SUNDAE SUNDAY: Not-your-childhood s'mores sundae

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Well, I made it to the second installment of Sundae Sunday, even with squeezing in a fun Bakery Day at SF Cooking School all afternoon!  

For this week, s’mores was matched up against blueberry cheesecake, winning with a 2-to-1 margin of victory.  Given that this past Friday (when I had voting live on Instagram) was apparently National S’more Day, I suspected it would secure a win.  

Before I get to the recipe, I do have a confession: I hated s’mores growing up, and I still don’t love them in their traditional make-up to this day.  My childhood (read as: lifelong) strategy for s’mores: double down on chocolate by toasting my marshmallow and promptly bartering it to someone else in exchange for more chocolate bar squares.  Sometimes I eat the graham cracker, sometimes not. But never the marshmallows.

While I still don’t seek out marshmallows, the s’more combinations of flavors are pretty great, so I was excited to work with them this week. The sundae design was inspired by some of the celebration desserts I created while externing at Quince: a graham cracker base that’s actually a tart crust, a molded disc of fudge ripple ice cream, a topping of torched Italian meringue (my stand-in for marshmallow), and accents of Valrhona chocolate pearls and gold-dusted cocoa nibs.  I meant to finish with gold leaf but completely forgot, which would have made it even more Quince-esque in my mind.

RECIPE: Not-your-childhood s’mores sundae

By: Kathleen Hayes; recipe adaptations and yields listed out by component

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MISE IT

Ice cream base - adapted from the humphry slocombe ice cream book

  • 465g heavy cream (~2 cups)

  • 245g whole milk (~1 cup)

  • 100g white sugar

  • 47g brown sugar

  • 50g egg yolks (~3 eggs)

  • 3 pinches of kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Fudge ripple sauce, adapted from Epicurious - yield: 1 pint (you’ll have extra - scale down if you want)

  • 200 grams (organic) sugar

  • 160 grams glucose syrup (use light corn syrup if you’re a regular person and don’t stock glucose at home)

  • 250 grams water (~1 cup)

  • 100 grams dutch-processed cocoa powder

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Graham cracker base/tart crust, adapted from Driscoll’s - yield: 7-9, 3.75” rounds

Wet ingredients

  • 226 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks)

  • 50 grams (organic) sugar

  • 50 grams (organic) brown sugar

  • 85 grams honey

Dry ingredients

  • 266 grams all purpose flour

  • 68 grams whole wheat flour

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

“Marshmallow” aka Italian meringue - yield: ¾ quart (note: this is way more than you’ll need for the sundae - if I were to remake it, I’d scale down this a bit, but I simply used up the 3 egg whites that were leftover from the yolks used in the ice cream base)

  • 80 grams egg whites

  • 160 grams sugar

  • Enough water to wet the sugar in the saucepan and have it resemble wet sand

Special equipment

  • Ice cream maker

  • Chinoise or fine-meshed strainer

  • Thermometer (I like my Thermapen)

  • Large bowl for an ice bath

  • Stand mixer

  • Blow torch

 

MAKE IT

Ice cream

  • 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.

  • 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 remove from heat. (You’ve made creme anglaise!)

  • Pour your creme anglaise mixture through a chinoise or fine-meshed strainer into a container over an ice bath. Add vanilla extract to the strained base.

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

Fudge ripple sauce

  • Combine all ingredients except for your vanilla extract into a medium saucepan, place it over medium heat, and start whisking.

  • Whisk mixture until all cocoa powder is incorporated, then switch to a heat-proof spatula. To keep mixture from burning on the bottom, move the spatula through the sauce constantly, making figure 8s and scraping the bottom of the pan to ensure nothing is sticking.  Periodically scrape down the sides if any sauce has started sticking there, too.  Keep mixing until sauce is boiling.

  • Once mixture is boiling, keep mixing for one minute, then remove from heat.

  • Continue mixing every minute or so until it cools down so that it’s not super-hot to the touch.

  • Transfer sauce into a sealable container and chill in the fridge.  This sauce is easiest to work with once chilled, and it needs to be chilled before you mix your ice cream (you don’t want it to melt all your hard work!)

Graham cracker base

  • Preheat oven to 338 F (or nearest interval). If you have a convection oven, I suggest doing a lower temperature than what I have listed, which is for a non-convection oven.

  • In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together wet ingredients (butter, sugars, honey) until combined, light, and fluffy.

  • Combine your dry ingredients (flours, salt, baking soda, cinnamon) in a medium mixing bowl.

  • Dump all your dry ingredients into the mixing bowl with the creamed butter+sugar, and mix on low until just combined.

  • Divide your dough in half, wrap your dough in plastic wrap, shape into a ¾” - 1” tall disc, and chill for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour+.  (I cut this step short due to racing the last hour of sunlight)

  • Starting with one disc, roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper until it’s ¼” thick.  Punch out circles (I used 3.75” cutter from this Ateco set); repeat with second disc of dough.

    • Notes: If your dough is too soft to work with at all, pop it in the freezer for a few minutes and revisit.  I did this in between punching my circles and moving the circles to the baking sheet to bake off. Also, If you want/need more circles, you can re-roll the scraps and punch out more circles. I’m planning to bake off the scraps in one, large piece and use as graham cracker crumbs.

  • Place circles on parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 - 22 minutes.  Bake a few minutes less if you want more of a soft-baked graham cracker base; the time listed will yield a crunchy base.

  • Let cool on pans until ready to use.  You can store these for several days in a sealed container (or crumble up and use as graham cracker crumbs).

Italian meringue

  • Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer, and start mixing on low speed until eggs are frothy.

  • Combine sugar and enough water to a) coat all the sugar in water while b) making it look like wet sand in a medium saucepan. Make sure there aren’t any lone sugar granules on the sides of the pan; you can use a wet finger to wipe any away.

  • Over medium-high to high heat, cook the sugar and water until it reaches 244 degrees F.

  • With the egg whites whipping on low, carefully pour the boiling sugar syrup into the mixer, trying to pour in the sweet spot between the edge of the bowl and the whip attachment.

  • Crank up the mixer to medium-high and let it mix until the outside of the mixing bowl is no longer warm (which will yield meringue that is shiny and glossy that has reached stiff peaks).  Leftovers can be stored in a sealed container for up to 2 days, but you may need to rewhip before using.

Assembly

  • Optional: chill your plates in the freezer for a few minutes. (Every second counts when you’re plating with ice cream!)

  • Place your graham cracker round on a plate.

  • Remove your fudge ripple ice cream disc from its mold and place on top of the graham cracker.  Use an offset spatula around the edges if the ice cream doesn’t come right out.

  • Arrange cocoa nibs or chocolate pearls around the edge of the ice cream.

  • Using a star tip (I used an Ateco 824 tip), pipe kisses around the edge of the ice cream and fill in the middle with a second circle of kisses.

  • Time for the blowtorch! Using very little heat, lightly torch your meringue.  I would have toasted these more, but the ice cream would have melted entirely.

  • Repeat for remaining sundaes; if you want to torch everything at once, do all the steps except for the torch, placing each composed-but-not-yet-torched sundae in the freezer until you’re reach to toast everything.

  • Eat!

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TWEAK IT

  • Use chocolate ice cream base instead of vanilla.

  • For a more traditional sundae construction: scoop ice cream and top with torched marshmallows, graham cracker crumbs, and more chocolate sauce drizzled on top.

  • Pipe a different design on top with the meringue, or pipe meringue around the edge of the ice cream in lieu of cocoa nibs.  A St. Honore piping tip would be great for this.

  • If you can plate these very quickly, try serving on top of warm graham crackers.

  • To make this even more fancy AF, plop some gold leaf on the finished dessert, which was my original intention that slipped my mind in the moment of actual construction.

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