Ice Cream 101

A sweet corn ice cream cone with caramel dripping off

When making homemade ice cream, you have to start with a really great base, which for me means lusciously smooth, with a dense and silky texture. The flavor should be rich, but not too buttery (greasy) and I always start my “French custard” ice cream base with vanilla. So start with my basic vanilla ice cream recipe below (and customize it with your favorite flavors), then try all the other amazing recipes.

If you’re more into sorbet, which is its own icy treat, check out my guide on how to make sorbet.

Read More

American Masala’s Sticky Toffee Cake!

Sticky Toffee Cake | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

My ideal day consists of  walking around NYC, eating oysters, going to museums to see great quantities of art and then finishing with an incredible meal. This is precisely what I did with my family during our trip last month. My boys were fine until about hour 3 at the Met, when they just wanted to leave to grab a hot dog and run wild. They were fed up with all the talk of brush strokes, juxtapositions, impressionists and cubists. Yeah, it was a stretch for them, but I figure someday they will appreciate me for it, or not? We grabbed them a snack to take the edge off and then headed to dinner. I was so excited for this meal because devi is the restaurant owned by my dear friend Suvir and his food always brings me joy. I was also thrilled to be sharing the evening with my family, including my mother and my aunt and uncle. My aunt Sally’s mother grew up in India and had introduced me to Indian cuisine when I was a kid, in fact, Sally introduced me to most foods when I was a kid. I knew she would fall quickly in love with devi.

(picture of Suvir by Charlie Burd, picture of devi by Ben Fink)

I met Suvir several years ago at a pastry conference hosted at the CIA. Suvir was one of the presenters. He talked about blending more flavors of the world into the palate of American desserts. He was confident Americans want to experience flavors beyond vanilla and chocolate, and I whole heartedly agree with him. His food at the conference was intense, fresh and clean. You could taste every spice and ingredient. It was unlike any other Indian food I’d ever eaten. I was in awe and have been ever since. He has become a mentor, a brother and a dear friend to me. His skills go way beyond the kitchen. He and his partner Charlie have established a farm where they raise animals and run the American Masala empire. They design kitchen accessories, write cookbooks and Suvir is on a team at Harvard to educate people on how to eat a healthier diet. Now you see why I am in awe. But, the reason I fell in love with this chef was only partly because of his food, it is also his generosity and heart. He and Charlie give back to their community and to society as a whole. They are the epitome of good people!

More about our meal at devi, a Sticky Toffee Cake with Nut Brittle Ice Cream recipe:

Read More

Turkish Delight!

On our second day in Istanbul we took in the colors and history of the city, which included a considerable amount of Turkish Delight and ice cream that is both a theatrical event and a rather elastic sensation (video below, yes that is me snorting with laughter in the background).

The Blue Mosque (above) is quite majestic in its size from the outside, but completely breathtaking from within. A very friendly man offered to give us a personal tour of the mosque, IF we agreed to visit his carpet showroom after. When in Istanbul there are thousands of opportunities to view carpets, and since we were on an adventure we decided to go along. Read More

Chocolate Brownies with Mint Ice Cream

Chocolate brownie topped with blackberries | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

These brownies have secrets! I baked them, passed them out to my family, my neighbors and my friends to see what they thought. I didn’t say anything, just asked for their honest opinions and this is what I got… “they are so RICH,” “beyond decadent,” “Amazing,” “Great, Can I have another one?” (he is 9) and on and on. Not a bad review in the bunch. No one guessed that they were Gluten-Free and from a King Arthur Flour mix. Yep, two things I rarely play with are gluten-free desserts and mixes. The reason for this tasty little experiment has to do with a young boy I met in upstate NY when I was teaching classes at the Battenkill Kitchen. He suggested that I make them and I couldn’t refuse. I added some dark chocolate ganache, blackberries and possibly the best Mint Leaf Ice Cream I’ve ever had. Gluten-free or not this is one fabulous dessert!

I’ll start with my ice cream which actually tastes like fresh mint, because that is exactly what it is made with. No hyped up extracts that resemble Trident Spearmint Gum, just natural, summery mint.

Gluten free chocolate brownie topped with mint ice cream | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François
Read More

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crisp with Creamy Strawberry Ice Cream

Strawberry rhubarb crips topped with strawberry ice cream | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

The gift of spring every year in my garden is the rhubarb. I didn’t plant it, I don’t care for it, but every spring it pops up and provides me with such a thrill. As soon as the stalks are thick enough to hold the weight of their leaves I start to pluck them out of the ground. I really should wait, but those first tender stalks are the best of the year and I can’t resist. They usually just get dipped in sugar and eaten as is.

Read More

Blueberry Cobbler with White Peach Ice Cream

Blueberry Cobbler with White Peach Ice cream | ZoëBakes | Photo by Zoë François

Last weekend my family and I went to Avon, Minnesota to see a special 4th of July live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. For those of you who have never been to Minnesota, you will get a quick and thorough understanding of the place if you tune in to listen to Garrison Keiller’s show on NPR. He ends every broadcast with the phrase “… where the women are strong, the men are good looking and the kids are above average,” which pretty much sums up the place.

Read More