Thursday, April 21, 2016


Cake Creation
The friends in my life are always inspiring me to conquer new recipes and challenges!  They mention in passing that they love a particular dish or dessert and I immediately want to leap into action to make it for them.  Last week was a good friend's birthday and so another cake adventure began!  She had a very specific request that I was very excited to fulfill, Ice Cream Cake.  After the "Any cake I want? Really?" decision was made, we moved on to the next...what flavors of ice cream will make up this cake?

After much debate, she narrowed it down to a two-layer cake with that signature cookie-crumble center.

Layer 1 - Vanilla Ice Cream with English Toffee Pieces
Center - Chocolate Sandwich Cookie Crumble
Layer 2 - Coconut Ice Cream
All topped with a Rich Hot Fudge Sauce

I was up to the challenge and I wanted to make the majority of the ingredients from scratch.  I went ahead with the childhood favorite chocolate sandwich cookie because...if it ain't broke don't fix it!

Birthday Girl!
Digging In!

This was a bit of a process because there are multiple layers and time needed to freezing and setting but look at this face! we go!


Ice cream: This Base was used for both flavors
4 cups heavy cream (split evenly)
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup toffee pieces (I made my grandmother's toffee for this recipe and used the leftovers to decorate the top of the cake but you can buy the toffee bits in the baking aisle or crush your favorite candy bar)
1 cup coconut flakes, toasted
1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerate can for a few hours before making the ice cream.

Hot Fudge: Recipe from Smitten Kitchen! 
2/3 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup light corn syrup (I'm interested in trying this recipe with Brown Rice Syrup, next time!)
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped, divided
2 tbsp  unsalted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla

Cookie Crumble Crust and Center Layer
1 package chocolate sandwich cookies
1 stick butter, melted


Day Before
Vanilla Toffee Ice Cream
Whip 2 cups heavy cream in a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, and whip until stiff peaks are formed.  Lower the speed and whip in 1 can of the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla.  Mix just until everything is combined.  You don't want to loose all that air in the whipped cream.   With a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the toffee pieces.  Pour the mixture into a freezer-safe pan like a metal loaf pan.  Allow to set for 6 hours or over night.  I did both ice creams the night before so all I had to do was make the sauce, make the crumble and assemble.

Coconut Ice Cream
Spread coconut flakes on a sheet pan and toast in a 350 degree oven until lightly browned and fragrant.  Allow to cool to room temperature.
Scoop about 1 cup of the solid coconut milk from the refrigerated can and add it to a large bowl.  Whip the coconut milk until it becomes smooth.  Add 2 cups of heavy cream and whip until stiff peaks are formed.  The rest of the recipe is the same as above only now it is coconut flakes.

Day of Assembly

Cookie Crumb Crust
(While making the crust, place one flavor of ice cream on the counter to soften)
Place half of the package of cookies into your food processor and pulse until the cookie are pretty crumbly.  Add the second half of the cookies and pulse until it is the texture of rough sand.  Turn the machine on and pour in melted butter and mix until combined.  Easy Peesy

Wrap the bottom of a springform pan with foil because you never know.  Press half of the cookie mixture into the bottom of the pan.  I use the bottom of a measuring cup because I saw Martha Stewart do it and I figure she knows what's up.
Add your first layer of ice cream.  Your choice, I went with the toffee per the birthday girl's request. The ice cream should come a little under halfway up the pan.  You want enough room for the cookies and the second layer.
Cover with plastic warp and allow to set in the freezer for an hour.
Remove the pan from the freezer and add the second half of cookie crumbs and put it back in the freezer for 20-30 minutes so it can set up.  This will make adding the second layer of ice cream a bit easier.  Make sure you take the second flavor of ice cream out of the freezer to soften.  15 minutes should be good.
Once the cookie crumbs are set, add the second layer of ice cream.  The second layer should come about 1/2 inch from the top of the pan.  Place the whole thing back in the freezer to set.

Hot Fudge Sauce
In a sauce pan, bring the cream, syrup, cocoa, and 1/2 the chocolate to a boil.  Reduce to a low simmer and cook until thickened.  This took about 3 minutes for me.  Once it is thickened, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and the rest of the chocolate.  Stir until everything is melted together and terribly tempting.  Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature.  It will thicken even more as it cools.  Once it is cooled, spread a thin amount on the top of the cake and spread to evenly coat the top.  Place back in the freeze the set this fudge layer.  This helps create a barrier so the sauce won't totally melt the ice cream when you go to add the final fudgey layer.

Final Step
Bring the pan out of the freezer and set on the counter for a few minutes so the ring can be removed easily.  Meanwhile, you can reheat the fudge sauce if it has become too thick.  Once the sauce is ready, remove the ring and place the cake on a platter.  Pour the warm fudge over the cake and allow it to dip over the sides.

Ooey Gooey Fudge!
It is a lot of steps but totally worth it when is complete.  I had some left over coconut and toffee pieces and so I added some to the top.  It really made it look special.


Another treat to add to the repertoire.  All thanks to the wonderful friends in my life who indulge my need to make them goodies!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Recipe Creation on Theme!

I love a theme.  Have I mentioned this?  It's serious in all areas but especially when it comes to food!
A theme I love to tackle goes along with my other passion, theatre. Each show I do inspires a themed dessert creation.  For example, I made red velvet cupcakes with grey icing for Steel Magnolias.
The most recent treat...

The Four Season's Tart

The show was, Wake Up, Brother Bear!  This is a show designed 1-6 year olds and invites the children on to the stage to help tell the story of the four seasons!  Thus the need for a tart for all seasons!  The seasons are as follows:

Winter - Ginger Bread Crust
Fall - Pumpkin Spice Filling
Spring - Figs
Summer - Honey

I also made a pepita brittle for the top to add a little texture

I am really proud of this one because I had the thought, I put together the recipe and it all worked out! I am also working on upping my food photo game and the photos for this tart are my favorite so far. Shout out to Georgie +In it 4 the Long Run for the photo advice and inspiration!
Honey Drizzle
Recipe for the Four Seasons Tart


1 cup pumpkin puree
3 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar 
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 tsp ground ginger
3 cardamom pods, removed after filling is cooked 
pinch sea salt
1 can coconut milk, full fat
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
10-12 dried mission figs
Mint (optional, nothing to do with flavor...just tart vanity)
1 box your favorite ginger cookies, I used ginger snaps but really any crispy and gingery cookie would work
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1 stick butter, melted

Pepita Brittle:
1/2 cup raw pepitas
1/4 cup sugar

For the crust: pulse the ginger cookies and spices in a food processor.  You want these to be finely ground.  Once you have the desired consistency, add the melted butter and process until the butter is well incorporated.  Press the mixture into a tart pan and put in the refrigerator to set.
For the filling:
In a medium saucepan, whisk the dry ingredients together.  Whisk in the pumpkin and place pan over medium high heat.  Bring the mixture to a low boil and then whisk in the coconut milk (make sure the coconut milk is well mixed before adding it to the pan).  Lower the heat to medium low and cook a few more minutes until the mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Place the filling in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Make sure the plastic is directly on top of the mixture so it doesn't get a film at the top.Allow to chill for a few hours or over night.  Once the mixture is chilled, add it to the prepared tart shell.  
For the brittle: Place peptias and sugar in a medium sauce pan and cook together over medium heat until the sugar melts and begins to turn a light caramel color.  Allow the mixture to cool on a silpat or parchment-lined sheet pan.  
For the garnish: Cut the dried figs in half and arrange them on the top of the tart, sprinkle with brittle and drizzle with honey.  If you are feeling fancy, add a sprig of mint. Done!
Look at that fancy mint!
My cast mates were super thrilled with this creation and I can't wait to create for the next production, Balloonacy.  Any thoughts?

Some thoughts on the amazing world of children's theatre...

Doing theatre for children, especially the tiniest audience members, is always full of surprises.  Here are a few examples of unique audience members.*The Wanderer: This little one wants to be on stage and has a bashful parent that hesitates in redirecting the wanderer.

*The "Nuh Uh":  The little one insists that everything you say is a lie and will shout out their tiny opinions during every moment of the show, Bear says "It's Spring now and getting warm...." Child says "Nuh Uh!".
*The Sticky One: This child is covered in some kind of sticky snack substance.  As they come up and play, we must dodge the stickiness with grace so they kiddo won't feel self conscious about his or her stick mess.
*The Violent Child: The kid is aggressive.  He or she may hit you, throw blankets at your face or try to trip you and others.
*The Lover: This little one just wants to hug and love during the show.  he are she may hop up on stage and hug you at any moment.
*The Terrified: This child wants absolutely nothing to do with you! You are scary and strange and nothing you do will make them feel any different.

The parents are also pretty hilarious. Here are a few...
*The NO: You may ask the parents to participate with the kids, this parent will say no every time.  No matter how awkward it is , no matter how much their child wants them to play...the No will be a jerk and shake their head "No".  Shame
*The Hands Off: This parent will watch as their child creates chaos, spills snacks, wanders around, etc and they will just sit back and do nothing.  This is their moment to sit back and relax and let others deal with their wild child.
*The Enamored: This parent is IN IT!  They are with you the whole time and are more engaged than their child.  The jump up to participate, they clap, they sing...they are the best.
*The Neutral: This parent sits with a neutral scowl, arms crossed..just appearing completely annoyed with the entire experience.  All the while, their child is on stage making a lake dance with leaves or catching fireflies.  It doesn't matter...their life is just terrible in the moment and they will do nothing to disguise their disgust.

Each performance has a unique set of characters and circumstances. It is always an adventure and I love it!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Great Success/Epic Fail

It's all about balance, right?  Good and Bad/Light and Dark/Yin and Yang....Well this weekend of recipes was definitely balanced with successes and failures.

First up, the success!! My friend Kathleen lent me her beloved spiralizer and I was so excited to spiralize everything.  I am not new to Zoodles. I have been making them the old fashioned way with a good ol' veggie peeler, but the spiralizer has changed my world!  Potatoes and Beets all twirling into ribbons of nourishing goodness...sigh*
The Glorious Veg-oodles

The Veg-oodle dish(I'm going with this term...its quirky and descriptive.  I like it)  I created this weekend was inspired by one of my favorite blogs, Half Baked Harvest and the recipe for Rainbow Veggie Pad Thai Noodles!!  I love the challenge of making take-out food at home and so does the spouse.  He loves a good Pad Thai so this was a good place to start.

Veg-oodle Pad Thai
Generously serves 2 or perfect for leftovers!


1 Beet, peeled and noodled
1 Sweet Potato, peeled and noodled
**Or your husband doesn't believe in Veg-oodles and insists on Rice Noodles...I gave in and made him his own traditional pad thai style rice noodles.  What I do for love.


1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar, unseasoned
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sambal oelek
2 tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 lime, juice and zest
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped


1/2 cucumber cut into matchsticks and 1/4 red onion diced, mix with tablespoon of rice vinegar and a teaspoon of honey
Fresh Basil
Fresh Cilantro
Red Bell Pepper, cut into thin matchsticks
Roasted unsalted Cashews, chopped (You could use peanuts here. Thats traditional but I love cashews)
Sambal oelek or Sriracha


Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a large bowl.  In a large pot of boiling water, cook your Veg-oodles for one or two minutes.  I did this in two batches because I wanted to try to keep the beets from coloring this sweet potatoes.  Place the potatoes and beets into the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat.  Place in serving bowls and garnish to your hearts desire!

*Note* Like I mentioned above, my hubs despises anything that is pretending to be something that it is not.  For example, Cauliflower cous cous...not cous cous.  Veg-oodles...not noodles.  So I made him the traditional rice noodles and added chicken to his dish.  For the chicken, I made a sauce of 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and 2 tablespoons of tamari.  When the chicken was fully cooked, I tossed it with the sauce and then with his noodles in a seperate dish (Oh the adventures of Vegetarians married to Carnivores...a lot of dishes :) )

Veg-oodle Pad Thai
This was a great success and I was so happy! I am now on the hunt for a spiralizer!  Please let me know which brands are your favorite!

Now on to the failure. 

I was in the mood to bake but not in the mood to venture to the store during the thunder-snow/windstorm chaos that was happening on Nantucket yesterday.  So I went my pantry and uncovered a few inspirational items.

Pantry Inspiration
I vowed to try to make magic...and I tried.  I really did.  But after mixing and matching and adding and tasting...I came up with this weird soft pudding cake thing...
I shall call you...a mess!

It tastes has some really healthy ingredients...but I have to be honest with myself and the is a mess.  It is currently living in my freezer where I am hoping it will set up, then maybe I can work some voodoo magic. It will not go to waste.  This girl hates food waste, so it may come out one night in a fit of chocolate desire.

Oh well, better luck next time!  I have to keep playing or else no magic will ever happen.  

Have a splendid week and celebrate your SUCCESSES AND FAILURES!!!