Thursday, August 22, 2013

S'mores Ice Cream

'S Wonderful by Ella Fitzgerald
When we are in a relaxed mood - a state of bliss or complete contentment - we tend to relax our speech as well.  Slang enters our vocabulary and we run our words together.  We're not worried that our English teacher is going to be around the corner, ready to correct our enunciation and grammar.  We have confidence that those around us will understand what we're saying, regardless.  And it'S Wonderful!  This song is an Ira and George Gershwin collaboration.  And I particularly enjoy Ella's recording of it because she goes beyond the 'S Wonderful combo of the title.  She goes ahead ahead and relaxes far enough to rhyme "fash"(fashion) with "pash"(passion) as well as "emosh"(emotion) with "devosh"(devotion).  The result is a peek into an intimate confession by someone who has entered the nirvana of love!  Yes - nirvana of love!  That dreamy sublime state of discovering that you've found someone who will step on a raft surrounded by swans and sail away with you!  Confused?  Watch this clip of Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire do just that in "Funny Face"!  Meanwhile, I'm going to enjoy s'more ice cream - simply because it'S Wonderful!

You can track my aging process by tracking my camping habits.
As a kid, I was eager and excited to load up the camping gear - tents, sleeping bags, fishing poles, roasting sticks - and head out to nature!
Our family often took camping trips on the river in canoes, pulling over at night to set up camp and eat fish and, if I remember right, bull frogs!
You'll eat anything to get to the inevitable end - roasted marshmallows and chocolate on a graham!

I happened to marry into a camping family as well.
I couldn't wait to experience camping in the mountains of the west!
Up, up, up we'd drive, escaping the heat of the valley as we drove.
The crisp air was thick with pine scent.
I decided that this was good, too!
And S'mores, I discovered, were not just a treat of the east!

I remember these early days as being the time when I was highly critical of those who pulled into camping spots with polished campers and trailers.
"That's not camping!" I'd proclaim with disdain.
True campers use tents, right?!
They slept on the ground!
They embraced the tree roots and rocks on their spine!

But, as I got older, had some kids, threw my back out a time or five, the air mattresses started creeping into the required camping gear.  Then cots AND air mattresses.
Then we camped with someone who had a camper.

It was a bitter pill to acknowledge that I really, REALLY enjoyed myself.
Dare I say, even more than I had in several years, due to the aching body I'd have for several days both during and after the camping trip.

One year, I even rented an RV to take up and camp with my in-laws.
Nature AND comfort!

For the past decade we've camped only once since moving to the northwest.
We camped at the base of Mt. Rainier and it was unparalleled beauty!
A nearby creek provided fish.
I had returned from a trip to England just days before and the jet lag helped me sleep well enough.
But we were back to a tent.
And the aches returned.

Nowadays, the single thing that gets me excited about camping is S'mores!
As a matter of fact, we have a fire pit and we can have S'mores in the back yard - and then go sleep in our comfy beds!

This past year, Dairy Queen has had a summer blizzard treat created in the fashion of this beloved outdoor snack.
I usually don't order blizzards, but always have a taste of those who do!
(Annoying, I know!)
My daughter, Debbie, ordered the S'mores Blizzard.
I tasted.
I became very, very happy!
You could actually taste TOASTED marshmallows.
Not just marshmallows - they were toasty in flavor!
And everyone knows the delicious difference that fire makes on a marshmallow!

I knew I'd have to create this myself before the summer was over.
And I have!
And I share it with you!
I experimented with using store-bought marshmallows and making a swiss meringue.
The clear winner is the swiss meringue.
Don't fret, though.  It's very easy to make.
And, hey, I used store bought chocolate-covered grahams instead of dipping my own!
Just trying to keep it real - but perfection at the same time!

S'mores Ice Cream
makes 2 quarts
For ice cream base:
3 egg yolks
1 1/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. whole milk
1 pt. heavy cream
2 t. vanilla extract
1/4 t. salt
chocolate-covered graham crackers, broken into small pieces

For swiss meringue:
3 egg whites
3/4 c. sugar

To make ice cream:
Stir together the egg yolks and sugar and set aside.  It will be a thick paste.

In a large sauce pan, heat the whole milk and heavy cream until steam starts to rise and bubbles form around the edges.  Remove from heat.

Gradually stir a small amount of the heated dairy into the egg yolks and sugar.  Continue to do this with a few additions of the liquid.  When it's loose enough, switch to a whisk.  What you're doing is tempering the egg yolks - gradually heating them up to the temperature of the hot liquid.  If you do it quickly, you'll cook the eggs and form curdles.  You don't want this!  You can strain them out later if it happens, but you lose part of the recipe equation that makes a creamy texture in the final product.  So go slow!  When you've mixed in half of the liquid, then whisk the eggy mixture back into the pan with the rest of the cream and milk and heat to a low boil, stirring constantly.  Don't leave the pot unattended because it will boil up and over before you know it!

When it's at a low boil, remove from heat and chill thoroughly.

To make the swiss meringue:
Combine the egg whites and sugar in a metal or tempered-glass bowl.  Find a pan in which the bowl can sit in, leaving at least a 2" space from the bottom of the pan.  Fill the pan with an inch of water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and place the bowl of egg whites and sugar over the top.  The steam will provide the gentle heat needed.  Whisk the contents continually until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 - 5 minutes.  You should be able to rub some of the mixture between your fingers without feeling the grit of the sugar.  Remove from the heat and pour the contents into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.  Beat on medium speed until the mixture is cooled and then gradually increase to high speed.  Beat until a firm peak forms.  A little curly Q is good!
Spread the meringue out in a sheet tray and toast the top using the broiler or a small butane kitchen torch.  Set aside.
When the ice cream base is chilled, place in an ice cream maker and mix according to the products directions.  When the ice cream has thickened, but is not yet firm, and a spoon glides easily through it, add the chocolate-covered graham pieces and let the machine mix them throughout.  Scoop mixture into an airtight freezer container and fold in the toasted marshmallowy meringue topping.  Freeze until set.

What's so nice about using the meringue is that it remains soft and creamy even after freezing.  Ribbons of lovely goo throughout the ice cream.  It'S Wonderful!  Share with someone who'S Marvelous today!

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