Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas... (& Sweets for Santa!)

Here in Australia, it gets pretty hot at Christmas time.  Tomorrow is forecast to be 39 degrees Celsius.

So when it fell to me this year to make the dessert for Christmas lunch, I thought something made of icecream would be very welcome in the middle of the day!

Lately I've been a bit obsessed with gingerbread (oh yes, there has been a lot of baking going on.  Just not much blogging).  So I decided it would be rather nice to make a layered molded dessert of gingerbread and vanilla icecreams - mmm....  Ooh, and I could enter it into the latest Sweet Adventures Blog Hop!

Didn't it turn out pretty?  I was panicking a bit about getting it out of the mold before Christmas Day, but it seems to have gone back into the freezer with no problems...

If you're not thinking about licking that picture, with its chewy-crunchy gingerbread base, and deliciously frosty layers of vanilla and gingerbread creaminess, you totally should be.  Trust me.  But wait - it gets cuter.  This is what it's going to look like when it hits the table tomorrow:

Teeny gingerbread men and hearts, with a royal-iced gingerbread star, complete this treat!

So here's the recipe - and it might be too late to make it for Christmas Day, but you could definitely make either of these icecreams on their own just to eat from a bowl - the vanilla is really good, but I am very proud of the gingerbread - maybe I'm biased in favour of anything gingerbready right now, but personally I think it's sensational...

Gingerbread Icecream Tree

Vanilla Icecream
400mL cream
100mL whole milk
1 vanilla bean
5 egg yolks
125g caster sugar

Modus Operandi
Place cream, milk and vanilla bean in a medium sized saucepan, and heat slowly just until boiling point, then remove from heat immediately.  Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy.  Gradually add the cream mixture to the egg mixture, and continue to whisk until combined.  Transfer the mixture to a clean saucepan, and cook over low heat, stirring all the time, for around 15-20 minutes, until it coats the back of a spoon.  Do not allow to boil!  Refrigerate the mixture until cold (preferably overnight), before churning in an icecream maker.
Pour churned icecream into your chosed mold, and freeze.

115g butter
1/2 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg yolk
300g sifted plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp grated nutmeg

Cream the butter and sugar just until smooth.  Stir in the molasses and egg yolk.
Combine the dry ingredients and stir into the molasses mixture until smooth.  The mixture will be very soft and sticky - that's okay.  Wrap it in plastic, and chill for at least one hour.
Meanwhile, take a piece of baking paper and draw around the shape of the mold you have used for your icecream.  Cut the shape out, and put it aside.
Preheat the oven to 175C (350F).  On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to about 8mm thickness.  Using your baking paper template, cut the shape you will need for your base out of your gingerbread dough (in my case, a large Christmas tree).  Transfer the shaped gingerbread onto a lined baking tray (note:  you will make your life much easier if you keep the paper shape on the gingerbread tree shape until you have transferred it to the tray.  It will inevitably warp a little in the process, and having the paper template still there means you can smooth it back into shape before baking).  Remove the template and keep it for later.
Bake the large gingerbread in the oven until firm, and the edges are golden brown (the actual time will vary depending on the size and shape of your mold.  Mine took around 15 minutes).
Bake your small cookies for around 8-10 minutes.  Cool on trays.

When it is completely cool, move your large gingerbread shape to a board, and trim it back to the desired shape using your paper template.  Theoretically I imagine this would be easier while the gingerbread was still warm, but I wasn't game enough to move it at that stage.  Please yourself.  :o)

Gingerbread Icecream
600mL cream
Some of your Gingerbread cookies - I used about 90g of them (although I had some left over from my last batch, so depending on the size of your mold's base, you might need to make two batches of gingerbread if you want to decorate with them too.  Not sure... sorry.  But hey, who minds extra gingerbread around the house, am I right?)
6 egg yolks
150g light brown sugar
2 Tbsp molasses
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

Exactly the same as for the vanilla icecream, but add your gingerbread cookies to your cream mixture right at the beginning.  When you remove it from the heat, strain it through a sieve.  The cookies will have turned to mush - stir it a bit to help the liquid through the sieve, but don't force it all through.  Most of the cookie mush will go through the sieve easily - any that doesn't, discard.
Add the spices and molasses to the egg/sugar mixture just before adding the cream mixture.
When the icecream is churned, pour it into the mold on top of the vanilla, and freeze.

To construct:
Take your icecream out of the freezer, and whilst it is still in the mold, press the gingerbread base firmly onto it.  Return to the freezer until it is time to serve.

At serving time, flip the icecream tree out onto your desired serving plate (it's a good idea to freeze that, too, to stop the icecream from starting to melt quite so quickly!)  Decorate as desired.

Wow, that was kind of long.  But trust me, it's totally worth it!  And after all, we all deserve to be a bit indulgent at Christmas, right?

I really hope that you and yours have a wonderful, fun, peaceful holiday season - and do check out the other Sweets For Santa at the blog hop below - this month it's being hosted by Christina over at The Hungry Australian - she did an icecream dessert too, and it looks amazing!


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