Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Hibiscus-Maple Syrup Icecream

A few months back, I randomly attended the MetroCooking food convention in Washington D.C. The overall event was not what I had expected and to be honest, a little disappointing. You pay for general admittance, then you pay to eat food from various vendors. There were a few special promotions like cooking lessons and the BBQ food section of the venue. I can understand paying for a cooking class but an additional cost just to access the BBQ section? Where you still have to pay to eat food? In conclusion - serious money grab. My recommendation is to review the list of vendors and try them out independently.

On the plus side, I did get the chance to meet two vendors whom I have followed ever since: Runamok Maple and Little Austria: Austrian Pastries. Runamok makes unique maple syrup flavors - my favorites being the Cardamom Maple and the Vanilla-Cinnamon Syrup. Little Austria is purely a pastry shop specializing in authentic, delicious strudel.

Thanks to Instagram, I stumbled upon a foodie-contest hosted by Runamok. Participants had to use the maple syrup of their choice in one of three forms: drink, savory, or sweet. I love baking with maple syrup and I wanted to make something unique. Unfortunately, my initial idea to remix a Portuguese dessert with maple syrup did not go so great. 

With the blistering heat here in Virginia, I landed on making no-churn icecream. Who doesn't love a cold treat on a hot day? I used the most unique flavor I had in my arsenal from Runamok -- Hibiscus! I took it a step further and made icecream sandwich cookies. Again, another great idea that could have been ironed out.

If you decide to make make this recipe -- please read the following disclaimer:

Making an icecream sandwich can be tricky for beginners (like me - check out these tips). To cheat, use soft cookies because they're more malleable and forgiving when you're forming the sandwich. These cookies are not soft and should be reserved for confident, icecream sandwich makers! You have to move quickly because the more you handle the icecream- the more the icecream melts.  

That being said, I do not want to deter you from making this combination.  The flavor profile is definitely there! Below are a couple of options to consider if you're not confident in working with a firm cookie:

- Crumble the cookies into your icecream
- Keep them on the side like pictured above
- Use a soft, ginger cookie - that would be absolutely dreamy
- Skip the cookie altogether! Fold the crystallized ginger and maybe even some white chocolate chips right into the icecream about half-way through the freezing process.

Thanks to Runamok Maple for helping me flex my creative muscle (... and Michael and Brandon for keeping me sane while testing ideas)!

No-Churn Maple Hibiscus-Maple Icecream

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
6 tablespoons Hibiscus Maple Syrup
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups heavy cream, very cold
Mix-ins, optional (i.e. crystallized ginger, white chocolate chips)

Place a 9” x 5” loaf pan in the freezer to chill.

Whisk together condensed milk, maple syrup, and salt in a large bowl. Pour cream in a separate bowl and beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.

Fold about a third of whipped cream into maple mixture with a spatula until combined. Add mix-ins, if using, and the remaining whipped cream, then fold until incorporated. Pour into chilled loaf pan, cover, and freeze for 8 hours.

Swirled Ginger Shortbread Cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature (4 ounces)
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (2 ounces)
2 teaspoons ginger powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cups all-purpose flour (5 ounces)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-2 tbsp milk*
1 ounce white dipping chocolate
2 tablespoons chopped, crystallized ginger

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the butter, confectioner’s sugar and extracts in a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer until it looks combined, light, and fluffy. Add the flour, ginger powder, and salt. Mix until crumbly. Add 1 tablespoon milk; keep mixing and the dough should clump together after about 15 seconds of mixing. If it's too thick to pipe, add a little more milk.

Place the dough into a pastry bag fitted with a very large star tip, and pipe onto a silicone mat lined baking sheet, Bake the cookies for 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Let them cool completely.

Dip half of the cookies in melted white dipping chocolate and garnish with crystallized ginger. Let harden with dipped portion of cookie resting off the edge of cooling rack.