SUNDAE SUNDAY: Pomegranate poppy seed ice cream, served atop grapefruit soufflés

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Beyond my bagel order, which is poppy seed 100% of the time, I regularly find ways to sneak poppy seeds into dishes as I bake and cook at home. Making buttermilk biscuits? They could use poppy seeds.  On salad duty? Strawberry poppy seed vinaigrette it is. Hamburger buns, cacio e pepe, challah? I could go on for awhile.

One combination I do avoid, however: lemon poppy seed.  While I know this is unusual to dislike (in a similar fashion to not liking s’mores growing up or exclusively eating vanilla ice cream for most of my childhood), I’ve been scarred by so many underwhelming and/or poorly executed lemon + poppy seed experiences that I just steer clear of it when I bake.

Because of my love of poppy seed, I not-so-secretly hoped it’d bubble up to win my #sundaesunday Instagram Stories vote-off, but when it did ultimately rein supreme, I had an uncharacteristic baker’s version of writer’s block in developing a recipe on the fly.  

Since soufflés have been on my mind because of the class I’m scheduled to teach in a few weeks, I went with that for my base component and wanted poppy seeds to shine in the ice cream component.  With leftover pomegranate juice in my fridge, that fortuitously became the flavor of a very delicious ice cream, and this week’s sundae took flight.

SUNDAE SUNDAY: Pomegranate poppy seed ice cream, served atop grapefruit soufflés

By: Kathleen Hayes; component attributions and yields are listed below

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Baker’s notes: my Sundae Sunday recipes are on-the-fly in nature, so they’re not as thoroughly tested as other recipes on the site.  I will be making this ice cream again (with slightly less juice next time), as will I remake the soufflé (as-is). The hot + cold elements of this duo were quite nice, but you could also achieve that with hot soufflé + cold creme anglaise just as well without deflating the soufflé from the weight of the ice cream.


Pomegranate poppy seed ice cream - adapted from the humphry slocombe ice cream book; yield = 1 quart

MISE IT

  • 480g heavy cream (~2 cups)

  • 240g whole milk (~1 cup)

  • 185g (organic) sugar

  • 65g pomegranate juice

  • 20g lemon juice

  • 47g egg yolks (~3 eggs)

  • Optional: ½ teaspoon hibiscus powder (primarily for color)

  • 3 pinches of kosher salt

MAKE IT

  • Create an ice bath for your final mixture to cool down in a large mixing bowl.

  • In a medium saucepan, combine cream, milk, and salt.  Heat over medium or medium-high until it’s just at a soft boil, then remove from heat.

  • Whisk together your sugar and egg yolks until combined. This will form a thick paste.  Then whisk in your pomegranate/lemon juice mixture and optional hibiscus powder.

  • Temper your egg mixture by ladling (or carefully pouring straight from the pan) ¼  - ⅓ cup of your hot cream mixture into the bowl with your eggs+sugar, whisking constantly to start melding the two mixtures together.  Repeat with a few more ladles worth of the cream mixture, and then transfer the tempered mixture back into your saucepan.

  • Over medium-high heat, heat your base and use a spatula to draw figure-8s shapes repeatedly through the mixture to keep everything moving so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.  Do this until it thickens slightly and reaches a temperature of 170 - 172 F, then pour your mixture through a chinoise or fine-meshed strainer into a container over an ice bath.

  • Stir periodically and let mixture cool down to room temperature.  Then let mixture chill for at least an hour and up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

  • Before you spin your ice cream: place a baking dish and spatula in the freezer (I use the smaller of these two dishes) so your extra finished ice cream will go into a chilled container and not melt.  

  • Follow the instructions for your ice cream machine and spin your ice cream.

  • With about 1-2 minutes left of spinning, add the poppy seeds to the mix, leaving a small amount of seeds to sprinkle on top of the transferred ice cream.

  • If your machine’s bowl isn’t your final storage container, transfer your finished ice cream from the machine to chilled baking dish, sprinkle on the last bit of poppy seeds, and let it set for a few hours.

Grapefruit soufflés - adapted from Martha Stewart’s lemon soufflés; yield = 8-9 soufflés made in 3” ramekins

MISE IT

For souffle - meringue

  • 175g egg whites (~5 egg whites)

  • 38g (organic) sugar

For souffle - non-meringue

  • 120g whole milk

  • 68g egg yolks (~4 yolks)

  • 13g (organic) sugar

  • 1 tablespoon tapioca flour

  • Zest from 1 grapefruit

  • 30g grapefruit juice (~½ grapefruit)

  • 14g butter, softened

For ramekins

  • Softened butter

  • Sugar for coating ramekins

MAKE IT

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

  • Using softened butter and a hardware-store paint brush, brush butter on the bottoms and sides of each ramekin, using a down-to-up motion along the sides.  (Brushing upwards supposedly helps with the desired trajectory of a lifted soufflé.)

  • Dump a few tablespoons of sugar into a ramekin and coat the bottom and sides by rotating the ramekin to get full coverage. Tap out excess sugar into the next ramekin and repeat until they’re all coated with sugar.

  • Put prepared ramekins in the fridge to chill while you prepare your soufflé filling.

  • Start mixing your egg whites on low until they’re quite frothy (using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment), and then slowly stream in your sugar.  Once the sugar is added, crank up the mixer to medium high and mix until you reach stiff peaks but before the meringue dries out and breaks.  Once you reach this point, turn off your mixer until you’re ready with your yolk mixture.

  • In a small saucepan, heat milk to a boil.

  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together yolks, tapioca flour, sugar, and grapefruit zest.

  • Once milk has reached a boil, temper your yolk mixture by ladling in milk and continuing to whisk until you’ve added ⅓ - ½ of your milk.  Then return the entire mixture back into the saucepan and whisk over medium heat to thicken it for 1-2 minutes.

  • Off the heat, whisk the butter and grapefruit juice to the yolk mixture.

  • Gently fold ¼ - ⅓ of the egg whites / meringue to the grapefruit + yolk mixture.  Repeat in two more batches until the egg whites are incorporated. Don’t over-mix or deflate your egg whites here -- if there are a few bits not 100% mixed in, that’s okay.

  • Using an ice cream scoop, fill each ramekin slightly higher than the brim with soufflé mix.

  • Next, level off each ramekin with a bench scraper or large offset spatula to get a flat top edge for your soufflé.  

  • Use your finger and go around the edge of each ramekin rim to get a small space between your soufflé and the edge of the ramekin.

  • Bake on a baking sheet on the bottom part of your oven for 16-17 minutes, gently remove from the oven, put on small plates, top with ice cream (see ASSEMBLE IT below) and serve right away.

  • Plating tip: use oven mitts to place ramekins on small plates so they’re easier to transport.

Garnishes

  • Grapefruit zest

  • Pomegranate arils

  • Poppy seeds, regular or candied

  • Optional: (organic) powdered sugar

Special equipment across all components

  • Ice cream maker

  • Chinoise or fine-mesh strainer

  • Thermometer (I like my Thermapen)

  • Stand mixer (hello, KitchenAid)

  • Ramekins

  • Brush

  • Ladle

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ASSEMBLE IT

  • Heads up: This takes swift action to pull together things quickly to capitalize on unmelted ice cream and towering soufflé.  And if you’re taking pictures, you’re working against a short shelf life of tall soufflés.

  • Take ice cream out of the freezer to let soften for 1-2 minutes before you pull souffles from the oven so it’s more scoopable.

  • Once soufflé are out of the oven, use oven mitts to move the ramekins onto small dessert plates.

  • Top with a dollop, scoop or quenelle of the pomegranate poppy seed ice cream, sprinkle pomegranate arils, and (optionally) dust with powdered sugar.

TWEAK IT

  • Use orange juice, a mixture of citrus juices, or (if you must) lemon juice in the soufflé batter.

  • Swap out the fruit juice used in the ice cream (lime would be nice here).

  • Take this out of sundae territory and serve this as a soufflé and creme anglaise (un-spun ice cream base) to get the same hot + cold elements but without the need for an ice cream machine.

  • Use larger or smaller ramekins for your desired soufflé size.

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