You have no idea how excited I am about this recipe!! Well, if you know me at all, then you’ll probably be able to guess how excited. I consider ice cream to be the best food group of them all. 😉
When I moved to the UK, one of the items I couldn’t bring with me was my Kitchenaid mixer. This was not just a loss in terms of making things like marshmallows and other meringues, but in the loss of ice cream. See, I got the ice cream attachment for my mixer a few years back for my birthday! It’s pretty great being able to make my own flavours etc. – but without the machine, I couldn’t do any of that.
Now, I had heard about no-churn recipes before, but had only tried a couple in the past. This one got me excited in more ways than just being able to make ice cream; I happen to looooove pina coladas. Give me pineapple and coconut any day… and throwing in some rum doesn’t hurt!
What makes this no churn ice cream work is two things – the alcohol and the cream. By whipping the cream to soft peaks before freezing, you’re essentially adding the air that would have been churned in during the freezing process. The other thing that helps prevent the mixture from turning into a solid pineapple-coconut-popsicle, is the alcohol. It changes the freezing point of the mixture, helping to keep it soft. (more…)
I’m starting to realize that I can’t do everything by hand. And I don’t mean that in the sense of handmade… but that sometimes, you just need machine power when baking. Case in point – these Nanaimo Bars.
When I was studying pastry in Vancouver, our course had us doing almost everything by hand. Whether that was whipping cream, or making meringue, there were few things that we did with our Kitchenaid mixers. One of the few things we did with a machine was an italian meringue – and I resigned myself to not making them while living in this tiny flat. (I also resigned myself to not making marshmallows while here, as it’s pretty much the same process.)
As I couldn’t bring my Kitchenaid mixer from Canada, and had no room to put one here even if I did, I didn’t bother to buy a hand mixer. Maybe it’s because once you go Kitchenaid you never go back? Or perhaps my hand mixing at school had made me cocky? Bah ha ha, you puny machines – look at the strength of my arms!!! Mwah ah ah…
But seriously – if I could whip cream by hand, and make meringues (just not italian), why did I need a hand mixer? Well folks, creaming butter, that’s why! It is easy to do when you’re just softening it for a cookie dough, but trying to incorporate air and make it fluffy?! My upper body strength has its limits. So the next time I need to make a fluffy layer, I may just review my aversion to hand mixers.
For anyone not already aware, Nanaimo bars are something from the West Coast of Canada (named after the city of Nanaimo). They are so ubiquitous that as a child I thought they were as common as chocolate chip cookies. It’s a crust of digestive/coconut/nut/chocolate, covered with a buttery custard layer, and topped with more chocolate. Normally the crust contains graham crackers, but over here I substituted with digestive biscuits.
I personally was never the biggest eater of Nanaimo bars, as I found them too sweet/rich as a child, but homesickness has crept in. Either than or my new Canadian coworker, lamenting the lack of these delectable bars, persuaded me to break out the ol’ wooden spoon.
Maybe you will too? Or do you have one of those fancy hand mixers?
Add the egg, and stir until it has cooked and thickened.
Remove from the heat, and stir in the crumbs, and nuts.
Press firmly and evenly into the pan. Chill in the fridge while making the second layer.
For the custard layer, cream together the butter, custard powder, and icing sugar, until light and fluffy.
Add whipping cream, and whip until light. Spread over first layer, and chill until firm.
For the chocolate topping, melt the butter and chocolate together over a bain marie, being careful not to overheat.
Remove bowl from the heat, and allow to cool. Once cool, but still pourable, spread over the custard layer, and chill to set.
*Bain marie is a fancy way of saying hot water bath. It is used to describe cooking items in the oven surrounded by water (to ensure even cooking), or cooking items in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. In our case, it means the latter.
One of the best things about Richard is that he not only enjoys cooking, but is quite good at it too! Since I am a baker by trade, he told me that he won’t bother trying to get really good at baking/breads/etc. – that’s my thing. But he does want to have something that he’s better at than me, something that our future kids will request (“dad’s —-“).
To that end, he has decided he will work on being the best at Asian cuisine. Right now, he’s focusing on Indian curries, and bought the cookbook Rick Stein’s India. You should have seen how excited he was when it arrived! It’s a really great cookbook, full of truly authentic dishes. The best part is that it’s not like recipes you find online, where you’re using store bought pastes or spice mixes – this book has you grinding cardamom pods, making your own coconut cream, etc.
So far, we’ve made three recipes from the book, and are excited to try more! (The masala chai tea is quite delicious!) (more…)