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Keeping It Simple

I love to go crazy making an expert level dessert with layers full of syrups, cakes, creams, and frostings, but I also love creating a supremely simple dessert with one or two easy components. It's because desserts are like handbags, one day you choose your Dior and the next day you feel more like your Target.

Yesterday I was in the mood for an intricate princess cake with marzipan dome and today all I want is vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. The classic "can't go wrong" combination of vanilla and chocolate in its purest form. Pour this chocolate sauce over your favorite store bought vanilla ice cream (my recommendation: Häagen-Daazs vanilla bean) or if you are feeling adventurous, break out the ice cream maker and whip up a batch of homemade vanilla ice cream. For the recipes,

Chocolate Sauce
From the Joy of Baking

12 ounces (340 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
1 cup (240 ml) heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated white sugar
1/3 cup (80 ml) light corn syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract or strong liquor, such as rum, or liqueurs such as Grand Marnier or brandy

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized stainless steel bowl and set aside.
  2. Combine the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a saucepan and place over low heat. Bring to a boil, stirring often.
  3. Remove from heat and pour immediately over the chocolate. Let stand until the chocolate has melted, then whisk until smooth.
  4. Whisk in vanilla extract or other flavoring.
  5. Store the sauce in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container. Reheat over simmering water before serving.

Makes about 2 cups.

Vanilla Ice Cream
From Martha Stewart

2 vanilla beans
2 cups milk
6 large egg yolks
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups very cold heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Split vanilla beans lengthwise with a sharp paring knife. Gently scrape out all the seeds.
  2. Place vanilla-bean scrapings and pods in a medium saucepan with milk. Scald the mixture, cover, and remove from heat. Let steep for 30 minutes.
  3. Combine egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat at medium-high speed until very thick and pale yellow, 3 to 5 minutes. Alternatively, whisk together in a medium bowl.
  4. Return milk to stove, and bring just to a simmer. Using a measuring cup or ladle, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot-milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture, whisking constantly on low speed until blended. Keep adding milk mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time, until it has all been added. Whisk until combined.
  5. Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 3 to 5 minutes. The custard should retain a line drawn across the back of the spoon with your finger.
  6. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Remove pan from heat, and immediately stir in chilled cream to stop the custard from cooking. Pour through a mesh sieve into a medium bowl set in the ice bath, and stir occasionally until cooled. (Discard vanilla-bean pod and strained seeds.) Stir vanilla extract into cooled custard. Cover bowl, and transfer to refrigerator until chilled, at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  7. Pour custard into an ice-cream maker, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Churn until the ice cream is just set, but not hard.
  8. Transfer soft ice cream to an airtight plastic container; freeze at least 4 hours and up to 1 week.

Makes 1 1/2 quarts

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