Monday, May 26, 2014

UnRecipe: The Sweet Life - Dish Up!!

Much like our blessed Memorial Day holiday week, this post is gonna be short n' sweet! Not that you need anyone's permission -- much less mine -- but it's all good in the hood to savor the sweet life. If you can have a bit of dessert, ENJOY IT.

Salted Caramel Chocolates from Fran's? OM NOM IMMEDIATELY - Photo by Wasabi Prime

I don't usually buy candy for myself, but a little while back, I was lucky to be gifted a little box of salted chocolate-covered caramels from Fran's, a local but nationally-known confectioner that's totally worth the hype. Let me tell you, I savored every little bite. And I do mean bite -- despite the petite, rectangular size of each bon bon, there was no popping of the entire candy in one's gaping maw of a piehole.

The chocolates were a pleasant reminder that there is a place for dessert -- we deserve a treat now and then! As the weather warms, I'm getting back into making ice cream more regularly, not that it ever stopped me during the winter. This year I've been playing more with swirls of caramels, syrups and berries. Instead of letting it all churn into a muddy mess, dribbling a little ribbon of caramel between layers of plain vanilla ice cream is making homemade ice cream even better. I made a really tasty vanilla ice cream, full of whole vanilla bean flavor, and having swirls of caramel sauce already in the ice cream made it that much better -- I used Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond's easy caramel recipe, since it wasn't just easy, it sets just enough in the ice cream without becoming hard like toffee.

Sweet treats, both homemade and store-bought - Photos by Wasabi Prime
Another sweet treat I've been revisiting is ice cream floats. Or more specifically: Beer Floats. This can be hit or miss; you can't just use any beer with any ice cream. I've had delicious results with a creamy caramel/vanilla ice cream paired with a crisp, clean ale. Don't laugh, but PBR works like a champ with fancier, creamy-sweet ice creams. Belgian framboise cider with vanilla ice cream is a fruity, boozealicious treat. It needs to be a balance of crisp/dry with sweet. And for complex, richly flavored beers like porters, chocolate or coffee ice creams are a no-brainer. I went one further by making a chocolate-porter beer ice cream, where a ribbon of chocolate sauce infused with a porter reduction, was swirled with a basic chocolate ice cream. The chocolate sauce was leftover from a recipe I did for DrinkMe Magazine's island-themed issue. I used Maui Brewing Company's CoCoNut Porter beer, for the chocolate sauce in the ice cream, as well as pouring it right on top of the ice cream to make a totally meta beer ice cream float. It's one of the few coconut porters that aren't overly flavored with coconut -- it's well-balanced, versus others that end up tasting more like boozy tanning lotion. It's a beer that almost tastes like dessert, so even more reason to enjoy it.

As we venture further into this year's summer, I highly recommend experimenting with beer floats, homemade ice cream, and just kicking back to truly engage the sweet life.

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