San Francisco Chronicle - (Sunday)
Make an ice cream cake for Mother’s Day.
A ‘cake’ chock full of nuts and the season’s sweetest strawberries for Mother’s Day
If I had more kitchen space, I’d have one of those sweet ice creamchurning machines where you pour in the ingredients, flip a switch and have a new experimental flavor every day. Alas, I don’t, but it’s OK because storebought ice cream is delicious and has really been there for me: rare sweettooth moments, breakups, boredom, munchies, etc. Can storebought ice cream be more, though? Well, since I’m basically the most optimistic person you’ll ever meet, I say yes.
Which leads me to this week’s ice cream dessert that I’m calling a Terrazzo Ice Cream Cake. It’s cakelike because it’s sliceable and feeds many, but instead of layers of cake and ice cream, I stick with just ice cream. I also add fresh fruit, nuts, coconut, mint, honey and flake salt. The effect is a dessert that’s incredibly unfussy and reminiscent of gorgeous Venetian terrazzo flooring speckled with edible goodies rather than marble and quartz.
Now, I admire pastry chefs so very much, but I realize I am not one. They wake up earlier than time itself, churn butter and sugar into glistening masterpieces and make the most perfect layered cakes. However, even my most DIY pastry chef friends would agree: If you want to make your own ice cream for this dessert, by all means do it, but using storebought is totally fine.
I’ve found that several flavors of ice cream can work in this recipe. I call for vanilla, but coconut and even cashew milkbased ice creams are delicious here. My one warning is that nondairy ice creams will need a little extra time to freeze over again. If you want a really neutral flavor, look for “sweet cream” ice cream in the freezer section.
All the other ingredients are like the figurative stones in this terrazzo. They add body, texture, allure and even a sort of healthyish aspect. Strawberries are in season, but you can swap them for other berries, kumquats, cherries or all three once they start showing up at the markets. Just make sure to cut them into bitesize pieces so the whole terrazzo is speckled. The terrazzo is also easier to cut through if the fruit is smaller.
Have you ever had mint turn black on you? Well, in this recipe I ask you to quickly blanch mint (10 seconds max), which makes it stay bright green even after you freeze it. Once you have all the ingredients, this recipe comes together quickly. It’s a matter of having the ice cream be tempered (left out at room temperature) just long enough so it becomes pliable and you’re able to gently fold in the mint, berries, toasted nuts, flake salt and honey, but not too long that it is melting. Softened, spoonable yet still structured is the goal. Then press it into a loaf pan and let it go into a deep chill in the freezer so it firms up and is ready to slice.
The last step is for this cake to live up to its destiny. To be enjoyed by you, perhaps your mother on Mother’s Day, all without the fuss of having to turn on an oven, frost anything, redo your floors or go to pastry school.