Sunday, April 17, 2011

Vanilla Bean Waffles with Lemon Cream

When I was young, the waffles in our house came out of a box in the freezer. Therefore, I entered my adult years not really giving a fig about waffles. In my mind, waffles were thin, small, mysteriously soggy and crisp simultaneously, and as flavorful as acoustic tile. Then, a few years ago, my mom acquired a waffle maker. And my eyes were opened.

Simply, Belgian waffles are the zaftig grand dames of the breakfast batter cakes. Consider this: a stack of pancakes is a nice breakfast. A Belgian waffle piled with strawberries and airy clouds of sweet whipped cream is an edible spectacle.
There's nothing intimidating about making waffles. You will need a waffle iron, but in my opinion, it's an investment that will pay for itself in no time. Waffles are so terrific, you'll find yourself making them for breakfast, dinner, and dessert. For business meetings. For Super Bowl parties. For your cat's birthday. No time at all, I tell you.

Now, many would argue that the authentic Belgian waffle has yeast as a leavening agent, rather than baking powder. I don't want to argue; I want to eat waffles. Hence, I use baking powder, which works quickly and well and puts a gorgeous stack of waffles on the table as quickly as possible. I love these with berries and whipped cream or ice cream (how very dare!). They're also pretty good with fresh fruit and yogurt or applesauce, if you're feeling virtuous.
Vanilla Bean Waffles with Lemon Cream 
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean, scraped; pod reserved for another use
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
Sliced strawberries for serving, optional

For Lemon Cream :
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt

  1. Preheat waffle iron. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, oil, sugar, salt, and seeds from vanilla bean. Add flour and baking powder and whisk just until all ingredients are incorporated.
  2. Spray waffle iron with nonstick pan spray. Cook waffles according to manufacturer's directions. Serve warm with strawberries and Lemon Cream (recipe follows), if desired.
To make Lemon Cream:
Combine heavy cream and confectioner's sugar in a chilled stainless steel mixing bowl; beat until soft peaks form. Sprinkle lemon zest over. Gently fold in yogurt and chill until ready to serve.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cheesecake Ice Cream

Supposedly, cheesecake was served to athletes at the first Olympic games, circa 776 B.C. That is a post-workout snack I can totally get behind. I'd definitely run faster if I knew cheesecake was waiting for me at the finish line.

Cheesecake is fairly unique in the cake pantheon because there's so many different incarnations. There's the New York style, which is dense and rich and contains heavy cream. The Bavarian or French style, which is light and smooth, typically uses gelatin as a binding and stabilizing agent. German cheesecake uses Quark cheese.  Swedish cheesecake uses cottage cheese. The Japanese version, featuring whipped egg whites, is so light and fluffy it looks like it could float directly off the plate and into your mouth on its own.
Personally, I'm partial to the New York version. And to the lattice-topped Italian ricotta cheesecake my grandma used to make. And to any version that comes with a sour cream top. And to any food that has "cheesecake" in the name.

Naturally, then, this recipe, Cheesecake Ice Cream, is one of my all-time faves. It's a best-of-both-worlds dessert: cheesecake-flavored ice cream. And because I'm an all-or-nothing type of person, I like to sandwich it between two cookies (Oatmeal Graham being my choice) for a trifecta of dessert yay.
If you've never made ice cream before, this is the recipe for you. No eggs (so it's essentially Philadelphia style), which means you get to skip the tempering step ~ the trickiest part of making French-, or custard-, style ice cream. And did I mention it tastes just like cheesecake? Which makes it one of those recipes you have to run out and buy ingredients for right away. Like, now. Go ahead. If you get started immediately, you can have this for dessert tonight.
Cheesecake Ice Cream
~ adapted from David Lebovitz, The Perfect Scoop
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup light cream
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt

Place all ingredients in food processor or blender and process until smooth, pulsing several times. Pour into container, seal tightly, and refrigerate until well chilled.

When ice cream base is chilled, process in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. Place finished ice cream in a freezer-safe container with a tight-fitting lid and freeze immediately. Let ripen in freezer for at least 3 hours before serving, for best results.

For a really cheesecakey experience, try topping this with a spoonful of berry compote and a sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs. 



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