My tolerance of summer is a Faustian bargain of sorts. I agree to suffer the indignities of high temperatures for months on end, and in return I get to gorge on all manner of delicious summer produce--especially watermelon and berries. While berries are technically available year-round, the sour pebbles they sell for $5/pint in the winter months aren't good for much of anything. No, I have to wait until summer to really enjoy my berries. And now that summer is here, I am determined to stuff as many berries in my gullet as possible before the ominous approach of autumn.
Berries are still expensive, though, so I usually scour the local Fresh & Easy shelves to see what they have for half-off. (On the "sell-by" date they discount their produce 50%, and I usually make out like a bandit if I get to the good stuff in time.) Fresh & Easy hasn't been delivering much this week, but I DID come across some amazing berries for an even better price at the local 99 Cent store. Since the pints were only $1 each (amazing deal!) I got...eight of them. For food writing and research purposes, of course.
I wanted to make something that really highlighted their flavor, so I thought of all the usual suspects--cobbler? Too plain. Pie? Too common. Trifle? Possibly...but I was craving ice cream. So I came up with my own dessert hybrid...
This is probably one of the best things I've made this year. It just fit the season and our cravings so perfectly. The warm blackberry-orange sauce is tart but with a natural berry sweetness. The honey-vanilla ice cream has a rich, caramelized flavor on top of the aromatic vanilla. And the orange shortbread has a crisp bite but crumbles into rich, buttery pieces that unite the whole dish.
All of the recipes and more pictures can be found after the jump.
If you wanted a cheater's version of this dish, you could make the sauce and buy ice cream and shortbread cookies. But if you've the time, I really recommend making all the components. It makes a huge difference.
Honey-Vanilla Ice Cream
2 cups milk
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 egg yolks
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
In a medium pan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to simmering. Do not boil. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, brown sugar, honey, and salt until light colored and frothy. While whisking constantly, slowly combine the hot milk with the egg mixture. Transfer the mixture back to the sauce pan. Cook over medium heat until mixture reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82 degrees Celsius) when tested with a candy thermometer, or becomes thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat.
Strain custard into a large bowl. Scrape seeds from the vanilla bean into the custard. (Vanilla bean pod may be used again.) Stir the heavy cream into the custard. Cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.
When cold, freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.
Warm Blackberry-Orange Sauce
4 1/2-pint baskets fresh blackberries (about 5 1/2 cups)
1 cup orange juice, reduced to 1/2 cup
1/4 cup sugar (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Combine 4 cups blackberries, orange juice, sugar, orange peel, and cinnamon in medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer until berries are soft and begin to release juices, about 8 minutes. Transfer 2 cups berry mixture to processor; puree until almost smooth. Return mixture to same saucepan. Stir in remaining blackberries.
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons (packed) grated orange peel
1 teaspoon orange extract or reduced orange juice
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons whipping cream
Beat the butter, sugar, orange peel, and orange extract in the large bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment until fluffy. Beat in yolk, then cream. Mix the dry ingredients in a small bowl, and all them all at once to the mixer bowl until the dough comes together in moist clumps.
At this point you can make drop cookies by dropping small spoonfuls of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If you want cut cookies, wrap the dough in cling wrap and chill until firm enough to roll, at least 4 hours or overnight. (The dough remains somewhat soft.) Roll out using flour sparingly, and cut into desired shapes. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, sprinkle the tops with sugar, and bake at 350 for 13-16 minutes, until edges are lightly browned and bottoms are golden.
This recipe is my entry to this month's Sugar High Friday event, which is a celebration of all things berry!