong reasons, and now we're talking about getting engaged.

My number one weakness is ice cream, especially during the summer months. I will take all comers, from cookies and cream to strawberry cheesecake to mint chocolate chip. So when Hudsonville (a Michigan-based ice cream company I have loved for years) offered to send me some of their best selling flavors, I had no choice but to say yes.

The Mackinac Island Fudge was a new one for me, and I was an instant fan. It has ribbons of the rich buttery fudge that is the signature treat of Mackinac Island in Michigan. To my mind, this was the perfect ice cream to build a sundae with, because it already had the classic flavor profiles we all know and love, but with more interesting textures. It's not quite chocolate syrup, not quite chocolate flakes, but somewhere perfectly in between.

I was honestly surprised how much I liked the The Traverse City Cherry Fudge. I've never been a big fan of cherry ice creams, as they often have an overly artificial flavor to them and can lean extremely sweet. This one, however, had an amaretto ice cream base, which gave the diced cherry pieces a more sophisticated air. The chocolate wasn't heavy handed either, but was perfectly proportioned so as to make it a co-star and not the main attraction.

Lastly was the classic French Vanilla. As much as I love the flavor of a true, rich vanilla ice cream on it's own, I knew I wanted to find a special use for this one. Since I've always got brunch on the mind, I flashed back to the greasy spoon diners of my youth, who used to serve waffles and pancakes topped with a scoop an vanilla ice cream. I had also been wanting to try my hand had making some souffle pancakes, made internet famous by any number of Japanese cafes, where the locals and tourists wait for hours, just to try their fluffy texture.

Going through my cabinets, I zeroed in on one of  the new Nielsen Massey Organic Extracts. This new line features some of their classic extracts (peppermint, orange, lemon, and almond) with all the flavor and high quality of their other extracts, but now formulated with all organic ingredients. Since I am constantly experimenting with my Nielsen-Massey products, I wanted to give one of these new extracts a trial run. The orange one suddenly jumped out at me and the word, "Creamsicle," floated into place in my brain, like a long awaited block on a Tetras board. Creamsicle Souffle Pancakes. I needed to make them a reality right away.

Creamsicle Souffle Pancakes

4 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 egg yolks
6 tbsp cake flour (sifted)
1 tbsp of melted butter
1 tbsp Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean paste
1 tbsp Nielsen Massey Organic Orange extract
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp melted Hudsonville French Vanilla Ice Cream

Hudsonville French Vanilla Ice Cream
Candied Orange Peel
Orange Blossom Honey

Place all of the egg whites into a medium metal or glass bowl (do not use a plastic bowl!) and set in the fridge to chill until just before ready to use.

In a large bowl, add the egg yolks, vanilla bean paste, orange extract, butter, and melted ice cream. Sift the cake flour into the bowl and stir to combine until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps.

Add sugar and cream of tartar to your chilled egg whites, then use a hand mixer to whip until they reach the stiff peak stage. Add one third of the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture and carefully fold until most of the swirls are gone. Add in the second third and repeat. Add in the last of the egg whites and repeat until completely combined.

Place a non stick skillet over medium heat. To achieve perfectly round, higher pancakes, you can use ring molds sprayed with cooking spray. For a more rustic shape, simply spoon the batter in small globs into the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes, then carefully flip the pancakes (they will appear uncooked on top, but this is ok). Cook for another minute, or until both sides are evenly browned.

Plate and serve immediately. Should yield 4-5 pancakes.

Products were supplied to me by the companies mentioned in order to facilitate the writing of this post, but all opinions are my own.